A New Life: Great Expectations! 2024 – 43


Hello again, dear friends! I hope this finds you well and happy, because Life is a wonderful gift, no matter your age. The things to enjoy in life are different in each stage; to realize and appreciate that is a gift as well. Being 85 brings not only memories of joy and traveling, but also consequences of the limitations of an aging body. We are not traveling anymore, and most of our enjoyment comes from the shared travel and activities of children and grandchildren. To name a few: one grandson, on his nineteenth birthday, flew as co-pilot two passengers from Raleigh, NC to Tampa, Florida, first time in a jet. He is now studying to become a flight instructor. At nineteen! A granddaughter won third prize in a running competition of a district of fourth graders. Yet another granddaughter sings in an acapella choir and traveled to Carnegie Hall in New York to perform. We watch the collegiate rowing races of another grandson on TV, and the excitement of watching his boat of 8 pull through the finish line as number One is real. I am on the edge of my seat, pointing out the yellow shirts in the third boat: that’s him! This time of year, proms and graduations are happening, and we are getting lots of pictures from near and far.

The last all-family reunion we had was for our 60th wedding anniversary, three years ago. Eleven of the fifteen family members our de Jong family has grown into could make it. Our joy these days is that the three siblings have mini reunions whenever there is an opportunity. And once or twice a year our daughters fly to North Carolina to see us. We are staying in the loop.


While my writing had already changed from books to articles to Blog posts, it is now re-routing to reading more. Not only good books, but articles on exercising, staying healthy and improving memory. Right now I am reading The Women, a cannot-put-down story about nurses in the Vietnam war. Why another war story? Well, I know nothing about the Vietnam war, and although I have read several good books about WWII in Europe, stories about the war in Asia interest me more.

Lumosity has been a favorite mind strengthening program for years, and now they are offering a special online class in improving your memory 100%. It requires commitment on the computer for six or seven weeks. But since I can see and hear Mike from my lovely, sunny office, I should be able to do that.

Soon, I will resume the exercises on my yoga mat. Right now, I am recovering from a fall. On April 15, on an early walk with Lani, she saw another dog and dashed around me, her leash pulling me down. And I fell. Supported by my guardian angel, I fell in the border on my side with my hands out. It took the wind out of me, so I sat for a few minutes, but then got up and walked home. Not a single bruise, no pain, I could just go to work. The pain came a day later, in both my sides, and was so severe, that I got the strongest pain killer Google suggested: Aleve. I took it twice a day for five days. Then, when I did not feel so well and took my blood pressure, it was so high that I had to go to the ER. Our Apex hospital is only 4 miles from here, so we were there fast. All tests were good, so I was home again in time for dinner. Apparently, the Aleve conflicted with one of the two medications I am taking. From now on I will check interactions whenever I get a new prescription for whatever! I have my own cuff now, and store it in a rattan basket that I used to keep my Hawaiian leis in when I was still dancing, just a few years ago, in Waltonwood. See the shift here? From garlands around my neck to one around my upper arm. 🙂

Quiet contentment

Mike loves to watch the many concerts of world famous Dutch violinist André Rieu on Television from his recliner and we usually watch the news during our lunch hour. I love to do some gardening outside in the border and inside repotting plants that are doing well. I have a beautiful red poinsettia that dates back to December 1, 2023. I will have to find out if I can hold it over till next December. That is not all though. My days are full with the things I mentioned earlier and also with making doctors’ appointments, ordering groceries and meals, and all the other things needed to keep a household running. Together, we make a happy life.

Regular weekly posts will be a thing of the past. Do not expect any, then it will be a surprise if a new post arrives in your mailbox. I would love any messages and comments and of course emails and texts if you have time. Stay safe and healthy!

Until next time,



A New Life: Great Expectations! 2024 – 42

Just Because

Our neighbor across the lawn invited us for a Social, Just Because. She had invited sixteen people from the neighborhood and was hoping that Mike could come too. What a wonderful way to get to know more people. Just because Mike needs a chair with armrests to sit in, I decided this would be a great opportunity to use a wheelchair that we had borrowed and that was standing in the garage. It worked! When I could not get him across the threshold, one of the guests took over and ushered him out of our door and into the neighbor’s. We had a great time with delicious hors d’oeuvres (or pupus, as we say in Hawai’i), wine and nice company. A successful experiment, so Mike can bring his own chair when needed.

