Alida Gets Life - Book
Sophie turned. A man a few years her senior stood next to an old dark-green bike smiling, with hand outstretched. ‘Jan?’
‘Yes, pleased to meet you.’ He shook her hand.
Sophie’s tense face relaxed, ‘Bedankt for helping me find Oma’s grave.’
‘I was interested to meet a granddaughter who has come all the way from Australia to find Alida’s grave.’ He pointed to a spot a short distance away, ‘She is buried there. It’s just past the end of the hedge … you can see the Protestant section?’
As they walked he said, ‘You know, her name is on it. You would have found it easily with the map.’
‘Oh goodness, I’m so sorry to have taken up your time.’ She blushed.
‘Not at all. I’m happy to meet you,’ his warm voice reassured her. ‘It’s only easy if you know that this tiny separate Protestant section exists.’
Once around the hedge, Sophie saw the short line-and-a-half of plain, old, grey cement headstones.
‘We never knew she was Protestant,’ she blurted. ‘When we searched the main cemetery ten days ago, we didn’t notice the gap in the tall hedge, either.’ Her heart began pounding as she noticed most headstones were nameless – like the many rows she’d searched in the Catholic section.
‘Her grave has been well looked after.’ Jan pointed. ‘Here it is.’
Sophie stepped closer, tried to smile and reply, but tears caught her, choked her. Her hand went to her mouth as she turned away.
He moved a discreet distance away.
Kneeling on the grave, Sophie appreciated him giving her privacy as she fought back the tears. ‘I never imagined that I’d be so overcome,’ she thought, trying to compose herself. ‘Tonight, I would’ve found Oma’s grave without even looking at the map.’ Sophie looked around. It was the only grave with flowers planted on it.
She caressed the daffodil, sprouting strongly beside a piece of tin with MOEDER etched across the top of two columns. ‘The daffodils would have been lovely in full bloom a few weeks ago.’ The flowers and home-made plaque in the warm summer evening made her feel at peace.
Indents punched in the metal formed the letters of the names. On the left column they indicated Alida’s eldest child, Nico, then below the two oldest girls, Therese and Emmanuelle. Down the right, in order of age. Marie, Aggie and Ans. Sophie leaned forward on the fine, soft, mown lawn and brushed aside some leaves to reveal the last name.