Apr. 9th, 2012 12:52 pm
gamiila: (yay!)
It's been 9 years since I put up my very first, and very tentative, LJ-post. At the time, I had no conception of how much this journal would come to mean to me in the years following: more than simply allowing me to keep a(n infrequent) record of my all too mundane life, it has allowed me to encounter people, knowledge and ideas I never would have encountered otherwise, and consequently has helped me broaden my horizons.

Now it's Easter and I've had quite a busy few days in terms of church attendance, starting with a long evening Mass on Holy (or Maundy) Thursday, followed by an equally long one including Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday, after which I even stayed for the prayer vigil until midnight; Easter Vigil Mass including four Confirmations on Saturday night, and the festive Easter Mass including two christenings on Easter Sunday. I was actually quite relieved to find there was no Mass scheduled for today.

What with all of the to-ing and fro-ing, I haven't had much of a chance to spend any meaningful time online, and so I missed my chance to wish [livejournal.com profile] enigmaticblues a happy birthday on the day, for which I'm heartily sorry. Obviously, I wish her a very happy belated one today, and hope that this belated happy birthday will last the entire year until the next one, when I hope to present her with my birthday wishes in time.

Meanwhile, I was saddened by the news (received a couple of weeks after the fact) of the death of Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Church last month. I met him in Leiden a few times, when I was a student of early-Christian utilitarian architecture and he, accompanied by some of his fellow priests, visited our University to look at some ancient manuscripts. He struck me then as a warm and friendly shepherd of his flock, as well as quite a jovial man in his dealings with us students.
gamiila: (River Song)
Today, the sad news reached me that one of my former hp colleagues succombed to breast cancer last Friday. We'd kept in touch through e-mails and Facebook-messages up until July, but I didn't know she was sick until halfway through last week when her husband mentioned she only had days left...So sad, she leaves a 2-year old daughter behind.

I had a job interview with ATOS Origin this afternoon, but it didn't go well. Oh well. I didn't really see myself as a Business Consultant, anyway.
gamiila: (bow tie)
Is it bad of me that, despite the fact that I wasn't particularly busy over the weekend, I still managed not to remember that it had been two full years since my father's passing? I would have forgotten all about it if Mum hadn't mentioned it on Sunday.

We met to go to the pictures together, and we saw Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer in a really sweet film called Beginners, in which Christopher Plummer plays a 75-year old who after 44 years of marriage comes out as gay, and almost immediately falls ill with terminal cancer. Ewan McGregor plays his grief-stricken son, who has commitment issues in his own life; and another important role is filled by the dad's Jack Russell, Arthur. It didn't disappoint and I'm glad I picked it out of the meagre list of films shown here in town, most of which seem to be of the 3D-variety.

I went to pay my respects to my Dad's gravesite this morning and when I got back, I was approached for the position of Contact Center Analyst by the same recruitment company that got me the interview at Apple back in January, so with a bit of luck and even if this doesn't work out, they'll be able to help me get into another job soon.

By the way, did I mention that 2 days after I had left the Apple office, the MacBook I had left on the train was handed in there? I didn't, did I - but it did! :-)


Apr. 1st, 2010 03:09 pm
gamiila: (Default)
A few hours ago, I carried my father's urn to his final resting place, and buried it there; while my sister, niece and nephew, my sister's boyfriend and an employee from the cemetery looked on. Monique helped me to fill in the little grave and tamp down the earth before the plaque was placed on top of it, and then we just stood there in the rain for a while, my sister and niece shedding floods of tears while the men and I remained dry-eyed throughout. I wonder what it says about me, that I haven't cried for my dad all that much...certainly much less than my sister, while he and I were supposed to have the closer bond. But perhaps it is because of that: even though he's gone, I don't feel abandoned, and maybe my sister -with all her unresolved issues- does.

(I had intended to insert a picture of the grave at this point, but for some reason I can't get my Nokia software to recognise my Nokia phone today. Oh well, perhaps you'd have thought it too macabre, anyway).

