Granny & Grandpa

Today Grandpa made a surprise to Granny : He wrote an article in the newspaper for Valentine’s day. And it’s a beautiful story !

Aujourd’hui Grandpa a fait une surprise à Granny : Il a écrit un article dans le journal pour la St Valentin. Et c’est une belle histoire !


MONTREAL – It was May 2, 1957. I was 21 years old, and just one week away from writing my final exams at the Merchant Navy Officers Training College in Vlissingen, the Netherlands.

Vlissingen is a small community. Most students attended the college on an indenture contract for one of the big shipping companies.

I had signed a three-year contract with Royal Interocean Lines, all of it to be spent in the Far East without ever stopping in the Netherlands. The RIL paid for my tuition, books, room and board, uniforms and a small allowance; in addition, it facilitated my dream of becoming an engineering officer on a ship and travelling around the world.

Shortly before final exams, six of my classmates and I decided to rent a Volkswagen bus and go partying across the border in Belgium.

I was the only guy without a girl for a date. One of my friends introduced me to this young woman I had seen before – someone I had never dared to approach.

For a get-to-know-you meeting, he and his girlfriend and I were properly invited to this young woman’s home. Her name was Mieke Beatrix Götzen.

Lo and behold, her parents and siblings decided to go to the movies and leave us alone. We had a wonderful, intimate little party, which set up the next day’s trip to Knokke, Belgium, very nicely.

And then it happened.

I fell head over heels in love with Mieke. We had a wonderful time in Knokke, but when we got home, Mieke made it clear that having fun was one thing, but waiting for me for three years was out of the question.

That’s when I found out that she would celebrate her 16th birthday in June.

However, I never gave up hope. For one thing, I had managed to get into the good graces of her mother.

Over the ensuing three years, I travelled all over the Southern Hemisphere on a variety of ships.

Every single day of those three years, I wrote a page in which I told Mieke about life on board, the places I visited, and most of all about how much I missed her.

Whenever we entered a harbour with reliable mail service, I bundled all the pages together and mailed them to her.

It took about eight months before I could sense some encouragement from her. That’s when she sent me a framed photograph of herself. This was certainly to a large extent due to her mother urging her to respond to this lonely sailor.

Correspondence gradually heated up. After about another year, she send me another photo of herself – in a bikini.

Talk about cruelty!

Toward the end of my three-year contract, she agreed – by snail mail – to marry me. (In those days, there were very few phones. If you could find one, you had to get the Central Post Office to establish a connection. Then, at great cost, you were allowed three minutes. We were never in port long enough to do that.)

As a condition of agreeing to marry me, Mieke requested that I give up the sailor thing. Even though it broke my heart to do so, my love for her won out over my love for sailing and I agreed – as long as she agreed to my condition that we leave the Netherlands. I had been born and raised in the colonial Dutch East Indies (now called Indonesia) and I simply could not stomach the idea of living in such a densely populated and congested society as the Netherlands.

She agreed to come with me to Canada.

We were married in April 1961. We had a short honeymoon in Paris, then got on a boat to Montreal. Planes were a novelty then, and way too expensive.

We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary last spring.

We look forward to many more good years together, health permitting.

Life has been good to us.

We love Canada.

Rudy van Soest and his wife, Mieke, live in Notre Dame de Grâce.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
Read more:

Happy Birthday my beloved Mamma / Bon anniversaire ma Maman que j’aime

Today is the birthday of my Mamma and I love my Mamma !! Happy birthday my pretty Mamma !

Aujourd’hui c’est l’anniversaire de ma Maman et j’aime ma maman!! Bon anniversaire ma jolie Maman !

Oscar loves Mommy / Oscar aime Maman

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