If you remember this section from the original "Inkyworld" blog don't worry - all the important people who made it into this section will make their way back eventually. This time I wanted to start properly though and introduce you to the strongest, kindest, friendliest and bravest lady I have ever met. She also happens to be the person who inspired me the most.
It is strange how when my Mum was alive I used to hate it when people got me mixed up with her but now I consider it a great honour and privilege when one of our mutual friends calls me "Coby" by accident.
She was one of those people who really put the motto "Sterkte Door Strijd" (or "Strength Through Adversity") into practice. That motto is the motto of her native city of Rotterdam.
Seriously - everything life threw at her was somehow coped with (even when I would have given up) - the best thing about her was that no matter how much pain she was in or if she was struggling herself she would go out of her way to help her friends and family. She had this thing where even the grumpiest person who she spoke to was not allowed to leave without some form of a smile on their face.
When I was born I had a hole in my heart (we were to eventually find - some 30 years later - that she had a hole in exactly the same place as mine which had never been picked up). I have been told on numerous occassions that I was very poorly - to the point where I had to be operated on ASAP or I would have been dead by five years old. I was operated on at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London then shunted between three hospitals - including the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, where I was born. I think I was eventually released into the wild at approx 8 months old.
If this wasn't bad enough my Dad had a very serious accident which left him in another hospital two months after I was born. Let's just say I am honestly thankful I was born during the time of the three day week. This meant that my Mum's nearest relatives (my English Grandparents) could act as a taxi service ferrying my Mum around between hospitals. She had only been in England for approx a year when I was born and she couldn't drive. Her Mum was stuck in Rotterdam.
Anyway - My Dad and I both survived our ordeals and we were eventually reunited when I was released into the wild (I have always had a dislike of hospitals - not as bad as my English Grandad though. The only time I ever saw him anywhere near a hospital ward - the inside of one anyway - was when he was himself dying of cancer. My favourite family photo is of my parents, me, and my English Grandma actually in the hospital ward when I was a baby with my Grandad standing outside peering into the window at me. Apparently he had had Polio as a child and it made him hate hospitals with a passion even I can only dream of. He would give various relatives lifts to hospitals he just refused to set foot in them himself.)
Even when she ended up in hospital with a very bad back and ended up with what we suspect was one of the earliest cases of MRSA she remained cheerful. The same with her second stint in hospital with a back complaint.
She treated everybody with respect (even on the few occassions when she didn't actually like them). She was a great organiser with a good heart for the community. It got to the stage when I almost couldn't move in the village where my Dad still lives for people whose lives had been touched by her in one way or another.
If there is one word I can use to describe my Mum it is "Dutch" with a capital "D". Her speaking accent may have almost disappeared by the time she died but - as she herself said - "I was born Dutch. I am Dutch. I will die Dutch". (In a way I am glad that either the British Government or the Dutch one refused to let her have Dual Nationality. Even though she spent more time living in England than she did living in Holland.)
The Dutch have got one very famous trait (which I do share with her) - they are blunt and to the point. Dutch people are not the best people to be employed by the Diplomatic Squad either - tact and diplomacy are the last two words I would associate with Dutch people. Put it this way - I have always said that the most dangerous question to ask a Dutch person consists of three very small words, "How are you?".
What the Dutch maybe are not so famous for is the fact that - if you are lucky enough to be our friends - we will go out of our way to help you if you are in trouble. I told you that my Mum was a great organiser? Meals on Wheels, Housebound Library, etc.
She was also very protective of her family and friends. You could tell her your problems and know she would keep them secret. However, if someone upset any of us her friendly nature would turn decidedly frosty towards them.
I know some people may think this is a cop out me saying that my Mum is the most inspirational person I have ever met but I honestly think that if my friends think as highly of me as her friends did and still do of her (over 7 years after her death) I will be very happy.
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