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

My family meets Lu Lu

When we arrived at the Amsterdam airport two of my brothers-in-law were waiting for us — my oldest sister's husband Sjaak, and my second sister's husband Dino. Not one of my family members had ever met Lu Lu, and they were all waiting to meet her. During our vacation Sjaak was very kind and took us in his Mercedes wherever we wanted to go. If Sjaak wasn't able to take us, Dino would take us around in his car.

We stayed in my mother's house. My mother still lived in the old house where I lived during and after the war until I left for the U.S.A. In the 12 years I had been away from home, some things had changed. The heating in the house was much better, and there was a shower room which we didn't have before. Upstairs, the bedrooms were still not heated, and as cold as it is in Holland during the wintertime I know Lu Lu wasn't going to like this. Most Dutch people at that time didn't have any heat in their bedrooms.

I visited my second sister, and her children at that time were very small. It was 20 F below and her kids were sleeping in their bedrooms with their windows open. I was worried about the small children that they would catch a cold and told my sister to close those windows, but she said that they never sleep with heat in their bedrooms or close the windows. It makes them sick, but only when it is very foggy would they close their windows. The Dutch people were used to that kind of living, but even myself being away for all those years, I wasn't used to it anymore, sleeping in the wintertime in unheated rooms.

Lu Lu felt very uncomfortable when I took her along to Holland. She was a little scared that my family wouldn't accept her, but after visiting all my aunts and uncles, and they loved Lu Lu all very much, she started going around through town by herself. I know Lu Lu missed her own kitchen, as in Holland she couldn't overindulge people with food as she was used to doing in her own house. At that time the groceries in Holland weren't very cheap, and especially the meat that Lu Lu used to buy in the States was very expensive here. One day Lu Lu went to the grocery store by herself to do some shopping. The clerks in the store spoke only a little English. Lu Lu wanted to buy chicken and asked one of the clerks where the chicken was. The clerk in the store didn't know what Lu Lu was talking about. So Lu Lu became a little excited and held her hand on her bottom and made the noise of a chicken who was laying an egg. With all those movements Lu Lu made it clear to the clerk's mind that she wanted to buy chicken. Another day Lu Lu went to the open fish market and bought some eel. When she got home my mother asked how much she paid for it. It turned out she had paid twice the amount she should. It made my mother so mad that they had cheated her that she took Lu Lu back to the fish market and asked the man why he overcharged Lu Lu for the eel she bought from him. He said when she opened her purse he noticed how many dollars she had. He said to my mother, "that lady is rich". Eel is very expensive in Holland, but my mother told the fisherman off, that it wasn't the way to treat a customer, regardless of how rich the person was. My mother tried to make Lu Lu's visit as comfortable for her as she could. At night she would put hot water bottles in her bed so that she would sleep well, as my mother knew that Lu Lu couldn't stand the cold bedrooms. I had chosen the Christmas season to be home because I would see all of my family and friends during that time. We were invited to many places to celebrate during the holidays, but many times Lu Lu stayed at my mother's house because she felt uncomfortable because we were always talking in our own language. I went out most every night as many of my old friends invited me. Whenever I took Lu Lu along all of my friends liked her right away. But it was the cold weather in Holland that affected Lu Lu the most. After a couple of weeks I could really sense that she was looking forward to going home again.

Sjaak took us around in his Mercedes and for a few days we did some sight-seeing around Germany and Belgium. Lu Lu enjoys seeing those countries. My grandmother had told us that we had to spend a few days with her before we could leave. She had lived in the same old house for more than 60 years. It was a large old home with three bedrooms upstairs, two large living rooms, and a large separate kitchen. Lu Lu couldn't get over it how my grandmother at her age (85 years old) and living by herself could keep her house so neat and clean. The two days we stayed with her she cooked for us, and didn't even want us to make up our own bed. She had always written me in her letters that she wanted to meet Lu Lu first before she died. She was very happy when she met Lu Lu, and told me that Lu Lu had a good heart. Lu Lu told my grandmother that she was scared to fly, and especially from Amsterdam to London. Flying into London in the winter time is kind of scary because above London it's always so cloudy. My grandmother was a very religious person, and God was part of her life. She said to Lu Lu, "my child, don't worry I will pray to God that the sun will shine". For me just staying two days in my grandmother's house brought back so many nice memories of my childhood. There was something about my grandmother's house where I always wanted to go back to. She showed us many old pictures of the old times and the things we used to do with all the family around. If you look at it you feel kind of sad that you can't go back to those days anymore. How fast the years had gone by. I was so glad that I spent those two days in my grandmother's house.

It was heart-breaking for us to say goodbye to each other, as I knew I wouldn't see my grandmother anymore. As we flew back from Amsterdam to London we remembered my grandmother's words — she said the sun would shine over London. As we flew into London the sun was shining and the sky was clear. I know whatever she prayed for it would happen.

CONTINUED: Our weekends in the Shenandoah Mountains
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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