February 11th, 2013

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Sunday Feb 10. The Last of the Mohicans.

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Jan P. Eusman

This has been an eventful day. The first of the Lunar New Year. It may be an indication for what the rest of the year of the Snake will bring. I  got up early. Another fresh layer of snow had fallen during the night. Clear skies. I borrowed Ankie’s bicycle and crossed the Lower Rhine to Amerongen. A perfect day for photographs in one of the most scenic parts of Holland. This was my last opportunity to see the interior of the historic Andries church in Amerongen. The sermon was on the miraculous catch of fish.

Karel and Ankie dropped me off in Amsterdam on their way to a birthday party for Ankie’s brother. I’ll miss the chickens and the peaceful setting of their farm house. I made a quick stop at the boat to drop my bag off, then took the bus to Uithoorn. I had been looking forward to meet Jan Eusman. He is the only surviving member of the Resistance group my mother belonged to. He will be 93 on April 20. I had a number of questions for him. His mind and memory are as sharp as a tack. In my book “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” I describe the circumstances of his arrest and escape on May 22nd 1944, on his first attempt to elude the SS put five pistol bullets in his body. One is still lodged behind his right ear. His granddaughter, Martine, showed me one of the bullets they removed that same fateful day in the hospital from where he managed to successfully escape the next day. She also showed me one of the bloodstained 10 guilder notes, he had in his wallet on May the 22nd. Jan had just turned 24 the month prior. He had already done a two year sentence from July ’41 in the infamous “Hotel Orange” and a penal slave labor camp in Germany. After both temptations with the risks, he went right back to his dangerous activities to resist the German occupation by helping the people in hiding and distributing the underground “Trouw” newspaper.  I shook the hand of a real hero.

Today (Monday) is exactly 8 years since I left with “Fleetwood” from Gig Harbor. It was the day after Ash Wednesday. Who, least myself, would have expected that this journey would become such an extensive voyage and that it is far from over. I am a very lucky, blessed and grateful man. Meetings with people like Jan Eusing make this a very special life’s experience.