10. Family Reflections

To all those poor souls who happen to be related to me I have a request: I am collecting material for an anecdotal history of my family. I would love to have recollections, anecdotes, stories, impressions and etc. of the Stoks – Maarten, Truus and so on. To help me collect them can you write them as comments below.

Maarten with Bep, Ria & Theo

Maarten & Adrian

Maarten & Truus with their parents

Maarten, Truus and Rolfe

Maarten, Truus and me

Maarten, Truus and me

Maarten and Ria

Maarten Stok (20th September 1920 Rotterdam – July 14th 1994 Warrnambool)

Dad and his sisters Trudy & Jo

Dad and his brothers – Ger, Peet & Cor

Geertrui Sophia Stok – van Meggelen (13th November 1922 Hillegersberg, Netherlands – 11th January 2012,Cobden, Victoria, Australia)

My mother Geertrui Sophia with her grandmother Geertrui Sophia

Mum and Auntie Clara

I was sitting next to mum’s bed yesterday (Sunday 27th Nov 2011) as she was sleeping fitfully. It had been difficult to talk to mum as she was delirious and confused so I was glad she was sleeping. Although she enjoyed the Bible reading from Psalm 139 and the prayer I prayed with her. Then as she slept I reflected on her 89 years.

She was born just after WW1 and before the depression. Being the first in a large family meant growing responsibility every year. This also increased the more her father became ill. By the time of the Depression there were already 5 children in the family and it would still more than double in size by the time of the war. As soon as she could she left school to help support the family.

After the war she had a serious bout of illness (pleurisy)  but by 1947 she was married to dad. They lived in an attic in Gerrit vandeLindestraat – this is where I was born. Soon after mum had twins which didn’t survive. Looking back this seems to have due to the Rh negative – Rhesus factor. By 1954 she left her family behind – never to see her parents again.

She worked at Fords, later helped dad with his business, took on house cleaning and worked in a children’s rest home. She did all these things resolutely. In the late 1960’s there were the first signs of, what we alter found out were, MS. I remember mum jogging around the block because she was concerned about her fitness. The second half of her life was plagued by this disease. But she was always resolute. Stubbornly she refused to let the disease stop her.

For a while she helped dad on the farm – this was part of the dream they had together. But soon that was too difficult. However, as some of the comments below reflect, she was always active with crafts.

When dad died we thought she would need to go into a home, but she would have none of it and remained there for another 7(?) years. Finally her doctor Janet van Leerdam found a place for her at the Heytesbury Lodge Nursing Hostel in Cobden.

Even in recent years she has had a couple of close calls in hospital and each time she has come through the trauma.

As I sit next to the bed I am thankful for a faithful mother who lived a Godly life. And I also know that this God has her safely in His hands – whatever happens next.

Two recent blog entries:

Mum’s Passing to her reward

Mum’s Funeral

Reflections from the Worship Service

The Eulogy given by mum’s brother Adrian:

The Family at the Interment

Geertrui Sophia van Meggelen better known by the name of Truus was born on the 13th of Nov 1922 in a town called Schiebroek very close to Rotterdam, where she was the first of 11 children 5 girls and 6 boys.    The family later moved to Rotterdam where Father worked as a bread carter and he used a horse and wagon. When Truus was about 6 years old, she would go with father and would steer the horse from customer to customer while father would walk along the footpath.  Different times she has told that story and she very much enjoyed that time. Later on they moved to Hillegersberg where the family lived in a rented house for about 70 years.
It was when  living in Hillegersberg that she started school and when she finished her schooling, she started work  in the office of the bread factory where father used to work  (because of illness he never worked again).  Truus’s  earnings therefore contributed to the running of our family.
Truus was also very much involved with the youth activities of the church we went to.
On the 10th of May 1940, Germany declared war on The Netherlands. Four days later, early in the afternoon, Germany bombed the heart out of Rotterdam.  Truus’ office was very close to the heart of Rotterdam and she had gone to work as usual on this day.  Truus went through a very stressful time and was able to tell us about this when she came back after work.
 

