Yesterday, I went to Den Haag for my Lean In circle meeting. I thought that I would throw the boys in the car and afterwards we would go walking in the dunes, where my grandparents used to live. I felt like it would be a good thing to take the boys walking through the same dunes that my Mom had spent years walking through.
When I was growing up, the address in the Netherlands I had memorized was Kramsvogellaan 25A, 2566 CB s’Gravenhage. Talk about a mouthfull. We’d see this address on the blue onion skin paper letters that would come with the red wax seal on the envelope point and know that there was something from Oma and Opa. Opa would type, to maximize the room, and Oma would handwrite her messages.
Opa and Oma moved to this house sometime after 1950. I know this because they were sent to the Netherlands (and thus coming to Marum where Opa’s parents lived) by the Red Cross after WWII and the war for Indonesian Independence. This is the house that my Mom grew up in from about the age of 10. This is the house where I spent summer mornings relearning algebra and geometry from Opa before being released to go spend the afternoon in the stables. This is the house from which that same table I sat at now sits in my house here. The very desk I am typing this at used to sit in this house in my Mom’s bedroom, which was at the back of the house with a door to the balcony.
It doesn’t look like I remember it. The people who bought it in 1999 (thanks, Internet) had done alot of remodeling to their taste, they also bought the ground floor (#25) and as such own the whole house. I’ve been in it and seen what they have changed. The only two things that remained the same were the toilet in the hall and my Opa’s office. That’s the window you see above the door. The front used to look very different, with a proper place to sit outside the living room window. Well, at least stand on and have some flower pots. The fence was definitely not there. Where my Mom’s room used to be, they put in a hot tub sized bathtub for their sons and build a wall through what used to be one big living and dining room and made two bedrooms out of it.
What is the same is the easy access to the dunes right around the corner and the wide open streets. Mom used to walk in those dunes for hours with Scarlett, their Irish Setter. And there was a terribly mean dachshund that lived on the corner that would always try to bite her when they walked by. So, I thought to bring it full circle, I would take the boys for a walk along those very same dunes. I wanted my Mom to see her boys were still doing well, despite the fact that I am raising them, and to feel closer to her. I wanted to be somewhere she had been.
Once parked and properly leashed, we headed off through the gates and into the dunes. The skies opened up. It was not according to my plans… We took shelter under a tree because I was convinced it would pass. Henry was not impressed. Once it seemed that the rain was tapering off, we tried again. Twelve feet further and again, the drenching. And yet, reminded that my Mom would certainly not have stopped because it was raining, we kept going. Until it became obvious that the rain was going to stay.
It’s been raining like that all weekend. As a matter of fact, in the time it has taken me to type this, it went from a sunny morning to a pouring down. In theory, that’s passed now as well. I’ve had enough of it. I know the boys have. It’s almost August, people.
We’ll try the dunes again another day. 🙂