As I prepared for my plane trip to Holland, I decided to pack my luggage as lightly as I could. Wherever you go and whatever you do on a trip, money is always your best friend. After so many years of not seeing my family and old friends, I certainly wasn't going to worry about how I was going to spend my money. I knew that the dollar had devaluated quite a bit since the last time I had visited Holland. I booked a round trip flight with KLM Airlines from New York to Amsterdam, and a shuttle flight with Pan Am Airlines from Washington D.C. to New York. I must honestly admit that I was never fond of flying in any airplane, but I had no choice and did what most people do — take the fastest transportation to get there. As we left New York with a totally different plane, I can't say that I really enjoyed my flight with KLM. The narrow seating facilities and the walking aisles were constantly congested with people and stewardesses who were pushing small carts with food and drinks around. I felt relieved when we arrived in Amsterdam after a six hour and twenty minute flight. Like every airport, it takes longer to get your luggage than all the flying time in the air. As I was waiting for my luggage to come around I spotted my sister, Tony, and her daughter Linda and their boyfriends in the lobby between the waiting crowd. They were waving at me so that I would notice them. I had never met my sister's and her daughter's boyfriends. I was getting tired and a little uncomfortable for waiting so long for my luggage to arrive. It has been so many years that I haven't been home and I feel a little strange with my family. Finally I noticed my luggage coming down the conveyor. It's a release because you know you're on your way out. Then you realize that you still have to check-out with the Dutch custom authorities. Fortunately they let me go through without a check-up.
Walking into the lobby where my family was waiting, my luggage was taken over right away by the men. First I am introduced to my sister's boyfriend, Rudy, and my sister's daughter, Linda, and her boyfriend, Nico. After a little snack at the airports restaurant and getting to know each other again, Nico decided to get the car. Nico borrowed his father's car which was more comfortable with the five of us. As always, in Holland it was raining when we left the Amsterdam airport. This is typical Dutch weather in the lowlands of Holland. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to arrive at my mother's house. It rained all the way and 15 minutes from my mother's house we ran out of gas on an interstate highway without a gas station in the neighborhood. It poured buckets of water out of the sky and poor Nico, who had misjudged the gasoline meter in the car and had to walk along the highway to find the nearest gas pump. He was soaked when he returned with a can a gasoline. As we drove to the gas station and filled our gas tank, Nico was able to change out of his wet clothes. I gave him one of my brand new Polo shirts. He said that was just what he needed. Before we stopped at my mother's house we went first to one of my sister's favorite beer pubs. The owner's wife and my sister were very good friends. I was surprised by the small glasses of beer they served and how much they charged for it. When we arrived at my mother's house my oldest and youngest sisters and their children were waiting for us. My mother was overjoyed to see me home again, especially because I was going to stay for five weeks. This was my longest stay since I left home for America. My oldest sister, Paula, had gained some weight since the last time I saw her. My youngest sister, Riet, sat in a corner and cried from joy at seeing me again. She was always very close to me. She looked so skinny and seemed so nervous. I couldn't get over my sister's children and how they had grown since the last time I saw all of them. Now they were all in their twenties and had become nice-looking young men and women. All of my family missed Lu Lu and wished she could have made the trip.
As soon as I arrived at my mother's house I called Lu Lu and told her that everything was fine. Lu Lu was glad to hear my voice as she worried a lot. I was glad to hear that she was taken care of as I didn't feel comfortable leaving her behind.
Until late at night my sisters and their friends stayed at my mother's house. There were so many things we had to talk about. I was glad when all of them decided to go home. I was ready to go to bed as I almost lost a whole day in time and sleep. My mother had my bedroom ready and treated me like I was her little son from many years ago. Even though I was 55 years old and have been away from home for so many years, you feel a little embarrassed when your mother gives you a goodnight kiss every night you go to bed. All of those little things you have to get used to again.