my opoe passed away


My grandma Witteveen, whom we called Opoe, passed away this morning. My dad called with the news this morning.

She was a day from her 93.5 birthday. My grandfather, or Opa, died when I was twelve, so she’s spent the last 26 years living mainly on her own. She spent the last few years at my aunt’s house, and most recently in a rest facility followed by a hospice starting over the weekend.

Opoe was born in the Netherlands and I think they came over when she was in her 30s. Her English was never fantastic. Her accent was thick, and her English was always speckled with a bit of Dutch.

My memories of her aren’t many. We grew up in North Carolina, and most of our family was back in Michigan.

Above is a photo from her 90th birthday party. You can tell how vivacious she was. She was always smiling and laughing.

I remember visiting her on the top floor of an apartment building where she lived several years after my Opa died. She always made tea, and the kettle would go into a padded pouch to keep warm for subsequent cups.

Tea was served with cookies that were imprinted with reliefs of windmills.

Those cookies were tasty.

One year, maybe 2003 or 2004, she visited Chicago with my dad and mom. We ended up walking several miles from Michigan Avenue to Navy Pier, and she led the pack. She showed no sign of what everyone else would consider old.

Opoe had seven children. One died in child birth, and my Uncle Rich died from a heart attack as an adult.

She’s survived also by 12 (I think) grandchildren and umpteen great-grandchildren. Too many that I care to count at the moment.

Although, I have to say, she loved Talulah like more than any other great-grandog in the family. She spoiled her to no end with table scraps and kisses.


Funeral services haven’t been planned yet, but I imagine it’ll be soon.

If what they say is true, she’s in heaven with her husband, two kids, a slew of other folks, Jesus and the like. That idea gives lots of people a lot of satisfaction. So be it.

So be it.

I’m more attracted to remembering her and reveling in the woman that was she.

I leave you with this:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

3 thoughts on “my opoe passed away

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