People Arriving for the Thanksgiving Service

About that time Truus met Maarten her future husband.  Soon after, Maarten was picked up by the German soldiers and forced to work in Germany. This was another stressful time. As well the post was very slow.
Maarten survived the war and married Truus in 1947, and in 1950 their first son was born.
In 1952 John, our brother, and me moved to Australia.  Truus and Maarten started to question us about coming to Australia.  I was very careful with my answers. I did not portray Australia as a country which had plenty of work for unskilled people. I tried to put across that with hard work there are possibilities.
In 1954 the three arrived in Australia and were very warmly welcomed by the Anderson family in Mepunga who helped them by providing accommodation and finding jobs in the first few weeks as they settled in. The friendship with the Anderson family has lasted until this day.
I remember Truus as:
  • Hardworking
  • I always enjoyed visiting Truus & Maarten over the years
  • Good to have a couple more family members in Australia

    My Uncle’s address to the family before the funeral

    Uncle Adrian Reflecting on Mum’s Life

    We are here together to prepare us for the internment of a mother grandmother sister and friend
    Geertrui  Sofia  Stok.    (Truus)
    We mourn  the loss of Truus. There will be tears. The tears will soon be gone but then there will be a time of grieving especially for those who have been very close to her.
    Mourning is a expression of grief and often a time of regret for that what has been left undone, but  it can also be a time of loneliness.
    Grieving is sorrow that the person has been taken out of your life, while mourning can be very lonely. We here, as Christians live with the assurance that death is not the end of life. Once we were not but there will never be a time that we are not and having our faith in Jesus the Christ we take our grieving to Him and we will find our comfort in Him who is closer than a brother. May we encourage one another with the joy that Truus has entered into the presence of the Lord.  
     

    Three Videos from Mum’s Funeral

    Adrian’s Speech

     

    Jeanette’s Speech

     

    Photo Montage of Mum’s life

     
35 Comments

35 thoughts on “10. Family Reflections

  1. Arie van Buuren

    Hi Pieter,

    I’m not sure whether or not you know this – Truus recently transcribed two WW II diaries of her mother’s (Jo’s). They’re here: http://www.bbptranslations.nl/dagboek

    In Dutch, of course… 🙂

    Grtz – Arie

  2. Ruth Handreck

    When I was young we lived across the paddock from Uncle Maarten and Tante Truus. Sometimes I’d ask mum if I could visit Tante Truus. So I’d walk across the paddocks to their home on Jubilee Park Road. I used to knock and let myself in. A bell on the door would ring as the door opened and there was always a smokey smell that wasn’t awful to me, it was just – their house smell. I was always welcomed and sometimes I would do jobs for Tante Truus that were so much more fun to do for Tante Truus than mum. Like peeling the potatoes and ironing the hankies. Occasionally I would stay for tea and my favourite meal was Tante Truus’ noodles. She gave me her recipe one time much later but I’ve never made it taste as good as I remember hers. Tante Truus was always doing some craft or needlework. She made beautiful things. Tante Truus showed me how to cross stitch. I have a beautiful set of tapestries that Tante Truus made for me and she wrote on the back of one: “Every stitch of those tapestries are done with pleasure and love by your aunt Truus.” Uncle Maarten came with me to the framing shop to help me choose the frames. They are treasured by me. To this day, the house near our front gate is referred to as Tante Truus’ house.

    • pstok

      Thank you Ruth for a wonderfully warm picture of my parents’ home. I can’t agree about the smoke though!

  3. Matthew de Boer

    I have vague memories of our trips to Ocean Grove. With Tante Truus being mum’s only sister in Australia we seemed to make the trip from Box Hill quite often. I remember uncle Maarten’s grocery van and if we were lucky we got a treat. I recall the house had a round window somewhere at the front that we always talked about. I also recall wandering the streets of Ocean Grove with brother Mark and cousin Craig looking for dumped cars. Don’t know what it was but there seemed to a lot of old dumped cars on vacant blocks that we played with.

    • pstok

      Yes, the round window was at the front. It was in my bedroom. This room had also been one your mum used before she was married. Your dad came courting in his VW with a sun roof.

      • Matthew de Boer

        Ah yes I can see dad, sun roof open, rollie (drum) in his mouth, very cool guy, mum waiting for the man of her dreams to visit……….

