How could a man do what Opa did to Alida?

How could a man do what Alida’s husband did?     How could a man do what Opa did to Alida? Sophie thought as she sat on the couch, typing some of the new developments in Alida’s story. Bea emerged from the spare room with another armful of paperwork. ‘I found many things I have to … Read more

Looking through photos gives many clues

Looking through photos generates discussion Looking through photos with Bea on the second evening after the meeting at Alida’s grave with the retired nurse, Sophie’s aunt said, ‘Institutions that I visited as a social worker nearly always had a split church like this one where Alida was. Most people were always sitting doing nothing which … Read more

Tears help release your pain and grief

Tears on seeing photos of the Institution’s interior Tears sneaked over Sophie’s cheeks as the last glimmer of hope faded. What was now a beautiful property with modest-sized buildings had lulled Sophie and her sister into hoping that Alida’s last year had been pleasant. ‘Is it okay to show you more? Or is it too … Read more

Wiping tears ends one painful moment

Wiping tears gives us clear vision Wiping her eyes, then nose, seemed to be the signal for the man to quietly walk to a few metres from Sophie’s side. He smiled gently as she apologised, then pointed to the names on the sign made of tin. ‘This may have been done by Emmanuelle’s husband,’ Sophie … Read more

Distracting herself from anxiety

Distracting herself from her apprehension about the visit to Alida’s grave, Sophie absorbed the scenery outside the window during the train trip to Maastricht. This was where she felt most at home outside of her Australian birth region. Now Bea no longer lived seven kilometres from the city centre, Sophie headed to her favourite souvenir … Read more

Uncanny coincidences can provide bonding

Uncanny coincidences make family history exploration fascinating Uncanny that Flavia has lived in the group home for deaf people for the few years since I’ve been putting together the pieces of Alida’s life, Sophie thought, as she cycled back to Anna’s place loaded up with fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and dried fruit from the farmers’ … Read more

Returning home to safety or is it unsafe?

Returning home can be comfortably familiar Returning home to Anna’s, Sophie packed away the dishes and leftover ingredients, while Anna took her Alsatian out for a walk. When she returned she said, ‘The only problem is that my mother has got locked out of her apartment for the last two Sundays.’ Anna chuckled. ‘She phones … Read more

Without her own mother, Alida, life was practical

Without her own mother, as she was growing up, mum was like a slave to her father and his mistress, so she didn’t really think about emotional needs. Sophie wiped her nose as she reflected on her relationship with her recently deceased mum. She recalled how she’d paused for three months from her weekly phone … Read more

Mother’s Day celebrations are important

Mother’s Day is time to honour the significant women in our lives Mother’s Day with no mother for the first time. Sophie’s first thought was like a lump of lead in the pit of her stomach. Gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for Mum at three-years-of-age when she lost her … Read more

Headstones provide connection to family

Headstones allow later generations to find ancestors Headstones without any details. Sophie wondered how an organisation that owned so much beautiful parkland could have neglected to put at least the names, birth and death dates on its residents’ headstones. Her heart dragged behind as they searched through the many rows of nameless graves. Doggedly, they … Read more