Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Family Stories

[Colonial home in Sumatra 1939]

This photo evokes in me echoes of stories told by my parents as I was growing up. Why is it that we begin to appreciate those stories more after our parents are gone ? The bond my mother had with her parents was so evident as tears welled up in her eyes at just the mention of her mother or father. Her father died when she was 17 years old. He died on the operating table from what sounded like a reaction to anesthesia. She said he went into the hospital and never came out. She was intensely angry at the doctor who took away her father. Her entire life she witnessed a love and affection between her parents which led her to an idyll childhood. Her mother made cotton candy for her birthday parties, her favorite treat. When she was a young woman she saw the night sky lit up with fireworks in celebration of the engagement of Queen Julianna to Prince Bernard in 1932. She said the fireworks cleverly took on the shapes of the engaged couple's heads facing each other.

We all carry with us family stories and legacies that are more precious than any material possession. The Dutch East Indies seems so remote, but it was alive and thriving. As complex as it was with all the social, economic and political layers it was an era embedded in our blood and memory.

Keep those stories alive through your children and their children, etc. These stories are who you are.

1 comment:

John said...

I like your blog, Bianca. My name is John van Voorthuijsen and my family has deep roots in the DEI, where I too was born.

I now live in SFCA - drop me a line! Email:

I have a journal in which I write a lot about all kinds of things, including the Dutch East Indies:

Some entries that might perhaps be of special interest to you are: