My name is Julia. I lived on a farm for years, opposite Michel and you already know him if you read the column with the same title last week. No ? You can, but you have to do that first…
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… As I said : my name is Julia, Julia Van Achter. My husband passed away years ago, my children have long since left home and they already have children. Michel had always been friends with my Maurice and even after his death Michel continued to visit me. He thought, and said so too, that I would often feel lonely now and that for that reason he would come one more time: that would break the silence. But for me nothing had to break, certainly not the silence. And yet I was not told: Michel young, no one should come to break the silence with me. I’ll rattle the pots myself if it gets too quiet.
I couldn’t imagine that Michel would regularly stay camping with me and put his cold feet against my warm ones. Or that he was already looking forward to a moment of panting and moaning until my children were well and truly on Zakynthos with the family in the big holiday. You know, some nights I still didn’t turn on my lights and my TV because I was expecting it?
For the 1e Mother’s day after the death of Maurice my children put together a gold M on a chain. I thought the gem was so beautiful and so well thought out, that it made me emotional, that I cried like a little child. And mom, the kids said, don’t hold it back for special occasions.
I wore it indeed, 3 days and 3 nights. The morning of the 4e day I woke up. If the right word for vapor is hot flash, then I had already chosen height in 10 seconds and was already above the cloud cover. If only I didn’t send out wrong signals to my neighbor with that M on my neck and that with Maurice’s golden M!!!
The jewel disappeared in the Chinese jewelry box with a few ugly brooches in it and a few even uglier earrings from Aunt Henriette, a predecessor of the later Madame Mussely.
The children didn’t ask where my M had gone, I didn’t tell them about my ridiculous ways of thinking because they were already too busy with folders and photos and notaries and builders: I would live smaller, in green, close to 1 station, close to several schools, to 1 hospital, to various opportunities to participate in games and relaxation, close to 1 sports village and far from heavy traffic. They had found something in a residential area of Bevegem, the Martens-Latem van Zottegem. The children showed me old photos of a huge, stately villa with a vast park around it, where an internist with his large family once lived, but that spacious doctor’s villa with a real stargazer on the roof had now been razed to the ground to build an apartment block. . Too bad hey, such a beautiful house, I said to my children, I’d rather be there… Don’t even start there, ma, was all I got as an answer.
Michel I didn’t tell anything about my plans to move, any more than about Piet, the Dutchman who had come into my life and not together with the 1e buddies or with the 1e Zeeland mussels. He was an uncle of my son-in-law and I met him at a birthday party of Maurits, my only grandson, whose godfather was Piet.
Piet was not a Dutch pursang because he smelled of bucking and Ghent noses at the same time. His father came from Voorn in Gelderland and his mother was from Ghent, van de Muide. My children laughed at me as a late bloomer, but at the same time they thought: that should work, Julia Van Achter and Piet van Voorn…
Michel kept coming regularly until the many banana boxes started to get too noticeable.
Michel, I said without detours, I’m moving! You’re right, he replied, I’ve already thought of it…
He didn’t even ask where I was going. I didn’t even say where I was going.
I did not say a word about Piet.
We are 4 years later and we are neighbors again, Michel and I: he in Villa De Freyne, myself in Villa Machtelinckx on the Verloren Hoek in Bevegem.
I waited with the chapter Piet, the silence breaker, until Michel came to visit for the first time. He had a bouquet of red tulips with him. Did Michel not only go to bowling in the sports village, but also to a card store? Tulips bego…
That is now Michel behold, I introduced them to each other, and that is Piet, but without that behold. Piet left no time for question marks, only for exclamation marks because he firmly shook the visitor’s hand with the words: Piet! Julia’s new friend!
Without dots or commas, the sound was : Michel ! Julia’s old friend! They all had a good laugh about it.
On Monday both men go bowling together, on Tuesday there is gymnastics for seniors, now on both legs, later seated on a chair. On Thursday we take all 3 dance lessons. We unanimously chose the Argentine tango. It was initially not seen as a sport, but due to large demand they were able to build a suitable place in the sports village for the dance course. They had to organize 2 a forest clearing for it, but their tree saws were still sharp after the construction of the Verloren Hoek.
And the M with the chain? Julia gave this to her grandson Maurits as a present. And was very happy with it.