Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Life Well-Lived

August has always been a month of mixed blessings.  These are the dog days of August...that time between the patriotism and fireworks of July, and going back to school in September.  I love the summertime and I always associate August with those times whiling away in grassy fields, playing at the beach, and generally not doing anything.  Alas...those days are long gone for me, yet those feelings still remain.

It is also a month of remembrance for my family.  August 17th of this year is the 100th anniversary of my father's birth, in Amsterdam, Holland.  August 21st is the anniversary of his passing, in 1999.  I also learned that August 30th is the anniversary of when my mother met my father, in 1945 in Scheveningen when Holland was liberated by the Allied Forces.

So August is a special month for me.

Dad was a civil engineer, so it seemed natural for me to follow in his footsteps.  Yet my life seems so simple and uneventful when I look back at his life.  Granted, I didn't have to contend with a world war, an army occupying my homeland and resisting that army as an underground warrior.  More on that in an earlier blog I wrote:

When the war was over he left Holland to work for Royal Dutch Shell in Maracaibo, Venezuela.  Mom followed shortly thereafter, which is an incredible story in its own right.  Their time in South America was clearly an exciting time, and a complete opposite in comparison to the war years.  My mother still looks back at that time as the best years.  It was not much different than the romantic era of expatriots living in a colonial environment, and the late 40's and early 50's were filled with change.  It was then that my brother and I entered their lives...and yes, that's me being hoisted by my dad in the photo above...probably around 1953.  I also noticed that "Hawaiian" shirts were popular even then.  I may rethink my lack of those shirts in my own wardrobe.

We left Venezuela for Canada in the late 50's, mainly because my parents didn't want to send my brother and I to a boarding school in Holland, as was the practice for many of the Dutch Expats.  My mother's family had also emigrated from Holland to Vancouver, BC.  It was a big move for us, and mom and dad gave up a good life for my brother and I.  Some years later we then moved to the US. 

Though Dad's wartime heroics will never fail to impress anyone, I think it was their sacrifice for us kids for which I am most grateful.  It also seemed fitting that this would be a good time for a tribute to a good man. led an amazing life, and I am thankful for all that you have done for us.  Happy Anniversary!

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