On November 11, 1916 my father-in-law was born in the beautiful city of Deventer, The Netherlands. 100 years ago!
Almost thirty years of my life I knew Pa, or rather Opa. With all due respect, I guess that I thought I knew him. And he thought that he knew me. But it wasn't until after his death almost seven years ago that I began to know the real man he was.
Over the years that we were family, both he and I shared differing opinions. He once jokingly said to me, "Go home, Yankee!" I immediately let him know that I was not a Yankee, but a "Rebel." And I wasn't going anywhere.
Pa never was quite sure that my decision to go back to teaching when our son was only a couple of months old was the right choice. And then when we decided to place his grand-son and namesake in an American school instead of a Dutch one, he surely cringed at even the thought. What discussions Pa and Ma must have had when J. chose to do his university study in America!
But even with our differences of thought and opinions, I could always count on him to show me respect. Just as he accepted the decisions that I made with my husband for our family, I have learned to accept the decisions that Pa made in his life of 93 years.
No matter how hard we try, we can never "walk in another person's shoes." But we can respect the steps that they have taken.
(I borrowed from a realtor's website these photos of my father-in-law's childhood home on the Laan van Meerdervoort in The Hague, The Netherlands.) Pa and his family moved here in his first years, so he surely made a few steps in this lovely Dutch house built in 1913.