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Saturday, August 9

Today I Met My Grandfather

Some family members, you always wonder about. For me, that person has been my grandfather, my mother's father. That is, until I very recently got to meet him. Well, meet him, not quite.

My grandfather died in a carcrash on September 23rd, 1963, when my own mother was but thirteen. While she only had thirteen years of her life to get to know him, I never got any at all. I very often asked her about him, and she told me all she knew, but most she forgot, which I can't possibly blame her for. When my grandmother was still alive, I was still too young to even think about asking her about him. I didn't care very much at the time, either. I was used to not having any grandparents but her, because my father's parents died before I knew them, too.

Nevertheless, when you grow older, you start to wonder about them. Looking at your own parents, you see yourself in them and you wonder whether it was the same for them with their parents. Well, today, I was lucky enough to get to see my grandfather, as videotapes from their time have recently been transfered onto dvd by my aunt, who then sent them over.

The first dvd immediately shows my mother as a baby, with my grandmother (Riet) in Indonesia. She and Pim (my grandfather) moved from Holland to Indonesia in 1949, to a place called Bogor, where Pim worked on plantations of coffee, tea and rubber. He was possibly sent there by the University of Wageningen, where he used to study tropical agriculture.

It delighted me to see Riet at such a young age, she looked quite beautiful, and so very happy. My mother, as a child, just looked angry a lot, for some reason. My heart skipped a beat, though, when I saw Pim with my mother. I'd seen him before on fainted photographs, but to see him actually move felt strange but amazing. It was delightful to see him play with my mother and a litter of kittens.

Later, I saw my aunt after she was just born, and the wonder of her older sister was amusing, not to say endearing. Pim looked a proud father, also at the party for my mom's 2nd birthday, where he taught her how to ride her kiddie bike. I think that was the last footage of him on the dvds, the rest was more or less filmed by him.

It was interesting to see the plantation and the people who worked there, all filmed by Pim. Makes me realise how we don't know hard labour anymore nowadays.

The family moved back to Holland in 1958. There is footage of my mom and aunts as young children, which made me smile, and kind of wish I had brothers or sisters. There is also footage of a period very close to Pim's accident, which was a bit strange to see. How you wish you could have warned them, right then.

All in all, a strange experience, but I'm glad I got to meet my grandfather.


Anonymous said...


I have to tell you that I admire your easy talking about life. You have the gift that you can write down your thoughts in a way a lot of people think, but never thought about is like that.

I never met my fathers father, never my mothers mother. So in some way i'm in the same position like you. Why you wonder? Well...i did get to know my mothers stephmother and my grandfather. And he died i think...8-10 years a go. And i don't really remember the time that he was alright. I do remember the time that his health went down. Al so because in that periode most people are going to visit more frequently.

But not that long a go, my mother found a tape with shots when i was about 4 years. When he was fine. And me and my mother both burst in to tears because she do remembers him that way and it was so long a go she hadn't seen him like that...

any way...thanks for your story :) we have to keep in touch ;) see you at school LOL

Maartje van Hoorn said...

Hey Anita,

thanks for your lovely comment. It's so easy to forget your grandparents. I remember when my grandmother died, I didn't really get to say goodbye. I think I cried for days because I thought she might not have known that I loved her. Looking back on it now, that's rather stupid. Of course she did. I miss her sometimes.