Friesland, Family, Friendship & FarewellApril 30 in the Netherlands
Its been a busy wonderful few days and it’s time to carve out some time and space to share my thoughts and feelings. We are currently sitting on our 3rd flight and are on our way to Keflavik. We’re all in one row again so I’m separated from the kids by an aisle. Trevor is snoozing at the far end of the row in a window seat and is beside Liam, who is self-sufficiently on his phone or watching a show. Ava and Nolan are sipping on their free drinks and watching shows as well. Meanwhile, the toothless wonder seems to be switching between his iPad, retrieving gum from his backpack, putting his tray table out, putting his tray table back up, squeezing himself between his seat and the seat in front of him to pick up dropped headphones, reaching past Ava to ask me a question and so on. Ava and Nolan don’t seem bothered by his antics and he’s smart enough not to bang into the person in front of him (thanks to a few reminders about airplane etiquette earlier) so I’ll leave him be to sort himself out and carry on with my journaling.
It feels a bit strange to already be on our way to Iceland. The days have felt long but here I sit now already three quarters of our way through our trip. In the blink of an eye, the Netherlands portion has whirled by. We’ve managed to see and do just about everything on our wish-list, which of course made for busy days. We planned a relatively short stay and felt we needed to make good use of time. Within reason, we kept to our schedule and saw and visited and hit up the sights we hoped to see.
A few days ago we said goodbye to the South and headed North to the long awaited reunion. We were originally hoping to meet up in the morning with Trevor’s cousin Ignarts and his fiancé Joke at a new info centre near the sea wall but practicality and tiredness prevailed and we decided to meet in Wier at the gathering instead. After a busy morning of packing, tidying and rallying sleepy kids, we were soon sitting snugly in our NOT-a-minivan small SUV and were waving goodbye to our beautiful rented home. The rainy drive went smoothly and we even fit in a short stop on the sea wall to overlook the ocean and fresh water lake, which 4/6’s of TELNAS partook in (the TEAN portion) and the remaining 2/6’s chose to stay dry in the car. During a second stop for a necessary washroom break at a convenient nearby McDonald’s, the opportunistic kids used some of their 40 euro to try a sampling of chicken McNuggets (which I suspect was in hopes of avoiding the pre-made boring sandwiches I’d packed). Well, did you know the chicken nuggets in Netherlands are far superior to those from Canada? The reports are that they are much less greasy! ;)
The reunion was held in a newly renovated town school house. I was later to learn that Trevor’s cousin and wife had a large hand in the building’s restoration and current use. A perfect gathering place for sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, wives, husbands, cousins, new little ones and welcomed family and new friends visiting from Canada to gather and be together for an afternoon. It was overwhelmingly wonderful to witness Trevor reconnect with his family after many years and a privilege for me, Ava and Sullivan to be accepted and welcomed so warmly by everyone. I continue to process my many conversations and chats, sorting names I’ve heard and read on the family tree for months now with faces, warm hand shakes and kisses on my cheek. I watched our four kids attempt to integrate and make connections of their own, at their own pace and in their own ways to suit their personalities. From almost 16 to newly 8 years old, all four successfully relaxed into the crowd as only time, confidence and bravery can provide.
Food, treats and drinks were in abundance thanks to those tirelessly organizing behind the scenes. A large group picture was organized outside and May, Trevor’s cousin’s wife, who happens to be a photographer, took the shots. I’ve seen a few now, which have quickly circulated on Facebook and whatsapp and they look great. It is such a large group and you see the magnitude when looking through the lens of the camera. Trevor and I have had many moments throughout this trip where we wish for the rest of his family to be here, most especially his dad and mom. We felt this most intensely at the reunion as we watched his three aunts chat and the whole family mill amongst one another so comfortably. Many well wishes and hellos were sent back with us and we fully intend to pass them along when we’re back in Canada.
We are now two hours into our flight and I’ve nearly written a small novel. In the interest of sparing you all the details of our time in Friesland all at once, I’ll adjourn here and save the update from day two for another post. Hopefully I can squeeze in some time to look back to our last full exploration day in Holland before life in Iceland takes over. It’s now time to turn my head toward customs, chilly weather, motorhome rental, grocery fetching, a three hour drive to Vik all the while helping to steward four tired kids who will most likely be stary-eyed and full of adrenaline for the aforementioned tasks ahead for TELNAS.
Until then, wish us well.