My Aunt ‘Agnes.’


My Aunt Agnes
My mother’s sister was a good woman. A good woman is one who buys children soft ice cream between crispy wavers from Dutch Benjamin’s lolly shops. We all know that. Her name was ‘tante Agnes’ or Aunty Agnes.

She was either younger or older than my mother and liked children at times more than my mum. Feel free to think of her either way!

Of course my mother had six and she none. That might well explain that dichotomy. She, my mum, at times felt she might have had too much of a good thing. Aunt Agnes, as far as I remember, always lived in Amsterdam and we first in Rotterdam but after the WW2 in The Hague.

I often wondered how, with war, famine, no gas, no electricity, no food, cold, misery and Wernher v Braun’s V1 and V2 coming down unexpectedly, my parents libido wasn’t at least a bit frozen as well. On the other hand, it gave them moments of warmth and they were in love. In any case, mum ‘unpacked’ four during the war and two more after.

Apart from those ice creams, Aunt Agnes always cut out my favorite newspaper comic strip ‘Eric the Norseman’, saved them up and posted them to me. I used to ask my mother if the latest post had brought me the strips of Noormans yet. (Eric is large and strong, a fine swordsman).

I suppose we all had those aunts! A less endearing aspect of her otherwise loving and caring nature was her obsession with our fingers and nails. She was keen on hygiene and I and four brothers were not. We all traveled through a stage of being totally ignorant of needing water and soap, let alone removing detritus or anything, apart from the occasional splinter, under our fingernails…

She had a demonic attitude to our dirty hands and fingers. Scrubbing them by a hard brush was one of those experiences we suffered. We somewhat reluctantly offered our hands for inspection before mealtimes in exchange for her generosity in ice creams during her visits and lemonade on our birthdays. We never really regretted this hand scrubbing.

Of course, at that stage in history kids still had things like the promise of an ice cream to anticipate and look forward to, sleepless nights just thinking about it. Just the promise of an ice cream would make us behave for days.

Now kids take a few licks of a Gay Time ice cream and chuck it at a frail pensioner trying to cross the road. It also takes a $690.- G5 Tablet with 149 Android Apps for the 9 year old to fold his pyjamas or do the washing up and not say ‘fuck you’ to his grand-dad while giving him a good kick in the crutch. It’s a different world.

My Aunty Agnes was a good soul and her favorite colour was shades of blue with just enough silver jewelry to make her look very smart. Never gold, too gaudy, she would say.

Many years ago she visited us in Revesby Australia and we still loved her even though by that time we were well above doing things for ice creams.

H and I also visited her in Holland after she retired as a school teacher. Towards the end she suffered Alzheimer and at one stage she had put just one of her legs into a nylon stocking but not the other. She noticed herself how the empty nylon leg was just dangling there. She still had the sense to laugh heartily about it. She never took herself seriously.

Aunt Agnes was a good Aunt.


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7 Responses to “My Aunt ‘Agnes.’”

  1. Patti Kuche Says:

    What a treasure was Aunt Agnes and how lovely that you have so many fond memories! Gosh, your parents certainly had some times to talk about for the rest of their lives didn’t they?


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Loved your latest NYC pictures (photos) My parents had a great time in their retirement. They went back to The Netherlands to be with their brothers and sisters. We saw them often and used to travel there or they would come here and visit us and their grandchildren


  2. Andrew Says:

    This is just so good, Gerard. I laughed at the comment: “It also takes a $690.- G5 Tablet with 149 Android Apps for the 9 year old to fold his pyjamas or do the washing up and not say ‘fuck you’ to his grand-dad while giving him a good kick in the crutch.” Classic. I think we all have an eccentric aunt somewhere in the background. Elsie was mine. Unmarried. Stayed at home as the youngest girl of 9 children. Looked after grandma until she passed away. A staunch Labour supporter who hated Maggie Thatcher. She threw things at the TV when she came on the screen. “That bloody woman” she would yell……….. She had the kindest heart imaginable – unless you were the aforementioned PM. I miss Auntie Elsie.


  3. petspeopleandlife Says:

    A very enjoyable read, Gerard. Your aunt Agnes sounds as if she were a jewel and you were lucky to have had an aunt that loved you. My childhood was lacking in dotiong aunts as every last one was married with families of their own. I grew up sort of isolated on a farm and I seldom saw kin unless some of them happened to visit on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.


  4. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Oh yes, there are “Aunties and “Aunts” aren’t there? I lived part-time with an “Auntie”, but being a staunch and thrifty New Englander, the treats were limited to Easter eggs from See’s candies. But her home was a safe haven and she had an actual library! I read every book in it!


    • gerard oosterman Says:


      How fortunate you were with an Aunt having a library.
      Yes, curiously enough I can only remember real eggs as a treat at Easter. They were hard boiled and painted by us kids and dad would hide them. I think chocolate only came into our lives after migrating to Australia. Perhaps in those post war years chocolate in Holland was rare or my parents thought it would rot our teeth, who knows?
      Mind you a real egg with a soft yolk was an unforgettable treat and life changing experience. My brother John was allergic to eggs, so, he would get an egg cup which my mother would fill with jam and then she would stick a biscuit into the jam pretending this to resemble a cake.
      We were gloating over our eggs. Kids can be so cruel.


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