Two people have been very influential in my life, unbelievably so. All parents should be respected as wise folks deserve, but often as kids we neglect them far what they are worth and expect too much from them.
They were certainly the greatest parents a kid could have ever wanted to have.
Colette Marie-Thérèse Volff.
My mother is originally of French origin, having been born in Paris, France in 1928 and raised there. After fleeing the oppression of the Nazis who overtook her country,she spent most of WWII in the southern village of Cahors. After the war was over, she returned to her hometown and received a degree in pharmacy at the University of Paris. Afterwards she felt frustrated with the post war French culture, and she decided to emigrate to the United States. That must have been quite an adventure in those days, a daring change in her life. She adapted well to the new and exciting culture and made the best of it. At first she lived with her sister Jeanine in Oakland, and then on her own. Later both her parents came over be close to their only two daughters. In the meantime, my mother slowly but surely became half American, though she never was able to lose her thick, distinguished French accent. My mother loved her children very much and did everything for them to make them happy, protective and motherly in a pleasant European sense.
Rex A. Gish M.D.
My father was born in Lawrence, Kansas way back in 1917. He grew up during the Great Depression during which he learned to work hard for very little. As a young boy, he helped his father who was a cavalry officer by brushing and feeding the horses in between the military drills. Soon he made his way to medical school at the University of Kansas, graduating just before the outbreak of WWII. He served as a medical officer (lieutenant) on the destroyer USS Meade in the Pacific where he maintained his courage in treating wounded and dying soldiers. He was at Tarawa, but never told me much about it. After the war, he settled in Palo Alto, California working as a doctor. As fate has it, he met my mother at the corner Coke machine in the basement, in the Redwood City Hospital where they both worked. They say it was love at first sight. They married after only 6 months together and took up residence in the northern town of Redding, California. And then I was the first to be born before my two sisters Kathleen and Martine came along. My dad worked hard as a doctor and played alot of golf. The few times with us were quality times.
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference..." - Reinhold Niebuhr, The Serenity Prayer (1934).
Here are a few pictures which are related to one or both of my parents in one way or another.
My father died on Friday evening, October the 20th at the age of 83 years old. This was while I was in the airplane flying back to The Netherlands. The whole time I was there he just hung on, perhaps waiting for me to go. God bless his soul, for we will all miss him very very much, our dear father. While in the so-called Meditation Room of the hospital, we all anxiously waited for the doctor and counselor to arrive. We had to discuss when and how to disconnect poor Dad from the machines. I picked up the New Testament which lay on the table to my left, and I opened it to a random page. My finger wavered a bit and finally pointed to the following excerpt:
"But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." - John iii. 21.
For those readers interesting in following me on a sentimental journey, please check out Good-bye Dad.