Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Homage to Marie

Up until the age of 13, besides the parents and the brother and sisters, there was a woman in the house called Marie.

She was employed to take care of the children.
Had her own room and her own place in the family.
She would always eat in a side room of the kitchen.
Not in the dining room with the family.
And she would never spend the evenings in the family living room.

Marie came from a small village in the Southwest of the Netherlands.
She was an unmarried woman and went home to see her own family once a month.

We would call her “Marie” and she would call the children by their first names.
But not the lady of the house.
She referred to her as “Madam”.
And the brother of “Madam” she called “Mister Jan”.
Madam’s husband was called “Sir”.

This sounds like a situation during the colonial times and in fact it was.
It was how the bourgeoisie in Europe lived in the 50’s and 60’s.

For the children “Marie” was wonderful.
Warm and caring.
She would take the children on her lap and listen and talk to them.

Many times she was singing in the house.
One song in particular is remembered:

“Oooh, was ik maar dood,
die ik liefheb die krijg ik toch nooit”.

This can be translated as:

“Oooh, I wish I was death,
because the one I love I will never get”

A rather depressing song and we may wonder what trauma the children were having in their adult life later because of hearing this song in their childhood so often.

Marie has been an important person in the life, in spite of her singing, because she was so excellent in expressing affection and love to children.

After 13 years of employment she was send away after a conflict with her “Madam”.
For the children this was very traumatic.
It was not understood why this had to happen.
Nothing was explained and suddenly Marie was gone.

She found new employment as a housekeeper for a catholic priest.

Later in life contact was made with Marie and she sometimes came to visit in Amsterdam.
She eventually died of cancer.
As a spinster.
Having lived the lines of the song she sang so often:

“Oooh, I wish I was death,
because the one I love I will never get”

Until now life has introduced some very remarkable women in the life.
And Marie was certainly one of them.


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