Monday, May 26, 2008

bloodsuckers, ole bollen, and lots of laughter....

Seems like I usually end up here when I am thinkin' on something or frustrated or sad or glad. Today the topic is being far away from family when difficult things happen. My mom usually calls on Wednesday. So when I heard her voice on the line this morning, I knew it was not going to be good news. Several of my uncles on both sides of the family have been sick in the last few weeks, so I braced myself and asked "What's wrong?" I was not ready for her say that another uncle had passed away. Uncle Cornelius (better known as Uncle Case) has been sick with parkinson's disease and I think alzheimers for some time. That combined with other health problems finally took his life. He is survived by Aunt Joey, 10 living children, assorted spouses, at least 30 grandkids, at least 20 great grand kids! Needless to say, going to Uncle Case's house as a kid was truly a treat! Lots of cousins, and most of my memories are of the places they lived in the country! I experienced my first encounter with a "bloodsucker" (leech?) while playing in creek in front of their house. Our childhood pet, a dog named Charlie Brown came from one of their neighbors. I remember using the little bit of Dutch my brain retained at his house when the great uncles were visiting. As all those men born in the Netherlands (including Uncle Case)gathered over a pipe or cigar and spoke Dutch. We ran in between their chairs and marvelled at that weird language they spoke.

Aunt Joey busied herself making ole bollen. I’ve seen the name of this pastry written Oly Koeken, Vet Ballen, Vet Bollen, Ole Bollen, oliekoecken, and a few other variations. The basic translation, however, is Fat Balls. This pastry is a little blob of dough filled with raisins that is deep fried and then rolled in a paper bag of sugar. I know today everyone would scream "Colesterol, or clogged arteries or...." But they were soooo good and we had so much fun helping, laughing, eating, laughing and coming down from the sugar high!

I could go on for hours with all the memories but mostly I just ask you to pray for my Dad as uncle Case was his big brother. His illnesses in the last few years made that hard to believe as he got thinner and smaller. Sunday afternoons for some time have meant my dad and mom travelling to have coffee or tea and a cookie with Uncle Case in the nursing home. Sometimes he remembered them and other days things were pretty vague for him. But he always remembered the old days. Just as memories console me so far away, may they bring a smile to my dad's face and heart too! If you know my dad or are near him make sure you give him a hug from me!

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