A love letter to my grandmother

A few days ago
I was asked if I was the granddaughter of “Oma Joke” 
While I answered "Yes, I am",  I felt pride.
Deep pride. Real pride.

Last April, it was 10 years ago my grandmother died.
The more time passes by, the more I realize
How much she meant to me
And still does. 

Here are some of my memories. 
Why she was so special. 


  • A woman who slept with her house unlocked. Saying: the one who is stealing from me, must be in harder need than I am. 
  • A woman who had to say goodbye to the love of her life, who died at a very young age. 
  • A woman who walked (really?!) from Amsterdam to Norg (Drenthe) with my father as a baby, to escape the hunger and after-war period in Amsterdam.
  • A woman who must have had the highest car speed in Amsterdam, for a woman her age.
  • A woman who opened up her tiny house in the woods for guys like Herman Brood and Cuby and the blizzards. 
  • A woman who was extremely creative, painting, playing the violin, weaving loom.
  • A woman with the longest hair I’ve ever seen on a woman her age, until her very last day.

100% beauty 

Besides, I can think of numerous funniest anekdotes. 
Note: her real name was Johanna, but we called her ‘Joke’, which is a normal Dutch name, but the English meaning fits in this case;-).

Two examples of things I remember:

  • She planted plastic tulips in her garden. To give the Japanese tourist something to photograph the whole year around. 
  • The day after she had an hip surgery, she was lying in her hospital bed and I saw her blankets moving. She was training her right foot, to heal her "giving-gas-foot" as soon as possible. 

The day she died, I wrote her a letter.
I put it into the flowers on her coffin.
(Which - at the end of the day - ended up with one of my relatives. My flowers including the letter were coming out of the backdoor after the ceremony, because Joke demanded that not one flower should be spoiled or left. Private intimate letter not so private anymore ;-)

Yesterday, I read my letter - for the first time in 10 years.
Here are some of my words.
A love letter to my grandmother.

They said I look like you *
I think they mean physically. 
(Must be the matching bump on our foreheads on exactly the same place)
I’m not even close where it comes to attitude.

I’d wish.
But hey, I am getting there.
On my way growing old like you.

It is not lost 
I’ll carry you with me 
And I’ll hope I will be able to pass it on 
Not via my genes, but via everything I do and all that I am.
I will try. 

You have lived 
Embraced life 
Over and over again 
Grabbed it with both hands 

Everything has been 
As it should be 
It's all okay. 

I am and will remain a beautiful part of you
And I am proud.

So, I wrote this 10 years ago.
I was proud.
And I still am.
This is the feeling I felt a few days ago.

I am the granddaughter of Joke!



Of course, she wasn’t 100% beauty.
But that is the way I remember her.
And want to remember her.
To/for me she was.

* There is more I have in common with her, besides the bump on the forehead. At least  two of the above mentioned things I have in common with her. Guess what;-)

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