Communication diversity enriches our life

Communication diversity increases tolerance of others

Communication diversity expanded with the arrival of Bea’s youngest daughter Anna, together with her 20-year-old deaf daughter Flavia.

The weather is perfect for travelling in the car to find castles in the beautiful Limburg region, thought Sophie as her face shone like the sun.

As Anna drove at a leisurely pace over the flat-topped hill‘s farm fields, which underneath contained a network of underground tunnels built to defend Belgium after World War I, Bea’s favourite soft berries were spotted. Sophie and Flavia got out of the car and walked back to fill their containers, both signing with hands with Flavia lip-reading.

‘I’m so glad Flavia can lip-read my basic Dutch,’ Sophie announced to the others as they hopped back into the car.

‘It’s great,’ Anna agreed.

Sophie videoed her family wandering around the magnificent Eijsden castle which the Dutch Queen Mother had recently visited. They found nuts that no member of the family could identify. Bea tossed one of them in the direction of her daughter, and to Sophie’s horror it hit her on the check. There was laughter until Anna gasped loudly, ‘Owwh! Moeder, dat was niet mooi!’  Bea rubbed Anna’s shoulder, apologised to her daughter, and then put her arm around her.

A sign on the roadside advertising fresh fruit waylaid the travellers. Little cardboard boxes of cherries, plums and nectarines were purchased. Sophie’s cousin put a box in between the front seats where her mother and daughter were sitting so they could reach for the fruit. Sophie saved hers for future morning breakfasts as they’d nearly finished the berries on what remained of Bea’s orchard after the gardener had attacked all her trees, and the wild blackberries were not yet ripening with the unseasonal cool and rainy weather. She thought of how Alida must have missed things like this simple drive and cycle rides exploring castles, while picking fruit along the way together with her children and grandchildren.

Mheer castle had a black and white gate through which Sophie and Bea entered. Sophie explored ahead for an entrance to the building and courtyard, and was met by a lady who said; ‘This is actually a private residence. A very old family lives here. But you can go into the courtyard that way.’

Bedankt, but my 93-year-old aunt is around the other side, so I need to tell her.’ Sophie raced back to find that Bea had disappeared. She began photographing and videoing a number of unusual buildings on her way out of the gate.

Communication diversity
Communication diversity reveals challenges of difference

‘Hey!’ She spotted the others on the bridge over the moat waving her back to the road. When Sophie caught up, she was amazed to see how much her aunt was walking on her newly healed leg. Although they had been for a couple of walks around the blocks near her home they hadn’t walked far.

Communication diversity
Communication diversity is helpful when travelling in foreign lands

‘The same family have owned the castle and have lived here since 1600,’ Bea showed Sophie the sign.

‘So that’s what that lady meant. Wow!’ Sophie related her adventure around the house.

She walked slowly beside Bea, remaining a step behind her to ensure she didn’t feel any pressure to walk quicker. As they returned to the car on the street, Sophie stood open-mouthed while an army tank approached on the back of a semi-trailer. Nobody else seemed perturbed, but she grabbed her video camera and quickly captured the scene.

‘Is it quite normal to see such things in tiny villages like this?’ Sophie asked Bea.

‘To be honest, I don’t know. It was certainly a bit big for driving around on small roads and roundabouts.’

Finding the next castle proved to be quite an orienteering adventure, with the road deteriorating into a rough cycle track. On arrival at Altenbrouck, only Sophie and her cousin explored the stables adjacent to newer buildings with signposts for convention events offered by the company which now owned the whole property, including accommodation, hotel, restaurant and function centres. Bea had now run out of energy after having been on the go for two-and-a-half hours and rested in the warm car with Flavia on her social media.

‘Look, you can buy Wayju beef here for a lot of money.’ Anna pointed to the menu board advertising burgers for more than sixteen Euros.

Communication diversity
Communication diversity highlighted by rooster in the burger kitchen 🙂

‘At least it’s fresh. It only relates to the cattle that are here in the barn and meadows, so you know you are getting the real thing and are not taking a risk as you do with MacDonald’s, which also advertises Wayju,’ Sophie quipped.

After half an hour of exploring, Anna said, ‘Flavia needs us to leave my mother’s at 4 p.m. to catch her train back to her place, so we will have to find our way back now.’ She activated her GPS device to find a way to Lanaye where there was a bridge across both canals.

Communication diversity includes different psychological methods

As they drove a little more briskly toward Bea’s home, Sophie mused out loud, ‘I remember walking along this road with the little canal under the footpath in front of these houses in 2009, on the way to visit the psychiatrist who started the Hearing Voices Network in Maastricht.’

‘Wow, you have a good memory,’ Anna commented.

Miraculously, they pulled up at Bea’s home at precisely 4 p.m. without any rush.

Flavia gave her Oma a hug, while her mother signed to her; ‘Where is my hug?’ But at this Flavia just shrugged and got into the car. Sophie took the opportunity to go back to the car to give her cousin a big hug.

After Anna and Flavia left, Bea quietly took to the sofa for a nana nap, and Sophie to the kitchen to capture the day’s activities to add to the writing about her Dutch grandmother’s life and family. She wondered if Alida might have been helped by the Hearing Voices’ network if it had been developed fifty years earlier, particularly in finding a stronger voice to be brave enough to have moved to Bea’s home in the last ten years of her life when Bea had invited her to do so.

As Sophie began her usual dinner preparation, Bea came to the kitchen, ‘Now, how can I help?’

‘It’s all going smoothly, thank you.’

‘I’ll get the washing off the line. It’ll be dry now.’ Bea trotted out to the simple cord line strung to concrete posts down the garden path leading to the steep, irregular steps down to what she called the ‘meadow’ on the canal flood plain. It was about 13 to 20 metres below the level of the vegetable garden.

The neighbour’s four- and six-year-old boys persisted in throwing their ball over the new fence. Their Oma called out to Bea in Dutch to tell her that it was important not to throw it back. Their father came out later, and the whole family began to sing-song in French. In Bea’s house Dutch was the dominant language, as was the case with her other neighbour, but all the households were able to switch languages as easily as turning on the light.

Bea watched the news and weather on TV while Sophie grated ginger to make a teapot ready for her next morning’s intestinal cleanse. Bea then watched chat shows on TV, while Sophie researched her train trip for the following week on her tablet.

At their usual time of around 9 p.m. Sophie poured two glasses of red wine. Every few days it was a different variety from neighbouring France, Italy or Spain.

‘This is very nice,’ Bea beamed. ‘I love to try different wines from different places.’

‘Yes, and I want to support the local economy and try to vote with my money to reduce the amount of transportation of goods which causes so much pollution in our world. Despite wine from Chile or even Australia being cheaper, I refuse to buy wine not produced in the continent in which I’m staying.’

Bea nodded, ‘You are right. In Holland grape varieties are being developed that will be suitable for our cold, wet climate, but at the moment the style of wine produced is still very expensive boutique-style.’

‘Having something really different and exclusive is, of course, the only advantage against the large corporations,’ Sophie announced.

Bea stabbed the air with her index finger, ‘That’s it! Creating something unique is very attractive, especially to wine connoisseurs.’

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