MOMS – 13 March 1936 – 16 August 2023


Grateful that we could be together for so long.
After a long life full of activity and a short period of brave struggle, our dear wife and caring mother Jannie has passed away.

The farewell service will take place on Friday, August 25th at 1:15 PM at Zorgvlied, Amsteldijk 273, 1079 LL Amsterdam.

Jannie loved flowers.

Afterward, there will be an opportunity to offer condolences in the pavilion.


First the announcement. Pain, etc.-

Forgive me for the brevity of this composition. I wrote it with a broken heart. And a body that’s temporarily not cooperating. I’m getting old too. You’ll be able to read the longer version – as I create it – at a new spiritual level. Moreover, you already know what will be written there when it’s eventually completed. You know me like no other.

Dear Moms,

Yesterday, you were supposed to come on my birthday.. but you were unable to. Suddenly, you had to embark on a journey that you initially wanted to postpone. We are saddened by it, but we know that your final destination is a beautiful place where you’ll find all the peace to experience and celebrate a life without pain and further discomfort.

I’m grateful that you chose to be my mother. Life consists of various coincidences and circumstances. Sometimes we choose them ourselves, and sometimes they happen to us. Just like how you coincidentally – a long time ago – met Dad and eventually decided, after some time, to share your life with him. And even to have a child with him.

You both went on a winter sports holiday separately and unsuspectingly. To the town of Serfaus in Austria. Back in a time when no one went on winter sports holidays. Things were different in those days. Wooden skis, ski boots with laces, no cable cars, gondolas, or ski lifts. Climb the mountain once and slide down once.. it doesn’t really sound like a vacation, but of course, there was more to do. When I was three years old, I got to go too. Twenty years later, I became a skiing instructor.

Faithfully, every year, we visited Serfaus. While others went on summer vacations, we did it in winter. You – and I as well – made many friends there, and those few weeks per year gave us the energy to carry on for a whole year in the city. Occasionally, a week away in the summer in the Netherlands, but the ski vacation remained the most important. I’ve been there about 25 times, you more than 50 times.

The coincidence of a holiday, a marriage, and a son led you to move from your village Driebergen to Amsterdam. You quickly made many friends here too, and you soon became a part of the community. Together with Jan and Els – Heleen, Lukas, and Margot’s parents – you took turns driving us to school when we were little. Simon, Rietje, and Jacco are also part of this era. In later years, we became families who knew each other well and shared many beautiful stories.

Also, some strange stories. Like the day after your or Ben’s birthday – I forgot the year – when you returned the borrowed chairs to Els and had a cup of coffee. I was still in my bed in my room and suddenly heard strange sounds outside. When I looked out, I saw the street filled with police carrying machine guns and everything. “He entered Dongestraat 19, went up the stairs..” I heard them say. Quickly out of bed and called Els, who immediately locked the door, and then there was knocking and banging.

The end of this drama was that someone had decided to rob the bank around the corner and then fled. The police later found him on the roof with the loot and the gun he had used to take his own life. Again, a coincidence that turned out well for you and for Els. It could have gone differently too. A bit too much of a city story. But you continued to love the city, and the city loved you. The Rivierenbuurt, to be precise.

When I was a bit older and still believed in a glamorous career in advertising – with all the perks that come with it – I would sometimes say, “And then we’ll buy a villa,” to which you would consistently reply that you didn’t really need that. You preferred to stay where you were. I never believed it back then, but later, I came to understand it. You genuinely enjoyed it here. Shops within walking distance. The swimming pool nearby. The sports club not far away. Theaters in the city reachable by tram. Besides, you knew everyone here, and everyone knew you.

You were also a involved mother. At school, the baseball club, swimming. Editing the club newsletter, organizing parties, accompanying us to the soccer club, the ladies’ dinner – etc.

And you were a determined mother. I completed my schooling on my own, but it wouldn’t have been possible without you. Several teachers thought I should learn a trade instead of finishing high school. And then there was a conversation. I’ll never forget the conversation with Mrs. Rueb. 4 o’clock in the afternoon, because things weren’t going smoothly. And at 2 o’clock, I had caused a complete electrical short circuit in the entire school and given everyone freedom. Accidentally. It led to a good conversation. But I did manage to get my diplomas, and that’s certainly thanks to your determination too.

