After World War Two our family was reunited and we moved into an empty home in Soerabaja, the city where we lived before the war. Our former house on Brouwerstreet was occupied, but many houses stood empty. Everything portable had been stolen out of the house. The only pieces of furniture left were a large side board and three large wooden beds with mattresses. A few crates from the yard would function as a table and chairs. There were no sheets, but then we did not know any better. My sister Paula and I found a silver hand mirror and a silver salt dish with blue glass inside underneath the sideboard. Treasures! After my mother passed away I got the hand mirror and the salt dish and I still have them. We had very few possessions left. That was the situation when I was seven years old and Paula five.
A year later we went to Holland where we met our grandparents for the very first time. They had gifts for us, unbelievable gifts. I got a porcelain doll dressed in the costume of Zeeland and another, smaller doll with pink clothes that Mina, my grandmother’s live-in housekeeper had crocheted, with tassels and beautiful shiny blue buttons. She even had pink underpants and a little camisole, crocheted socks and a pink bonnet. Lovely.
I have played with the dolls and later in life I had the costumed doll, the “boerinnepop”, on display in my bedroom. The little one I tucked away for my future granddaughters. But the time has come and gone. My oldest granddaughter is now ten, has many toys but never really played with dolls. The other two granddaughters are six and three, and they don’t play with dolls either. And then I met Lilly.
Lilly had lost everything in the hurricane; I heard she loved playing with dolls and her dad had only brought one Barbie doll in her suitcase. So I washed my doll’s clothes, replaced the 72-year old elastic in the pants and she was ready to meet her new mother. Tonight, when she came to have dinner with her grandparents, we sat together in the dining room. A very lively six-year-old, she told us she had turned six on the day the hurricane hit: September 10, 2017. “And our house was full of water, all the way till the roof!” After dinner we got together in the Players Room and she opened the box, which I had filled with pink tissue paper, the doll and an extra set of clothes. “Oh, a glass doll!” she exclaimed while she lifted her out of the box and cradled her in the nook of her left arm, and “Pink is my favorite color.”
It was a great success. She completely undressed her and then put everything on again, more careful after I showed her that the arms and legs could be twisted out of the socket if she was not very careful. I told her she could think of a name that she liked. Nothing came to mind immediately, but after we said goodbye and she walked to the elevator with her grandparents, grandma holding the empty box and she holding her new little treasure, she turned around and said, “Her name is Ellie.” Two days later her grandmother wrote me a thank you note with a special prayer: Child of God, may the grace and love of Christ meet you today. May God guide your footsteps and your words. May you be a blessing, especially as you are blessed. A gift I very much appreciated.
On Sundays after church the Club serves a copious brunch. There is a short line for the omelet station and then we go along the buffet and choose the things we like. Many people bring their children and grandchildren (most of whom are adults already) and it is fun to get to meet the second and third generations. We often sit with one couple whose son has a ranch nearby. The first time I noticed his boots under the table and asked if he came from Texas. No, he had a farm nearby, with a plethora of various animals. We started a conversation and we have sat together with him, his parents and sometimes his sisters many times since. One day, he came to our cottage after brunch (wearing brand new white sneakers :-)) and he handed me a large carton tube. Out came seventeen peacock feathers. Seventeen peacock feathers, what a gift! Some of them were five feet tall, the shortest ones 18 inches.
Four under feathers (he called them dog feathers), brown and beige, were 18 inches tall, and I am using one of them as a quill in a block of koa wood from Hawai’i on my desk. They look like the feathers of a bird of prey, like a large hawk.
I remember when we lived in Pasadena, that we went to the Arboretum in Arcadia where peacocks roamed free. But we never saw a peacock feather on the ground that was within reach, and certainly not of this size! In Kona Village Resort, on the western shore of the Big Island, they had white peacocks with feathers like lace. The world is full of beautiful creatures and beautiful things. Enjoy them while you can!
It’s a Wonderful Life!
Until next time,