  4. Matthew de Boer

    The trips to Warrnambool left the greatest memories. We would say we were going to Warrnambool but we always stayed with Uncle Maarten and Tante Truus at Allansford. No computer, playstation etc, we had to amuse ourselves. I remember trying to wake up early to help Uncle Maarten with milking the cows. I still remember his distinctive call to the cows to get them moving. I remember there was a book with all the cows names and numbers that we’d learn and after one holiday i had remembered every cows name.

  5. Matthew de Boer

    I have 3 clear memories of Tante Truus from this time. In the dairy with the cows, even though she was showings signs of her MS. In the kitchen preparing a meal which I always enjoyed, I mainly recall meat and vegies and sitting around the large kitchen table. And of course Tante Truus sitting in her chair in the loungeroom working on one of her many handcrafts that she did. A lot of time it was cross stitch but many other forms as well. She actually inspired me to do a cross stitch. It was of a couple of horses which I hung with pride on my bedroom wall for many years and which is still around somewhere…where is it? ..mum?

  6. Matthew de Boer

    Uncle Maarten, only fond memories, he was always very good to us kids and I can not remember him ever getting mad with us. He loved having a good argument with my dad, and I recall I often agreed with his point of view. At first I thought it was just my day that wanted a good argument but it was quite clear that Uncle Maarten enjoyed it too and I think he was actually a bit of a stirrer. He loved having a wrestle with my mum and especially cuddles from his nieces. Very musical, fond memories of the many instruments he played and I enjoyed watching/listening to him when it was his turn to play the organ at the little reformed church in Warrnambool. The north facing loungeroom of their home with the sun filtering through, heater turned up (always very warm), games of scrabble, Tante Truus would always do well. That reminds me I think Tante Truus is behind my enjoyment of crossword puzzles.

    • pstok

      Ah, the arguments with your dad … trains, the DLP, the Reformed Church. At first I joined in. Later I came to the conclusion that life was too short …

  7. Trudy van Meggelen

    I knew Uncle Maarten had a violin and a piano in the house, but it was not until later that I undestood how important this was to him. Uncle Maarten was very particular about his music it would seem. I remember him telling me this story: One day he walked into a cafe in a shopping strip in Warrnambool around Christmas time. Ouside the cafe were a couple of budding musicians (buskers) playing “Joy to the world”. The were giving a woeful dreary rendition of the song, so Uncle Maarten came out of the cafe and said (with gusto and joy) something like “boys, this is JOY to the world, which is supposed to be joyful!!” and gave a little demo of how it should be sung (with his thick dutch accent).
    He was very pleased with himself because they said thankyou and changed their playing style to “joyful”.
    (and sorry, I don’t know if they got more money for being joyful)

  8. Trudy van Meggelen

    Tante Truus was sitting next to me as a child and she slapped me on the knee and said “how are you?” or something, but the slap was so hard I thought I had done something wrong.
    (I remember hearing later that you needed to try to avoid the Tante Truus slap!)

    • pstok

      A friend of mine had the same reaction. I just learned to duck and dive. I think it is called survival.

  9. Trudy van Meggelen

    I remember one time being at the Village green in Warrnambool and Uncle Maarten was playing violin with his jazz band on the band stand. I remember being quite proud of my uncle. BUT. I so wish I could go back in time – as now I really enjoy live jazz music whereas then, it was just – music.

  10. pstok

    Trudy and Matthew, they are great memories. Matt, I always thought dad was nicer to my cousins than he was to me! And Trudy, I hope as I get older I can remain as youthful as my dad. Thanks guys!!

  11. Joceline Christodoulou

    Uncle Maarten & Tante Truus gave me this beautiful figurine of Florence Nightingale when I graduated with my Nursing degree. It sits in my kitchen and I still treasure it.

    • pstok

      Thanks Jos! A very clever present! They loved their nephews and nieces.

  12. Joanne Williams

    When I was young and Uncle Maarten and Tante Truus lived on our farm we had the mail box at the entrance to their place so every afternoon on the way home from school we would pick up our mail and also the Stok’s mail. I would always ask if I could take theirs in to Tante Truus because I really enjoyed saying hello to her. I would take in the mail but would always stop and have a chat to Tante Truus. She would show me her latest craft or handiwork which I was very interested in because I also enjoyed craft. I was also amazed at the variety of her talents and where she got all the amazing ideas. A lot of the ideas and crafts came from her afternoons at “Come and Do” at the Warrnambool Baptist Church. I really enjoyed this time with her and the others often had to wait a while in the car….