We used to visit my grandparents in Elst almost weekly. And we’d go by Driebergen – to your brother Uncle Piet and Aunt Rins and Onno and Suzan. That’s where I got to know your past, for example, in the form of walks through a real forest. You found the Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest) to be more like a park. We took many walks in that real forest and picked buckets full of blueberries, blackberries, and more fruit. It was indeed different there. In that sense, I was brought up bilingually. You came from the countryside, Dad from the city.

The openness to different forms of life that you inherited, I truly got from you. The creativity too. You played the piano very well, and you were an excellent artist. I’m not skilled in either of those. That’s why I became a collector. Mostly of music on records. Your family had several talents in the arts. None of them fully exploited it, but they supported their families. And so did you. My gratitude for that can’t be expressed in words.

I do regret that I gave away some of my talents to the advertising industry. I created books filled with nonsense about nothing, all without appropriate compensation. I should have done that differently. Chose a completely different profession, or aimed for the highest form of writing. But that’s quite an ambitious choice. The greats of the world are hard to match. We shared a passion for literature. We read a lot. You much more than me. And you loved mysteries, preferably in English. I was more into contemporary poetry called rap music. Hip Hop culture, or philosophy. Just turned 50, everything is chance.

Another thing we shared was a love for swimming. You inspired me to achieve all my swimming diplomas by the time I was 9. Then competitive swimming, diving, water polo. Every year, every day, to the De Miranda pool in the summer. But not just for swimming there. To celebrate life in the Rivierenbuurt as a whole, so to speak.

My bilingual nature wasn’t always well understood either. Too far ahead. Just as you embraced the city, I did that with the different cultures that reflected the backgrounds of my friends. At first, all naive and ignorant, you get to know each other through the years on the street, at school, sports, etc. And when you become an adult, you slowly understand that there are also less pleasant aspects to life or its history. At this point one can do two things. Leave or stay. I chose the latter. And when I say Amsterdam, I mean Amsterdam with everyone in it and all the neighborhoods together.

That’s how I live, that’s who I am, that’s how I’ll remain. That’s a separate long story, and that’ll come someday too. What I want to say is: I’m grateful that my parents understood that, as they could have prohibited it too. Given the state of the country, it seems that few lessons have been learned from how things were back then. The 1980s in Amsterdam. I don’t think it will get better. If you were the youth here, you truly had the best time of your life and were an example for everyone in the world. Generation X.

Of course, you need a mother who also likes that. My mother loved it. Even when a second mother came into my life. My mother got a colleague. A Surinamese lady who was the mother of one of my friends. And who could already see today’s situation coming from miles away. That was a brilliant move. And practical too. Jannie would sometimes get nervous because of her little son. (I call it On the street in Amsterdam. An Amsterdam you might not know, even though you live there, but we’ll also tell that story about Mokum sometime later). And then I’d sleep somewhere else. I haven’t been an only child since I was 14. And I’ve become so much richer, better, smarter, kinder, and more forward-looking because of it, that I can genuinely recommend it to anyone. But you do need such a mother.

Freddie C. Ella C. Ricardo C, Aminata C. C Famiri. Soso Lobi.

Mom, I can’t express in words how much you’ve meant to me. How much I love you. And how much I’ll miss you. You raised me without any particular religious influence, but I’m convinced that there’s another dimension where we’ll see each other again. Where the indescribable has prepared a beautiful spot for you, from where you can surely see and hear something from me and us now and then. Spoken in a language or vibration we don’t understand here, but will definitely feel and comprehend. Like a beautiful experience.

There was a note that said Jannie loved flowers. Let me not withhold one more beautiful anecdote from you. In her last years, my mother turned into a bit of a shrub thief. She did it professionally and even had a small clippers in her pocket. She brought home beautiful wild bouquets. I think Beatrixpark suffered the most, but I’m sure it was very much appreciated. The park has known her for 60 years. In the kiddie pool, she taught me to love the water, and from there, the girl from Driebergen became a lady from Amsterdam. Everything is chance.

Thank you, Mom! I’ll miss you immensely. Until a beautiful day.

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