Images of Opa

Opa- Dutch for grandfather- had a number of portraits done in his adult life. I’ve posted them here.

It is so interesting to see the progression of time. You can see on his face the anxiety of World War II, and you can see the smile-wrinkle lines when he is older. I especially like the 1974 photo, and have it hanging on my wall.

Enjoy with me one life:

CIRCA 1925

CIRCA 1935

CIRCA 1938






Opa passed away October 23, 1992.

All photos from the Holleman Family archives. Please do not copy.

Aging and Life

An aging man in the airport security screening has to take off his jacket and shoes and has to be completely scanned. He is out of sorts and doesn’t understand why there is so much fuss. When he is finally cleared and can put the contents of his pockets back  in place, and his outerwear back on, he walks away, only to realize that he has lost his glasses. He goes back to retrieve them, not knowing where they are, and the cold-hearted personnel do nothing to help him until he becomes a nuisance. They are doing a job, you know?

This was a picture of my father-in-law this past week. A man who in the past was strong in body is now walking slowly.  A man who would not hesitate to speak his mind is now showing great vulnerability. It is profoundly sad.

We can do nothing to stop aging. Millions have been spent on attempting to slow down the effects of time on our humanity, but ultimately, the end result is the same. Like watching a loved one go through airport security when you stay behind to watch, unable to help, death and aging can be frightening, frustrating. We can feel so helpless, and even hopeless.

So what do we do? How then do we live?

There are so many things that are out of our control.

Like aging and death.

But what is in our control?

Ultimately, I think the only thing that we can really take responsibility for is our own choices. We have opportunities every day, over and over, to make good or bad decisions. We can do right or wrong. We can love or hate. We can be bitter or be beautiful.

We cannot necessarily change the ugliness of life and death, but even in dark places, our choices, our attitudes and our actions can make a world of difference. In every situation, we have the opportunity to counter the downward spiral of things and make bold choices in victorious living.

That is not to say that we shun painful things. Rather, I think truly victorious living is when we look painful things in the eye, acknowledge them, and move forward despite it all.

There is a great poignancy here, living between pain and optimism. There is also a richness of life in these places that cannot be found by drowning in or denying either pain or optimism. Both are part of life, and embracing both leads to the best life possible, no matter what the circumstances.

I encourage you, no matter what your situation is, to embrace life, embrace death. And above all, to consider the choices you are making. Will you live a life that makes a difference?

A Woman I Admire

There is a woman I admire. She is almost 90, a widow with a full head of curly white hair, and lives on her own. Despite her osteoporosis and other health concerns, she is full of life and makes me laugh. Let me give you some examples:

  • She drives a four-wheeled scooter in town- fast! I have seen her more than once going over the bumps by the curb without slowing down, safety flag bouncing and waving in the wind.
  • I met her on the sidewalk the other day and we talked about the cold weather. She promptly told me to put my hood on.
  • She speaks with lots of expression, rolling the ‘r’ in her mother-tongue accent. Recently, she read Scripture to help lead a church service.
  • She attends church picnics in the blazing heat.
  • She keeps active sewing (she once was a seamstress), reading, visiting, going out– even though she says she doesn’t get out much.
  • One time, my husband and I visited her at 10 a.m., and she served us a glass of red wine. She said it was left over from her birthday the day before, and none her friends wanted to drink it- it was if she were saying, “Live a little!”

I love talking with this woman, even though she can’t always hear me.  I love her spunk and originality, and I hope that when I reach her age that I will live life to the fullest- she’s an inspiration!