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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Learning to live with a heart condition

I don't know how Lu Lu took it all during my recuperation. Every little thing she did, like making some noise in the kitchen or other things, I would complain about. Many times I said things to her which I later realized were wrong. Little by little I started to reorganize my life. I started to do things around the apartment, like redecorating the rooms. I just kept myself busy with all kinds of things. If the weather was good I would take a long walk. Sometimes I would go fishing and take my little friend Wyn along. It was nice just to sit along the Potomac River. Wyn, the son of my friend Douglas, was always very happy if he could come along. Every day I had to find something to do just to keep myself busy, and that wasn't very easy.

Jeff's retirement
Jeff's retirement

Even though I had the transluminal coronary angioplasty done I still had chest pains. In November 1985 I had another heart-attack and was taken to Alexandria Hospital. Since my doctor had his medical practice in Alexandria I was admitted to one of his hospitals in Virginia. This time during my hospital stay I felt much more at ease. most of the treatments I received in the hospital were very similar to the ones I received on my first heart-attack. Nothing bothered me this time, even the IVs they stuck into my arms. Somehow I started to learn how to live with my heart condition. After a nine-day treatment I was sent home. I did everything the doctor had told me to do, walked several miles a day, ate the right food, but somehow my chest pains kept coming back. The doctor had given me several medicines to take during the day. I started to get used to my symptoms and just did the things I could do during the day. I tried to live the most normal life possible. I even went to small parties. Maria Barantes, who lived on the first floor of our apartment building had become close friends with us over the years. Whenever she had a party and invited her friends she would always invite Lu Lu and me. Maria came originally from Colombia, and during her first years in the United States she was a domestic helper for Mrs. Jean Kirk-Patrick.

I met Mrs. Jean Kirk-Patrick several times at Maria Barantes' apartment when she was appointed Ambassador to the United Nations by President Reagan. Whenever she came to Maria's apartment she was always escorted in her limousine by secret service men from the U.S. Government. Most of the time Mrs. Jean Kirk-Patrick would ask us what our opinion was about certain events of crisis that were going on in this world. She would ask us questions about the apartheid situation in South Africa and tell us what she thought about it. The answer she gave me was, "Jeff, you are Dutch and know more about that part of the world than I". I also asked her what she thought could be done to bring stability to the conflict between the Palestinian and Israeli people, but she wouldn't even talk about this subject. I read Mrs. Jean Kirk-Patrick's column which was printed in the Washington Post newspaper weekly. I asked her if she wanted me to do her a favor and write a story about neglected American patriotism. She said, "What do you mean by that?" I told her that I could take her outside and count the foreign cars American people were driving, and how much it was hurting the American car industry. She said, "you are so right, but I never saw any story in the newspaper about it". Meeting a political appointee from President Reagan's administration I found out how careful they are answering questions in public. I understood in what position she was in, and how damaging it could be to her and the President she was working for. She was a nice lady to know and very friendly. One day I was doing some shopping in the Safeway store when I noticed her. As I walked over to her I said, "Madam, I am surprised they gave you a day off at the United Nations". She said, "Jeff I have to do my own shopping just like you". I thought about Holland, would I ever run into a Dutch official of the cabinet level doing his own shopping. This is one of the things I always liked about America.

CONTINUED: General Mowu Gwizan from Nagaland
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index