I went to see Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland last night, and I absolutely loved all 108 minutes of it. The critics have only given it two out of five stars, but I'd happily award it at least one more for the camera work alone. Johnny Depp's Hatter at times reminded me of Edward Scissorhands a little in his sad moments, and of Capt. Jack Sparrow in a few of his mad moments, though for the most part he struck me as an entirely different character to either of them; and I quite enjoyed the relish with which Helena Bonham Carter seemed to play the Red Queen. Also, the 3D effects were out of this world, though I hate the way those glasses always press on the bridge of my nose.
gamiila: (Default)
We picked our father's final resting place this morning, my sister and I. He will be interred in the 'urn garden' of the Nieuw Eykenduynen cemetery in The Hague sometime next month, the exact date to be decided still as we've agreed to wait until the headstone of polished green granite that we also picked out and ordered this morning, is ready. That way we can inter him and place the stone at the same time. So it will probably be some 6 to 7 weeks from now.

We've bagged him a lovely spot, next to a bamboo grove and with an impressive water feature close by...and, as we were being informed that the spot we'd picked actually held enough room for 2 urns, I quickly decided that I would quite like for my urn to be buried there as well when my time comes. My sister readily concurred, as she prefers to be buried in the family plot, which happens to be in the same cemetery and currently holds the remains of our maternal grandmother, one of her sisters, and one of our aunts. I didn't know my sister preferred burial to cremation, but since that's the choice she's made, it means she was quite happy to let me have that leftover space if -God forbid- I should die within the next 5 years, which is the time we've purchased the plot for. And who knows, we may just extend the contract after that.
gamiila: (Default)
My sister and I are having to decide on what to do with Dad's ashes. There's quite a number of options to choose from, ranging from the traditional (interment in either a grave or a wall), to the sublime (sending him up 20 kilometres in the sky in a balloon), the morbid (taking the urn home to sit on the mantlepiece) and the ridiculous (having jewelry fashioned out of him). The undertaker didn't even flinch when we asked if we couldn't use the ashes in a tattoo!

I know Dad wanted for his ashes to be scattered. He didn't stipulate whether this should happen on land or at sea, but since he had no particular attachment to or connection with the latter, personally I'd favour a scattering on land. My sister however, and to my surprise, is vehemently opposed to this. She says she's not ready to say goodbye to him forever, and wants to have him interred so she can visit him often and lay flowers...The surprise in this is that she hardly ever bothered to visit him when he was alive...

But, I've agreed to hold off the scattering for a few years. I don't think Dad would have really minded either way, and if it makes my sister feel better, then why not?
gamiila: (Default)
I've been dealing with and trying to settle my father's affairs since he died a little over two weeks ago. This has meant letters and phone calls to insurance companies, the IR and pension funds, and visits to the town hall and the bank. It'll take a few months before I'm done, apparently, and will probably involve the services of a notary public at some later stage as well. The laws of inheritance, although pretty straightforward in themselves, seem to require them.

Anyway, I've decided to take my mind off the whole gloomy business and focus on a fun future event today: seeing Depeche Mode live in the O2 in December! To that end, I've now booked my flights and a twin room in the Covent Garden Travelodge, and I'm very much looking forward to spending a few days in London and hopefully meeting up with some of yous there and then!
gamiila: (Default)
Bone-weary. Slept fitfully last night. All the events of the day kept going through my mind, and the knowledge that my father's gone kept sleep at bay. Got up in the middle of the night and made myself a cocoa. Watched a bit of nighttime TV, which is even worse than daytime TV.

I picked my flowers up from the florist's; they'd done a terrific job on the piece using many of Dad's favourites, chrysanthemums and dahlias in autumnal shades, with a few deep red whatchumacallits and orange somethingorothers, a really masculine bouquet that I was very pleased with. The more so as it turned out the floral arrangements we'd ordered through the undertaker's never materialised, but of course I didn't know it then and we never even noticed until after the service, so many people had sent their own flowers.

More people showed up to the cremation ceremony than I'd dared to expect, including some colleagues from both me and my sister's work, which was really wonderful. We've both been getting lots of support from our respective employers and co-workers with e-mails, phone calls and text messages, and we've both been given special leave for the week.

I delivered the eulogy and my niece read a poem, then my sister added a few words of her own. Then we both got up and thanked everyone for coming, we had a minute's silence, and then the casket, that she and I had closed together, slowly moved backwards into whatever space is there at crematoria where the dead are prepared for their final journey.