    • pstok

      It is that era when mum was more house bound that I find interesting as it is so different to the mum I knew who was always so busy working, helping dad and etc. Thanks Joanne.

  13. pstok

    In an email Gwenda writes:

    I remember Tante Truus and Uncle Maarten living over the paddocks from us and it was always fun to call in and visit them. Uncle Maarten would be quick to offer me a drink and a place to sit while I talked to Tante Truus and caught up on what needle work she was working on. I liked it how we didn’t need to wait to be let in, we could just walk in and walk through to the lounge room. I always felt welcome. When I was very young I remember I liked to find the toy monkey that they had and I would play with it. Before I was school age mum and I would go and visit for lunch sometimes. One time I wanted to eat a bit of apple with the seeds in it but Tante truus told me that an apple tree would grow in my tummy. Well that put me off eating it.
    When I was fifteen Uncle Maarten and Tante Truus came to live with us and look after us while mum and dad went to Holland. Uncle Maarten was very patient with me as I would often be running to get in the car so he could get me to the bus on time. Tante truus made very tasty meals for us.

    Gwenda

  14. Rolfe

    Pieter,
    You will remember vividly the day you and I emptied the water tank at the farm. After thinking of a joke whilst inside the tank the bucket of water you were holding soon found its way all over me.Even though I was standing on the pavement below waiting for each bucket to be delivered in a safe manner so the contents could be disposed of properly. Your initial laughter soon became somewhat larger after seeing me inundated with the remnants of the tank.

  15. pstok

    Being a responsible older brother I would never have done that!!

  16. Jacqui

    I have a few Oma and Opa stories. The ones I can think of now are:
    1. When I was little – sitting on Oma’s lap playing with the skin on the back of her hands. When I pinched it together, it would ‘stay’ where I had left it. So I made pictures with her skin because it was so pliable. I had no idea that this was probably not a terribly nice thing to be doing. Oma didn’t seem to mind.
    2. Oma told me that one day when I was really little, I was helping Opa weed the garden. The only thing was that I didn’t know the difference between weeds and flowers and I started pulling the flowers out. Opa got cross with me and sent me inside. When he came inside to growl at me a second time (in front of Oma), I put my hands on my ‘hips’ and firmly said “Don’t talk to me like that!” Oma said he had to stop himself from laughing because he was meant to be upset.
    3. Opa used to put so much Nutella on his sandwiches – way more than Mum let us put on. On one occasion I called him a greedy guts. I don’t recall getting into trouble. I think Opa let me get away with a lot.
    4. At Christmas time, I would work my way through my repertoire of Christmas songs on my recorder, and Opa would join me on violin or piano. He either really, really loved me, or actually enjoyed the experience. I’m thinking it was the former.
    5. This is more of a Kathryn story, but when we were young and looked at photos of Opa when he was young, we thought he looked like someone from the Italian mafia. He did carry around a violin case. You never know!!!…

    • Kik

      Mistaken identities:
      The benefits of an overactive imagination include telling other people what it is you think your parents/grandparents do (for a job, etc). Examples: Opa was in the mafia, Mum was a witch, Dad was a policeman, Dad also moonlighted as a creator of computer games while a pastor in Leongatha.
      Explanations: Jac’s already explained the violin case. Mum wore a blue woollen cape with a pointed hood when I was at school in Geelong. Dad took down people’s details in a little notebook after a car crash we had when I as kid in Brisbane. And finally, when around 8 years old we had a computer (Apple 2c), and Dad said, if we wanted to play games on it we had to write them ourselves. To help us with this he gave us a little Usborne Basic write-your-own-games book. Later, at about 15, I walked into his office, and he said “Kik, check out this new computer game!” It was a flight simulator on a 286 with VGA, so pretty advanced on the old Basic computing background. I was VERY impressed. I’m thinking “Dad wrote this himself!”. Later I went to engineering school at uni… and learned the truth. Disappointed 😉

  17. pstok

    I used the “boxer” defence rather than the mafia one at school. It kept my enemies at bay.

