Friday, March 14, 2014

82

In a few hours I will be 82.
I truly never thought I would make it this far.
Had a few bumps in the years which could have ended it earlier but I am somewhat like a cat, I have 9 lives.

Right now I am in a very good place.
My children are OK, my grandchildren are terrific, none are ready yet to give me great-grandchildren and that is OK too.

All of us live within 20 miles from each other.
The simple reason being that I never did cut the umbilical chord, I hope they do not read this for
they do not know that and may get out the scissors in the blink of an eye.

At age 12 or 13 I decided I wanted to live in America. I pushed and pushed until it became a reality.
I never gave the thought that I might be homesick.
I was, many times. I missed family. There was no returning because I love the USA.


So then my children and husbands (2) were all I had in this country.
They were my everything.
They still are.

I am oddly enough not a person who makes friends with ease.
To me the word means "friends forever". It takes work like a marriage, it takes understanding and listening to people who may not have the same ideals as you and may sometimes not agree with you, you sort it out and continue. That is if you have a good friend.

Currently I am still close to my peer I met when in school. I write often to her, her husband on internet and her daughter . They are in my thoughts every day. My American friend goes back to 1955 and my job at Johnson and Johnson. She is cute, petite, very smart and Jewish. We love each other like sisters. I just got a birthday card from one of her daughters, I cried, how cool is that? Our girls are friends too.

I am not the kind of person who joins clubs. Not having a college education I often feel inferior to the ones who have titles behind their names or brag about the sisterhood in Harvard or Princeton. How can I compete with that? (is what I always thought) . Yet two of my best NC friends have PHD's and are writers.
I love them and feel comfortable with them but they never brag about all the years they spent in school.

Half of my school years in grade school were non existing. I have a book written by teachers from Ghent who wrote "the lost youth!". They were teaching during WW2. I read it several times and it hurts, it hurts how our classes were cut because of alarms, not enough heat to open the doors, children coming to school
who had lost parents already etc...etc..shortages of books, books about certain parts of past history destroyed, a notebook to write in became a jewel to hang on to.  Pencils became rare and just simple life became a different life. Soldiers would come in and we were to jump up and arm salute. My mother had sworn that she would never, ever do that so I tried to avoid it. It did not work. When I was in Catholic school my father and mother were in the underground movement. My father had contact with some of the patriotic nuns and hid parachutists in the convent at different times. I can only imagine how my parents worried if we would have a search in our classes. Many years later my father said that he had to tell the men to be sure and put the lids down on the toilets, that would have been a first giveaway in a convent.

I was lucky my nun had a deal going with my mother and often I went to her room to get more instruction.
She was from the Walloon country and did not speak Flemish but she was hell on wheels to teach me correctly. She was very patriotic but disliked the priest and our King who had fled to a Swiss residence.
He did not have the same blood as his father King Albert who stayed in Belgium during WW1 and lived with his queen with the fighting troops.

Probably odd that I mention the word "patriotic". To be sure we had our share of Belgians who were
pro German. You just did not know when you spoke to someone if they were hiding something and would report you. I heard so much in my house followed by:"Jeannot do not ever say that to anyone, not even your best friend, we could be shot. " On my birthday in a near village several males, all ages, were lined up and shot because of what? We did not know. I think that every birthday I think of that. I saw my mother cry and I felt that from now on I would have a sad birthday because so many people died the same day. Of course I learned about the reality of war and it faded until it is March 15 then it hits me again.

We in the north were lucky as we were liberated in September 1944. The biggest battle, the "Battle of the Bulge" in our Ardennes was still to happen in December. I do not remember if my father knew about it.
Of course everything was hearsay. It was years before we had a phone, and the radios we had in the house prior to the invasion had been stolen when we evacuated. My father had a special radio in the attic with communications to England, I did not know it until after the war.