We had a short reception in one of the adjoining rooms, with tea and coffee and Indonesian finger food, where people could mingle and offer us their condolences. Then afterwards, we took 20 of our family and friends out to dinner to a Korean restaurant, in memory of our father who had been a Korean war veteran *). We had a very pleasant evening with good food, a lot of laughter and some tears, and everybody was agreed we'd given our Dad the most splendid send-off and he would have been so proud of us.

*) The first thing I did, the morning after Dad's death, was contact the Dutch Korean War Veterans Association, to ask if they would send a delegation to form an honour guard as I'd seen them do on previous occasions, when others of Dad's former comrades had died. The secretary said he'd do his best, but as those who are left are mostly in their eighties and struggling with various degrees of ill health, couldn't guarantee he'd be able to gather the necessary quorum. In the end, only one vet made it, but he was someone whom my Dad had known and he was most welcome. My sister and I commemorated our father's time in Korea in our speeches, because it was such an important event in his life; it shaped the man he became and so touched on our lives as well. Therefore, our music choices for the service were as follows:

- Suicide Is Painless from the M*A*S*H* soundtrack, our Dad's favourite TV show;
- Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits;
- Peace In The Valley by Elvis, which always made Dad teary-eyed whenever he heard it; and
-Old Soldiers Never Die by Gene Autry, which was the veteran's anthem as far as he and his comrades were concerned; it was played at all their funerals
gamiila: (Default)
I'm finding it very hard to write my father's eulogy. My mind's gone blank - while at the same time it's teeming with all kinds of memories of him. How can I do him justice? As soon as I put pen to paper, the tears start and make everything run...I've written and delivered eulogies before, but this one has to be special, and I'm not managing it :-(
gamiila: (Default)
My sister and I met at the funeral parlour to make the arrangements for our dad's cremation yesterday morning. So much to think about! Thank heavens we were of one mind as to how we wanted the service to progress. It didn't take us long to agree on the lay-out and text for the invitation to be sent out, the floral arrangements for the service to be picked, the date, time and place for the ceremony to take place to be agreed, the food and drink to be served there. In this, we were helped by Dad's foresight in having taken out an insurance policy years ago that covered all the basics and some of the extras, giving us a clear idea of how he would have liked things to be done. It also helped with the finances; when the final tally came in, we were surprised to find it hardly made a dent in the sum we'd set aside in our minds (not that we had discussed this at all beforehand). So, for his final and proper send -off, we came up with the idea to host a dinner in a Korean restaurant for all mourners after the cremation ceremony, which is going to take place late afternoon this coming Tuesday (it had to be a Korean restaurant, as the time Dad spent in Korea fighting the communists had been the determining factor for the entire rest of his life, and he ever afterwards thought of himself as a soldier first and foremost, even if he left the army shortly after returning from the war in the final days of 1953). We're meeting with the chef and proprietor later this afternoon to discuss numbers and menu.

Then we spent a few hours writing out the invitations, and calling and taking calls from people shocked at the news of our father's sudden demise. Because it had been quick, and unexpected. He hadn't been ill. He was woken up day before yesterday same as usual, washed and clothed, and then before he went in for breakfast complained of a slight tummy ache. The doctor on constant call in the home had a look at him and deciding that he was just a bit constipated, was in the middle of prescribing him something to ease his stool, when Dad made one final jovial remark...and slumped back on the bed. The doctor said he'd never seen anything like it: one minute, his patient was trading jokes with him, the next, gone into the next world.

I'm glad it happened like this, both for his sake as for mine - it means there's nothing I could have done, even if I had gotten the news immediately. Because I'd allowed my niece to change my ringtone, I didn't realise it had been my phone ringing in my purse all day, and therefore only noticed I'd missed 8 calls when I took it out in the evening...

Before we left the funeral parlour, my sister insisted I see my father. Up until that moment, I hadn't shed a tear (or maybe just one). But she was right, seeing him opened the floodgates, and we stood there, clutching at each other bawling our eyes out. Then she left me alone with him to say a final farewell, and that was hard. Strangely, he looked better than I'd seen him in weeks, very peaceful and still. But he was so cold, my fingers froze when I touched his cheek the way I'd always done to wake him up whenever I found him asleep, and it was then that I realised, he really was gone. When I got home a few hours later, I was so blinded with tears I stumbled and fell on the stairs. I put my left hand out to break my fall, and I think I must have sprained my wrist, because this morning it's swollen and hurts like a mother. If it's not better in a day or two, I'll have my GP have a look at it.

