My aunt is 100 years !

My dad's oldest sister turned 100 years old 10 days ago !! 

It's been 2 years since I last could visit her.  That's when I took the above picture.  Due to the pandemic, the visits have been quite restricted and regulated for many months and it's not like I was passing by a lot. 

She celebrated her 100th birthday in the elderly home where she's been living for about a decade.  Last Sunday, one week later, her big family celebration was planned.  All children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and cousins etc had confirmed.  
In the last weeks, I kept an anxious eye on the covid developments in Belgium. A bit against my own expectations we are now amidst a firm wave 4 of the pandemic with new restrictions that might not be sufficient.  A week before my aunts birthday, there were covid cases again at her floor...there still are.  
It didn't seem like a good moment to celebrate a big family gathering.  But...100 years, it is not a celebration you can easily postpone for 6 months or a year. ..

And so we all confirmed and the party went ahead as planned: with covid safety ticket and some safety measures. My and my mom and sister etc all self-tested extra in the morning to minimize the risk that we'd bring the virus to the party.  I think (and hope) more of us did.  I also cross my fingers not to get worrying medical news this week about any of us.

Her sons probably made the right last minute decision to not bring my aunt to the party, a bit to the surprise of us present.  Her health isn't easy: she's blind, almost deaf, has lost a leg and in those last couple of years her mental presence has slid away.  She'd need medical care and would probably be quite confused by the new environment with so many people who she'd not recognize anymore.  And on top of that all, we'd take for her and her home neighbours a serious health risk now that covid contamination are spreading all over again. 

And hence we had a bit a strange celebration of family for my aunt without her presence.  We celebrated a strong powerful lady's life in her absence.  I had really looked forward to seeing her again but alas.  Not sure when I'll be able to again. Let's cross our fingers.

But it was great seeing the rest of my family again which I haven't seen so complete in probably 20 years.  As my aunt (as well as her other sister) both had large families and since there is so much age difference between my dad and his sisters, family gatherings are usually separate...or split up between generations.  E.g at my dad's funeral, only all my cousins were present but not their (grand)children.  So this was cool and in the end I mingled more than I had intended to do (for safety reasons).

My aunts 5 living children on one picture.   It was amazing to recognize in my cousins some that have grown into a striking resemblance of my father. It was a very strange experience to talk and see facial expressions but also talking rhythms etc that my father had.   Others are lookalikes of my aunt herself and the last one is clearly his father Arnold, who had been my godfather.  Also a few of the daughters of my other aunt were present.  An excellent opportunity to ask many people to pose for a picture.

I discovered a picture album about my aunts live, which was a historic treasure. For the first time I saw pictures of my great-grandparents but also of my great-grandmother and all her children that migrated to Canada.  This is awesome and I hope we'll be able to digitalize and share some of these pictures.  Having faces to the names in the family tree with such a rich history is so thrilling.

My great-grandmother seated right below migrated after WWI with all her children and children-in-law, except for one daughter who migrated to Germany.  Only my grandparents (my grandmother is in the upper row right) migrated back to Belgium a dozen years later with her 2 daughters. My father was born in Belgium much later. 


yab said…
Moh! Zo cool die oude familiefoto. En amai, jouw neef lijkt echt wel sprekend op jouw vader.
Goofball said…
@yab: ja er waren veel supercoole foto's. Op deze foto ben ik in de war omdat ik mijn overgrootmoeder dus als mijn grootmoeder herken. Maar da's dan opeens die jonge vrouw die ik niet herken. En dan toch...als ik haar zonder haar voorstel, zie ik wel weer mijn vader's jeugdgezicht. Straf toch hoe die gelijkenissen over generaties enz. heen gaan.

Want ja mijn neven (ik zie (en hoor) het echt in meerdere) beginnen ook zo flagrant op mijn papa te lijken dat het wat bizar aanvoelde.

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