Letter # 72 - This sad letter relates the death of Detmer Dekker, the husband of Janís sister Marchien. The writer is Marchienís daughter Elziena. The letter also mentions eight-year-old Berend Geuchien whom Darlene and I met in 1955 in Rotterdam when he was 71. I knew basically nothing of the family history then and did not appreciate that living link to our past.


Wildervank, July 24, 1892

Dear Uncle and Aunt, Nieces and Nephews,

You will surely find it strange to receive a letter from your niece Elziena. It is because of a very sad reason. To our great sorrow we must inform you today that our dear father died last Tuesday and was buried on Saturday. You will surely understand the situation here now and that Mother is in no condition to write you herself. I will do my best to describe as much as possible my Fatherís illness.

In the beginning of January Father had a difficult trip. He had to go from Hemel to Emden, but because of a storm and contrary wind he had to go into England.

Due to a cold and fatigue he was totally exhausted. Father became sick there, but recovered enough so that they could leave and thus reach Emden, and at last, as his custom was, he was home for a couple of months. The doctor was summoned and he gave Father some medicines, and he recovered somewhat. This lasted until April, when skippers go to sea again, but because Father still did not seem well, Mother preferred that the doctor should come before he left.

He said that he had to examine Father, after which he came to the discovery that the sickness which father had in England was pleurisy, and that water from that illness remained in his lungs. The doctor then decided through sweats and ointments to dry it out. When this did not help, during the week before Easter a can of water was pumped out, whereupon a severe tightness in the chest followed, so that on the Thursday before Good Friday, the doctor had given up any hope of recovery.

Nevertheless beyond all human expectations Father revived so much that he could go to church again. He nevertheless was not well and Father simply did not know where to look anymore, and Mother did this and then did that. Mother went with Father three more times to the professor, and humanly speaking it did no good. The last week, however, things deteriorated more quickly and pneumonia also was added to it all. Since Sunday Mother was not able to converse with Father. Monday I came home, but I also had no conversation or recognition from Father. Tuesday evening Father departed quietly.

Though Father in his lifetime did not speak much about such things, nevertheless we believe that Father, now stripped of all his troubles, may sit down with that great multitude which no one can number. The Dominee, who came nearly as often as the doctor, asked a few days previously if Father still had hope.

He replied that it is only by grace. I wish that I had paid more attention to it. I think that the last three days Father was not conscious so that we also could not talk with him.

At Easter time Father was alert and then he testified that whatever the Lord might do was fine with him. Naturally this is a great comfort for us all, even though the loss is still painful. So many circumstances are involved, and yet it also true that there is a beautiful promise in the Bible for widows and the living. If only we always possessed the right confidence then it would be easier. It could have been much harder, but our Albertus and Alieda and I are all three out of the house. Our Berend Geuchien is just eight years old.

These days it has gone well with Mother, but today, Sunday, she is so terribly full of sadness. This morning we all dutifully went to church together, which was very good. I will stay here for another fourteen days, but then I also will go away. Our wish is that you may receive this letter in good health. We are sure of your sympathy and trust that you will speedily write Mother a lengthy letter. After sending to you all a heartfelt greeting from us all, I remain your loving niece, Elziena

Be greeted again by Mother and Grandmother as well.