I was born on 27 July 1948 in a hospital in Haarlem - The Netherlands. It was 3 years after the end of WW2 and there were still a lot of food shortages. My parents even had a ration booklet for me. During my first 3-4 years I spend a lot of time with my godparents. I now believe my mother had postnatal depression after the birth of each child, as she was always away for quite a while then. I have 4 younger sisters. My parents’ marriage was most of the time very unhappy, volatile and should never have been. They got married in May 1945, straight after the end of the war in Holland.
My father became a member of the Nazi group "N.S.B." (National Socialist Movement, collaborating with Nazi Germany) in 1938 when he was just 17 years old and, like so many more, very easily seduced into that. I suppose Hitler's policies sounded great to them. Straight after my parents got married Pappa was imprisoned for 2 years. As a child/teenager my mother used to say, when I did/said something she didn't like: "You're just like your father, that dirty Nazi!". That really hurt and I cried a lot about it, quietly in my shared bedroom. Her telling me that stayed with me like a curse until I was married, had new friends and one of them (still a friend!) I told one day about it. She's a very clever woman and author of quite a few historical books. She told me quietly, that I should let it go, it wasn't my fault to carry around and that there were a lot more people like me. Since then I can talk about it freely.
I loved my papa so so much. He was an exceptional father whom I spend a lot of time with. He was an artist with woodwork and cooking as well. Took me out for walks, read stories at night, carried me upstairs on his back and tucked me in bed, taught me about books and reading them, took me to classical concerts etc. Things changed when I became teenager and understood more of life and it was at age 11 that I decided I would never live a life like my parents had. The first fight between them I remember was at age 4 and about to walk to Kindy. A shocking row started, and my dad wiped everything with one swipe off the sideboard. Most things broke. I can still see and hear all that in my mind. I cried and mamma told my bestie, who came to collect me to go to kindy, that I was staying home......which was the last thing I wanted to do. Most of life continued that way.
Good quiet times and then rows again plus physical fights sometimes and police being involved. By that time my pappa drank way too much.
When I finished High School at 17, I worked for 3 years in a bank in Amsterdam in the 'Foreign Money Exchange Dept'. which I really loved. It's where I met my husband, a sailor, who came in to exchange foreign money.
After a while we fell in love. He went back to sea for 2 yrs. sailing in the Southern Hemisphere.
Our only contact was by airmail letters, which usually took 6-8 weeks to arrive. We married (soon after he came back) in April 1969 and from then on, my life became got so much better. We had such an amazing journey together for almost 50 years. We moved to Wollongong in Australia in 1970 for 3 years. Him sailing, me in a studio apartment living by myself on my own for the first time. I joined Henk on his ship at least 3 times a year and saw so much of the world. Singapore, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India, Mauritius, East and South Africa incl. Zanzibar, Hong Kong, Japan, North and South America, New Zealand and later also Spain and Italy.
Back to Holland in July 1973 and 2 years of more studies for him. Lived in Vlissingen (Flushing) for 2 years. In 1975 our first daughter, Maria, was born and in July that year we flew back to Australia to live in Launceston-Tasmania. Best move we made, and I am still here and absolutely love it.
Our second daughter, Anita, was born in 1978. It was, and still is, a wonderful life with lots of adventures along the way and much love. Love now from my girls and grandchildren and their families. I am enormously grateful.
Written by Thea.