Lani, super watch dog

Last Thursday, Mike had an appointment with the podiatrist to have his toenails clipped. This is what it takes to get him there: I get the car out of the garage and park it at the end of the walkway. Close the garage door. I get Mike out of his chair and he walks to the front door. I open the door and the glass door with weights so they stay open and Mike can walk through with his walker. I walk ahead of him, open the car door, wait until he is seated and put on his safety belt. I close the door. I open the back hatch, fold the walker and hoist it into the back – close the door. Then I walk to my seat, start the car and we’re on the way.

That’s what I did. When we came home, I discovered that I had forgotten to close both front doors! They were wide open. Our Lani stood in the hallway, wagging her tail, happy to hear me say, Mommy is home!  What a wonderful dog we have, who stays home even though the front doors are wide open, to wait for Mommy. I have been training her daily to walk down the driveway with me, off leash, to get the mail or pick up the empty trash cans from the street on Tuesdays. She sits down at the end of the driveway, waiting to walk back with me to the house. I could not have dreamed that she would stay home when she had the chance to run away! What a wonderful dog! I rewarded her big time!

Just Because

Coming full circle, I’m taking a sabbatical. After more than a year, it’s time to organize things in the house and garage. Plenty of photo albums to go through as well. On top of that, Tax time is coming up, and as soon as our son has time we’ll go to Turbo Tax to do our taxes. Mike and I have done it for many years, and it is getting easier.

I am still here, will get back to my Blog when I have time, but I totally retired from my activities on LinkedIn. Just for fun, I will share the post I put on LinkedIn earlier this month.

Enjoy life, and take good care of yourself and the ones you love! Until we meet again…

Grateful to all of you who are offering jobs or inviting me to join a network, I am saying:

Having survived the Japanese concentration camps on Java during World War Two in the Pacific means that I am definitely at Retirement Age! 

If you are interested in any of my five published books, you will find three of them on Amazon. Start with “Rising from the Shadow of the Sun, A Story of Love, Survival and Joy”, follow up with “Survivors of WWII in the Pacific” and definitely don’t skip “Anguished”.

Effective immediately, I will no longer be active in any of the groups I am a member of.
I am celebrating Life after retirement and I can highly recommend it!
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A New Life: Great Expectations! 2024 – 41

It’s Monday!

I love Mondays. Ahead of me is a whole new week in which I can do the things I did not get to in the previous week. Today, while our caregiver was taking care of Mike, I found an Optometrist close to home, and he put new nose pads on both Mike’s glasses and sunglasses. We live in a neighborhood where everything is within 4 miles. Some places are even right next to each other or across the parking lot. Just wonderful. Not that I don’t like driving. I love it and we have a great car that can take me anywhere I want – except to Hawai’i. I will put that on my bucket list. Hawai’i. One day, perhaps my grandson can fly me to the Big Island. I would love to swim again across Richardson’s Bay, observe the colorful life below the surface in the underwater gardens (not visible here, on the right of the Bay) floating just inches above the sharp black lava. Do you see how close the lava is to the surface? I knew where to float with my snorkel without getting cut.

Outside of the Bay, across the ocean you see the slopes of Mauna Kea, and close to the ocean was our home: Hale Kea Akai. Twice a week we could see the cruise ships go by on their way to Hilo Harbor.

I noticed that if you receive my posts on your phone, they sometimes do not show pictures. All pictures show when you read my posts on my website.

Heat is all we need..

The thermostat does not seem to be working. Saturday, Sunday and Monday the temperature on the house stayed at 66 degrees, even though the heat was on and it was following schedule, meaning it should be at 72 degrees by 8 a.m. and 74 for the rest of the day. We like it warm, especially Mike, who likes to sit quietly in his recliner. Not any of the different thermostat settings seemed to work. So we were wearing thick sweaters and on Tuesday morning, a mechanic from the Heating and Air company went up in the attic to look at the furnace. I couldn’t believe what he found. Half of the furnace had fallen off and the rest was heating the attic! This house is only about ten years old! Anyway, he went back up with what looked like an armful of plastic ropes, and ten minutes later we had heat in the living room!

