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
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Montreal’s Biodome / Le Biodome de Montreal

Today, Grandpa brought us to the Biodome of Montreal. This was really nice. I saw many animals and even monkeys. I think they recognized me as one of them ! Thank you Grandpa !

Aujourd’hui, Grandpa nous a amené au Biodome de Montreal. C’était vraiment bien. J’ai vu beaucoup d’animaux et même des singes. Je pense qu’ils m’ont reconnu comme l’un d’entre eux ! Merci grandpa !

Oscar discovers French fries / Oscar découvre les frites

At Reuben’s, in Montreal, while parents and grand-parents enjoy smoked meat… and then later, at McDonald’s…

Chez Reuben’s, à Montreal, pendant que parents et grand-parents se régalent de viande fumée… et ensuite plus tard, au MacDo…

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Buying shoes at Tony’s / Achat de chaussures chez Tony’s

Today Granny wanted to buy me shoes, then we have been at Tony’s, in Westmount and Tony himself chose the ones fitting the best to me !

Aujourd’hui, Granny a voulu m’acheter des chaussures, alors nous somme allés chez Tony’s, à Westmount, et Tony lui-même a choisi celles qui m’allaient le mieux !

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with my friend Tyler / avec mon ami Tyler

Today my friend Tyler visited me at Granny and Grandpa’s house. He walks already, but he’s much older than me (a few weeks!). It was so nice to see him !

Aujourd’hui mon ami Tyler m’a rendu visite à la maison de Granny et Grandpa. Il marche déjà, mais est beaucoup plus vieux que moi (quelques semaines). C’était vraiment bien de le voir !

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First time on a swing / Première fois sur une balançoire

By walking in West-Montreal, on Avenue Westminster and Chemin Ainslie, we found a swing ! I never tried before and I have to say that I liked it… during a few minutes, but I’m not sure I would like to do that everyday !

En marchant dans Montréal-Ouest, à l’angle de l’avenue Westminster et du chemin Ainslie, nous avons trouvé une balançoire ! Je n’avais jamais essayé avant et je dois dire que j’ai aimé… pendant quelques minutes, mais je ne suis pas sûr que j’aimerais faire ça tous les jours !

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At Granny’s library / A la bibliothèque de Granny

Granny brought us to her library, in front of Montreal West Town Hall, on Westminster Avenue. This is such a nice place, full of books. Most of them are too high I can’t reach them, but some are accessible so I can play doing as if I can read.

Granny nous a emmené à sa bibliothèque, en face de la Mairie de Montreal-Ouest, sur l’avenue Westminster. C’est un endroit tellement agréable, plein de livres. La plupart sont trop hauts, je ne peux pas les atteindre, mais certains sont accessibles alors j’ai pu jouer à celui qui sait lire.

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My first bagels / Mes premiers bagels

Today I tried my first bagels. These are small round breads with a missing part in the middle and some sesame seeds on the top. The best ones come from Montreal, and in Montreal, the best ones come from St-Viateur Bagels ! I’ve been there again with Papa who likes them a lot and we had them with peanut butter (Little monkey like peanut !) and jam.

Aujourd’hui j’ai essayé mes premiers bagels. Ce sont des petits pains ronds avec une partie manquante au milieu et des graines de sésame au dessus. Les meilleurs viennent de Montréal, et à Montréal, les meilleurs viennent de St-Viateur Bagels ! J’y suis retourné avec Papa qui les aime beaucoup et nous les avons mangés avec du beurre de cacahuète (Petit singe aimer cacahuète !) et de la confiture.

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Family time in Canada / En famille au Canada

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My Canadian Family / Ma Famille Canadienne

Today I met my Grandpa Rudy, my Granny Mieke (who already visited me in Paris when I was 2 weeks old !) and my Uncle Christopher. I’m so happy to see them… without the screen of the computer in between !!

Aujourd’hui j’ai rencontré mon grand-père Rudy, ma grand-mère Mieke (qui m’avait déjà rendu visite à paris quand j’avais deux semaines) et mon Tonton Christopher. J’étais très heureux de les voir… sans l’écran de l’ordinateur entre nous !!

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