When the home couldn't get in touch with me, they called my mother, who after having given up on trying to reach me, notified my sister. She came down and arranged for him to be taken away, because the house rules stipulate that a dead body has to be removed from the premises immediately. Likewise, his few belongings will have to be removed within 3 days of the death occuring as well, so I'm going down there after posting this, or they'll be destroyed. We don't know if there's anything we want to keep, but we don't like the idea of his stuff ending up in the skip so soon after his death. After that, it's off to the florist's to order a wreath, and to the photographer's to have our favourite picture of him enlarged to poster size, to set up in the crematorium for use in the service. Then all we need to do is make the final arrangements for the valedictory dinner, and for each of us to write our speeches. The wake, or viewing of the body, has been arranged for Monday evening.


Oct. 15th, 2009 05:49 pm
gamiila: (Default)
my father passed away this morning at 9:15
gamiila: (Default)
It's the last day of my summer hols, and weather-wise, it looks to be a good one. Unfortunately, now that the sun has finally started to peek through the clouds, I still won't be able to take much notice nor indeed advantage of it, as I'll be running around doing all sorts of errands.

First off, I have a meeting with the house doctor, a representative of the nursing home's management, and the head of the nursing staff to discuss my father's care and how he's been faring since arriving at the home three weeks ago. Then it's off to the police station to file a report, as it has transpired that Dad has lost his identity card/passport, probably in the move from the care home where he was first located to the last. I went to get a replacement at the town hall, but was told a police report would be required before they could process the application. When I rang the police I was told Dad would have to come to the station in person, and bring identification. When I explained that my father no longer had any identification other than a driver's licence that had expired in 1975, and that moreover he was physically and mentally unfit to go anywhere, they relented and told me that as long as I could bring a signed proxy, they would allow me to come down and file the report on his behalf. I just hope they won't have changed their minds in the intervening days, as I do realise that the compromise we arrived at is highly unusual and probably not even legal.

I'll be meeting my sister and nephew at the train station later, so as to be there at the other end of the country for our uncle's cremation ceremony tomorrow morning. Ronnie's funeral is set for Saturday as well, but as we were already committed to attending our uncle's send-off, all we could do was arrange for a wreath to be sent to his. So before we leave The Hague, I'll also have to find time to pop into the florist's and make sure our floral tribute is delivered on time and as specified.

One bit of good news before I go: my geyser finally got repaired yesterday, apparently not a moment too soon -- the repair man/plumber/gasfitter when he checked it over concluded that it had been a health hazard for some time in that it had been emitting dangerous levels of carbon monoxide gas, so he fixed it and installed an alarm at no extra charge. I don't know if it's the reassuring presence of that white box in the hallway, or the fact that there's no more carbon monoxide wafting through the flat, but I did wake up far more alert than usual this morning.


Jun. 10th, 2009 05:32 pm
gamiila: (Default)
'Only in America' is what we used to say of gun crime and assassination plots. But things are getting just as crazy over here.

My sister texted me with the news that a mutual friend of ours, someone we grew up with and someone she has worked with in her professional life for the past couple of years, was shot through the head and killed while on his way into work this morning. It happened on a zebra crossing near the office building where they both work. The perpetrator has been caught and in a statement to police has indicated it was a crime of passion; Ronnie had just started going out with this man's ex-girlfriend.

I'm amazed at how upset I am by this news; I'm shaking and everything. It's the shock, the pointlessness of his killing. In my life, I've lost friends, people I've been close to, through accidents and illnesses, but none have ever been murdered before. And even though I hadn't spoken to Ronnie in years, I still thought of him occasionally, and asked my sister for news of him every once in a while, or for her to remember me to him next time they had occasion to meet...and now this. It's incomprehensible, and such a terrible, terrible shock.

Wasted day

Jun. 9th, 2009 09:53 pm
gamiila: (Default)
I waited in for the repair man to come and fix my hot water all day. They never showed.

In the evening, I took Manasse to the vet's for his 6 months check-up. His heart is doing fine and his health overall seems to have improved quite significantly according to the vet, but now it seems his blood pressure is dangerously high. She's given me another set of pills and wants me to bring him in again in a fortnight. Oh joy.