Yard maintenance

It was a day of non-stop barking for Lani. The gardeners were around for hours to deposit bales of pine straw on all borders and around all trees in the neighborhood. It was too late in the day to take her to Ginny, our dog sitter, so we tried to ignore the barking as much as possible. Dogs bark, I know. And if she barks when Amazon drops off packages, or when DoorDash delivers dinner, she may bark: she is announcing someone. But just wildly bark at the gardeners, even if we close all the blinds, is not pleasant.

Dinner Experiments

Last night, for the first time, I ordered dinner from an Indian restaurant. I had read about so many delicious spicy recipes in The Covenant of Water, that I just had to try one of their dinners. It was Butter Chicken, with white rice and Naan bread. It tasted completely different from any other food I know, and I found it delicious. Mike was wondering what he was eating and the Naan bread was so foreign that he gave it back to me. Tonight, we will have Szechuan chicken and spring rolls from the Chinese, more familiar tastes.

That’s a wrap!

I’m going to order dinner.

Until next time, be Happy!




A New Life: Great Expectations! 2024 – 40

What a Day!

Do you ever say that? Today, Friday, was one such day. It was time for Mike’s six month’s checkup at the cardiologist. The exam room of his cardiologist, who shares the office with four others, is very small. It has a desk, a computer, a stretcher and two chairs without armrests. The door opens the wrong way, and Mike’s walker has to be parked outside in the hallway. It is extremely difficult for Mike to sit down on a chair without armrests. Last summer, they could not do an ECG because there was no room for the machine plus both of us.

To make a long story short: I contacted Mike’s Primary Care doctor, asking if he could do an ECG and checkup in his office. But he told me to go to the ER. So to the ER we went, a wonderful, spacious place on the ground floor of the hospital here in Apex. There was no wait, they let us in right away and proceeded to take every test imaginable related to heart, lungs and blood. Everything was good, and three hours later the treating physician said, you can go home now, and your cardiologist will see you in a week !!!!!!!! Yeah right. I said after what you did today, I think Mike is good for a year!

Coming home, we discovered that one of the nose pads of his glasses was broken. I found a mini screw driver in my sewing box and replaced the broken nose pad with one from his sunglasses, which he seldom uses, because he does not often venture outside, certainly not in the cold weather we are now experiencing. I did call four optometrists in Apex to see if they could fix it, but on Friday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. they all had their answering machines on! Anyway, Mike can use his glasses, but I will have to go to the shop in Cary next time I go there to get two new sets, because they do not match.

After all that, I ordered Papa’s Favorite Pizza (the best), we had ice cream for dessert and ended the day on a delicious note.

Impressive Family  News

Today, we received the following message from LinkedIn:


Luke de Jong is our 18-year old grandson, the middle son of Dennis an Stephanie, who graduated from high school early last January. He started Flight School right away and now, after his Pilot’s License (single engine plane), and his Instrument Flying License (obstructed view and nighttime), he earned his Commercial Pilot’s License. He is now allowed to fly people and cargo. In one more week he is expecting to get his Commercial License for twin engine (propellor) planes. He will start practicing in a twin engine plane tomorrow. He told me he can get that license that in a week, because the flight deck (I called it mistakenly his Dashboard :-)) is not much different. It just has another engine on it. So by mid February he will be able to get paying jobs! Still at the age of 18. We are immensely proud. I wish my Dad, WWII Pilot with the MLD, would have been able to hear and see what Luke, his great grandson has accomplished. Perhaps he has!

And that’s a Wrap!

Be safe, be happy and be well until next time,



A New Life: Great Expectations! 2024 – 39


My life has become easier since last December. I have discovered gels! Gel nail polish that is. Despite all the work I do all day with my hands, my nails keep looking fresh and strong for at least three weeks. No chipping, no breaking, no touch ups! A beautiful, professional manicure at all times. Let me tell you the journey of my nails.

In the late 70s, Dr. Stuart Nordstrom, a dentist, had invented the professional liquid and powder system used in acrylics. One of the first people to use acrylic nails was Florence “Flo Jo” Griffith Joyner in the 1980s.

