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This lovable boy is my father in Indonesia before the war started. We found the picture this week after he died. I’ve put it on my desk and keep looking at it. This small boy was kept somewhere deep inside that man. I didn’t connect too often to this lovable boy. And he himself didn’t connect too often to him either.

We asked his friends to share their memories with us. How did you relate to him? Beautiful stories come our way: his best friend from the military academy shares how he connected my father with my mother during carnaval. He became their best man during the wedding. A great aunt tells me why my father always talked so loud: his mother was a bit deaf at an early age so he and his sisters were always shouting. Only when they ridiculed their mother they talked silently. A friend with whom he studied Psychology in the seventies tells how they did experiments with new recruits in the army. His ‘LAT friend’ shares he was a true gentleman: opening car doors of his Volkswagen Polo for her. And we got many, many letters by females we don’t know. We knew he got quite a few girlfriends (we send 250 mourning cards and at most 30 were for males), but all these words of love surprised even us. It’s a pity he isn’t there any more to read them.

In the courses he followed to develop himself and the dialogues I had with him, he always talked about ‘little Gerard’. The boy who ‘didn’t feel good enough’. But ‘little Gerard’ gets a new meaning to me looking at this picture. It’s the small boy hidden deep inside him that many connected with and loved.

 

 

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