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

The Decline of Religious Values

During the five weeks I stayed with my mother, I went to the old church where I was once an altar and choir boy. I went to the Sunday mass a few times during the week, but there was almost nobody in the church, just a few old people which I still recognized from the time I was an altar boy. I enjoyed the mass and the songs they were singing, especially the songs which brought back old memories. I couldn't understand why some of my friends stayed away from such a beautiful Gothic church. Just the structure of the church, the beautiful old statues of different Saints, the burning candle lights all around, and the peace and quietness made me go in there just to be away from a little while from this busy world, and have peace within myself and to know it was God's house.

As I inquired to some of my friends why they were not attending church service, I was told about the Pastors and Priest and how they just had bad manners in certain ways. My friends had teen-age children, and when I asked them if they attended church services they'd laugh at me. I remember during the war when the church was filled with people. My friends' parents would never miss a daily mass, and gave their children this background. How could they neglect what their parents had given to them. Many of the Dutch churches are being closed and turned into warehouses. I told many of my Dutch friends that I wasn't going to church for the Pastor, Priest or the Minister. From my travel experience, I have seen that there is somebody in heaven who looks after all of us in this world, and we, as people, should take some time to honor and respect that power in heaven at least for whatever we have in life. Since I was born as a Christian, I do it my Christian way, and other religions do it their way. If a religion disappears in a society, somehow that society will lose many of its structural values about life. For me it was sad to see that so many of the old traditions were slowly disappearing. During those five weeks of my vacation I met so many of my old friends, and it was a thrill to see them again and we had so many things to talk about. Even though we talked about the old times and the environment was very pleasant, there was something I noticed that wasn't the same anymore. Was it because I had been away from home for 31 years already? Many of my friends said they wished they could have done the same in life as I had done, meeting all those interesting people and traveling all around the world. It all sounds so nice when you talk about it, but what about all the hardship you have to go through before you can reach that goal in life. Many people just don't have the patience to reach certain goals in life. There is a saying, "we have to look into the future" and somehow each person has to decide about his own destiny. Most people have to make a future for themselves because fortunes are not given to you at birth; you have to get into this challenging world and make your own life to satisfy your needs.

I spent one night at the casino in the tourist town of Valkenburg. It was about 10 miles away from the town where my mother lived. There were many other casinos in different cities. When I lived there, the word 'casino' was never heard of. My second sister, Tony, with her boyfriend, Rudy, and her daughter, Linda, with her boyfriend, Nico, drove us to the casino. I had promised them a free treat to the casino since they were so kind to pick me up at the airport. Rudy was very lucky that night on the card table by playing 21 to win enough money to buy himself a second hand car the next day, which he needed so badly.

Another night my oldest sister Paula and her boyfriend, Renee, took me to a club. It was very close to the German border. The dance floor and surroundings were packed with a mixture of all kinds of nationalities. I noticed there were many single women around, and could have easily gone home with one of the ladies that night if I had been a bachelor. The women around the dance floor were just waiting for a man to take home. The music that was playing was mostly German melodies.

Whatever vacation you take, it comes to an end. During my stay with my mother I had talked with Lu Lu on the telephone several times. Sometimes Lu Lu would call when I wasn't home and my mother would have a conversation with her. I knew once I was back in the States Lu Lu would be my biggest concern again as I knew her health was deteriorating. Her complaints about her chest pains were more often than before. The five weeks vacation had been very good for me mentally. Being around Lu Lu with her constant complaining about her sickness was not easy to live with every day. It's not that you don't love each other, but you like to help the person who suffers and somehow you are helpless.

CONTINUED: The Newspaper Interview
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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