In the 1980s, living in Pasadena, California, we had a friend who was working for a dentist. He was manufacturing the products that had become popular in the seventies, a powder and a liquid: acrylic. One day, our friend asked me if I would like to start a business and market his product for him.

At the time, I was doing print jobs, commercials and an occasional play in the greater Los Angeles area. But having my own business? That sounded exciting. I knew virtually nothing about acrylic nails, so I went to a nail salon to educate myself. And if any of my current readers were in California at that time, you will remember that I practiced on you, offering a free set of acrylics! You may not have wonderful memories of those freebies, you may even have taken them right off behind my back, but then I was practicing, and thankful to my subjects. Of course I was also doing all the other fun jobs plus taking care of my family and the dog. My mother called me a centipede. These days, my daughter would call me a multitasker.

The next step was creating a name for my business. Her Nails was created and powder and liquid samples came in neat little white boxes and bottles printed with that name in red. Just wonderful. I visited many salons, selling Her Nails, and since that time I used them myself, first home applications then at a salon. Great looking nails, at any length I wanted but they needed a “fill” every two weeks. After three years, when it did not bring the profit I had expected, I closed the business. And we left for Hawai’i.

To make a long story short: I used acrylics in Hawai’i and when we left Hawai’i in 2001, my nail tech gave me a nice size bottle of OPI liquid and powder, and that lasted me a while. We moved again, to Cary, North Carolina, and with the arrival of Covid I gave up artificial nails and did my own, using nail strengthener only.

Now, in Apex, my nail tech gave me a gel manicure for my birthday in December. With all the work I did my nails kept looking fresh and beautiful for four weeks! I realize that many ladies have already used gel nail polish for years. But to me it is new! A great discovery. I’ll use only gel from now on.

A Foot Massage

Well, I am getting used to all kinds of luxuries. I had an hour’s foot massage with reflexology and aromatherapy last Monday. It was wonderful, and partially not just a luxury, because I had suffered from metatarsal pain in my right foot for a while. Today, I have been walking with less pain, and if foot massages are therapeutic and help me get to my 4 miles a day again, then I will have some more. The salon is just 4 miles away, small, family owned, and there was only one English speaking person in the place, not my therapist. They are from Thailand. It’s a good way to learn some sign language! But I enjoyed an hour of reading in the wonderful book: The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese.

That must be it for tonight. I’m going back to my book on the sofa!

Stay well,

Until next time,





A New Life: Great Expectations! 2024 – 38

2024, a Whole Long New year!

We will have one extra day in this year! It is a Leap Year, he Year of the Dragon, and so February has 29 days.

We had a very peaceful end of the year. Our daughter from Canada Facetimed and our daughter from California called and both of them texted. Dennis was away to the mountains, so we were home alone. Just because of that, I rented the movie Home Alone and it was a hit! Mike liked it and could follow it well. After that we switched on the scene at Times Square but turned it off right away. What an awful way – in our opinion of course – to spend those precious last hours of the year. Instead, we sampled the bonbons I had received for my birthday from a neighbor. The Ferrero Collection. Three different wrappings, gold, brown and white. We tasted one of each, mmm…And for good measure, we had one more of our favorite. We could have finished the whole box if I had not come to my senses. It was so special that Mike was my partner in crime, because he really never eats sweets or cookies. We indulged and loved every minute and every bonbon. Just missed midnight by half an hour.

We started the new year with a breakfast of Christmas bread, pumpkin bread and fruit, and coffee of course. The day was full because I was the sole caregiver again, but after dinner we watched another movie, BIG, which was another hit. It was a welcome change from the concerts of Andre Rieu.

We were happily surprised by a text from our California grandson and his girlfriend to thank us for their Christmas presents and to let us know that there was a delivery at the front door, a lovely bouquet of flowers! I arranged them in a suitable vase (I have vases of all sizes and shapes because I love flowers) and sent a picture back to them with a thank you note. It brightened our day.

63 years!

We celebrated our 63rd Anniversary in many ways. In the morning, Dennis came to clean up our patio border; he took out all diseased (not to be confused with deceased!) plants and put them by the street. The border looks wonderful, ready for new spring planting soon. Then we had surprises: cards, flowers, and a cheesecake. And I had invited seven neighborhood friends to come at 7:00 p.m. for a dessert party. Our second dessert party! At our age, I guess that is the thing to do. No fuss with what wine to serve, people our age do not drink wine anymore (due to too many medications) Two of our guests wanted tea and two coffee.

