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

Accept what life brings you

Most people do not understand that a person who has to live every day with someone who is sick, suffers just as much as the person he is taking care of. It's not easy to live a life like that, but I have accepted that as part of my life. There are so many things I wanted to do in life but I know it's my duty to see to it first the welfare of my wife. When two people get married they promise each other on their wedding day to take care of each other – in sickness and in health. It's so easy to walk away from problems in life, but to stick to it and not give up and make the best out of a bad situation will give you rewards you can always remember.

With the awareness that Lu Lu's physical condition would never be the same anymore I had to reshuffle some of the daily routine responsibilities. I knew it would not be an easy task, but I took it as a challenge rather than a burden. There were many things we did together. Before her stroke Lu Lu always prayed with her bible early in the morning. Since she wasn't able to read very well, I told her we would sit down together every morning and I would say the prayers for her. I knew how fond Lu Lu was about saying those prayers in the morning, and it gave both of us a lot of comfort to start our day. It wasn't very easy for me to live this kind of life day in and day out, but I learned as the days went on that openness, acceptance, flexibility and kindness will enrich your relationship. In troubled times, they will keep your marriage strong, just when you need it most.

We always looked forward to see one of our friends visiting us, especially on weekends when Ahna would spend time with us. How a person who is housebound looks forward to see some visitors is difficult to describe, but the direct happiness when the visitors arrive is so noticeable.

As medical problems have really changed our lifestyle, all around the world people are changing their ways of living.

It was almost a half a century ago, but I still remember when I was in elementary school that the teacher told me, "Jeff, in your time you will witness the downfall of communism in Russia, and many Russian people will be converted into Christianity". Who would ever believe that years ago a Russian President would visit the Pope. This historical moment happened as written by "The Washington Post" on Friday, December 1st, 1989. Speaking on the eve of his meeting with Pope John Paul II, the first direct encounter between the leader of the world's original Communist state and the leader of 850 million Roman Catholics, the Russian President Gorbachev acknowledged that the Soviet Union had taken a mistaken attitude towards religion in the past. He said that the moral values embodied by religion could make a significant contribution towards his perestroika reform movement.

Changes are made by people, and President Gorbachev, being a conformist, changed the whole picture of Eastern Europe communism. He sidelined most of the Soviet army which had always been the dominating force in Eastern Europe for communism. Once that started to fall, Eastern Europe communism thwarted nationalism. How could all of this happen so suddenly? Years of communications revolution was the greatest force for advancement of freedom in the world. The reality is that the technology of communications can be employed for good ends or evil, depending on the character of the men and women at the controls. For years broadcasting and telexes and computers chatted through national boundaries making remarks that electronic beams broke through the Iron Curtain as if it were lace. Satellite graphics not only showed us what happened in the free world, but also were able show the tyranny of dictatorial regimes. All of the evidence of tyranny of dictatorial regimes against the will of many people would receive worldwide support and sympathy from the people that their bravery evoked. Freedom of communications ultimately changed human institutions for better or worse only by human effort. One thing is for sure; technology is the servant, and not the master of change.

On Friday, November 10th, 1989, the headlines of The Washington Post were as follows: "East Germany opens Berlin Wall and borders, and 2.7 million East Germans get a taste of the West". After 50 years of totalitarianism East Germany and countries of Eastern and central Europe are finally able to see with their own eyes what a free democracy is. What will happen to this part of the world in the 1990's? The collapse of the Soviet empire can justly be called the revolution of 1989. Where is this revolution heading for? We must recognize that Gorbachev is the architect of this revolution but perhaps ultimately its victim. Gorbachev's aims were to modernize the Soviet economy, and so far that hasn't worked. In order to do so he had to make reductions in military capabilities. He was able to do this within the Warsaw Pact, but he still has to have a strong military capability within the Soviet Union where so many Soviet nationalities pose another threat, as many of those nationalities aspire for self determination which could provoke ethnic conflict with the possibilities of a chaos or a civil war. It won't be easy for the Soviet Government to solve the problems between the Baltic states and other nationalities. With such internal extreme conflicts within the Soviet Union the Western free democracy cannot take lightly the thousands of powerful nuclear weapons stored in the Soviet Union with long-range delivery systems. I will never forget as a small child my grandmother always told me, "Never trust a Russian".

CONTINUED: Prospects for Peace
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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