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Corrie Cossee and Astrid’s Reflections: January 8, 2019

Corrie Cossee and Astrid’s Reflections: January 8, 2019

On Tuesday, January 8, 2019, I received four ‘late’ Christmas cards in the mail. I opened them only at dinner time as was our custom, after Harry, my husband, had come home from work during the Christmas season. I opened the largest envelope at the end, and discovered that it was not a Christmas card. It was a death notice of one of my mother’s best friends, Corrie Cossee. She and my mother had many after-wartime experiences and I had met this very vibrant person a few times while traveling in Holland with my mother. I was very sad learning about her death.

My happy retirement routine would start every day with my work on writing my mother’s memoirs. Wednesday morning would be no different, and I was at a point where I was working on the ‘war’ stories. As I was reading, I was distracted by a yellow piece of paper with the title, Humber Nurseries Limited printed in large black print at the top of the page. It was just lying inside the binder of my research papers of my mother’s memoirs. I was curious and delighted to be distracted.

Little did I know that I would be involved in an uncanny incident of discovery. As I pulled out the yellow paper, I noticed that it was a two-page typewritten letter by my mother and addressed to “a Corrie” and “a Wim”. The only Corrie that I ever met was my mother’s best friend who she met in Peine, Germany, after the war and they were both in the British Army in 1945. The only two Wims that I knew were my uncle, Wim Kleinbeernink and my cousin Wim Janssen. I could not put it together. And so I read the letter, written half in Dutch and half in English. I was amazed at the friendly tone that I felt when reading the letter. It was dated July 15, 1984, and written when my mother was living in Brampton. It was quite ‘a newsy walk down memory lane’!

As I was reading the details on the card about the passing of Corrie Cossee, I noticed that she was a widower to Willem H. Lampe, and his nick name was Wim. So the letter was addressed to my mother’s best friend, but was not addressed to neither my uncle nor my cousin! Wim was actually Corrie’s husband and I had noticed on the card that he died in 1988. I had not realized that she had been married. She also was a favourite aunt to three “Cossee” children, and all of these children kindly decided to inform me of Corrie’s passing.

When I was traveling with my mother, on one of her many trips to Holland, I had first met Corrie. I was driving a rental car, and my mother was the navigator. We had no GPS as we have nowadays, and more unfortunately, my mother had no address. She could only remember that Corrie lived in the town of Vledder in Holland, and that she would recognize the house when she saw it. My mother, I must say, had a great sense of direction and memory for such things. We found the house after only a few undesirable turns. Corrie lived in a house with a thatched roof ‘in the country’ in Vledder. She always had a caravan (motorhome) in her driveway, as she liked to travel alone to Germany, for her holidays. She was also a very well educated individual, as I remember noticing many bookshelves filled with books in the living room of her home. As I recall she had been a Highschool German teacher. Later, after my mother had died, she sent me a picture of my mother and herself standing with three Russian soldiers, who I imagine, they had met while hitchhiking in Germany after the war. My mother, and Corrie, were both ‘daredevils’, to which they both attested.

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