Our house has always had an open door, and we had parties. When the children were little and teenagers, in Pasadena, California, we had pool parties and sleepovers. We had costumed Halloween parties, a surprise party for Mike’s 50th, hot tub parties and more. In Hawai’i, we were introduced to potluck parties. When we were in a rental in Prescott, Arizona during the time our house was built, we invited the people in the street for a potluck, and that was so well received, that they had street potlucks in other homes long after we had left. Our newly built dream home lent itself well for potlucks, and we had many in the fifteen years we lived there. Also, to celebrate December 5th with the Dutch club, Sinterklaas and Black Peter came to our home, and with the balmy weather we could branch out to our large deck.

After Arizona, we moved to a cottage on the grounds of a nice retirement resort. We made friends and had pizza parties. There was always something to celebrate. And now, in our own home again, we already had one impromptu desert party for Mike on his birthday, and a desert celebration for our Anniversary. If you ever have a dessert party, order a Tuxedo chocolate mousse cake from Costco! It serves twelve people and it is more than delicious.

May you enjoy many celebrations in the new year!       Pies & Cakes Kirkland Signature Tuxedo Chocolate Mousse Cake heroUntil next time,





A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 37

December 30, almost the last day of the year!

The festivities with family and friends before, during and after my birthday were wonderful. We enjoyed regular streamed services of our former church in Prescott and their Christmas pageant was hilarious. These final days of the year are an extension of Christmas, it seems, especially because we are retired, cozy in our lovely home. We don’t have to go to work or travel back home, so we are safe and happy.

How often I will be able to write stories on this Blog depends on the time I can devote to it. I will make it a New Year’s resolution, but then I have several other resolutions, like regular reading and walking longer distances.

With exercise and prayers I have reached my goal of a pain free left leg, even before Christmas. I feel it sometimes a little, but I have the full range of motion again, can do a dozen squats a day, and am able to take care of Mike afternoons, evenings and on Sundays.

Wishing you a happy year end and a great New Year!

Until next time,



A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 36

Festive Plans

This week, all our family members are home for Christmas, including two girlfriends. That is a wonderful opportunity to go out – eight of us, to see The Nutcracker. And, because my 85th birthday only happens once in everybody’s lifetime, I am treating! Mike will not go, and one of our friends will keep him company.

On my actual birthday, the day after Christmas, we are planning to go to the matinee of the new movie The Boys in the Boat. The book is fantastic. When I started reading it, I could not stop, and just made time an hour a day to finish it.

After the movie home for a festive sandwich supper and birthday cake, of course with a glass of champagne for those who want it. Dennis will take care of the meal and our daughters in Canada and California are planning a cake. The whole family will be celebrating with us, and I am so looking forward to it. Each birthday is special, and 85 only happens once!

Dinner and a show on my birthday has been a long tradition, way back to the years we lived in Pasadena. The highlights that I remember are ET with the whole family, after standing in a long line on Hollywood Blvd., and Ghandi with Annemieke. The last one, in Prescott, was Unbroken, which I saw with Mike. When we came out of the theatre, Emma, journalist with CCTV from Washington DC was waiting with a film crew for an interview about my reaction to the movie. It had brought back memories and I was in  tears. You can find the interview and more on my Youtube Channel, and the translation on the Publicity Page right here on my website.

Christmas is here!

We are having such a wonderful time. On Saturday night Dennis took Mike and me to his home to drop off our gifts under his Christmas tree and he took us on a tour of the neighborhood with the most wonderful Christmas lighting everywhere. We went home with a large Christmas bread, professionally baked by Stephanie: a Dutch tradition on Christmas Eve. It has almond paste inside and it will serve us for breakfast for three days. So delicious that freezing half of it and saving it for New Year’s will not happen!

On Christmas Eve morning we watched two church services of our old Prescott church and saw a delightful pageant with songs to match the story. After that Dennis ad Stephanie came over with lunch, and two of the grandkids came later with gifts. We had phone conversations with the portal TV, and all families were close by for a while.

