Father’s Day

This will be a blog post about my Dad because it is Father’s day.

There is so much I could say about my Dad and yet there is so little. For a long tome he had not been a part of my life, for 18 years to be precise. Especially the last years of those 18, I started to feel a hate for the man. That hate turned into bitterness, at that stage I realized that I had to do something about it. I had just got married and my wife deserved better then to have a bitter man.

I had found out where my Dad worked, which was in a restaurant in Valkenburg, the south east of the Netherlands which was only a few miles from where we lived. My wife and I, although she was still my girlfriend at the time, went to Valkenburg and sat down on a terrace of the restaurant where he worked.

I have to admit I was impressed to see him at work. Bringing out about 6 meals at the same time, balancing 3 meals on his left arm and 3 meals on his right arm, it was like watching an artist at work.

He did spot us and he came over to us and offered us a drink. It was a bit strange situation, awkward even, so we left after we finished our drinks.

A few months passed again and I decided to reach out to my Dad. But as is often the case, fate beat me to it. In early January 1996,my paternal grandmother died, a woman who I didn’t really know, but my Father called me and asked me if I wanted to come to the funeral. I had a chat with my wife and siblings, and we decided to go especially because our Mother gave us the blessing to go.

At the funeral I could not feel but sorry for the man who I recognized as my Father. We had a chat afterwards and said we would meet again, but had not set a date.

Alas fate hit again and on January 26th ,1996, my Mother suddenly passed away. This time it was my Dad’s turn to come to the funeral. My Mom was very loved by friends and neighbours which was evident at her funeral, because the church was packed. There were even people outside, my Dad was in the hall of the church.

When we walked out, he was there with his arms wide open, ready to embrace us.

The tragedy of my Mom’s death was also the moment that rekindled my relationship with my Dad. There were a few more unfortunate events though, both my wife and I were hospitalised, I in March and my wife in May of 1996. This however strengthened the bond between my Dad and I. He also ended up in hospital a few weeks later. So 1996 was a turbulent year for the family.

What copper fastened our relationship was the fact that one day my Dad visited me at home, we had a good chat and he asked me for forgiveness for the mistakes he had made. To me this was a very brave act, because I jus didn’t know how I may react to that. I also noticed that maybe I lost track of him, he definitely kept track of me, he even knew the grades I got for my school exams.

In 1997 my wife and I immigrated to Ireland, just to make sure that she would be close to her parents. At that stage air travel between Ireland and the Netherlands had become very affordable, therefor it would be possible for me and my Dad to visit each other whenever we wanted.

Our relationship grew stronger and stronger. I had come to understand my Father, his Dad was killed during World War 2, when my Father was still only very young, he was only 5 at the time. So he never really got to know his own Dad, and he never had a Father-Son bond with his own Dad. How could I hold a grudge, knowing this? I couldn’t, was the answer.

Despite having a few health scares he held on, Alas in 2015 he passed away. It was Father’s day 2015 that was the last time I got to see him and talk to him. This time we used modern technology, we had a chat via Skype. Little did we know then that so many would celebrate Father’s day in a similar way in 2020 and 2021. due to the Covid 19 pandemic

Six days later he died.

His story did not end there. He was cremated on July 2nd 2015.The following day my siblings and I decided to go his birthplace, Maastricht, to celebrate his life. When we were there we saw that Andre Rieu would start a week long of concerts, starting that day . We thought that this would be the perfect way to celebrate Dad, but we also knew it would be impossible to get tickets. We tried all the surrounding restaurants at the Vrijthof, where the concert would be held, they offered a dinner and the concert.

All of the restaurants said ‘no’ the tickets had been sold out for months. For some reason though, the last place we tried also said no, but he also he would try to get something sorted for us. He told us to come back just before the concert would start, but we were to come via the back entrance of the restaurant, We did as we were told and the man had arranged a table for us on the terrace, so we could see and hear the concert and also enjoy the meal. I thanked the man and explained to him why we were there that day. That must have touched him because when we wanted to pay, the waitress said there was no charge. We felt that moment our Father looked out for us.

Happy Father’s day to all the Fathers out there. Enjoy it and make the most of it, because you just don’t know what tomorrow brings.

Paying the ultimate price for helping others.

Maastricht is one of my favourite cities. I grew up only about 10 miles away from it and would have visited it numerous times. It is, the most south eastern city in the Netherlands and is well known for its close proximity to Belgium and Germany. It is also the the home of violin virtuoso Andre Rieu and his Strauss Orchestra.

In Europe it is known for the treaty which was signed there on February 7,1992. It shaped the future of the EU.

But I am not going to talk about any of that. I want to add a name to the Maastricht narrative and would love it if in years to come people would say “Maastricht, oh yes that is the place where Derk van Assen and his wife Berendje are from”

Derk and Berendje van Assen were heroes in every sense of the word. They paid the ultimate price for helping their neighbours.