Just when we got home, my mum rang with the news that my uncle Piet, my father's best friend and my mum's deceased sister's husband, had died of lung cancer this afternoon, 7 days shy of his 80th birthday.
gamiila: (Default)
We gathered in the RC church of St. John the Baptist in Hoofddorp yesterday morning for Joost's memorial service and funeral. There had been a wake the night before, that I hadn't been able to attend -sometimes I curse myself for not having gotten another car after my VW got stolen, when it means I can't get anywhere in the countryside at night- but it had been well-attended by all accounts, and at the end of the ceremony the casket had been closed, so there was no final viewing of the body in the Mary chapel when I arrived half an hour before the service started. The church was packed, filled to the rafters with people from all over the country and abroad, and it reminded me of something Joost had once said, that if he had one talent, it was for forging friendships. The sheer number of people present in the church confirmed the accuracy of his words.

Other than his illness, I don't think I've ever told you about Joost, who he was and what he did. He was an exceptionally gifted man, with a warm personality, a thoughtful demeanour, a wicked dry sense of humour, inquisitive, capable, confident, knowledgeable about the most diverse things, and a lust for life that was astounding. He collected hobbies like other people stamps, and he did this cumulatively: he kept adding more to them, but rarely let one drop. He loved being on and in the water, so he took up sailing, and deep sea diving. He drove motorcycles, took up hiking (we were planning to do the Coast to Coast walk one summer when he became ill), loved DIY and pottering around in the vegetable patch (he had a keen interest in organic farming). He was also something of an armchair philosopher, who never embarked on any new science, venture or pastime without reading up on it properly first. He played the violin, self-taught. He knew about whiskies, and cigars. In his professional life, he started out as an archaeologist specialising in underwater archaeology, but in the late 90s in order to better support his family, switched to a career in Public Relations, until in 2002 his illness forced him to give that up too. He was a lifelong Bob Dylan-fan, so it wasn't surprising that the service he had for the most part arranged himself was centred on some carefully chosen Dylan songs: I Believe In You when the casket was brought up front, Lord Protect My Child when his children and their nephews lit the candles next to it, Lay Lady Lay after his wife had delivered her eulogy, Saved after the lesson (Luke 10:25-37) and the sermon, Shelter From The Storm during Holy Communion. He had intended for I Believe In You to be played a second time while his casket was taken outside, but the verger made a mistake in pressing the buttons on the remote and it was Shelter From The Storm again...

Nicole, his wife, Jean-Paul, his brother, two of his friends and Rein, his father-in-law, all made moving speeches, as did Father Cees who'd gotten to know Joost quite well over the last few years they've lived in Hoofddorp (they moved there about 3 or 4 years ago, I think) and joined his flock; they'd worked together quite intensively on the christening of the children early last year for instance. Because that's another thing about Joost: he had a deep and abiding faith, that didn't preclude his ability for independent thought. Many's the nights we sat up in our student days and discussed the finer points of theology and dogma, and so it was only the most natural thing for me to ask Joost to stand godfather to me when I arranged for my own baptism. He took it as an honour, but also as a real responsibility, and so now I have not only lost a friend, but a spiritual guide as well. Even on my last visit, we talked about the difficulties of practicing the Catholic faith in the day-to-day, and how much harder the likes of Bishop Wilkinson and the former Joseph Ratzinger make it to keep sight of the central tenets and not give it all up in a fit of rage and desperation -- even though as usual, nothing got resolved. But that's OK, because I've learned from Joost that it's possible to question, be critical, and still be a good Catholic.