Many Christmas cards and e-cards went out the door, and that was a joyful job for me: close contact for a few minutes with old friends, hoping to find them in good health and wishing them well in the new year.

A corner of our living room and the largest gnome I received for my gnome collection. I use him for a hat stand. In that corner you also see the painting of my great-great grandmother, painted on wood in the late eighteen hundreds and still in good condition.


I want to end this chapter with the warmest wishes to all of you for joy at Christmas time and a Happy 2024

Until next time,



A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 -35


The days in December seem to go faster than any other time of the year. For us, it means bi-annual checkups from just about every doctor we have, and sometimes we scramble for good times. On Thursday, I had a 7:15 appointment in Cary with my dermatologist (every three months because I had one melanoma). She took one biopsy on my left leg and I hope to get a negative result back from the lab before Christmas. I had to get up extra early to go to Cary, leaving at 6:55, just when the caregiver drove in, but when I came out of the appointment the whole waiting room was full. So I was better off.

Right after Thanksgiving, everybody puts up their Christmas trees and starts shopping – major discounts are offered everywhere. When I asked my youngest grandson in Apex (13) for his wish list, he texted me that he would love to get money to buy clothes. Knowing that he is wearing his older brother’s jersey for ice hockey, I asked can you not get nice hand-me-downs from your older brothers? He texted back: Well, I have already reached the hand-me-down limit 🙂 He is already the tallest of the three, which is great for his basketball team. So except for a small gift each, we give money to all grandkids.

One man’s trash

I wanted to get rid of two large, dead, potted plants from the border and needed to take them to the side of the road, where a large truck will come by to suck up all garden trash. First the huge lemon grass. I shook it out of the pot, lifted it onto my little walker and took it out of the patio door, across the – now brown – grass and the driveway to the street. The next one was the ginger, which had not done well at all, compared to other years. When I got to the end of the driveway, I saw a little woman, bundled up against the cold, with only her face visible, picking up the heavy lemon grass clump and dragging it away, a little white dog on a leash in her other hand. When she saw me, she asked Is this yours? and when I said yes, she asked if she could take it home. I am re-using the dirt, she said. and I but it’s only roots, and very little dirt! But she was happy to drag it home, and when she saw the other clump I was putting down, she said I will get that on my next round!

Guess what? I wrote a letter to Santa Claus, who delivered a bag of potting soil a day later. On Saturday afternoon, I put the bag of potting soil in a box I had and lifted it onto my blue walker. I wrote a Christmas card and put it in a little gift bag with two stroopwafels and some Ghirardelli chocolates. And then I put on my coat and walked to where I thought Ellen lives. When I walked onto her patio, a gentleman opened the door. I asked, surprised (because Ellen is a single lady), does Ellen live here? I am looking for Ellen. He said, yes, I am her brother. Ellen, someone to see you. Now I didn’t know Ellen, but a lovely lady came outside. She took the gift bag her brother gave her, and he took the box with the potting soil inside. To make a long story short, Ellen said that my lemon grass was not dead, and she was going to plant it outside the fence: did you see it? She said she had gotten many of her plants from others’ throwaways. Her borders looked lovely. She gave me a big hug, and I happily walked home with my walker. A wonderful way to get to know my neighbors!

Christmas dinner at the Club

It was a wonderful event last Saturday evening. Several committees had decorated the Club with Christmas decorations and a Christmas tree. Donovan’s Dish was catering the dinner and we all brought a side dish or appetizer. Desserts were also plentiful, brought in by the social committee. It was an animated evening with about 45 neighbors, and an opportunity to dress up!

I will stop here to get dinner on the table, but have more stories to tell, so perhaps I will have a chance tomorrow.

Be happy and safe,

Until next time,


A New Life: Great Expectations! 2023 – 34

Hostages released

When I heard on the news just now about the first fifteen hostages that were released by Hamas, one of them a six year old girl, I could not help thinking about 1944, when I was six years old. Diphtheria, a contagious disease, was going around the camp. I was tested to be a a germ-carrier and had to go outside the camp in quarantine until I was negative again. I would be picked up by an ambulance and Mamma could not come with me. Thinking about the current situation in Gaza, and imagining the anxiety of the family members of the hostages, I found some excerpts from my mother’s journal in my book Rising from the Shadow of the Sun.

