Introducing Henk and Hetty

Hendrik, my grandfather (1926-1990)

This old chap is my grandfather, Hendrik. He was born in Bredevoort, Holland, the place where he also grew up.

After school my grandfather became a marinier, serving in the US navy. He went on to Indonesia and served there at the frontline, collecting the wounded and the dead. I am quite proud of him. Together with his team they each received a medal for saving a company from the Japanese.

Hetty, my grandmother
Hetty, my grandmother

During that time of his life he met Hetty, my grandmother. She had to flee from the Japs who invaded her home in Mlang and found shelter in a barn of farmers who gave her the permission to stay there. The family that took her in hiding was very kind to her and gave her pots and pans for her to cook with in return for some odd jobs at the farm.

My grandfather noticed her in the farm while driving by one day. Not long after he surprised her with a little goat, that he gave to her as a gift.

Fast forward to some distant future. After many years, now living in Bruges, Belgium, being married and having their three children all grown up, her elder daughter Mary-Elizabeth, who is my aunty Marlies, welcomed the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints into her home. Together with her husband, uncle Jaques, they got baptized and thus joined the Church as the first members in their region. My aunty and uncle told my grandmother Hetty about their discovery, the restoration of the gospel and many other things. After investigating it my grandmother decided to get baptized as well.

But, this was much to the dismay of Henk, who was not a religious man. And when my grandmother told him that she was going to get baptized he got bloody angry. He even forbade her from joining what he called “the mormons.”

Luckily, my grandmother is a fighter. She rung her voice and argued with him, “if you may go to soccer games on Sundays, have a drink and play pool with your friends, then I may do what I want on Sundays, even if that includes going to church!”

But, when Henk found out that she was going to pay tithings as well, that’s when he exploded. “A tenth of our income being donated to their treasury!? No! No way they are taking our money!”

But, Hetty did not give in. She claimed autonomy and stood her ground. As she had her own job she told him that she was going to give a tenth of her own income, that it was none of his business. Finally the argument ended, but with her leaving him and staying with her daughter until he accepted her choice, or not…

So, my grandfather was suddenly all by himself in an empty house. Days passed. Weeks passed. And visitors came to meet them. But, she not being home, Henk had to do the chores. Henk had to explain the situation to them, that Hetty was staying with her daughter. It made him uncomfortable to say the least. And, he missed her. so, her absence became a burden which became heavier and heavier until he couldn’t bear it anymore.

In the end, Henk apologized to Hetty and asked her to come back, which she did smilingly.


Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.
Marie Curie (1867-1934) French Physicist




Audio of the poem you can read as you scroll down


Come, let me just hold you, Fear
You may squeeze me, here here
When you’re sobbing it’s okay
I’m here for you

Life can be hard, I know you know
But look, there in the meadow
For everyone there is a way
Of happiness

Your problems may seem titanic
But I ask you not to panic
His hands can crush all your demons

Poem of the Month: Process

I found this poem by Ashleigh Young in SPORT 44 New Zealand New Writing 2016


All the friends we lost
to self-improvement will come back to us
oddly polished but otherwise the same.

All of the decisions we make in the small hours, to leave, to stay
will also be correct when we wake again.

The great suction that comes from beneath a passing truck
signifies the velocity of the living drawing us near;

when we look back to our dear friends cycling behind us,
their eyes are wide with joy and not terror.

All the friends who avoided our eyes in supermarket aisles
will embrace us in the vegetable markets.

Our erasure of our social media presence will not be half hearted.
On this day our city is as a perfect haircut, its losses gently layered
and what is left, falling gracefully.

If I am riding a horse that takes fright and gallops up a hill,
the horse you are riding will also take fright
and we will be carried away screaming together.

Things will follow due process.
Anything lost, only fallen in long grass.
If I can’t see your face it is only because my face
is pressed into your shoulder.

Pictureless walls sing their freedoms
as if facing a new city, new river, new air.
An open window pulls sheets from the bed
delays their flight, lights up particles of skin and strands of hair.

Early Writings

By the age of eighteen I was a goodlooking fellow
But, awkward and sometimes scary as a leech.

I was trying to make sense of myself,
Eventhough I was drinking, taking drugs,
And wearing a mask to hide my self.

Six feet high
A dreaming eye

I remember some snippets of my early poems.
I wrote them in a pocket sized black book.

I remember I thought of suïcide and of death
in a poem that was titled

Soon to Come

My poems were not meant for others
For people to read, I thought.
I didn’t show them to anyone,
The poems I wrote during my depression.

They were not inspirational.
It wasn’t meant to move or touch other people’s hearts.
It was simply how I communicated
In my loneliness, and in my pain.

It was something I made that felt true.
In the stillness it gave me solace,

Sunday Afternoon Dreams

I had some dreams about Christian, my seven year older half brother whom I haven’t seen or heard of in five years or so. In one of these dreams he came into my room with a pamflet in his pocket, one which he had found somewhere.
I braced myself as he had not always been kind to me and I didn’t know what to expect. When I saw that the booklet which he took out of his pocket was called the Strength of the Youth, a pamflet I had prayerfully studied, I wondered if he was going to ridicule me or miraculously express some sincere surprise and respect for this booklet from the Church and why I had become a member.

Then the dream rearranged itself into another one where Chris started talking with me about his artwork. And as we did, I saw his beautiful paintings displayed all over the room.
“Do you ever think about fame, and do you have a plan to sell your artwork sometime soon?”, I asked. I thought he had so much talent and I loved his work.
I didn’t get an answer, but cheekily said, “if not, you might not receive much appreciation, only after your death. Only then you would become famous”.
I did not want to suggest blogging about his artwork or use YouTube because I felt I was not in the position to persuade him.

Also, in one of my dreams this afternoon I saw how Chris loved babies and little children, a love which I had never associated with him before. When a baby came into the gallery shop he would tenderly brush its soft cheek, or hold the baby up before him in admiration and prattle, or when it was a child he would play with it.

I am taken up with these dreams to the point that they make me see my half brother in a different light.

Grateful for a day of rest on which I can relax, take a nap and reflect on the dreams I have had, I leave you with a quote to encourage you to interpret your own dreams.

An uninterpreted dream is like an unopened letter.

Jewish proverb

Meeting My Friend Anh

One day she stumbled upon my online profile.
Reading it through, she reckons having thought,
“Who is this? His description is pretty neat”.
Then she dropped me a message, a five star hello.

“Hey! A message from … Anh?! Who could this be”,
I asked myself as if I had forgotten my script.
After a curious frown a smile came to me.
I txted her back and said, “Hello”.

How Fair She Is!

In the heavens and on the earth
she graces me with joy and mirth.
Save love, I wouldn’t understand

She is the wind, born to be free,
swaying me like a willow tree,
that flows in the lowland.

Like the sunset, she carries on
with hope the bright stars thereupon
make the night both warm and dim.

Holding a lantern in her hand,
which she lights up at her command
when Day is filled to the brim.

And therefor I sing a tune.
And as I walk beneath the moon
I meditate by the sea.

This princess, Lord, with a good name,
whose wisdom is of high acclaim,
acts out of love for Thee.

With thanks to two poets, Tatwin Spruyt and John Williams, who have contributed to this love poem through suggestion, and also thanks to the novelist Mylissa Buysse who reviewed it.