Abadan Iran, preschool. Garden and play with Mammie. Sister Anna Mechtelina Jobsis born. Pappie makes us pancakes. Drawing with Pappie. Abadan, Iran first grade, sing Christmas carols in Dutch and English with Dutch, British, American kids. Travels in the desert to Kuwait, jeeps stuck in sand. Sinterklaas Santa Claus, comes from Holland to Iran. Live in small Abadan neighborhood, walk to the neighbor’s houses, play with the kids. We have servants, all the families do. Wish I could pull out a set of my front teeth the way Abdul does. Make mud animals with Abdul, Mammie lets us bake them in the oven. We visit home to Nederland, boerderij farm fire, all the people survive, almost all family treasures lost. Back to Abadan, fun in the sun, swim, swim, swim. Move back to Nederland, cold, damp, go to bed with hot water bottles. In several schools, confused, too much. Beppe and Pake are always the same.
Finally it is decided, that for a time – which I pretended is forever, I will live with them.
So I find myself in the last months of our time in Nederland/Holland as we wait to emigrate to the U.S., living in the safety of my grandparents’ boerderij farm home. Too much change for me. Now I live with Pake and Beppe in the province of Friesland, near Leeuwarden, in the tiny village of Snakkeburen, attending the same village school as my mother once had.
Every day I race home from school.
Every day, Beppe says, “Liefje, your coveralls are on your bed, but remember – take off your school clothes first.”
Every day I again race – up the narrow stairs to my attic room, going so fast my knees almost hit my chin. School clothes off first.
Every day I start to remove the remove my wool skirt’s shoulder straps, fumble with the buttons at the waist, buttons on the blouse. Each day I conclude, too much trouble.
I tug on the soft, worn, dark blue coveralls over my dress, pat down the inner tube of bunched clothes around my waist, easily fasten the row of buttons on my ample coveralls. Yes, ready for a day on the boerderij with Pake.
Every day, I bump down the friendly dark brown stairs to the living area living room to the right, kitchen straight ahead.
“Liefje, did you really change?” Beppe says, handing me carrots for myself and Pake’s draft horse, Kitty.
“Heus really Beppe.”
Every day she knows, and doesn’t seem to mind the knowing, as she watches me and my lumpy waist turn to go out for the best part of the day.
Every day I pass through the mudroom beikeuken on my left and get ready, putting on rubber boots to go out. Once past the beikeuken, I go through the barn, and go with Pake, Kitty the horse, and the wagon, to see het land – the land.
Pake and I have momentous tasks to do together, anything from going out and counting sheep, to milking cows, to inspecting pastures which are to be mowed in long lines behind a horse-drawn mowing machine so that the fallen grass can become hay.
And every day means a simple evening meal with Beppe and Pake, the comfort of home, and the certainty I would see Mammie, Pappie and my little sister on the weekend.
Wait in a city of Leiden waiting room, boredom, man talks to Mammie and Pappie. American flag drawn on the school board, never go back again. Goodbye. Don’t remember saying goodbye to family. Get on airplane like we always do, stewardess flight pin, see the cockpit. Smack my head on glass door, JFK airport, New York. Mammie and Pappie comfort me. Cartoons on TV in hotel. Yay, no TV ’till now. Arrive in Utah, more TV. Toto is taken away from Dorothy. Scary witch, never like Wizard of Oz again. We are mostly here, except Beppe and Pake. Family “visits” arrives in packages and letters now. Memory. Coveralls, keep the memory alive. See the 30 Days of Light post. Memories still alive. This is not a farm, it shows you and I the farm that sill lives inside. What people and places do you miss, how do you keep your memories alive?