The Leaving Party
By Caroline de Klerk
The sun seeped through the curtains onto Catherine’s face. She twitched her nose, gave a loud snore, and turned onto her side. Dreams of ponies and their young filled her head as the clock continued to tick toward 8 AM.
Groan. A new day, a new beginning. The bags were packed, and she was ready to go to the “new world”- as her mother called it. A new world with new opportunities, new adventures, new friends.
“Ineke! En nu moet je op staan!” Her mother came into the room, with her amazing power rolling off her tongue, as she demanded her daughter to get out of bed. Catherine jumped up immediately, and her mother began to dress her.
* * *
Siebe-Jan Bouma knew that today had to be a special day. After all, it was the last day he was able to spend with his granddaughter before she left. His first, and so far only grandchild.
Siebe loved children, and because all of his own kids were grownup, he couldn’t wait to see them having children of their own. He was very happy when Leida had a daughter. He knew that they were going to have a great time together!
The bike stood outside the door as usual. Siebe unlocked it, like he did everyday, so he could ride it to work. Today, he needed to think of what to give Ineke as a good-bye present. Unfortunately he had to work. He had planned to do something with Ineke and Leida after he was done.
Siebe’s thoughts were stopped abruptly when he saw the store. Why hadn’t he thought of it before? Ineke loved book! She had very many, and she always enjoyed listening to the words of the picture books- seeing the pictures come to life.
He stopped, put his bike against the wall, and entered the bookstore.
The smell of new books hit him as soon as he entered. Freshly printed pages, filled to the brim with new information. Siebe’s haven of facts. There were books about paintings, architectural novels, books on places he had never been before; everything you could think of. His fingers were itching to open up the books on buildings in France. But a children’s book is what he had come for, so a children’s book is what he would get.
The first table of children’s books was of the comic book genre. Big piles of books filled with cartoon characters’ adventures, drama, and humour. Siebe’s eyes were only attracted to the top of the pile, where there was a big yellow book with the cartoon characters on the cover. It looked like it was about a young boy. The title of the book was “4 Adventuren van Robbedoes en Kwabbernoot”- 4 Adventures of Robbedoes and Kwabbernoot.
He purchased it right away, as well as the book on French buildings, and quickly left the store to go to work. In the store he had gotten a great idea for a new project: designing a miniature city in which the buildings came up to your knee.
Catherine was very excited about seeing Opa today. She was always excited to see Opa, but she knew she was leaving for Canada tonight, and mama had told her Opa wasn’t going with them. So she wanted to have one last Opa hug. She didn’t know at the time that it was going to be the last hug he would ever give her.
Leida and Catherine were walking around the house to make absolutely certain they hadn’t forgotten to pack anything. The house seemed so weird; it was so empty! All of Catherine’s books were packed, her clothes, Mama’s clothes, as well as Papa’s.
The closets were bare. Your footsteps echoed when you walked anywhere. It had turned into a ghost house.
Catherine, however, had noticed something that hadn’t been packed yet. Her bear! She dashed to pick it off the floor, and hugged it to her chest. How could she have forgotten one of her favourite teddy’s? She immediately put the bear in her suitcase with the pink heart stickers on the lid. She put him in a nice comfy spot; on top of her fuzzy sweater. There, he was safe.
“Opa!” Screamed Catherine. She opened the door and Siebe picked her up in his arms. Oma Wol was there, too! Mama came out with a tray of tea and biscuits. Everyone sat down together one last time, and talked.
Then it happened. Opa gave Catherine something wrapped in brown paper with a sticker on it. She couldn’t read what it said yet, but she was learning! She opened it, and out fell a book with pictures! She loved picture books. She immediately started looking through the pages.
Finally, it was time to go to boating dock. It was a tearful good-bye. But they were leaving for this new place with great opportunities. They were leaving for Canada.
This picture is actually taken in Holland with Catherine and her parents shortly before leaving for Canada