Granddaughter of Henk & Ineke

Madelief’s (19) grandparents were on their way to their daughter in New Zealand.

‘‘Granddad had a dream, just before they boarded the plane. He dreamed they would crash. He was always afraid of flying, but he went anyway. He was so courageous. Granddad could act tough, but he was also very sweet. He would suddenly hug me and tell me: ‘I’m so glad you’re here.’ Grandma would never say that, but I could feel how much she loved us.

My grandparents enjoyed life together. They liked the great outdoors and had a summer cottage. They were always busy with plants and flowers, and they like to bask in the sun enjoying a coffee. Once a year, they’d take us to the Efteling theme park. Grandpa was very creative. He built me a bed – a huge princess bed – and painted my bedroom the Colour of Sand. It felt strange, when it was repainted in a different colour after his death. Then I realized: he will never paint that wall for me again.

‘I can finally talk about it’

They say that time heals all wounds. But my sadness is as deep as ever. Their deaths felt very cold and impersonal to me. No goodbye, no last kiss. We received two sealed caskets and had to believe that they were in there. We didn’t get any of their things either. Grandma had a beautiful wedding ring, granddad had a watch, but they were never found.

I longed for something to remember them. I waited a while, but now it’s there: a heart on my arm, with a small plane in the line at the side. A tribute to granddad and grandma. I hadn’t expected it, but the tattoo helps me talk about it. It’s conversation starter. In the beginning I couldn’t talk about it at all. When people ask me: “What’s that?” I have the courage to reply. And when I don’t feel like talking about it, I just tell them I’m a stewardess.

When I look at my tattoo, that bad feeling no longer grips me. Now I think of our visits to the Efteling. Making French fries together. My princess bed. And granddad and grandma basking in the sun together, at their summer cottage.’

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Tekst: Lisanne van Sadelhoff | Fotografie: Humberto Tan en Richard Terborg | Video: Hidde Stoker en Jildou van Opzeeland | Design: Roy Vonk | Productie: Dennis van Luling | Locatie: Studio34X in Almere
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