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By Belinda

Two days after Mum arrived in Ontario in September of 2003, we were in the air together, on our way to British Columbia.We were going for a wedding and would be there for five precious days!

The bride, was the daughter of my friend of 50 plus years, Ingrid. Ingrid is the niece of Mum's friend of almost 60 years, my Tante Mies. So many connections of the heart.

In my hand luggage as always, I had packed a small journal, this one with two pairs of hands on its cover; a younger pair holding a pair that were slightly wrinkled, below which were two words: "Life's Journey."

Alone together, with the luxury of several hours ahead on the plane journey, I pulled out the journal and began to pepper Mum with questions.

I learned the details of Mum's travels back and forth between Holland and England, starting in January 1947, and her friendships, up to 1949 when Tante Mies came to England to spend a few months working in the same hospital as Mum, before her wedding to Uncle Bart. By the time we landed I had every important detail recorded.

Mum's friend, Tante Mies, never had children, but her niece, Ingrid was born two months before me in 1950, and when we were 4 years old we met for the first time in Holland. We saw each other again at 8, 9, 12, 15 and 16, always in Holland, when Rob and I went with  Mum for holidays with the Dutch half of our family.

Ingrid always seemed so sophisticated to me, so "European!" I was quiet and shy; she was always a great conversationalist with great curiosity. How we compare ourselves to others even as children, and fall short.

From our teens we corresponded, and then I married at 19 and left for Canada shortly afterwards with Paul and settled in Ontario.

Ingrid married Arthur a few years later, a Dutch market gardener and businessman. I had never met him, but she sent me a photo of them both about to board his plane for their honeymoon, she in her wedding dress and carrying her bridal bouquet.

In the 1970's they stayed with us for a few days while in Canada, and made their own plans to settle here eventually, in British Columbia, on the same continent at least, but feeling as far away as ever.

They had three beautiful daughters, and Paul and I had flown out to BC for their first family wedding. Now Mum and I would be there for a second wedding. Tante Mies was not well enough to travel anymore, but it was a dream come true for me to share this part of their journey of friendship with Mum...


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