One of the writing prompts for this week over at Mama’s Losin’ It is to write about your grandma and her hometown. My grandma was born in Hoogezand-Sappemeer in the province of Groningen in the Netherlands, but she moved to the province of Zealand when she was very young. During her adult life, she lived in Hilversum with my grandpa and their five children, of which my father is the oldest. In the 1970s, after my grandma had divorced my grandpa, she moved to Zeist in the province of Utrecht, where she became a social worker in a psychiatric institution. When I was hospitalized in 2007, my father told her and she was pretty pissed because, she reasoned, I’d never get out.
The above picture shows the knight’s castle of Zeist. My grandma lived close by there in a senior citizens’ group livign accommodation during most of my childhood. She was the initiator of this group living apartment block. A funny tale is that she spoke of her idea for a group living place to a local govenrment official from a a conservative political party (she is a left-winger) and the man said: “Oh dear lady, you sure could be wishing for that” in a condescending voice. At that point my grandma responded with: “Oh dear gentleman, I’m not a dear lady.” Because the living project was created after all and it was her idea, my grandma had first choice of apartments. She chose a beautiful apartment on the fourth floor.
My grandma was an avid traveler, reader particularly of French literature, and quilter. I imagine she’d be a great lifestyle blogger if she could use computers. She taught some Amish people to quilt when she was visiting their land in the 1990s. At age nearly 80, she still traveled to China an Mongolia. I do not know to what degree she’s currently able to pursue her hobbies, given that over the past few years, she’s gotten a little frail and has suffered memory loss.
My sister and I often visited my grandma for sleepovers when we were young. She would then take us on “expeditions” into town and into the countryside. She volunteered for Utrecht nature conservation and went to do activities (“activigeese” according to my sister), quilting to raise funds for the local park.
My grandma always was an active woman. To be very clear, she is still alive at 90, though I haven’t seen her in a few years, which is why I write about her in the past tense mostly. The last time I saw her was on my wedding in 2011. She was my chosen witness there. I still speak to her on the phone eveyr now and then, and really need to call her today to schedule a visit. Even now that she’s moved to a care home and is pretty obviously getting older, she still inspires me to continue to be as active as I can be.