Derk was active in the underground resistance from the beginning of
the war, in May 1940. Initially without being part of an organised group, but later he joined the Versleyen group, a group of tax officials
within the L.O (National Organisation for help to those in hiding); he
was also a member of the Trouw group, the national Christian
resistance group.

In Derk’s Christian believes and humanist principles, all people were equal and he was prepared to risk everything to save the lives of Jews and others. Using his many talents Derk contributed during the war to illegal newspapers, organized national information networks and offered professional document forgers a place to work in his home. Derk and Berendje were friendly with Isidore and Frederika Schaap, who had come to Maastricht in 1939, together with their daughter Hetty. Isidore headed a branch of a Ladies fashion firm that was based in Rotterdam and Berendje was one of his customers.

The Shaap family had totally integrated; in the ways of the more the more Burgundian lifestyle of the southern Netherlands and sometimes they even went with Derk and Berendje to the Reformed Church on Sunday mornings.

In the summer of 1942, the Schaaps received orders to report for deportation ,Derk helped them find a place to hide. They spent their first couple of nights hiding with a family who owned an optician’s shop in Maastricht. During this time their identity cards were altered and the “J” removed, which gave them the freedom to travel with less risk. The next following day, the Schaap family took a train to Utrecht, to the home of one of Derk’s cousins. They soon moved to a family in Hillegom, South Holland, also relations of the van Assens. The Schaap family then had to split up Isidore and Frederika moved to Amsterdam, where they were later arrested.

The Police Commissioner of Maastricht had requested that Isidore Schaap and Frederika Roza Schaap-Kamerling, both residents of Maastricht, be located, detained and brought to trial. They were suspected of having changed their place of residence without the required authorization. This description referred to Jews who had gone into hiding.

On 26 July 1943 Derk was arrested in Maastricht after having been
under surveillance shadowed for some time by the SD (Sicherheitsdienst). The SD had recruited “Blonde Mien”, a resistance activist. Mien was tasked to gather information about Derk’s contacts, but before she could do so Derk was apprehended and incarcerated in the local prison. In this prison, Oberscharfuehrer Richard Nitsch interrogated Derk for seven weeks, during which time Derk’s colleagues were planning his escape. However, the authorities discovered the plot and to abort it Nitsch and two other SD men executed Derk in Horst, Limburg, on September 14, 1943.

In the meantime, Berendje was also arrested and imprisoned, first in
Maastricht, then in Haaren and finally in Vught. From there she was
deported to Camp Ravensbruck in Germany where she died on 2
February 1945.

Two heroes who gave their lives for others. After the war Derk and Berendje were decorated by the Air Chief
Marshall and Vice Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces for
“assistance to officers of the marine, land and air forces to escape
from imprisonment, or to avoid being taken prisoner by the enemy”.
On 6 September 1989 Derk van Assen and Berendina van Assen –
Grolleman were awarded the honorary title of Righteous among the
Nations by Yad Vashem.

Frederika Roza Schaap-Kamerling born Wildervank, 28 February 1894 – Murdered in Auschwitz, 28 January 1944.Reached the age of 49 years.

Isidore Schaap ,born Rotterdam, 24 April 1894 – murdered in Auschwitz, 8 April 1944. Reached the age of 49 years.

I could not find out what happened to their daughter Hetty.





I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2, however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thank you. To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the PayPal link. Many thanks.



The time I nearly booked André Rieu for my Mother’s wedding.

Rieu, Vrijthof, Maastricht

This is a historical blog however not  so much about a big historical event but more a personal historical tale, which I was reminded of today.

In 1991 hardly anyone had heard about Andre Rieu, I know I didn’t. My Mother was getting remarried and I had told her that I would pay for the music on her wedding day. Not knowing that this would be more difficult then I had envisaged.

I tried to call may bands, all the local bands were booked for the date. I decided to look further afield for the night’s entertainment. I opened up the Golden Pages and went to the section of musicians/entertainers. Most of the names in the section I had already contacted or they were just too far away.

I spotted one name though I hadn’t approached yet and he lived also only10 miles away from my hometown. The name was Andre Rieu, nothing else, no full page ad, no bells and whistles, just a name and telephone number, not even an indication what kind of music he did or if he even was a musician, just a name and number


I tried ringing several times but to no avail, no answer machine, it just rang out.

This left me with no music. Luckily one of the bands I had contacted, had a cancellation and was able to book them for the wedding.

What a story it would have been though if I had booked Andre Rieu for my Mother’s wedding.

My story with Andre Rieu doesn’t stop there though.

In July 2015 I had the pleasure to see the great man live in Maastricht.


How that came about is quite magical and it involved my other parent, my Father.

