Family life. – The art of leadership. – Human rights. – The idea and concept of Peace. – The politics of change for the better and more justice. – Good books & musics. – Great and genuine people. – Writings. blogging kayaking. – Sailing. Travelling (when again?) – Relaxing near the Ocean at Robe or Wirrina Cove.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now“–Chinese Proverb.
It would be nice to be able to stick to this Chinese Proverb, and keep growing…. It is never too late planting a tree or seeds for renewal and wisdom!
About myself, – the writer of this blog… Following above proverb I keep trying, as indicated. Not sure whether I am always successful though, but it’s always good to keep trying! (‘continuer à essayer‘)
Being fortunate with the type of work I have, (a doctor’s job), – my family and I have been able to see a few things of the world. Hence an international family with 3 children. All born in three different countries.
In a nutshell:
Born and bred in the Netherlands both my wife and I went together with our baby son to South Africa… A position as a rural doctor in the very far north of the country together with some 8 other doctors from overseas. All in the same hospital.
In Australia we found home now for some 14 years. The children have grown up with one working and living in Queensland and the other one in New York. They all like to travel as well. My wife is still an enthusiastic tapestry weaver and works in different art sessions with various people.
At present I am working as a GP in a rural area not too far away from Adelaide. Busy job! Locum doctors don’t cover the weekends here and we have only 2 GP’s … So not enough time to see more of the world or go to Europe and see old friends or relatives etc at the moment. Bit sad at times but that’s life at present. Going for a short break to eg Europe means 2 jet lags in one week.
About my future?…Don’t really know as yet. But somehow, being a ‘family physician’ at present, I would like to have a different engagement at an unalike level, – at some stage..
But all this aside.
About my past family history: ….
Lets start with some archives, and only read this when interested:
The archives of the Wolf family go back to the 17th century. Elias Wolf was born in Rostock in July 1717. Becoming Mayor of Jever he married Margarethe Christiene Kohnemann. One of their children was another Elias Wolf, born in Jever on the 24th May 17 68 and he became the owner of some plantations in Essequebo (Guyana). He was President and adviser in the Criminal Justice Department of this colony and married on the 5th of May 1792 with Sarah Barkey in Rio Essquebo. They got 5 children, including Frederik Hendrik Elias Wolf, born on the 30th of November 1803 in Breda. He became Reverend in the Dutch Reformed Church at Leeuwen and married in Gendt on the 9th of April 1828 with Johanna Henrietta Coenen. Both got 5 children including Elias Frederik Hendrik Wolf, being born in Leeuwen on the 18th of January 1829 and this Elias became a Reverend in the Dutch Reformed Church in Utrecht. He was married with Sophia Carolina Charlotte van der Goes. They got 7 children, one of which was my granddad.
Considering the directions his brothers and sisters took in life, I can only assume granddad had a colourful family. My granddad (Louis Gustaaf Wolf) was born in Klundert ( the Netherlands) on the 15th of February 1865 and married grandma (Louise Ploos van Amstel) on the 3rd of May 1899. She was born in Reitsum on the 16th of July 1877 and was the daughter of Reverend Johannes Jacobus Ahasverus van Amstel and Anna Geertruida Binksma. They had 6 children including 1 daughter who died at a very young age.
Actually I don’t know too much about granddad’s younger years. He went obviously through primary and secondary school and opted to go into Medicine but in his 5th year of this study, just before the clinical part, – he realised that this was not the future he wanted. After careful consideration he stopped medicine all together despite good results (I don’t think his own dad offered him to try a different study as there were more children to raise)…
Mind you, after 5 years, but he did do the right thing by doing what he wanted.
How and when he met grandma (oma ), I don’t know. He moved with his wife to Canada and started about 1890 one of the first Dutch settlements near Yorktown. Perhaps he was comfortable to be a bit away from his family as he did not follow the usual patterns of life, – or family expectations. Who knows. Auntie Sophia was born in Yorktown and did live amidst the real wolves and Indians. The stories were quite colourful.
After a couple of years grandma became terribly homesick and both granddad and grandma returned to the Netherlands with the family. Obviously if grandma would not have been homesick in those days, – for sure I would not have been able to write this story in Australia. – History then for our family would have been totally different. This applies as well for my mum and dad.
I found the stories about Canada and the 2nd World War always very interesting experiences in my family background.
Being home sick can be quite bad (with other things perhaps) and the family had to settle again in the Netherlands after the Canada experience. For granddad this was perhaps not the easiest time in his life as he really liked Canada, – likewise his daughter Sophia who loved the lifestyle in the outback and the horse riding etc. For grandma it was clearly different as again she was more close to her own family.
