When I talked about my sister I always said “my little sister” - In Dutch “mijn zusje” because she was almost five years younger than me.
I always will remember her as a very dear and caring sister and a busy one too. She always has been that way. I’ve visited her very often and sometimes my brother John and his wife Julie came over too and we had a lot of fun together. But she couldn’t sit still for a minute. She was running around, doing her laundry or watering her plants or she went to the mall: always busy.
Only when there was tennis on tv would she sit on the edge of her bed, with her cat sitting with her, watching tennis for hours.
When John and Julie came over we played canasta and that was fun. John would tell jokes in between and we had a great time together. We were very close - the three of us - because we had a very difficult time when we were young.
During the Second World War Henny was always so skinny. When she was 7 or 8 years old, the school was sent her to a farm because she was underweight, but after a couple of days she was so homesick that they sent me to that farm too. The farmer had one little daughter, more my age. Henny was so happy to see me and everything was alright.
That farmer called her Piet, Peter in Dutch, because she was always busy with the animals and she was so dirty every day She always has been fond of animals. She went with the farmer milking the cows and there were pigs and chickens and a horse...she had a wonderful time on that farm.
But after a year or so, we suddenly had to go home, because they thought that the war was going to an end. But it didn't and the last year of the war was really bad. We were not really suffering, we had fun, but it was terrible for our parents because they couldn’t feed their children.
But we survived. And we have a very strong bond with each other. We went through a lot too when our father married again. We had a very tough time and I always admired Henny that she still has finished her school, because it wasn’t easy for her when our father was very ill and passed away. She was his favourite because she was always so skinny and she was still his baby.
When Henny was visiting me than we always went to The Hague on our nostalgic tour for a few days. We stayed in a hotel at Scheveningen and visited all the places of our childhood and, of course, the house where we were born.
Max, my son, has told the story when we visited our house in The Hague and the lady of the house found some animals that belonged to the Christmas stable. Henny suddenly started crying and I asked her, What is the matter? She told us that she still could remember that the little dog's nose was damaged.
That lady had kept it for us and hoped that we came along to get it. We’ve given Henny all those animals and maybe she has put them every year to her Christmas stable. Maybe you and Robert can find it and put it on your Christmas stable as a memory of Henny’s childhood.