Lang zal ze leven!

Celebrating my mother-in-law.

For my mother-in-law’s 50th birthday I gave her two more grandchildren. Okay, Jack helped. But I still think I outdid myself. Time flies. I can’t believe my sweet twins turn 40 this year. (Their “baby” sister is already 35.) Mom, although she doesn’t look it, will celebrate her ninetieth birthday on May 6, DV. She’s still an avid reader, excellent knitter and loves to laugh. Her optimistic nature keeps her young at heart.

She grew up in Hazerswoude, the Netherlands. Along came Dad and dazzled her with his motorbike. She married him at the age of 19. They immigrated to Saskatchewan shortly afterward. When their first child was on the way, Mom found prairie life lonely and pregnancy difficult. They returned to Holland where Nelly was born, then came back to Canada – this time to Ontario, closer to her oldest sister and family. Eventually they settled in Stoney Creek and joined Ebenezer Reformed Church.

Church life was important to them. Through the years Mom served as Sunday School Supervisor, taught Vacation Bible School, worked on committees and was active with Reformed Church Women (RCW) at the local and Classis levels. They lived in Stoney Creek for more than 20 years and established a solid base of deep friendships. In 1983 they moved near to us in Harriston. Once again Mom left the familiar behind to begin a new chapter in life. She soon became involved in the Harriston Reformed Church and made many new friends there and in the community.

Having never met any of my own grandparents, I was glad to have Mom and Dad VanderSlikke become part of our daily family life.

At Grandma’s house

Always energetic, Mom was usually game for whatever my kids suggested to her. I remember her climbing high into the straw forts in search of kittens. On summer afternoons you could often find her playing in the pool with the kids. On Thursdays they were allowed to actually splash her, since she always had her hair done on Friday mornings. She still has nice hair.

When someone needed a heart-to-heart talk, Mom was available. Five-year-old Stephanie had trouble learning to ride on two wheels. She asked Grandma, “Do you think it’s important for a girl to ride a bike?” Grandma gently assured her that the day would come when she would be able to do that and anything else she set her heart on. It just took time and patience. She was right.

The kids enjoyed many sleepovers at Grandma’s house. She loved to play board games, go for walks and set up “Mrs. Koekebakker’s Restaurant” with them. She proudly attended all of their milestones and achievements – birthdays, church and school programs, graduations, weddings. They could count on her smiling face in the crowd, cheering them on. She rejoiced at the birth of each of her 12 great-grandchildren.

Until a couple of years ago, she baked dozens upon dozens of cookies for all the grandchildren and their families at Christmas, as well as knitting countless pairs of her wonderful slippers for anyone who needed them. Her steps are somewhat slower these days. But nothing will diminish her love for family.

As ever, Mom begins her days with Bible reading and prayer. She faithfully brings every single one of us in the family before the Lord. In her model of devotion we are blessed by the loving God who has watched over her and provided for her each day of these 90 years gone by. And that gives us all much to celebrate this year!


  • Heidi VanderSlikke

    Heidi VanderSlikke lives on a farm in Mapleton Township with her husband Jack. They share their home with a gigantic Golden Retriever named Norton, who thinks he's a lap dog. Heidi and Jack have three happily married children and seven delightful grandkids.

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