dag papa


papa in front of their Summer house in Denmark ca. 2006


my papa died just over a week ago, early Friday morning, exactly three months after his beloved Lise


I miss him




Henri Rein van Dijk
Hans
*9 April 1931 12 February 2021

mama took this picture of him in 2016, we like to think this was in Louisiana DK, our favourite museum  
'stand here and you are art'


my words at his funeral service

Ik hou t meest van mijn ouders als ik bij toeval stuit op al dan niet onbedoelde uitingen van hun kwetsbaarheid,

een notitie van mama op een dubbelgevouwen flard papier, diep in een jaszak verborgen,

van papa de opmerking tussen haakjes op een dichtgeplakt envelopje met oude postzegels……

op zo’n moment kan ik ze waarlijk zien.

Dan voel ik de connectie, wat soms zo moeilijk blijkt tussen ouders en kind, de onuitgesproken dingen die ertoe doen

 

Lieve papa, daar lig je dan

Je was een strenge vader met zachte kanten, je hield van me en toonde dat via omwegen

Middels een kunstkaart uit New York, een blik met ingehouden opmerking, een stevige omhelzing

Ik ben geworden wie ik ben, dankzij en ondanks jou

Je keek naar de wereld met verwondering, humor en een zekere mate van arrogantie, alsof je ’t wel wist en je je tegelijkertijd realiseerde dat er veel te ontdekken viel. Je hebt heel wat ondernomen en kon intens genieten: van mensen, kunst kijken en maken, reizen, je werk én je gezin. Er moest ’s avonds samen gegeten worden!

 

Er zijn vele herinneringen. Een hele dierbare speelt zich af in moster Inga’s zomerhuis in Kulhuse, waar we jaren achtereen onze zomervakanties vierden. Jij had daar een vuurplek gemetseld met granieten stenen van t strand, er lag een voetveeg-rooster op om eten op te bereiden. We zaten daar met zijn vijven iedere zomeravond onder de sterrenhemel omheen, etend en dan luisterend naar jouw verhalen. Je kon zo beeldend vertellen, vooral de zeil-avonturen met Rein maakten op mij een grote indruk: hoe jullie op een zelfgebouwd vlot met een luier van jou als zeil, vanuit Marokko terug voeren naar Europa. De volgende dag gingen we samen met jou aan de slag om ook zo’n vlot te bouwen en naar ’t onbewoonde eiland aan de overkant te varen. Je las ons voor uit jouw jeugdboeken.….

Op latere leeftijd trof me dat je steeds zo ontroerd en blij raakte als je kleine kinderen zag. Tot ’t einde toe

 

In de koudste week van deze winter draag ik jouw Noorse hand-gebreide truien, in bed slaap ik in jouw pyjama, ik draag mama’s ketting en onderbroek met rafelige bh. Ik ben wees

Ik hoef me niet meer af te zetten want er is geen weerstand meer

Plots is er alleen nog zachtheid

 

Lieve papa én mama, ik kus jullie beider voorhoofd en zeg nog één keer in ‘t bijzijn van iedereen die jullie lief heeft ‘ik hou van je’

 

I love my parents most when I happen upon unintentional signs of their vulnerability, a note from mama on a folded scrap of paper hidden deep in a coat pocket, from my papa a reminder written between brackets on an enclosed envelope stuffed with used stamps.....it seems as if I can verily see them.

That's when I feel the connection, which can be so difficult between parents and their offspring, the unspoken things that matter.

Dear papa, there you are

You were a strict father with soft sides, you loved me and showed it in a roundabout way

An arty postcard from New York, a glance holding an unspoken comment, a tight hug

I have become who I am, thanks to and despite of you

You looked at the world in amazement, a sense of humour and a certain amount of arrogance, as if you knew it all and at the same time realized there was so much to discover. You were enterprising, intensely enjoying and embracing life: people, looking at art and making art, travelling ánd your family. We had to share the evening meal together!

There are many memories. One of my most precious memories is situated in moster Inga's Summer house in Kulhuse, where we spent many long Summer holidays together. You had constructed a fire-pit with granite rocks from the beach, a metal grate was placed on top where we would barbecue our food. The five of us would sit around the glowing embers almost every Summer evening under the stars, eating and then listening to your stories. You had a vivid imagination, your sailing adventures with your brother Rein made a huge impression on me: how you once sailed back from Morocco to Europe on your home-made raft using your nappy as a sail. The next day we started building a raft of our own so we could sail to the uninhabited island across the fjord. You would read to us from you own childhood books....