For sure the conditions in Canada in those days were really different than they are now.
Granddad got eventually employment with the “N.V. Maas -Buurt Spoorweg” (Maas-Buurt Railway Company) in the County of Brabant and became President – Director of this Company in 1918 after the retirement of President – Director J.M. Voorhoeve, – after the 1st world war. When granddad took over the reigns it would seem he did do this in an energetic way, with leadership and insight at times of challenges and turmoil. With an increasing number of bus companies in those days, leading obviously to growing competition, and with the economic recession, this job was really a tough job. In the Company there was the need as well for more social reforms in those days and granddad did properly engage to this, so I am led to believe. He loved his job and cared for his employees. He showed fairness courage and determination, besides a good sense of humour. In speeches he could be quite funny.
On the 1st of June 1935 he retired from this position. Both grandma and granddad had 6 children. One daughter died at very young age and Elias (my dad’s only brother) died suddenly in 1934. His death drove grandma to total despair. She recovered very slowly.
During the 2nd World War both provided shelter for Jews in their own home at the Parklaan in Bussum. This was a tense time, last but not least as due to my dad’s activities in the resistance movement. Granddad died on the 27th of March 1948 in Bussum at the age of 83.
Even though he died far before I was born, he made a real impact on me when I was a child. Not sure why. Perhaps because he was both a pioneer and had lots of courage, besides being very caring for his family. His original painted picture frame is still positioned in our hallway as if he is keeping an eye on the family.
Grandma was as remarkable as granddad, but in different ways. She survived him many years and died later in the 1968 after being moved to Apeldoorn, the place where my mum and dad lived with my 3 brothers. She left a history of memories in Bussum and at her age she could not coop with this transition. Changing old people to a different place often has a major impact.
From the lives of this special granddad and grandma I sensed somehow that life may become harder when we live for others, but it also becomes happier and it brings more fulfilment.
Perhaps not everything was that positive in my later childhood (in my experience), but examples were not the main thing which gave direction in my life, it was the only thing.
My mum and dad met during the 2nd world war and whilst my dad was actively involved as the leader (so I am led to believe) of the “Flying Brigade” resistance group, my mum was dedicated to her role as a “courier” for this group. Many messages and documents went as such from one group to the other. Intelligence about German defence systems across parts of the Dutch coast line passed as such as well to Allied Forces in England.
Both my mum and dad were the only survivors from this group, following someone betraying the “Flying Brigade”…This fate, – this coincidence actually, determined the path to their marriage – which ended some 26 years after the 2nd world war. My dad at the time was planning with his group the 4th assassination. This time on a dangerous Gestapo Officer or General, responsible for lots of Jews being transported to concentration camps (It proved that providing shelter and food for Jews was not enough)…
In retrospect my parents were very good and decent people and though their relationship with each other had such imperfections that it could not sustain, they tried to live life as good as possible. They made an impact in what they provided for their children and what they expressed in their own ways to friends, relatives and in their jobs.
I still see my mum cooking in the kitchen of our holiday house in Haamstede on hot summer evenings, with the evening sun shining through the side window, – and children sharing the table after playing football. With always the noisy sounds of the little usual quarrels among kids.
I was really fortunate enough to start my life within those comfortable circumstances. No matter what the difficulties were at some stage, no matter what the challenges were when I was a teenager… where it really comes too in life is affection, respect, encouragement and good examples , the last generating the sort of strength and love which is essential in life, – besides “meaning” or purpose.
Personally I had many good examples, both nearby and far away… I still have warm feelings for all those people in what they gave me during various moments in life. This appeared often in little things and most of the times they were not aware… It is one of those mysterious things in life of what we give to each other without knowing it, – and the impact it has at times.
In my case there have been people I never met who made an impact.
Both my oldest and younger brother are still alive. One brother, 4 years older only, died suddenly in 1999. His name was Tjakko. He had a strong and solid character, also kind and generous. We played a lot when we were young and apart from some rivalry there was always encouragement and support.
Many of my childhood memories go back to the village of Haamstede at the lighthouse, where so often we went on holidays during the summers, often in the company of childhood friends.
Some years between the age of 16 and 18 I spent with a lovely foster family in Apeldoorn. I was able here to finish secondary school as only this environment provided the support being required at this stage in life to help me with some attention & concentration issues at school. This was a somewhat different environment than I was used to. Quite an artistic and warm hearted family actually. There were 3 other children, all a bit younger. Wilgert, the oldest, died at the age of 25 in Groningen following an accident with a bus. One of those terrible moments where a split second of lacking the required attention to avoid danger proved to be fatal.
