Oma Hendrikse I got to know well already at a young age. Not just because for a part of my childhood Opa and Oma lived right around the corner, but also because I used to see them every week in church. Oh, and yes, she also was my grandmother.
Often, we came to visit Opa and Oma and then of course we wouldn’t leave on an empty stomach. A plate of green beans I can remember vividly, or the delicious rice boiled in milk. I also liked to help Oma in the kitchen, especially with whipping the cream, as I could then lick off all the cream from the utensils. In addition, I can vividly remember the typical Hendrikse coffee biscuits.
Oma was my favourite, especially when Mum decided to go shopping in the city. In that case, my brother and I could stay over at Opa and Oma’s place, and we didn’t have to come along shopping. We could then play hide and seek or tag in Opa and Oma’s house or large garden in stead.
As a real Dutch grandmother, Oma also had a carpet for a table cloth. I loved the soft feel, that I could touch and feel it and entertain myself with it for a long time. Under the table carpet you’d often find a board with underneath it a jigsaw puzzle. It took a few years before I could show any interest for this kind of stuff; I certainly haven’t ever been as patient as Oma to solve a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
A patient woman, Oma certainly was like that with us. She always took good care of us and was always ready to help. She loved jokes, but not always the ones that we pulled on her as she had her afternoon naps.
When Opa and Oma moved to our town, I loved visiting them on my bike. I liked to help with the garden (Opa taught me the love for the garden) or I’d listen to the stories of years past that Oma liked to tell. Always with a cup of coffee and a Hendrikse coffee biscuit, of course!
Opa and Oma, they were inseparably united in my memory, until Opa was welcomed home with the Lord Jesus. The joy Oma showed when Opa had gone to meet the Lord, I can clearly remember. Despite her loss she remained glad; it was clear to her: it wasn’t her time yet as she had far too much to do.
Active she was in the nursing home where she stayed, she often would come to church and even went on holidays with my aunt. She’d make many cards, too, and she’d send these with encouraging messages
Many of these cards would travel across the world, to be exact to Australia. In the meantime, I had migrated to Australia for my studies and my work. Although we were miles apart, we never lost touch with one another. It did become more difficult with time, and sometimes I had to check with Mum and Dad whether I’d be able to speak to Oma.
Every time I visited my family in the Netherlands, I’d also visit Oma. Saying good-bye was always painful. Would I see her again? Every time the answer was “yes”, as she’d appear straight away in front of her window to wave me good-bye. Until the last time when my wife and I saw her again, that really was the last time.
When I told Oma that I was moving to Australia, she didn’t like it that much. She actually was quite upset. That’s how she expressed it. I had to calm her down saying that I’d return quickly. I’d only stay for four years until I’d finish my studies. Unless I’d meet a nice girl in Australia, of course. This wasn’t enough for Oma, however. “There are plenty of very nice girls here,” she’d say. After a few years, however, I introduced Andria to Oma. “Ah, what lovely girls she is,” Oma said. You see, Oma, Australia also had very nice girls.
Dear Oma, how much will I miss you. You were a super-courageous and faithful woman. You always stood by Opa’s side in love and helped us as your family. You had a great sense of humour, could converse in English well, and loved to tell beautiful stories. U were always glad and strong in the Lord; a true intercessor with an unmovable faith.
You taught me how to remain faithful and glad despite the circumstances. You taught me how to appreciate the past so we could work together and pray together for a hopeful future. You also taught me that we were called to reign with the Lord, to continue his work in direct relationship with Him. This you taught me by giving me this tiny book to read, I can remember me this so clearly. It shaped my faith and prayer life to the present day.
Dear Oma, how much will I miss you. Now I can’t visit you any longer and share in your Hendrikse biscuits, or you won’t be standing at the window to wave me farewell.
Now I may be assured that you are with Ope in the company of heroes in the faith, and of course with your Lord and Saviour. There you can enjoy your Hendrikse coffee biscuits and wave at us and encourage us as part of the cloud of witnesses, so we can finish the race well.
Dear Oma, how much will I miss you. Rest in peace mighty heroine in God’s Kingdom. Heaven gained a star, a heroine in the faith. Know that your work has multiplied itself in the lives of your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren (also in that of our son). You have clearly left your footprints here on Earth, for good. Rest in peace, dear Oma.
Much love from us in far-away Australia.