Wietske—My Hero and My Mother

Mom, this picture of you is typically how people will remember you. In the kitchen, making coffee, ready to make soup and sandwiches.

In that same kitchen you asked me on 24 January 1996, “Ben je gelukkig?” (Are you happy?) Although there isn’t really an accurate translation for gelukkig it is more than just happy it also means are you content or blissful but to all those meanings I could answer, “Yes.”

Two days later on 26 January 1996, I received a call from my sister, saying there was something wrong, “I think mom is dead.” Those words hit me hard. I got on my bicycle, I must have broken a speed record because I appeared to have arrived at the apartment within seconds. The fear we had became a reality—you had died.

Just a few hours before that you were at bingo, cheerful and funny like you always were, singing Het busje komt zo on your way home, an indication of your sense of humour, which you bestowed upon my sisters, my brother and me.

Wietske Jager was born on 10 December 1935, the daughter of Frisian immigrants from Harkema, who moved to Geleen in Limburg.

Although my mother had no formal secondary education, she still spoke three languages. She taught me that intelligence does not equate to education. She was always welcoming to everyone.

One day my sister brought some of her Italian-in-laws to see my mother. The fact that my mother didn’t speak Italian, didn’t stop her from talking to her Italian guests, she simply added an ‘o’ to every word, making it sound a bit Italian. This was not to make fun of them but to give them the respect of making them feel at home. And you know what, I am nearly sure they understood her.

Regardless of what hour of the day you would call, there was always coffee. There also seemed to be an endless supply of soup. She looked after four children on her own. Nowadays some people would look down on her because she was only a mother and a homemaker. People now would say she had no ambition. I pity those people because they didn’t understand the value of real life. My mother always did, she never gave up no matter how hard things got. Her sense of humour and her fighting spirit passed on to her children.

Although she was small in stature, she had the attitude of a giant.

She died on 26 January 1996 when they carried her coffin down the stairs, it started snowing and that snow remained for a few weeks. Clearly, when she arrived in heaven she shook up the place a small bit.

The church was too small for the funeral service. There were queues of people outside the church, despite it being very cold. She was like a celebrity.

Kleine reus ik mis je nog iedere dag

Lytse reus Ik mis dy noch alle dagen


1 Comment

  1. historiebuff says:

    I would have liked your mother. So true   ” She taught me that intelligence does not equate to education.”.


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