Friday, May 18, 2007

Back Home

What a week! Here is an adventure packed story if there ever was one. Started of course with great sadness in hearing that Dad had passed away and gone home to be with the Lord. Then the next objective was to get to Holland in time for the funeral and to be with Billy & Karin. I literally raced up to Los Angeles to the Dutch Embassy to get a visa and must say that the staff were truly fantastic in taking care of my application. After securing my visa the next hurdle was going to be finding a way to Holland - this is where provision and a huge miracle took place. A few weeks prior "S~C" emailed me and offered their air miles as a means of getting me to Holland to be with Dad. At the time it seemed unlikely that I would travel for various reasons, and so I made the call and within 20 minutes "S~C" had arranged the flight for me. I was totally amazed! Sitting at the airport I contemplated what lay ahead upon my arrival. I hadn't seen any family members for 5 years, 'what a moment to meet again...' I kept thinking. Usually any kind of trip has a level of expectancy, excitement for what lies ahead, yet this trip I had nothing - just the reality that I was on a mission graciously provided for, to go and help my family bury our Father. Landing in Houston was interesting - the flight was on time, but the distance between terminals seemed like an endless marathon. I made it to my departure gate 15 minutes before take off and settled in for the flight ahead. The weather in Holland was chilly and raining, made for an interesting landing! As I walked out of the Customs area I heard Karin yell out my name, and when I saw her and Billy and little Rebecca standing off to the side, my heart was filled with joy and emotion. It felt good to see family again! Driving back to Billy's house, we chatted in the car about Dad, and caught up a little. Arriving at the cemetery, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, other than to go through the motions of a funeral, only this time it was special - the significance of this day was awe inspiring for me. I was going to see Dad for the last time, and I was going to have the ability to pay my respects to Mom who passed in 2005. I was scheduled to be the last speaker and this was a personal honor. As I stood and looked over all the people who had gathered, it struck me that I was looking at two unique families. My blood family, namely Karin, Billy & Linda who had for the last 3 years looked after Mom and Dad, and over the last number of months been with Dad on a daily basis almost. The other family was of great significance. Dad's Church family, and now by spiritual adoption my family. These folks had come to Dad's side and were with him like my blood family right up until he was called to rest. It was really great for me to meet with each person who loved and cared for Dad. I have had much email communication with them all, but meeting them in person was awesome. Actually it was special, because they all resounded what a blessing Dad was, and how they loved to be with him. The average Dutch funeral lasts probably an hour ~ we concluded everything a staggering 3.5hrs later. The afternoon seemed to go by in a flash. Saturday we had a great day, we went to Utrecht to visit Lisa and to see her kids - vanity fixed her eyes on me and the two of us clicked! What a beautiful soft natured baby! Damien was a bit shy, but came out of his shell at the end of the visit and waving goodbye was sad as we drove off. Sunday Billy and I went to Dad's Church - Het Kruispunt, and I felt really welcome and at home. To be in the same Church that Dad had fallen in love with was special. Everything was just like being back here in Church. Same worship, same joy and genuine love, a real place to fellowship. After service we had lunch with Pastor Marinus, Mattie his wife, and all the brothers and sisters who were close to Dad. It was a very special time. Sunday night we drove to Apeldoorn, to meet Tante Nel, Oom Henk and Tante Ann for Chinese dinner. The irony of it all - Billy indicated that the very table we were sitting at was the same table they had sat together with dad for the last time! Monday was a rush day, I had to go to the Foreign Police, then we went to Dad's old home, and cleared out a few more things, visited Tante Nel and Oom Henk, this too was a unique visit. Tante Nel is Mom's sister, and so we chatted for a while catching up on the years gone by. I remember as a boy, living in Holland in the 1970's I would go often with them for long walks in the Dutch forests. We would pick edible mushrooms, and berries and those memories seem as if it was yesterday. Amazing what events impact your life growing up. Monday night was a real treat, Linda made a delicious Indonesian dish, which I gulped down savoring the flavors. Tuesday came all too quickly, and no sooner had I arrived then it was time to leave again. We stopped off at the cemetery on the way, and I had a moment to bid my farewell, it too was a special moment. The drive to the airport seemed to go fast, and suddenly the reality hit me that I was already on my way back home to the States. Farewells are always touching. I thought to myself "wonder when I will see my family again..." no one knows those answers. The flight back to New York wasn't full so I had a row to myself. In the terminal the line was huge, and it was a race against time. Believe it or not, I was actually the last person to board for the last leg of the trip into San Diego. At one point my legs felt like a mass of jello, but somehow I made it just in the nick of time. Coming in to San Diego I looked out the window and there was a Padres ball game in progress, at that moment I knew I was home. And now it is Friday night, and to be honest, it feels like a dream. The events of the week right now are a blur, I can't believe all that has happened. I do want to make special mention of the following people: "S~C", Pastor Marinus, Mattie, Ineke, Evelyn, Catriena, Ina and every single person who impacted Dad's life in Holland. I sincerely pray the Lord bless each of you abundantly, as you all have blessed my family, I am truly thankful for each of you, and humbled to be a part of your lives.