At 90 years old, 61 years of marriage, my father-in-law passed away last week at the tennis court. He leaves behind 3 daughters, 3 grandchildren, his wife and tons of love.
Until recently he used to play tennis 5 times a week and attended every party from the Chinese community to dance. He was a keen negotiator: ‘Hein, if we both buy a new BMW we get more discount!’ So we did 25 years ago. My first new car was a BMW to the surprise of my friends who all drove Volvo’s. Since he was an insurance agent it was clear where to get the car insured. But the first 5 years after getting my driving license at 25 years, I was a a bit of a careless driver. Showing off my anti-slipping skills, I parked the car in between a tree and a fence. At the office I forgot that people from the right have right of way. Dozing on the highway I parked the car against a truck and I was happy to be alive. In Italy I drove on a gravel road another brand new BMW into a Fiat Panda. All these incidents were annoying but to have to call him that -again- something had happened, made me a cautious driver the past 21 years.
Traditionally we eat with New Years Eve at their place. Then he used to cook for the whole family Chinese and Surinam dishes. His clients bring him traditional fried duck with hoisin sauce, babi pang gang (no red sauce) and vegetables with shii-take. These were my favourites, but he cooks at least 5 more dishes: bok choy with scallops, string beans with shrimps, pom, marinated salmon from the grill, chicken with Chinese black mushrooms etc. The first few years I had to get used to all the noise at the table: everybody happily talking at the same time. The conversations are pretty associative and you shouldn’t try to keep up or ask for explanations. He didn’t bother, neither joined the chattering. He was extremely proud of all his females around the table and kept cooking and cleaning.
But these are the externalities. I am most grateful how much love he has put into his daughters while raising them. That love ripples into me and our children. Because of him and his daughter I’ve grown a better person. Together, we were able to raise our kids in a loving way.
Requiescat in pace.