Amsterdam Fly By

by Lisa on May 6, 2012

The grinding of the gears could be heard above the roar of the jet engines as the wheels unfolded from the belly of the plane.

“We will be landing momentarily in Amsterdam. Local time is 8:32 am. Please make sure your tray….”

I turned a deaf ear to the stewardess’s words and looked out the window. Red roofs, green fields, and the circular patterns of the city below dotted the ground below. I smiled. Homecoming. My home away from home. Even though it’s been 25 years since I lived in the Netherlands as an exchange student, I still feel a connection to the land and the people—especially “my” people—the ones we were about to see.

We gathered our belongings and exited the plane. We walked though the security check and headed toward the main part of the terminal. As we moved through the double doors, I started scanning the sea of faces looking for Ons Ma (our Ma) and Ons Pa (our Pa), affectionately known as, and shortened to, Sma and Spa.

The people waiting had call kinds of accouterments and expressions. Some of them were looking anxiously toward the entering travelers while others were beaming from ear to ear. Some were holding large bouquets of flowers or signs with exiting passengers names on them while others were empty-handed. But all were scanning—just like me.

After the first glance over I realized Sma and Spa were not there. Weird. They are usually so punctual and regimented. It was unlike them not to be there. I decided to call them.

I pulled my phone out of my purse and dialed Spa’s cell number. Ring, ring. Then a voice came on. “I’m sorry the number you have dialed has been disconnected or is no longer in service. Please hang up and try your number again.” Huh? I redialed. Ring, ring. Same voice. Same message. Now what?

Dad started getting antsy. “You mean you didn’t arrange a place to meet AND you don’t have the correct number?” I looked at him, “I didn’t think about it,” I replied. “What do you mean you didn’t think about it?” Feeling a little defensive I shot back, “Well…do you have their number?” I knew he didn’t but it was the best I could do. “Now what are we going to do?” he asked. “We are going to plan B” I said. “Maybe they are waiting by the front door entrance to the airport,” I suggested. We started walking.

I spied an information counter and told Dad to wait. I left him standing alone in the middle of the airport with all our carry on luggage while I went to ask for suggestions. I spoke to the young man in broken Dutch and he smiled and answered me in English.

As I turned to check on Dad, I heard the familiar high pitched “toch”. There is no real meaning for that sound/word. It’s not really even a word, but it is a distinct sound that is characteristically Sma. When I hear it I am reminded of a mother hen clucking loudly for her little ones. Sma uses her “toch” on a regular basis, and depending on the tone, and connotation, you know exactly what she means.

From across the airport I immediately spied her. She was stretched out as far she could go—raised on tippy toes, tilted to the right, with her right arm extended high above her head, hand flapping at the very top. The smile extended across width of her face, and when she saw that she had caught my attention she picked up her pace and left Spa in her wake.

My heart melted.

I love, and adore, this Dutch mother of mine. And, with age, I’ve grown to chuckle more easily, and even enjoy, her funny sounds, her hovering over, and around, you, her mother hen characteristics, her I-know-better-than-you wisdom, her regimented routine, her common no-nonsense ways, her simplicity, and her beauty. I understand it/her now than I am not a wild-child, self-centered girl of eighteen. There were times she drove me crazy. There were times I was ungrateful and rebellious. There were times when I was downright a pain in the you-know-what, but this woman, this wonderful woman, continued to love me anyway. And, still does.

She has been there for me as a rebellious teenager and a twenty-something getting married. She has been there for me as a new mom with my first, second, and third babies. She has been there for me through the illness and death of my own mother. She has been become a grandma to my kids, a confident for me, as well as a great example of what it means to love with reckless abandon and your whole heart.

She grabbed, hugged, and kissed me. By the time I was smothered in Sma-love, Spa caught up to her. More hugs and kisses from this quiet, gentle man—the steady rock, and tower of support, behind the mother hen. Spa in his soft-strength reminds me of my own dear father-in-law.

Spa would be lost without Sma, but she too would be lost without him. They are the yin and yang of married couples. Not in the dark and light sense or opposite factor, but more like interconnectedness and the interdependence on one another. It is impossible to imagine Sma without Spa, or Spa without Sma. They are one unit.

After the greetings and questions about our flight, we participated in the other thing Sma is good at—hospitality and food. She immediately directed us to a café where we could get food and coffee. She picked out yummies to share and gathered all the necessary items to make our table efficient and cozy.

We visited for two hours and then headed back toward the security check point to make our connecting flight to Berlin. The first leg of our journey was over, and now we had seen Sma and Spa. Through my tears I waved goodbye. They promised to come visit and I promised to stay longer next time.

As we went through security I could see Sma, with Spa at her side, standing and waving the whole time. She kept her fervently hand-flapping and neck-craining up until we moved through the final doors toward our gate on to the next thread—the wedding.


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