Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Dead Dutch Lady

My dear friend Marta sent me the following link with a note so terse I assumed it had moved her in some deep way.

The neighbours of a Rotterdam woman who lay dead in her home for 10 years have told Nos television they noticed nothing wrong.

‘We did not smell anything or see vermin,’ one neighbour told the broadcaster. Neighbours said they thought the woman had moved in with her daughter after she vanished.

Her body was found on Thursday after building workers alerted the police because the door was not being opened.
To be frank, the real victim in this story is the Dutch Pension Office. In short, Holland financed a big tomb for a decade, and filled the bank account of a woman no longer living. Or maybe not. Perhaps Dutch pensioners get a pittance and there's not much left after rent and electricity are subtracted. In that case, "filled" is an exaggeration.

This woman died at the age of 74 (unless it was 64) and alone. I wonder why the neighbours thought she had a daughter. Maybe moving in with a daughter is part of the Dutch lady life-cycle. At any rate, if this woman had a daughter alive, she was a flighty and irresponsible one, that's for sure.

The story is a tribute to Rotterdam in that Rotterdam people seem to mind their own business and, incidentally, not break into the homes of the elderly to steal their stuff. This Dutchwoman's house is akin to a pharaoh's pyramid; she awaited her resurrection surrounded with all her belongings. Now her bones will be burnt up or shoveled into the ground, which is not so romantic.

Now, yes, I assume she was Single. As neighbours assumed this woman had a daughter, my guess is that she was a widow rather than a never-married. However, most women end up widowed and therefore Single in the end, so this whole dying alone scenario is not that uncommon. Even if you are in hospital, you might die outside visiting hours. However, you won't be totally alone because you will have your guardian angel with you and Our Lady praying at this, your hour of death, just as you asked your whole life long.

Meanwhile, it may be that this Dutch lady rather enjoyed a solitary life. Elderly Catholic ladies who don't like quiet solitude should go to church every single day, for if they don't turn up one morning, the priest will send someone to check up on them.

The thing is, the dead Dutch lady was not lonely in those ten years her body lay where ever it lay. I prefer to think that she had a penchant for lovely white cotton night-dresses with lots of lace and had a gorgeous bedroom--perhaps with lots of red velvet and a beautiful vanity table with a silver brush set. And I like to think that before she lay herself down for what turned out to be her final sleep, she knelt and said her prayers and went to bed with a good book, and read about beautiful things before she nodded off and then, just before dawn broke, died peacefully. The morning sun that filtered through a crack in the velvet curtains lit up the peaceful, tranquil face of a handsome old lady, serene in death, surrounded by the silver-framed photographs of people and places she had loved.

The years went on, and the corpse underwent its natural metamorphosis, in a privacy as total as that of the grave, and the house was as silent, save for the gentle hum of the refrigerator and the distant swish of the traffic. The body lay in state in a luxury denied to kings while the soul went in search of her Saviour.


Iota said...

However romantic, I can't buy that.

If literally no one wants to find out where I am for 10 years (because I "disappeared"), that'll be a rather bad testament to my social life. (Perhaps the lady is a special case and that rule doesn't apply for some reason.)

And the vision of a house with a body "living" in it is just awful.

May her soul rest in peace.

Rebekah said...

Romanticized it may be but I'm comforted by the dignity in this alternative take on the lonely death we're all supposed to fear so much.
Reading the news article and updates it seems this particular lady had been scarred by wartime experiences in the Dutch East Indies as a teenager. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.