Nobody was allowed outside the camp: “ “She is going alone.”
“ The doors of the big ambulance opened and my little girl got inside as bravely as if she were going to a party, all alone. One of the men jumped in with her, and the others hung onto the side or sat in the front.
“Look, Ron, there is the window, can you look out?”
If she stood on the seat she could barely reach it. “I’ll come visit you soon,” I said (a lie).
“Yes, Mam, please come soon. ‘Bye, Paula”.
Paula waved, and so did I. Then she was gone. Oh, it is so hard. This is the third time she is going to the hospital. This time we are prisoners and aren’t even allowed to go along. We will hear nothing until she comes home. These are days I will never forget. She is not ill, but a germ-carrier, so she has to be isolated until she is not contagious any more.
“February 18, 1944
Ronny’s Homecoming
While Ron was in the hospital, a lot of things happened. First we had an anxious day because of a house search by armed Japanese soldiers. Then there was a transport of women and children from a large section of the camp to an unknown destination. First they evacuated all the outer sections of the camp. Our district is in the middle. We expected to follow soon, so we sewed until late in the night to get at least the machine sewing done of any strong material we had. We could finish it all by hand later. We expected to be put in a large hangar, so decent nightwear was a first requirement. For that reason we cut up sheets.
From one of my large unused sheets, I made pajamas for the girls and myself. Trimmed with colored ribbons, they looked quite nice.
You can imagine my anxiety after the first group left, and the second one three days later. I anticipated we would be sent in a few days, but Ronny wasn’t home yet. The fear of leaving without her was unbearable, and I had some terrible days. “
“My thoughts are with Ronny constantly, especially during nights while I lie awake. It was like when Fokko left. At night, when everything is quiet and you can do nothing else, it hits you. I broke out in a cold sweat when I thought of what could happen if we got a bombardment.  What if she got some kind of disease, or what if she did not get enough to eat?”

“ Some people depressed me even more by saying that germ-carriers usually need six to seven weeks to get rid of germs. That was all I needed to hear. The next morning I went to several strangers, who also had children “outside,” to ask them how long they had stayed away. Some came home after fifteen days, so I felt a little more hopeful.

It was Ronny’s sixteenth day away, close to noon, when a girl from down the street came running in.
“Ronny is coming home!”
I ran outside: “Where is she?”
“In a dogcar.”
The dogcar appeared with two children, one of them Ronny. I ran toward them, and lifted her out of the dogcar, “Hello, Ron! Oh, Ron!” She said, “Hello, Mam,” put her arms around my neck as if she were never going to let go again, pushed her head against my shoulder and cried softly. After her many experiences, to be back in mother’s arms was too much for her, and for me. She looked pale and thin, her hair loose and straight, as she squeezed her two red ribbons and a bunch of flowers in her hand. “These flowers I picked for you, Mam.” She had picked them in the garden of the hospital just before she left, then the nurse put both children in the dogcar and sent them back to camp.
I said, “Oh, Ron! I’m so happy; I’m going to squeeze some oranges for you!”
She didn’t say much, but asked me if I would please cut the nails of her fingers and toes. A lot of neighbors gathered around, but this time I didn’t care. I was just happy, so happy. I made her bed and tucked her in. She still wasn’t her old self yet, and she talked strangely. That straight, set face without any expression in her eyes wasn’t our Ron yet. But I was so grateful that before we had to leave camp, I still had some time to feed her well. Paula kept saying, “Ronne, Ronne, Ronne, this is Ronne.” At dinner Ron was very hungry, and during the following days she seemed famished. She said she had been given only two meals a day, rice with vegetables and ground beef for lunch, and rice with a piece of egg at night. I took her to the doctor for a checkup. She gave Ron a bottle of cod-liver oil, free of charge. Isn’t that nice?”
Our 2023 reality 
You know, when you hear things on the news about wars, but they are happening so far away, you can’t really experience the reality of heartaches, pain, and anxieties of people in the middle of that war.
I thank God that MY war, World War Two in the Pacific, happened so long ago that my memories are few, and that I had my Mamma to protect me with her love and courage. I also thank God that Mamma had the strength to survive everything and lived to be 101 with joy.
My Thanksgiving is forever!
Stay safe until next time,