seems one of the constants in my life. From infancy till now I have
delighted in the surprising things noticed while on a walk. The flowers
and birds in their seasons. Neighbours of every kind. Some cheery. Others
grumpy. Most somewhat ordinary.
For the first year and a half of my life
we lived in a rather smallish house in the village of Ee, in Friesland. My
bed was in a drawer that pulled out of the wall. I have no clear memory of
sleeping in such a bed. But I imagine it offered a basic comfort. As well
as a sense of security.
Attached to the house was a stable. It
was occupied by a cow and a small number of hens. These were part of the
household economy. We cared for them and they offered themselves for our
good. The atmosphere was rich with the deep aroma of country life. The
warm smell of home.
I was well known by the village folk.
Mother and I would be in the streets most days. Sometimes to a shop for
the day's groceries. Other times to the homes of my grandparents. Mother's
side in a nicely kept home near the village centre. Father's just outside
the village. A small house with a detached barn. Here I delighted in the
company of my paternal grandfather. This surprised many observers. Until
my birth most folk knew him as withdrawn and cynical. He was not pleasant
company most of the time. This changed following my birth.
Grandfather and I were very close. My
presence seemed to rekindle his interest in life. He delighted in spending
time with his little boy. That delight infected my developing personality.
I felt appreciated, valued and cared for. Then cancer was discovered in
him. In what seemed a very short time, he was laid in his death bed. I was
not permitted to see him. The separation hit me hard. I stood crying by
the door keeping me from him. He died after only a short while.
My grandfather's death gave root to a
question deep within me. If we are sure to die, why do we bother to live?