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  • Writer's picturePauline Kok


If you are wondering why it’s taken me so long to add to this blog, it’s because one of my sisters from Holland paid us a visit. She comes every year; and each year I prepare weeks in advance of her arrival. She is a lady we call TINKA’S in Indonesia. She is a ‘redhead’ (now grey), with all the idiosyncrasies ‘redheads’ are famous for.

Her diet is based solely on the sheer desire not to gain a single pound. This means for breakfast: two little pieces of melon, one large juicy kiwi and six little blueberries. She refuses tea or coffee, but accepts a wineglass filled with orange-grapefruit juice, which she uses to rinse down eleven pills of varying shapes and sizes.

Around 10:00 a.m. she starts to yawn – a clear sign of “feeling weak” and I hurry to make her a cup of coffee. The coffee we drink – strong, black, sugar-free Starbucks coffee has long ago been determined by her to be “undrinkable garbage”. So I know better than to offer this. Her choice is the dry powdered Tim Horton’s Cappuccino coffee. Not something we usually buy – it is purchased ahead of time in anticipation of her arrival. With the coffee comes only the smallest piece of cake or cookie, no matter how delicious or tempting.

Twelve o’clock sharp: I large tablet which has to be sucked on till it disappears. Too early still to enjoy lunch.

As time passes her facial color gradually turns from pale to paler to deadly pale. Another series of yawns warns us that lunch would be welcome around 1:00 o’clock.

There are limitations for her diet. She eats only chicken, turkey and occasionally salmon. The rest of the fish according to my dear sister are “inferior”. I need to safe one of these choices for diner, so that leaves me cheese, tomatoes or cucumber, scrambled eggs, and vegetable tacos as lunch options. The tacos pleased her only once and promptly discarded after that: too greasy! (I have to tell the taco shop). Bread has it’s own category of objections. None of our beautiful store breadbox varieties is good enough. It has to be organic rye bread and it has to have nuts or dried veggies visible in it. Once again no coffee, no tea; only juice or water.

I used to feel guilty offering the same dish each day for lunch, but struggled to find more variety. Anything else was welcomed with a grimace.

Dinners are the easiest as by then she has developed an appetite – unless of course we’ve hit a local mall and sat down to enjoy a delicious cinnamon roll with extra white cream on top. That always means “no supper” – perhaps a cup of sago pudding if I was lucky.

All I wish for during her stay with us is to send her home weighing exactly as much as she came with.

And she comes – bringing along with her numerous gifts and surprises – not leaving any of us (and our family count is now twenty-five). I’m certain she spends weeks searching for just the right gift for her nieces and nephews; looking for presents and funny toys for the little ones.

She continues to come, looking forward to all the invitations from each of my children and their families – who go out of their way to make her visit warm and eventful. She inundates them with her stories, already told before, but she has forgotten that. The stories are slightly different versions from the last time she told them, but the family smile and nod – they don’t mind.

During the three weeks she was with us, each week was different, very different in many ways. When she returned home we missed her. Her chair is empty. The puzzle book she brought to keep upstairs in case she woke up before us and didn’t want to make noise was never opened – because she always slept in.

Life is different now, easier now, less complicated now, and August is around the corner. I love my sister and everyone in the family enjoys her visits. She has returned home after a fine flight and feels good falling back into her own routine. She has stories to bring back and tell the rest of the family in Holland. And at the beginning of next year she will start planning again as to what to buy or pack when she visits us here again in Canada.

Until then, stay healthy dear sister, eat to your hearts content and next year when you come again, we will be there to meet you at the Airport.

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