Wednesday 3 February 2010


My phone rang, I did not get to it in time before it switched to a missed call, a familiar number, I thought it was my friend, I had been thinking of him for days, if not weeks.

I immediately rigged up my Skype and called the home number, his lodger answered, he used to clean my apartment and he told me the news – it did not sink in at first, when it did, I cried and cried.

We met in Paris some 14 years ago and became friends, he always kept contact, a well travelled man who was a World War II expert, friendly, affable, reserved and understanding.

When I moved to Amsterdam, he was at the airport to collect me and he lodged me for the first month of my stay whilst I found my feet – he was always like that, ever able, ever helpful, ever concerned, ever involved and quite practical.

We met up for social events and meals a few times a year where I met other friends of his he had met somewhere on his many travels, they were always pleasant evenings.

We last met the weekend after I left hospital, he was to take me for dinner at Castells the steak restaurant – I just did not have the strength so we had tea at my place and talked – we last had a meal at Castells in July where we reminisced about friends long gone and experiences shared

On his 50th birthday in 2002 we all met up in Paris and my treat for him was brunch at Café Beaubourg, the wonderful life expressed in enduring friendships and fun.

Late in December 2009, he called to say he had been diagnosed with a type of lymphatic cancer they were still trying to determine, he was being put on a very strong chemotherapy regime, I commiserated and we thought one of our appointments at the hospital might clash and we meet up at the chemotherapy room since we shared the same consultant.

We never did, on the 21st of January, he was to defend his PhD thesis, he had called me the week before about it and said he would call later about invitations and so on, that was when I last heard from him.

That Thursday came and went, I was still delirious from the chemotherapy I took the Monday before, I should have called to find out how it went but I procrastinated, I thought I would do it soon but did not, so when the call came in this morning, I thought maybe I was going to get an update.

The chemotherapy was too much for him, he already had been very ill and this new treatment did not help – he died yesterday.

That was really my one true Dutch friend – gone.

Dick, thank you for being a good, loving, concerned and affectionate friend – I will not forget you – may your gentle and kind soul rest in perfect peace – you will be sorely missed, really sorely missed, my dear friend – Goodbye!

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