Wednesday, October 11, 2017

ATA



Thank you Madeleine, for your beautiful piece about Ata’s departure.

I will now add my own eulogy.

Just in case, here is a brief explanation: Our mother died in the Netherlands about four weeks ago. The weeks that followed were enormously hectic. There was a funeral to organize, obituaries, real estate transactions, dealings with banks, packing, dispatching, all of this in a land six thousand miles away from my home and my office. I have now finally returned home, exhausted. The flight to Los Angeles alone took over thirteen hours, before connecting to Sacramento. Writing and posting a brief eulogy for my mother for the blog was something I simply couldn’t get to until now.

This essay is basically a description of what happened, along with some musings about families and life.

But first, a brief comment about my “feelings:” Since Ata’s death on September 15, just two days shy of her 104th birthday, I have felt curiously numb rather than devastated. This is possibly due to how very busy I have been ever since. Read more...

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Ata is gone

by 

I usually skyped with Ata on Tuesday mornings. My 103 year old mother and I established this routine, since she lived in the Netherlands and I live on the other side of the ocean, in Boston, Massachusetts.

During what turned out to be the last skype conversation we had, we talked for quite a while about her upcoming 104th birthday and about more ‘philosophical’ subjects. She always had ‘big’ questions, whether the universe is infinite and how bees know how to find their way back to the hive. As she got older, Ata’s curiosity about the world had only increased. Her eyesight had deteriorated and she could only see blobs, but her photographer’s eye amply filled the blanks. A black blob in the sky turned into a beautiful phoenix, the clouds were angels floating by. A flock of birds were there to carry a message to her mother, who died at age 98.

The less she could see, the stronger her imagination became. She could no longer read about science or world events, but kept asking herself those big questions, marveling at the world as if she was just discovering it. She had turned her mind into a kind of perpetual mobile, which did not require outside sources for input, since she could no longer rely on them, other than talk to us and her numerous friends.

Both my brother Tom and my twin sister Juliette were going to fly over to celebrate her birthday. In fact, Tom was already sitting in an airplane. I had just returned from another trip a week before and felt I could wait till November to visit. We liked to ‘stagger’ our visits, so Ata would have more time with her three children. Read more...