Some 10 years ago we went for an enjoyable family reunion and stayed almost obviously in Haamstede, – besides travelling to Scotland and see old other friends. Having had the opportunity to live so close to the sea in Cullen, in-between Inverness and Aberdeen, was a great experience for both my wife and 3 children.
Together with their friends, our children often jumped from the harbour in the sea. I often did this as well, but often a wetsuit was needed as due to the cold sea water.
There has been always something special with Scotland, the country of both “the high road and the low road.”
Unique as well was both our stay in England and South Africa, – all before this.
Funny enough I still remember some early preschool events and St Nickolas arriving by boat in the harbour of Goes. The city where I was born. Goes was a great place in my perception and I was sad for days with the prospect of moving to Apeldoorn.
Adapting to Apeldoorn in 1961 took time. The (pre) school was different, likewise the culture. However also here some friends were made at an interesting primary school being called the “Sondorp school”, named after the previous school inspector. (My dad took over this function, after an earlier career change).
There are many stories about this school and my old school mates have many memories as well, last but not least about the head master. He made the school what it was , with pride, but on another note he often used his hands when kids were naughty, or when “he thought” the kids were naughty. He reigned with a vigorous regime, not rarely at a cost of the children.
The first part of Secondary School was not that good. Often in trouble with teachers. The school system at that particular school at the Church Lane (Kerklaan) in Apeldoorn, next door to the swimming pool, was less than inviting or stimulating – the least. It went somewhat better at a different school but I think my mind was a bit preoccupied with other things going on. At home things were not ideal and my parents went through a divorce.
Following secondary school matters profoundly changed actually after finishing the Teaching Training College in Amsterdam, and after passing an entry test for the medical faculty. I found direction. Medicine has been at the background of my mind for some time already. However I did not had the right qualifications, hence those entry exam in various subjects.
Being able to do the Medicine study in Maastricht, the most beautiful city of the Netherlands, did open various doors to the future. The city was great for students who liked the outdoors like e.g. rowing on the Maas, or climbing rocks in the hills of Belgium. I did do both as much as possible. For sure not only this!.. The concept of the Medicine study was based on problem orientated learning, – new for me and most interesting! Problem Based Learning (PBL) was almost a replica example from the McMasters University in Canada, the last still known as a high impact University.. The concept of PBL is still with me and part of anything I want to learn.
After graduation in Medicine, life evolved further in Sneek, the county of Friesland. This as part of a hospital job which combined General Surgery, Obstetrics and A&E..Busy busy job!..It was a reasonable preparation for working and living in the far north of South Africa (Siloam Hospital).
Later, with England and Scotland in between, we arrived 10 years later in Australia…This is now in 2015 some 14 years ago, time flies!
As you see I made a few big jumps in my history whilst writing this. It is just to give you a bit of insight in my background, – the writer of this blog.
The lighthouse in Haamstede -in my awareness- was built to give light, was built to endure burning.
I still have this picture in mind and it has meaning for me.
Lighthouses do not move, they give direction, – they persist in the storms of life…
The articles in this blog are a reflection of trying to engage modestly on some of the questions of our time and generation and will continue on a periodic base, – depending on my “inspiration” and workload in other activities.
Feel free to comment on the contents of any of these articles (in the comment section below), if there is anything which strikes a chord or resonates with you..
“We dream of things that never were and say: .. “Why not?”
Hence some of their citations are quite nice actually.
They often found their path through unassuming interactions with their inner wisdom and did not worry about social disapproval..
True, there are for sure many things we can’t control, but if we try to focus completely on the things we love, with similar courage and dedication as those in the following quotations, we are on our way to a better life.. A life with compassion and moving forward towards a better state of humanity in ourselves and with others… Even if sadness and disappointment is passing our way…
So still, – – don’t tell us what we can’t do, but let’s ask ourselves what we can do together, – and collected we may have this rendezvous with human destiny, even if it is only simply showing the ways for our fellows to find their own light….
I wish you all well in your own personal life journey, with hopefully lots of inspiration and good health!
Live long and prosper!
“There may be times when we are powerless to
prevent injustice, but there must never be a time
when we fail to protest”
“Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks
wrote so many years ago: to tame the
savageness of man and make gentle the life
of this world”
– Robert F Kennedy
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he
stands in moments of comfort and convenience,
but where he stands at times of
challenge and controversy”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
“But peace does not rest in the charters and
covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of
all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on
parchment and on paper, let us strive to build
peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work
for peace in the hearts and minds of all of our
people. I believe that we can. I believe that the
problems of human destiny are not beyond the
reach of human beings”
-John F Kennedy
“A good head and a good heart are always a
“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits
than strict justice”
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness
is the key to success”
Paul Alexander Wolf