sweet treasures #13: a special lunch date & a letter from my past…
Posted in amsterdam, holland, personal, pia's photos October 31st, 2010 by pia

A couple of weeks ago, Romain and I had the pleasure of having lunch at my favourite Indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam with my great uncle Roel who I had not seen in 15 years. Oom Roel lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but he is Dutch-Indonesian, and grew up both here in Holland and Indonesia. Over our long lunch of rijs tafel – a Dutch-Indonesian speciality – he shared stories from his childhood, and told me things about my Opa that I never knew.

Oom Roel’s mother – my great grandmother  – was half Indonesian, half Scottish. She spoke many languages and she traveled the world regularly, even in her nineties. As a child I was so inspired by her, and I felt somehow deeply connected, even though I’d only met her a handful of times. During lunch, oom Roel gave me a letter that his sister-in-law had been saving for me all these years. It was a letter that I had written to my great-grandmother when I was just 8 years old. As soon as I took the letter out of the envelope I had the most vivid memories of the paper. But the content of this letter is what captured my heart the most. To my delight I discovered that even “sometimes” wishes can come true…

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  1. LatteLisa says

    what a perfect Sunday post, thank you for sharing that

    October 31st, 2010 | #

  2. sara says

    this is so so sweet

    October 31st, 2010 | #

  3. Maggie says

    so lovely! I adore it. happy sunday!

    October 31st, 2010 | #

  4. mady says

    what a gorgeous story, very sweet. i do miss the rijstafel lots. my father and grandmother were born in indonesia- so we always had lots of yummie rijstafels… and the stories not to forget! wonderful that you wish came trough.

    October 31st, 2010 | #

  5. Lauren says

    That is the sweetest thing ever. What a lovely event.

    October 31st, 2010 | #

  6. Anne says

    Such a nice treasure! Wonderful that your dream came true 🙂

    October 31st, 2010 | #

  7. jeanne wolf says

    Thank you Pia. What a wonderfully interesting family you have!!

    Connecting with the past is so important and what a beautiful connection you have shared!

    I have a box in my attic addressed to my GREAT GRANDDAUGHTER, whom I may never meet. I hope she is as wise and wonderful as my granddaughter so she will feel my spirit when she opens it on her 16th birthday.

    October 31st, 2010 | #

  8. Melanie says

    Sweetness! Life is so full of wonderful surprises.

    October 31st, 2010 | #

  9. Jeannie says

    That…was chills-down-my-spine good! Awesome!

    October 31st, 2010 | #

  10. Ariane says

    Dear Pia,
    wonderful! A wish witch has become real.
    Yes, sometimes we had to cast the fishing rod…
    Greetings from Ariane, Germany

    October 31st, 2010 | #

  11. nadia says

    pia, how wonderful sometimes life has it’s way of letting you know you are at the right place at the right time!

    truly is a special thing to have back in your possesion

    October 31st, 2010 | #

  12. beauty comma says

    and then you moved to the netherlands without remembering that you had written this – that’s funny. it was kind of your family to keep this letter for you – it’s so nice to see how we used think when we were kids =) and what great handwriting!
    it’s always interesting to read about your family by the way; it seems like you all love seeing the world…

    October 31st, 2010 | #

  13. Sally May says

    What a magic circle that has brought you from the words of a child to the reality of your houseboat in Amsterdam. Untung sekali.

    November 1st, 2010 | #

  14. Carole Paris says

    Dear Pia.
    I just thought that I would check in on your site and lo and behold, a connection to Michigan. I live and work in Kalamazoo, Michigan and was delighted by your post.
    Best regards,

    November 1st, 2010 | #

  15. Monique says

    Hi Pia
    I am a new reader of yours. This note is amazing. What a treat to receive this letter.
    Have a great week and thanks for sharing.

    November 1st, 2010 | #

  16. Gillian says

    Wow! How neat was your handwriting!! Very sweet.

    November 1st, 2010 | #

  17. MissHeliotrope says

    Worth framing, whether on the wall as well as in the heart…

    November 1st, 2010 | #

  18. Soyoung says

    what a precious gift from the past!! thank you for sharing this. btw, this is the first time i’m leaving a comment on your beautiful, beautiful blog. i love reading it!

    November 1st, 2010 | #

  19. Tip says

    Oh – how lovely! 🙂

    November 1st, 2010 | #

  20. Lyndall says

    This made me smile. I am happy for you although I have never met you, but I get the odd peak inside your lovely world via your blog – thank you.

    November 1st, 2010 | #

  21. Anne says

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I knew my great grand mother too, she was also inspiring and gave the love of travel, geography and maps. What a gift to have had time with our great grand mother!

    November 1st, 2010 | #

  22. Susan Krzywicki says

    Any chance you have a photo of your grandmother you could share – especially one when she is older? I’d love to see her face to complete the mental image I’ve formed from your beautiful writing.

    November 1st, 2010 | #

  23. misha lulu says

    THIS IS LOVELY! What a great letter!

    November 1st, 2010 | #

  24. stephanie caldwell says

    oh pia! what a small small world. i lived in grand rapids, michigan a few years back for some time and now am living in flint , michigan. how lovely that your uncle could come to visit from so far away.
    and that letter is just the dearest.
    it’s been too long since i have read your blog…and i can honestly say i’ve missed reading your words.

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  25. abby says

    This post was delightful, I loved it.

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  26. Maria says

    Thank you from my heart for this post.. for this true story! It is very inspiring! Please share more of your stories of your life because they are saying a lot!

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  27. pia says

    Thanks for all the beautiful comments mes amis!

    Maria – the book, My Heart Wanders, is exactly that!! Plenty of personal stories in there. For me these types of stories are really special and intimate, and I like that they will be in a bound book -there is something very intimate about one’s stories being between the covers of a book. It comes out in May.


    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  28. pia says

    PS Susan Krzywicki – I’m not sure, my family is extraordinarily private so I doubt my request for a photo would go down well. But who knows, they might be open to it, I’ll let you know.

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  29. Mandy says

    Oh Pia this is priceless, I love it !!!

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  30. Jane says

    How wonderful!!
    Almost a time-machine whisking you back to the person you once were, so so special,Lovely Oom Roel and his sister-in-law for transporting you back.
    My Ex Mum-in-Law who I count as one of my Best Friends was born in Indonesia of a Dutch mother and a Czech Father. After the War she was repatriated to Holland. She tells us fascinating tales of those times, and still holds her lovely Dutch accent after 47 years in the U.K.!

    x Jane

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  31. shipbuilding says

    what a gorgeous reminder that some things in life are just meant to be

    …and I love the rows and rows of kisses and hugs!

    November 3rd, 2010 | #

  32. Lulu says

    this is the best thing i’ve seen in a long while…

    if only more bits of our past would surface! Oh the importance of letter writing and the act of cherishing and saving such things!!!

    November 3rd, 2010 | #

  33. brandeye says

    how sweet and precious.

    November 7th, 2010 | #

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