Dad sat in his chair in front of the big picture window and looked out to the world he could appreciate for the first time since he was admitted to the hospital. He sighed, closed his eyes as he put his head back, and grinned with relief and joy.
His three week stay enabled him to gain strength and get rid of an infection that - well, beat him up.
The unfortunate timing of his illness meant that he would not be going on the trip he was so looking forward to. It was to be another visit for he and six other WWII Canadian Veterans back to the beloved Netherlands they helped to liberate in 1945.
A roller coaster of thoughts and emotions preceded my husband, two teenage children, and me, as we boarded the flight to Amsterdam. We were no longer going to accompany Dad, but instead be his eyes and ears.
True to form, the people of the Netherlands, in the City of Leeuwarden, Province of Friesland, were incredibly gracious, treating the Veterans with great love and respect. My children got to witness the outpouring of kindness, and see how important it was for the Dutch people to have direct connection with the Veterans and their families. They are grateful for their freedom, and they have made it their mission never to forget it's price.
My brother and I brought Dad home the day after we returned from the trip. From his chair he watched as we displayed photographs of events he missed and people he knew, and video clips of friends sending him caring messages from afar.
I held fast to the belief that my father would get well in time to travel with us and didn't want to accept that he couldn't. I had to pivot and let go. It wasn't meant to be.
We carried love across the ocean. And we carried it back with us and delivered it. Love is great to receive no matter where you sit and ponder it's power.
how can you preserve and celebrate what matters most?
An interview with my father in 2017, produced by Deborah and Ted Parks of PSquared Cinefilms
Musician Eddy Dykstra serenades us on the patio of the Klinze hotel as we prepared to return to Canada, May 2018
The trip to the Netherlands in 2015 inspired me too... Here's a video of what it motivated me to create