Anyway, back to the service: the church was awash in flowers and wreaths (all pink and white roses as per Joost's request) and after Shelter From The Storm had sounded a second time, we were asked to take them to the churchyard and form a flowery corridor for the casket and family to pass through. Then the flowers were stacked all along the gravesite, covering the adjacent graves as well, and under the watchful eye of the congregation, Joost was lowered into his grave, all the children let go of their white balloons, and then we all filed past throwing handfuls of rose petals onto the casket. After that, we repaired to a nearby hotel for the reception and lunch. His poor family stood shaking the hands of hundreds of people, while the rest of us milled around exchanging a few words with people we hadn't seen in years and aren't likely to see again if ever. It's funny how people don't really change even if you haven't seen them for twenty years. Yes, they may wear a suit now when you can still remember them in their scruffy jeans all those years ago, they may have filled out a bit and their hair might have a hint (or more) of grey, but their eyes and their gestures are still the same so you recognise them instantly, and in some instances it's fascinating to learn what they've been up to -- some of them have gone on telly, others have had to deal with private tragedies (Demetrius's wife for instance became brain damaged through some sort of sudden illness very early on in their marriage, and he's been caring for her for the last 15 years when she can't speak, can't walk, can't do anything for herself, yet he's devoted to her and does it without complaining...and this is the same Demetrius who was the poster child for juvenile amourous irresponsibility, a Jack the Lad who when we were at uni together, had several girlfriends on the go and treated them all abominably).

I left the reception after about an hour, when I could hitch a ride back to The Hague with another uni friend. In my bag, the order of service and a booklet with some of Joost's poems (the writing of which was another hobby of his). I'll just quote one here:

De pop met het gebroken hoofd
Roos wil fietsen, fietsen
Verder dan het einde van de straat
Voorbij waar de mensen zijn
Of iets nog maar bestaat
Want haar papa is weer ziek geworden
Ze heeft het al die tijd gevoeld
Wat met mama's snikken en
'Ik neem de telefoon wel boven'
Werd bedoeld

Gisteren is ze apart genomen
Op papa's warme schoot
Aan het eind
Kon ze alleen maar zeggen
Lieve papa ga je dood
Ik weet het is weer teruggekomen
De celletjes in je hoofd
Maar je zou toch altijd
Bij me blijven
Dat had je toch beloofd


(translation: The doll with the broken head

Roos wants to go cycling, cycling
Farther than the end of the street
Far beyond where there are people
or where anything else even exists
Because her daddy has fallen ill again
She's felt it all this time
What was meant with mummy's sobbing and
'I'll take the phone upstairs'

Yesterday she was taken into
Daddy's warm lap
All she could say at the end
Dear daddy are you dying
I know it's come back again
the little cells inside your head
But you would always
stay with me
That's the promise that you made)
gamiila: (Default)
In among the bills for this week, the news I'd been dreading: Joost passed away peacefully in his sleep on March 18th. He was 45 years old.

It was love that had given him the strength to withstand his illness for the last 10 years, and at the last, it was love that gave him the strength also to let go.

R.I.P. Apie

Sep. 4th, 2008 02:59 pm
gamiila: (Default)
Apie, my parents' cat, died in my arms half an hour ago.

It was only a few weeks ago that my mum took her to live with her after it had become clear that Dad was no longer able to care for her. Barely a week later, Mum went into hospital, and I took it upon myself to go to Mum's house every day to make sure she was fed and watered, and to play with her for half an hour before I went about my normal routine again. She was such a sweet little cat, who loved company, and took being home alone quite hard.

I put food out for her on Monday. Tuesday, her bowl hadn't been touched. She purred and danced around me like she always did, so I wasn't too worried...but the next day, I found she still hadn't eaten. I tried to make her drink some water, but she didn't seem able to swallow very well, and she was very unsteady on her legs. Still, I hoped she'd rally round...but this morning, I found her hidden away in a dark corner of the kitchen. Her eyes were open, but she lay there so still and felt so cold...yet her heart was still beating. I rang the vet and explained the situation, that I was taking care of an 18-year old cat whose owner was away, that she hadn't eaten for 3 days and that I was certain she was dying. The vet agreed to see us almost straight away, and when we got there, agreed with me that there was nothing that could be done for her except to ease her going. Apie died instantly, the minute the vet injected her.

And now I can't stop crying, even though she wasn't my cat.

I was supposed to have a phone interview for a job with Diageo, the world's largest drinks producer, at 4 o'clock this afternoon, but luckily the person who was going to interview me understood my reasons for wanting to postpone it, and now we've re-scheduled for Monday.
gamiila: (Default)
I guess Jobsworth was feeling better or has had some good results following his bloodtests, because he was back to his old insensitive, tyrannical self today.

He took me to task saying I haven't been doing a good enough job since I've started back on half days. He expects me to cram in a full day's work in the 4 hours I put in (that's 4 hours in the office, plus 4 hours travelling there and back). When I countered that I'm doing the best I can given the fact that I can't use my arm very well and am in quite a bit of pain when I do, and that I was disregarding doctor's orders by coming in at all, he told me he didn't want to hear any of my excuses. His message was clear: I either pick up or ship out.

