A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-19

Shock, Sobs and a Super Switch

Every other year we organize an all-family reunion, originally celebrating our wedding anniversary, starting at our 45th. Right now there are the two de Jong families on the East Coast, and the two families on the West Coast. We found different places, all on a lake or the ocean, and the house we needed grew from 11 to 15 people. We started at Lake Almanor, then Lake Tahoe, Lake of the Pines, we flew as far as the North shore of Oahu, and drove to Duck on the Outerbanks in North Carolina. It was a time of fun and activities for all, a time for us to get to know the grandchildren and a time for the grandchildren to get to know each other and their grandparents, aunties and uncle.

This year, always the first ten days in July because of school and work restrictions, we had rented a beautiful house on the beach on the Island of Caicos. What an adventure that would be! We had never even heard of Caicos. One of our grandsons, the one who wants to be a pilot and fly as far as he can whenever he can found our 2020 destination. For over a year, everything we did was with a focus on Caicos. Snorkels for Christmas, calendars for crossing out the days, planning beach outfits, swim suits (do we still fit the old ones?) and more, and of course watching the VRBO video over and over.

Until Covid-19 arrived. A good thing it came to us in March, for we would be out of lockdown by the end of June for sure, or so we thought. But it got worse, much worse. Two of the four families kept their hope up: By June we will surely be able to go. Two families gave up all hope. And then disaster struck and destroyed all our hopes and plans: the airlines cancelled our flights.

Although it was disappointing for everyone, I felt it was the worst for me. My dream of interacting with all the grandchildren together, swimming and snorkeling in a warm ocean and sitting in the shade of a palm tree on a white sand beach was shattered. I cried. Oh, not in front of everybody, but silently in the bedroom with Lani in my arms. It was such a beautiful dream, and now the decision had been made. Not by us, that was sort of comforting. One of my daughters had told me a month ago: Mam, you have a pipe dream. I had never heard of a pipe dream, have you? I googled it. No, I don’t have pipe dreams, only dreams that I can make come true, like I have done with so many throughout my life. But anyway, the decision had been made for us and it did not cause bad feelings between the families. After all, I thought, we only lost a vacation. How disastrous it would be if we lost a loved one, like so many people have. How selfish I am to cry over a lost vacation! Shame on me.

But then, unbeknownst to us, the children went to work. One was on the phone with the airlines for almost an hour and accomplished getting a full refund from the airline instead of a credit. One was on the phone with the Caicos homeowner for an hour and accomplished that we could get the same ten days in his house in 2021, almost to the day. Then both siblings went on the phone together to convince the third one (who does not like long-range planning) that this was absolutely the right thing to do, even if it was over a year away. And then they came to us and told us the good news: we only had to wait another year for our dreams to come true. And then I cried again. Because it was wonderful to look forward to our Caicos vacation again, but a lot can happen in a year, especially at our age and with this virus lurking everywhere. On the other hand, I reasoned with myself, it will be a great occasion to celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary. And that’s what got me smiling again. We are going to make it. On we go! Mamma would say.

Friends in faraway places

My dear friend Anna in California, who created all of my beautiful skirts, sent me a surprise: two masks, both reversible, in various designs. I gave one to Mike and kept the other one to alternate with the one my friend in Arizona sent me. The most beautiful creations are jumping up everywhere, even some with Mexican embroidery. Well, if this situation is going to last much longer, we need a collection of masks! I still have my sewing machine, so if I wanted to I could make a few myself. I just don’t have the time! I am happy with the masks I got and will wear them when needed.

Amazon Fresh

Amazon has been my favorite place to shop. I ordered a lot of things with them in the past. Last year my daughter-in-law made me aware of Amazon Prime, where, for a small monthly fee I can shop with free shipping and short delivery times. That was wonderful, because I can now order things at the drop of a hat, whenever I need them. And just last week I discovered Amazon Fresh. The groceries I ordered varied from Swiss cheese, wine, my favorite Killer Bread and crackers to delicious blueberries and avocados. I did not need it yet, but fresh ground beef and yogurt are also available. I could choose the day and time for delivery. What a discovery! And then my daughter-in-law told me about instacart.com. Well, that made my shopping life complete. Because with Instacart I can shop at the markets of my choice, including Costco. And Costco carries one of the staples of our family, which I have not been able to get anywhere else: Dutch Gouda Cheese. So now we are totally independent and will be able to survive the lockdown for as long as it will last.

Beauty woes 

The long lockdown causes problems for almost all the residents. The hair stylist/nail tech is not allowed to come in to take care of hair and nails, and neither are the residents allowed to leave the property to visit a beauty salon. So hair grows longer and gets grey, artificial nails grow out, nail polish with them, and men get bearded chins – but that is kind of the fashion nowadays. I count myself lucky. I can’t cut my own hair, but since hair grows 1/2″ per month (that is 6″ per year) I will be able to wear a pony tail again like I did in Hawai’i if the lockdown lasts long enough 🙂 We lived on the Big Island for twelve years. The first year we went back to California a couple of times – Mike for a funeral and I to finalize things I had pending. Both times, my Pasadena hairdresser came to the airport hotel where we stayed to cut my hair. Jay was a very creative stylist, who cut the hair of all the ladies in our family for many years, including my mother’s when she came over from the Netherlands to stay with us. Anyway, I could not find anyone in all of Hilo who could cut my hair the way I was used to. So it grew, and because of the humidity it became wavy, and when it was longer still I wore it in a ponytail. All my hula sisters had long hair, so I fit right in. When we moved to Prescott I had it cut short again to the great disappointment of my Hawaiian friends when they saw the pictures. We’ll see how fast my hair will grow in this lockdown. I have no problem with turning grey, because ever since I was in a hair show in Pasadena in 1976 and got the formula from the stylist I have been coloring it myself. And my nails? Not a problem either. I had my own acrylic nail company when we lived in Pasadena and I still have enough supplies left to keep my nails looking beautiful.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,






4 thoughts on “A New Life! Retirement at its Best 2020-19”

  1. Lieve Ronny,
    About feeling sad. There are a lot of people at the moment who are in a way worse situation than you but…… these are YOUR feelings and allow yourself to feel the sadness and disappointmen. Do not feel guilty over this. We know you are a very nice and caring person.
    I hope everything will go better next year and indeed something to look forward to.

    • Thank you, Riet. I appreciate your support of my feelings. Please stay safe where you are and enjoy nature if you can get out. 🤗🤗

  2. Ronny – I cried when I started reading your latest blog about having to postpone your 60th wedding anniversary family reunion. For those of us with family spread out it’s really hard, and our family is all outside the US. The only time we have been able to get us all together was for our 50th, 9 years ago; that was the first and only time our grandchildren have met!! We are hoping to gather them together when we celebrate our 60th next year. Thank you for writing such wonderful blogs. I can’t wait for each one to arrive.

    • Thank you Carol,
      We do have a lot in common. Are you planning to celebrate 60 with everybody here, in the US? Or are you traveling to another destination to meet up with them? Our anniversary is in January, but nobody can make it at that time of year, so we celebrate in the summer. Our 60th will be 1/10/2021, to celebrate 07/10/2021.
      I can’t wait to start my next post, it will be exciting!


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