Now that I’m no longer living in the hovel

Now that I’m no longer living in the hovel below my younger sister’s three-story castle, my sense of humor about the disparity in my family is returning. Tonight was my parent’s 64th wedding anniversary. (I figure it was 64 because I was born exactly nine months after they got married.) As we gathered around the dinner table, while my dad prayed and thanked the Lord for all his blessings, my 92-year-old mom surveyed everyone present with a critical eye—the neighbor of ten years whom she didn’t recognize, the teen granddaughters in their flimsy outfits, made up like floozies, the fidgety great-grandchildren itching for the praying to be done, the middle-aged husbands and their wives beginning to show signs of wear and tear . . . After my solemn, skinny dad finished his sermon, my mom shook her head and emphatically declared, in Dutch, “Dit is en gekken huis!” which means, “This is an insane asylum!” Then she turned to me and said that if I wanted to go home that would be fine. Instead I stayed, stuffed myself silly, and then rolled downhill back home to the River Bottom.

1956. A Diets-Vermeer family photo taken in Den Haag, Holland, a few months before destiny brought us to Ojai, California, the land of sunshine and orange orchards

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