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

Who is an immigrant? I am one.

The buzzword nowadays is “immigrants” and in hardly any context it is used in a positive way. Here is the thing though, who is an immigrant?

This is just a micro snapshot in history. It is basically a background of my family well at least from my Mother’s side.

The picture at the start of the blog is a picture of the marriage certificate of my maternal grandparents. They got married on December 28,1915.

The groom Durk Jager, the bride Tetje Hoekstra. They lived and were married in a small village in Friesland, in the Northwest of the Netherlands. The village Harkema-opeinde was part of the wider municipality of Achtkarspelen.

It was a rural place and there was not much work to be got. In Limburg, in the Southeast of the Netherlands, there was plenty  of work though. This was because of the ‘black gold’, coal . In the early part of the 20th century. Between 1906 and 1926 coal mines were opened in the most southern province bringing with it job opportunities, not just only in the coal industry but also in the wider economy.

The biggest and the last one to be opened was States mine Maurits in Geleen, which opened in 1926.

That was the call for my grand parents to pack up things and uproot the family for a journey southward to Geleen. Even though the Netherlands is just a small country, in the 1920s a journey like that was the equivalent of emigrating to the US or Canada nowadays.

I used the term emigrating because that is what they were doing. The place they were going to was alien to them. Coming from Friesland they had their own language, a different culture and also a different religion, Friesland being a predominantly Protestant province where Limburg was a predominantly Catholic province. Even the landscape was different.

The new immigrants arrived in Limburg and had to adapt to a new way of life.My Grandparents weren’t the only ones to leave Friesland, because of the lack of work in Friesland a great number of Frisians chanced their luck in the hilly area of the Southern part of Limburg.

I am an immigrant too, because I left that same hilly area of southern Limburg for the emerald isle, Ireland. I emigrated because of my wife, who had emigrated from Ireland to the Netherlands 6 years prior.

In 1997 we decided to move to Limerick in Ireland.

So many people have immigrated over the centuries, when you go back far enough in history you will discover that most of us come from an immigrant background.

So next time someone talks in a disparaging manner about immigrants , just remember they maybe talking about you or your family.

(originally posted on January 15, 2019. Reposted with minor amendments January 10,2022)

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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. Thanks 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

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Who is an immigrant?

wedding

The buzzword nowadays is “immigrants” and in hardly any context it is used in a positive way.Here is the thing though, who is an immigrant?

This is just a micro snapshot in history. It is basically a background of my family well at least from my Mother’s side.

The picture at the start of the blog is a picture of the marriage certificate of my maternal grandparents. They got married on December 28,1915.

The groom Durk Jager, the bride Tetje Hoekstra. They lived and were married in a small village in the Friesland, inthe Northwest of the Netherlands. The village Harkema-opeinde was part of the wider municipality of Achtkarspelen.

harkema

It was a rural place and there was not much work to be got. In Limburg, in the Southeast of the Netherlands, there was plenty  of work though. This was because of the ‘black gold’, coal . In the early part of the 20th century.Between 1906 and 1926 coal mines were opened in the most southern province bringing with it job opportunities, not just only in the coal industry but also in the wider economy.

The biggest and the last one to be opened was States mine Maurits in Geleen, which opened in 1926.

mine

That was the call for my grand parents to pack up things and uproot the family for a journey southward to Geleen. Even though the Netherlands is just a small country, in the 1920s a journey like that was the equivalent of emigrating to the US or Canada nowadays.

I used the term emigrating because that is what they were doing. The place they were going to was alien to them. Coming from Friesland they had their own language, a different culture and also a different religion,Friesland being a predominantly Protestant province where Limburg was a predominantly Catholic province. Even the landscape was different.

The new immigrants arrived in Limburg and had to adapt to a new way of life.My Grandparents weren’t the only ones to leave Friesland, because of the lack of work in Friesland a great number of Frisians chanced their luck in the hilly area of the Southern part of Limburg.

daniken

I am an immigrant too, because I left that same hilly area of southern Limburg for the emerald isle, Ireland.

So many people have immigrated over the centuries, when you go back far enough in history you will discover that most of us come from an immigrant background.

So next time someone talks in a disparaging manner about immigrants , just remember they maybe talking about you or your family.

Donation

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.

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