Vake Jan

"Vake Jan"

Our neighbourhood was a warm nest and I spent a lot of my childhood playing with some friends on our quiet street.  I didn't attend daycare but spent my first years at the neighbours which received the name "vake..., moeke..." as secondary parents and the neighbours on the other side received the same honour.  The neighbour's gardens were annexated as our play domain and we plucked the old flowers to make little colored "magic potions".

I remember vake Jan as the no-nonsense down to earth, allergic to "appearances" practical do-er with a clear opinion. He was an outdoor person, strapping canoes or a catamaran on his car's roof in the summer to drive to some campground in the south of Europe.   He tapped juices from the birches in the front and slaughtered his own ducks, rabbits and poultry in "den bos" which was the piece of land just behind our house with a lot of trees where the poultry ran.   As a child I had observed with very open mind the slaughtering and how he pulled out the intestins.   We knew when he'd have guests over when we saw him busy at the big smoke barrel in that "wood" since he smoked fresh salmon for dinner.

He was the type of man that noticed us debating some old tree leaning over in our garden, to show up with a ladder and chain saw to pull it down even before our debate had ended in a conclusion. He'd show up with good tools if he saw us messing around with some amateuristic stuff and take over the project. He'd even take initiative in last years to start planting flowers in my parents garden without asking because he had too many and he figured we'd be happy with that.

He jumped on his bike with a green knitted hat to go and play the organ in church each weekend.
He had strong opinions and was stubborn like hell which often made our heads shake and roll our eyes.

He had also taken initiative when our street had an out of control explosion of street cat. As a child I found out when I noticed 2 dead cat laying in the grass in our garden from our window and he'd show up grumbling in order to quickly take them away, assuming I had not observed it all.  For a decade I held a grudge against the "cat-killer" as I named him in my mind.  With adult hindsight I understand why action had to be taken, yet his methods and communication could be debatable to say at least.

In the same period his wife Roos lost her eyesight as my dad's health started being difficult.  While my mother helped Roos with "female" support (eg make-up, ...), he could help my parents with physical chores.  They made a good combination to spend some summers on vacation together...each with special needs and therefore with respect and comprehension, even though they were so different from each other.

Our street lost Rose in 2018, after which Jan's health also deteriorated quickly.  He moved to the care center (half) a year before my father did.  Neither Jan or my father have been aware to be almost neighbours again in their new surroundings. Both had become a shadow of their old selves.

Vake Jan left this world 2 weeks ago... No big funeral with organ and choir as he would have deserved and his musician son performing, due to current pandemic.  I would have never anticipated that such a strong personality would simply disappear so silently.


Kris10 said…
Wat triest!
Sterkte met dit verlies.

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