Her name was Annie. Born in Holland in 1926, she was the eldest of six, three girls and three boys.  She had the bluest eyes, dark curly hair, an {some called it abnormal} avid love of reading and books. She grew up during WWII in war torn Holland, where despite the horrors of the war, her family still enjoyed laughter and love under the watchful eye of her mother, and father.  She was my mom.

In 1964, she immigrated to the USA with me, she was a single Mom.  She left behind everything she loved and knew, as well as everyone in her large family and circle of friends.  Her brother and sister in law, who lived in California, encouraged her to come, thinking surely she would get a great job, as she spoke four languages.  She did.  Her brother and his wife moved right back to Holland a few short years after that, he was to be the CEO of an American company in Holland, but by then Annie was happy with her life in the states.  She worked hard, first as the secretary/assistant to the president of the company, then, when his company grew to be a multi national giant, she oversaw the sales department until she retired at 68.

She was strict, and only expected the best of me. {Why would I get a “B” in a class or on a test, when we both knew that “A’s” were better?}  But at the same time, she gave me a loving, warm childhood, and a wonderful home life.  Although she was divorced from my father, she never said a bad word about him, ever, and I never felt like I was missing something. She loved me with all her heart.  When I announced that I would be moving to Europe with my husband and her only grandchild, she never once said “oh, I’d hate that!” ~ she just said she hoped that it would be wonderful for us, and she would visit. She rejoiced when we returned 3 years later.

She had a long, healthy life.  She never had to take medication, had a strong heart and blood pressure most 40 year olds would be jealous of.  Two years ago she started having some Alzheimer’s symptoms, but nothing big, she was still able to live in her cozy little home, alone. Last year, after summer, it became obvious that we had to check in with her at least twice a day, and visit every day, just to make sure she was doing okay.  But she was, enjoying her cross word puzzles, her reading, and her nightly t.v. shows.  Suddenly a few days before Thanksgiving, she got sick. So jaundiced that I had to bring her to the hospital. But she bounced back. At Christmas, she was jaundiced again, and this time I took her for a round of Dr. visits and tests. Not one could figure out why she had the jaundice.  Leave it to her to have something that defied specialists all over Southern California!  After a three week hospital stay in February, with every test done, seven more specialists were even more perplexed.  I took her home, and was granted Hospice Care for her.


The doctors told me she should live for another year, but somehow, I didn’t think so.  We had the blessing of spending time with her as a family, just before she died, to sit with her, tell her we loved her, and draw strength from each other during this time. After 16 days at home, in her own lovely bedroom filled with flowers, photographs of those she loved, drawings and cards made by her great grandchildren, and her beloved books, she passed on with my husband and myself by her side. She was 86, and died just as the sun set.

This is why, as some of you asked in your emails, it didn’t seem that FrenchGardenHouse had much “new” lately. Why there were very few blog posts, and even less newsletters.  I spent this time with my Mom, and I am so glad that I did.  I wanted to share this with all of you, many of you have become great friends.


Mom loved FrenchGardenHouse, and sometimes enjoyed making little “shipping” lagniappes or helping with other tasks for us that she could still do.  I will miss her greatly, but I know she is at peace. I thank you for your prayers and comments on my Facebook page, they meant a lot to me and my family.  And I am rejoicing with our family that Mom is in that better place, looking down on us.