Fine. As from tomorrow, I won't come in at all.


One of my co-workers told me Heath Ledger has died. The news has left me quite stunned. I wasn't a big fan, but I've seen a few of his films and liked him in them, so yeah...It's very sad.


Moving on, though: it's [livejournal.com profile] bogwitch's birthday! Happy birthday, darling! I know we haven't spoken much lately, but you're always in my thoughts, and I hope that you at least are having a wonderful day today.

Well now

Sep. 1st, 2007 12:24 pm
gamiila: (Default)
My ex-stepfather has died, aged 79. He was married to my mother for 12 years, but we haven't kept in touch since they divorced 10 years ago. We were never close; and although I personally had nothing against him, he always resented the fact that my mother's side of the family had remained good friends with my father, and took that resentment out on me more than my sister, as everyone always identified me as more my father's daughter than my mother's. His marriage was doomed from the first moment he raised a hand to me because of that resentment. Still, I'm sorry to hear he died all alone.

In happier news: Joost's chemo seems to have halted his tumour's growth. There has been no noticeable increase in its mass since my last report.


Mar. 13th, 2007 09:39 pm
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Mourners gathered, literally in their hundreds, to say goodbye to Peronne and offer their condolences to her devastated parents at the cemetery in Rotterdam where her family owns a plot. A marquee had been added onto the chapel, but even so a substantial part of the gathering had to stay outside and follow the service over the loudspeakers. Originally, the family had requested there be no eulogies, but after the vicar had concluded his hour-long speech, her uncle gained permission to say a few words, reminiscing about and stressing her role within the family; and then her father got up and and paid an impromptu, and very moving tribute to his daughter, his only child.

My friend Peronne was a singularly unique individual. We're all unique to some extent, but Peronne was somehow more unique than most. Born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth, and into a noble family, her innate natural warmth, compassion and genuine interest in her fellow human beings enabled her to overcome the boundaries of class and deference and communicate with people from all walks of life in the spirit of truth and equality.

Growing up in a family and a congregation that allowed her to be herself, and to explore her natural curiosity, she soon discovered faith as a way of life, while realising that the important things in life came down to individual choices. When it came time to go to university, she knew there was only one study for her: theology, which she read in Leiden and Oxford. She became a vicar, and a tireless advocate of interreligious dialogue. She even became the president of the Dutch chapter of the International Association for Religious Freedom I.A.R.F., and also worked for some time as a volunteer for a faith-based NGO at the United Nations in New York, and as a fund-raiser and guest-preacher at the All Souls Unitarian Church in the same city. She recently published a book on the importance of rituals.

Naturally, she was much more than a vicar on a mission to do good. She was my friend, who loved good food, who loved to have people round for dinner (she was the perfect hostess as well as a fantastic cook) or go out to the finest restaurants; who was a tremendous wine buff whose greatest enjoyment lay in sharing her favourites with her friends and acquaintances. She loved classical music and the opera, jazz recitals and Paul Weller. She was fond of art, clothes, jewellery, and makeup; liked to travel (both for work and for pleasure), and we often used to go on shopping sprees to London together. She absolutely loved vintage sports cars, owned a red Alfa Romeo Spider, and drove in rallyes all across Europe. She loved parties and apart from throwing some magnificent ones herself, always lit up every party at which she was present as a guest. People gravitated towards her. Men lost their hearts to her, and she broke a fair few, though never out of malice or just because she could. She would have loved to have found Mr. Right, but although she thought she might have once or twice, she was always disappointed in that hope.

She never judged. She accepted everyone, young or old, exactly as they were, and never tried to change anybody other than to try to induce or encourage them to do good. She was loyal, supportive and unwavering in her friendships. She was a great listener and a giver of sound advice. She was, quite simply, a wonderful human being, one of the best there ever were on this planet, and the world is a colder place without her.

Yesterday, we took her to her final resting place. After the coffin had been lowered into the grave, her father scattered the ashes of her half-brother Ben, who died 13 months ago, over the lid. It seems fitting that the two of them, so close in life, should be together forever in death.


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December 2012

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