He passed away on June 27 2017, his funeral was on July the 2nd. My siblings and I had decided that the day after his funeral we would go to his birth place, Maastricht, to remember him and to celebrate his life.

We’d go by train so no one had to drive in an emotional state. The train journey was only 25 minutes anyway.The plan was to have a drink or 2, have a bite to eat and do a bit of shopping.

Not realizing that Andre Rieu was staring his first of 7 concerts that day in Maastricht.


While we were going about fulfilling our plans for the day a thought came to my mind. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could stay for the concert”, knowing there was no chance on earth we’d get a ticket, leave alone 4. And the signs around town had said they were going to close the main square’Vrijthof’ at 6 PM that evening. This would also mean our time was limited to go for dinner.


But we took a chance and asked at the box office if there were still tickets. The answer was “No, it had been sold out for nearly a year” We had seen some restaurants though who were advertising dinner and concert arrangements. So we asked around and all we got was the same answer as  at box office.

However been raised as people who never give up, we decided to try one last restaurant. The Azie Tapaz restaurant on the Vrijthof.


Initially we got the same answer, but I don’t know what prompted the manager, since we did not tell him about the recent passing of our Dad, but he said “If you come around the back ally at about 6.15 PM, I’ll let you in via the back entrance and I’ll sort you out.

So we did as advised, and true to his word there he was at the back door and let us in. He set us first down in the restaurant and then prepared a table for us at the terrace on the Vrijthof square. At that stage I thanked him and told him how much this meant to us since we had just lost our Father, and we were there to celebrate his life and the concert would be the perfect end to those celebrations.

Not only did he go out of his way to accommodate us at the end of our fabulous dinner there was no bill either so the meal and concert were free, but we did leave some money behind anyway as a tip

That day we felt our Dad was looking out for us from heaven.

I know this is a very personal story but since it was such a wonderful experience I feel I had to share it.



I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2, however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thank you. To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the PayPal link. Many thanks.


Eerie but good Music

I might be ahead of the posse on this one but since Halloween is drawing near I was thinking of songs and pieces of music which would be perfectly suited for “All Hallows Eve”. This way you can have at least one playlist ready for the event.

Starting off with a classical piece.

Flower Duet

The “Flower Duet” is a famous duet for sopranos from Léo Delibes’ opera Lakmé, first performed in Paris in 1883. The duet takes place in act 1 of the three-act opera, between characters Lakmé, the daughter of a Brahmin priest, and her servant Mallika, as they go to gather flowers by a river.


Gymnopédie No. 1

The Gymnopédies are the first compositions with which Erik Satie tried to cut himself loose from the conventional 19th century “salon music” environment of his father and stepmother. In September 1887, Satie composed three sarabands (Trois Sarabandes), taking a quote from Contamine’s La Perdition by way of introduction.



Your Ghost

Your Ghost” is the first track from Kristin Hersh’s debut solo studio album Hips and Makers. It features additional backing vocals from Michael Stipe of R.E.M..



Where the Wild Roses Grow

Where the Wild Roses Grow” is a duet by Australian rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and pop singer Kylie Minogue. It is the fifth song and lead single from the band’s ninth studio album, Murder Ballads (1996), released on Mute Records.



Gonna Get Close to You

Gonna Get Close to You is a song by Dalbello that first appeared on her album whomanfoursays, while an extended version was released as a single.

However in 1986 the Seattle based Heavy Metal band covered the song on their album “Rage for Order”.


Their version is actually better and creepier, it is one of those rare occasions where a cover version is better.


How You Gonna See Me Now”


How You Gonna See Me Now” is a song written by Alice Cooper, Bernie Taupin, and Dick Wagner, performed by Cooper and produced by David Foster. It was released on Cooper’s album, From the Inside.

If this song was sung by any other artist it would have been one of the most romantic ballads. But this being an Alice , the Prince of Darkness,Cooper song it becomes clear that the song is actually but a mental patient being released from the mental hospital.



Tubular Bells




Tubular Bells is the debut record album of English musician Mike Oldfield, recorded when he was 19 and released in 1973 when he was 20.

It was the first album released by Virgin Records and an early cornerstone of the company’s success. Vivian Stanshall provided the voice of the “Master of Ceremonies” who reads off the list of instruments at the end of the first movement. The opening piano solo was used briefly in the soundtrack to the William Friedkin film The Exorcist (released the same year), and the album gained considerable airplay because of the film’s success.The 1st time (and only time) I watched that movie I stayed awake for two nights afterwards. The music still brings back that uncomfortable feeling I had then.

Finishing off with a classical piece.

O Fortuna, this must be one of the creepiest pieces of music ever recorded, together with Tubular Bells.



The music composed by Carl Orff was the soundtrack to one of the all time classic Horror movies “The Omen”


It really is the perfect music for the movie.

This version is performed by the Andre Rieu Orchestra.