So the liberation changed the course of my life. Two soldiers brought their clothing to my mom to be washed and ironed. We welcomed a few exchanges of food and blankets. A Master Sergeant and a  19 year old Red head who had just married a day before leaving the USA. I have written about them and will again shortly with photos. In short: the Master Sergeant W. E Schacht and his generous family supported us with clothing and later became the sponsor for me and my then husband and we came to the USA in 1955.
They are my heroes!!!!No one in my life has ever been a bigger hero than these two USA Army men.
About 10 years ago I found the red head (now grey) still married to his war bride and went to thank him for his help. He came to visit and talk to my grandchildren . Now both are gone but I had that chance to see them.

I married in 1951 at 19 and of course I was too young but he too wanted to come to the USA.
17 years with two gorgeous little girls as my reward for being patient with someone who loved all women.

I finally divorced him and met my second husband. He was a 42 year old bachelor and I was 36 with baggage of having 2 girls, plus a huge mistrust of men.
He passed on in 2010 after 13 years of suffering with Alzheimer.
I took care of him and started this blog when I thought I would go crazy.
Writing my feelings helped me a lot.
I am an open book, always have been. No closet secrets in my life, I am a blabbermouth.
The blog got me into WOWOW which is a site for women.
There I met an amazing lady who had been all over the world. She had been in places I could not even pronounce let alone go there. She wrote travel logs and still does. We became email friends. I do not know how many times in a day she would write me and encourage me to keep on trucking while Bob
no longer knew me ,kicked me out of the bed or became violent.
She kept me going I will never see her in person and because of my hearing problems never talked to her on the phone but I would say that she has become a very great friend.

Then I went on Facebook and met another Farmer playing the same game as I was.
A word here and a word there, I think that was around 2009 and of course I found out that she was a German lady living in England. To my amazement I started to really like that lady. The more we wrote to each other the more I figured that my hatred for ANYTHING German had just left me.
I had carried that load for I'd say 65 years or so.....I came by it honestly, my parents had been kids during ww1 and especially my father had suffered much as he was in a family of 8 and his father was a prisoner of war. His mother had no education and often they stole food to survive. Neither parents could tolerate a German.  I am proud of myself to have ditched that kind of prejudice.

So when I think back over the decades I can say in all honesty that I was born when I was 36 from then on even living with an artist with feast or famine, I had the very best life. My husband was a gentle, caring, loving human being who adopted my girls. They still carry his last name even when married. He was never ill until Alzheimer hit him. But even in these years I saw his goodness until at the end the violence took over. He had no idea what he was doing, of course, it is the disease.

My long time friend told me years ago that I needed to make more girl friends. She said I was always with Bob and if he died I would be very lonely. I accepted that as a fact.
I miss him every second of the day, I play imagination games, I see him sitting by the window looking at the bird feeder, I see him painting with earphones on so I would not have to listen to the heavy German opera.
As he held up his brush to see what other color to start he would act like a music director and swing the brush to the tunes in his ears. I always loved that. I see him making coffee in the morning for the two of us and pour our cereal. I see him shaving and hating that he had such paper thin skin and would always bleed.
I see him become a beast in the car when people around him made mistakes, he was always driving the speed limit, the kids called him an" old man driving " before he was an old man.
 For my birthday and Valentine day he would paint a large still life or watercolor. He always managed to do it on the sneak.

After 5 years of marriage I finally trusted him and my trust never wavered after that and he earned it. He made all the bad memories from previous experience just vanish.
We spent our years almost always together 24/7 , we did a lot of traveling and did hundreds of art and antique shows in the South. We lived in Spain for almost 5 years and had our son while there.
We left his beloved Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz mountains and eventually landed in N.C.

Being a liberal democrat was not the best place to be in the 1970's , but we had each other.
That is all that mattered. The kids and him , a cat or two, a dog or two, And that has always been my family and still is . I miss him but I am adjusting. I had to learn to adjust at a young age and after awhile it is no longer a challenge but something you just do.





   

2 comments:

Joy C said...

Happy Birthday Jeannot! I have enjoyed your stories since you watched my sweet kiddos as I love hearing history firsthand. I am so glad I got to meet your Bob...that is exactly how I feel about my hubby.

Jeannot said...

Thank you, Joy, for the wishes. I learned a lot from your little guy and I always felt that you and your husband were absolute angels put here on earth to take care of him. Stay happy, life is short.
Love and hugs