Many years later I was moved to see how touched and happy you were whenever you spotted small children. This remained so to the end

During the coldest Winter week I have been wearing your Norwegian hand-knitted sweaters, in bed I sleep in your pajamas, I wear mama's necklace and underpants with tatty bra. I am orphan

I no longer need to push for there is no resistance

All of a sudden there is only softness

Dear papa ánd mama, I kiss both your foreheads and say out loud in the midst of all those who hold you in their hearts 'I love you'


followed by a melancholy song Leo Ferré's Paname
my dad's parents were huge French chanson fans



the song evokes a bygone era
with both of them gone 
that's how life feels
now






 

the Beatles 'hello, goodbye' the tune plus photo we showed as folks walked out and we three remained behind, at his coffin

remembering our parents in their glory years




 

 

Comments

Marti said…
Querida Saskia,

I wrote those words which mean Dear Saskia when you said goodbye to your dear Mama. Now you have said goodbye to your dear Papa and while you have become an orphan, you will know that your parents are with you, in moments of memory and always in your heart. The photo of your Papa in front of the summer house in Denmark is so very special. It will come in time, that you will be somewhere and you will sense them with you or you will turn and say, Mama or Papa, look at this... so I understand this time of heart hollow and I send my arms to wrap around you and love to you and your family...

I held you close as you spoke of wearing your Papa's clothes, your Mama's clothes. I never wore clothing from my Mama but I do wear her earrings on occasion. I was always closer to my Papa, and wore one of his wool shirts when it got cold for many years and his fishing hat many times, especially every time we took our girls camping.

Mo Crow said…
(((Saskia))) no words just hugs through the ether
Liz A said…
oh dear heart ... tears for you and yours
Saskia said…
querida Marti, thank you for your kind words, I am so very sad....now that we have said our goodbyes in public, the reality of what has happened these past months has hit home

Saskia said…
thank you ((Mo)) I went for a walk today with a close friend who has recently lost both parents....we share
Saskia said…
the heart Liz, it sure is hurting
Nancy said…
Oh Saskia, my heart breaks for you and your siblings and I shed a tear for the heartfelt words you shared. Your parents look like they shared a great love. May you loved ones, friends and memories hold you in this time of grieving. Please be gentle with yourself, those of us far away are with you in love and spirit and those recently passed on are always with you in your heart and soul. xo
Saskia said…
thank you dear Nancy, it hurts like hell....really good to know you are out there x
Hazel said…
Oh, dear Saskia, I am so very sorry for all that you are having to hold right now. I hope that you are surrounded by those who love and can hold you. The beautiful first photo. Your words about and for him ring familiar..."I have become who I am, thanks to and despite of you" How hard it is to hold all of the truths at once. Sending thoughts of love and comfort to you.

Dana said…
I am so sorry for your manifold losses. It seems very hard, and deeply sorrowful. As the family framework falls away we are confronted with our own existence as bellwethers. No one to follow now but our own hearts. Please accept my deepest condolences as you meditate upon your parents' lives and loves. I know you will miss them always.
Saskia said…
hi there Hazel, I love that first image of him too; I have come to realise I resemble him in so many ways: our love of odd jobs, creative endeavours and pottering about in the garden, getting our hands dirty! Temperamentally I'm much more like my mother....am gradually getting to grips with the loss, and yes, fortunately I am surrounded by loved ones......especially my younger brother and sister, our bond is strong and even stronger now after all we have been through these past years looking after our ailing, aging parents and looking our for each other!
Saskia said…
hello Dana, it is hard, sorrowful ánd joyful, as there are many fond memories plus I have my siblings to share them all with; I'll be sorting through our family-stuff and tidying up the family-home for the next couple of months, a few days a week 'down South'....we have many visitors dropping in, old family friends who miss our parents as well....feels like I have two homes now.....so in between the sad moments there are many more happy ones to look forward too! all part of Life
i have thought of you everyday since this post. Wanting to say
something useful, genuine.
Words don't seem to be coming. so...just this. I remember when
the last parental tether was loosed for me. Such a strange sensation.
my Love to you
Saskia said…
it's so very nice to know you have been thinking of me so much these past days,
letting me know is enough in itself Grace, no 'large' thoughts or words required.....it IS strange x
Patty said…
I see your parents in your face and your face in theirs. I feel my parents
walking with me these days. The sadness has aged into feeling them with me.
Your folks have wonderful, open faces.
jude said…
this brings me back to the memory of my parents, their story, and the loss.
I love your words.
Saskia said…
hi Patty, isn't it amazing how they do still walk with you! a longtime close friend of mine lost her father 8 months ago and she reassured me how much they would stay with me, within me....so true
Saskia said…
hey Jude, yes I remember your sharing of their stories, how moved I was at the time and wondering if I would experience anything like that,.....which I do
Deb G said…
Sending love... I wore my grandfather's boots for several years after he died, mostly in the garden as he would have.
Saskia said…
good evening Deb G, what a lovely story!
I find self becoming 'attached' to the most unexpected things

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