For several days I did nothing but visit family - uncles, aunts, cousins and nephews. I couldn't get over how the family had grown over those years I was away from home. I was invited to their homes. All of them had shiny cars in front of their houses. Their houses were very small compared to the average home I was used to in the United States, but the Dutch houses were very neat and clean, and furniture was of the latest style. So many changes had taken place over the years. It wasn't the same anymore. Every street and house I remembered had changed. There were still many of my friends who complained about the old style and the way the Dutch government looks after its people. I thought about the trip I took to Asia and how those people I visited lived in bamboo houses without modern comforts, and yet they didn't complain but smiled and just lived off the land that was available. It shows how easily people can get spoiled in life and just take everything for granted. I told my friends in Holland that they lived in a paradise and didn't even know it.
Every morning I took a long walk around the wheat fields. It was right along the German border. I needed the exercise since I was a heart patient. I walked along the same paths as I had walked during the war when we were occupied by the German army. I remember as a kid how we would pick the flowers in the field and put them on the footsteps of this little Holy Mary chapel. It was built along one of the field roads. It was still there after so may years. So every morning I walked along this little chapel and said a few prayers for Lu Lu's health and walked home a different path as my mother was waiting to serve my breakfast. Every morning I took a different path through the fields. As I was walking there all by myself it brought back so many memories of the war. During the war I spent many hours in those fields picking up loose heads of wheat, because we had nothing to eat. At one time there was a Siegfried-Line around with all its concrete pillars, all of that was gone. Where I was walking during the war many American soldiers lost their lives to try to break through this awful Siegfried-Line with all those concrete bunkers... where were they now? I guess the German government cleared all of this because they didn't want the younger German generation to know how brutally this war was fought.
As I walked around the fields everything seemed so peaceful like nothing had ever happened around that area. Could I tell that there ever had been a war fought before where I was walking? Never – not the way this area was rebuilt over the years. But as I walked around I could still remember the spots where, as a kid, I had traded some Dutch gin with American combat soldiers for their chocolate and cigarettes. So many thoughts came crashing down on me as I walked through those fields. What would have happened to me if this war had never started. Would I have left my family in Holland to move to the United States. What would have happened to me if I had stayed in Holland? I had no answers. It's just like a scale where you weigh things where one side becomes heavier and the other side lighter, and that is what life is all about. You never know where the heavier or light part of life is going to be. Many people say that life is destined for all of us. I was never a strong believer in that kind of philosophy, but from some of the experiences I've had, there is some truth in it.
One day when I was visiting my oldest sister, Paula, her daughter, Anita, suggested that we take a ride across the border into Germany. Paula lives a street away from the German border. As we were driving along the wall, which was still a reminder of the fierce battles they had fought during the war. Just driving through Germany reminded me so much about the war. For my niece it didn't make any difference if she was driving in Germany or Holland. Her generation had never witnessed a war. After so many years you didn't even notice anymore that once one of the biggest war battles was fought where we were driving. I noticed that most of the people in my mother's town have forgotten that time. Most everybody lives such a luxurious lifestyle. Not one of the younger generation knows what hardship is.