  18. Caroline

    I didn’t know that about the Nutella (vital information to be passed down!) – must be where I get it from.

    I remember that Oma and Aunty Ria always wanted to see the latest dance routine I had been learning. I’m not sure if Opa was still around then, but dancing was probably better than hearing me try to play the piano.

    And the smell of tobacco always remnds me of Opa (and giving him a hug).

  19. Kik

    An Opa story to start:
    When we went to visit in Allansford and we went to church together, afterwards we’d come home and Opa would still be whistling one of the hymns. He’d say, “Kathryn, this is an easy one – you can play it”. And I’d say, “no, I need the music”. So then he’d pull out the book of brown worship, and tell me to play it on the piano while he’d accompanied on the organ (or standing behind keeping rhythm by tapping something). I was never very good, but if encouragement won awards, I’d be a superstar thanks to him. Whenever I hear “Crown Him with Many Crowns” and “Lead On Oh King Eternal”, I travel back in time.
    Like Caz, the smell of rolled tobacco is the smell of an Opa hug.
    Kik

  20. Jeanette

    One of my favourite Opa memories is when I brought my first CD (that I bought with my own money) over -which was the Raw and the Cooked by The Fine Young Cannibals. I played it for him, and watched him dance, which was more like bobbing up and down. And also once I got to go and see a movie that was playing in Warrnambool somewhere. Just Opa and me and I felt very grown up. When I opened the window -so I wouldn’t die from the smoke, he told me not to be silly 🙂

    I liked helping Oma in the kitchen, getting ready for dinner. And the stool that she sat on to peel the potatoes. I think my favourite Oma memory is lending her the Anne of Green Gables books and then later the movies. Which she loved. True sign of a Stok-girl 🙂

    • pstok

      Opa was always open to new music, whether it was Elvis, or later in his life, Hillsong music.

  21. Helen Newell

    What I remember about Uncle Maarten (and Rolfe as well) is the Donald Duck/raspberry thing they would do with their mouths, which was fascinating and impossible to mimic! Also the little boxes of paper that you use to roll your own cigarettes, which were like miniature tissue boxes. And did Uncle Maarten go through a pipe smoking stage? The whole art of lighting a pipe is an interesting to watch when you’re a kid. Unlike Matthew however, I do remember Uncle Maarten getting cross. He went crook at me in the cowyard (from this distance, who could blame him for going crook at a pesky kid in the cowyard!) and for carrying the billy of milk wrong in his car (would you like milk spilt in your car)?
    Uncle Maarten used to tell a story (good chance it was set during the war) and he was walking down a street and met a person coming the other way, who was smoking a cigarette. Everything is dark apart from the glowing light of the cigarette. Each time he said, “Excuse me” and tried to duck around this person, the person would follow and block his way. He was actually fronting up to a glass shop window, trying to step around himself!
    The most enduring memory I have of Uncle Maarten, especially from the later years is how he used to assist Tante Truus with walking and getting into the car. And also how much he loved music.
    Tante Truus gave me my first taste of macaroni, which was probably a very new product in those days (about 40 or so years ago). I stayed with the Stok family in Ocean Grove one time.
    I remember Tante Truus helping in the dairy.
    The main thing with Tante Truus was the conversations. I always remember her as being someone who was good to talk to. And Tante Truus and her handiwork . . . once upon a time she was a prolific knitter, but in later years she tried her hand at all sorts of things, always completed meticulously (but never as exact as Hetty’s work, according to her). My sisters and I have always and still are interested in crafty work and maybe we were in some way inspired by her as well as sharing some of the same genes.
    Uncle Maarten and Tante Truus were always welcoming to us when we visited, and interested in what we were doing. Very fond memories of their hospitality.

    • Kik

      Aha! The walking into mirrors and windows thing is genetic. I was always hoping I’d find a good excuse for that.

      • Your father had a similar incident. I was walking into a basement cinema, trying to be cool with my girl friend (not your mother), the steps at the bottom went right and left (so I thought) and I turned left – straight into a mirror!

  22. pstok

    Thanks Helen for your reflections – greatly appreciated. The “mouth duck” thing is, sadly, something we were taught from a young age. It is a great party trick!

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