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

My father has a tragic death and I get married

I received a telegram from my mother that my father had died. He was only fifty years old. Later I received all the news on what had happened to my father. He worked on the afternoon shift that week. Before he left for work he would always have a cup of coffee with my mother. That week they had won together some money in the State lottery, and they were talking about if they would win one of the big draws they would certainly come to visit me. My oldest sister, Paula, was living in the next town and was expecting her second child. My father had a light motorcycle which he used to go to work. On his way to work he would always stop by my oldest sister's house, especially since she was expecting her second child. My oldest sister was his favorite daughter. The story that my mother told me was that he was a little late when he left the house and must have rushed a little bit. There was an intersection where he was supposed to make a complete stop, but he didn't. It was a hilly road and a German tractor trailer loaded with fuel hit him instantly. My father's body was unrecognizable as it caught fire on the impact. It was a terrible shock for my mother as everything happened so suddenly. This was the first death announcement I had received since I left home. Now I understood why he shed tears at the airport when I left. He must have had a feeling that it would be the last time that we would see each other.

When I received my mother's telegram I went into the bedroom and cried for a little while. I suddenly realized I would never see him again. Something was taken out of my life forever. Death was something I could never easily accept in life because so many of us go without a warning. Even the people like my father you always feel like they just have gone for a long trip, and in your mind it seems you will see them again. Here my father went through so much misery during the war. He was in World War II, bombed and shot at and wasn't killed. It made me think about the mystic things about life, and why death has to happen at certain times, regardless of where you are. I was not able to attend my father's funeral. I just got back from my three weeks vacation. It was difficult for me to leave as I was working in a new job with a company who just had taken over our business. I really felt bad that I wasn't able to go to my father's funeral. From Embassy Dairy my mother received a large flower piece. From my mother I received all the newspaper articles from the accident and the funeral service. There were many people at my father's funeral, as he was well known and like in our town.

On October 24, 1963 Lu Lu and I married in the Washington D.C. Court building. The judge who did the wedding ceremony was a lady judge by the name of Judge Kelly. It was a very simple wedding ceremony with two of our friends being the witnesses. We just had enough money to pay for the marriage license. After we were married we moved into an efficiency apartment in downtown Washington D.C. We had no honeymoon or any wedding celebration. We just didn't have the money for it. I was working very hard in my new job, and at night I was taking classes at the American University. Lu Lu was working with the doctor Camalier family. We both left the house early in the morning, and it was late at night when we saw each other again.

In the beginning of our marriage I really had to adjust to a lot of ways of Lu Lu's lifestyle. Wherever she was going, on the street or in a shop, whenever she started a conversation with people she would always invite them to her house for dinner. In no time she made a lot of friends in the apartment building we lived in, and always invited them to eat with her. Many of them liked her cooking so much that it became a habit of some of the people who lived there just to wait for Lu Lu in the front door when she came home from her work. I could see that some people started to take advantage of Lu Lu's good nature. Lu Lu came from a country like Burma, where there is an open society atmosphere, and where people believe in sharing in life. She thought this was the same here in the U.S.A. Western culture isn't the same as what Lu Lu was used to in Asia. So a few times I came back from work I noticed the same freeloaders in my apartment, and I blew my top. I know Lu Lu did it all from the goodness of her heart and wanted nothing in return. There were so many differences in our life, that in the beginning of our marriage it was not easy for me to live with Lu Lu. I was used to Dutch ways, and they are very conservative. Everything had to be spotless, clean, and well organized. Lu Lu never lived that kind of life in Burma. I noticed with Lu Lu, so long as her friends were happy it didn't make any difference to Lu Lu what the apartment looked like. We lived in an efficiency apartment, and Lu Lu would invite and cook for forty people. Things like that I wasn't used to.

CONTINUED: The death of President Kennedy shocks the nation
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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