Mrs. Van der V died. Alone, and her children didn’t want to see her for years

Sculpture by Meryl Cordoener

Mrs. Van der V. The 77-year-old is no longer raining. The taps and pipes in the balcony house bathroom, above a branch of Vomar at Bijlmerplein in southeast Amsterdam, are completely calcified, looking like a cave of stalactites here.

She did in the kitchen with a sink and towel, carefully maneuvering between the baked-in microwave, still containing her last takeout that had grown moldy, and a pile of dirty dishes. The house smelled musty, and the toxins of the fresh air did not enter here.

Mrs. Van der V. wanted to. Cleaning, but that wasn’t the problem. From her meager pension, she bought a load of wipes, brushes, and cleaning products. In the house with unpainted walls, discount packages accumulate. It never happened because she was so busy with jigsaw puzzles that Mrs. Van der V. was completely obsessed with her. Puzzles should be challenging, preferably with extra corner pieces.

mouse droppings

Puzzles were placed among the mouse droppings on the floor. She sat on a rubber mat to spare her bony knees. In the corner of the living room there is a TV broken on a dresser, and the opposite comfortable chair is a receptacle for unopened mail.

Nobody can see it. The faint curtains were closed to the living room windows – right next to the central front door, where the other occupants of the hallway come and go – day and night. She didn’t have a phone, and the bell hadn’t worked in a while.

One of the puzzles I worked on was the reproduction of the painting Paranoid critical suburbs (1935) by Salvador Dali. This surrealist painting shows Dali’s wife, under the cover of a hallucinogenic cloud and surrounded by structures and objects in eerie perspectives.

Because of the similarities that Dali made of the objects – the grapes in the hand of a gal have exactly the same features as a galloping horse and there are similarities in form between the girl jumping on the rope and the clock of the swinging tower – it was very difficult for the lady. Van der V… will never be completed.

In the evening, when she could not make the pieces of the puzzle in the dim light of the ceiling, she stumbled into the guest room, darkened with rags and old clothes, where she slept under a ragged blanket. .

I spoke to Mrs. van der V’s neighbor upstairs, the only one on the balcony who wanted to open the door; Only slightly, because her three hot-tempered dogs would run away.

“We as residents cannot say anything about her, at least I can’t,” said the upstairs neighbor, wearing a flower-adorned cloak. “We used to say hi to each other, but that stopped at a certain point because she was mumbling over her.”

The residents of the eight houses in this arcade have plenty of privacy anyway, according to the upstairs neighbor. “And then I’m very social because most of them don’t greet each other.” Sometimes you talk to the guy who lives at the top. He’s the one who called the police, because he noticed as he passed that a sweet corpse tank appeared to be coming from Mrs. Van der V’s house.

The upstairs neighbor did not notice the stench. All kinds of cultures live here, and they all cook their own dishes. That is why, according to her, a strange smell often smells in the stairwell. She had the idea that Mrs. Van der V. She was on vacation. “Because there were a lot of letters crammed into her mailbox, too.” You find it very sad that no one attends the funeral. “The world is rotten. On the other hand, what can you do about it?”

delivery truck

Police forced the front door of Mrs. Van der V. She was lying next to the bed with a ragged blanket, in a somewhat advanced state of decomposition. No signs of violence, investigators found.

Watched by curious locals, a stretcher with a body packed in a suitcase was loaded into a blinded delivery truck and taken to the forensic laboratory at the morgue of the VU Medical Center in Amsterdam Zuids.

Pathologists concluded a natural death. Presumably, she became fine in her sleep and slipped out of bed. She didn’t seem to be in any pain, the body was completely relaxed and not tight.

The teeth were destroyed, but with the help of information provided by her former dentist, it was later possible to establish that Mrs. It was already Mrs. Van der V. It did not look like the photo in the passport that was found at home.

The conditions in the house indicated a life of deep solitude, it was as if Mrs. Van der V. She was always alone, one of those hermits who invisibly moved through society.

However, when consulting the personal records database, which contains the data of all Dutch citizens, it turns out that Ms. She has a daughter and a son, both of whom are still alive. An elderly sister lived near Zful.

The daughter had emigrated to Tasmania years ago, and thanks to modern means of communication, news of her mother’s death reached her raft. Over the phone, she told us that she did not leave her to the other side of the world in vain. “The further away from my childhood, the better,” she said.

The church had to arrange the funeral, but it did not. The daughter also did not intend to come to Holland for the party. Her husband was sick, and they also had nothing to spend.

The elderly sister of Mrs. Van der V. You live in a nursing home. A nurse reports that as a result of Alzheimer’s disease, deep holes have fallen into the woman’s memory. Vaguely remembering a relative in Bijlmer, the nurses said they had not seen each other for more than thirty years.

The son of Mrs. Van der V. He lives in Enschede. Like his sister, he reacted unemotionally when the Uitvaarten team from the Amsterdam municipality informed him of his mother’s death. He also refused to arrange or even attend the funeral. Unlike his sister, the son was willing to tell me about his mother. He also hoped this would explain his indifference to her death.


Mrs. Van der V.’s parents were. Shopkeepers in Omen. They already had older children, and it wasn’t the intention that another would come. It happened anyway, in 1944.

The grocery store was barely paying off because of the war. So that the parents would not have to feed another mouthful, the parents decided to abandon the girl they thought was not feeling well. Mrs. Van der V. grew up in a monastery near Zwolle.

The nuns were not impatient with her. “They beat her so badly, both physically and verbally,” says the son. As an adult woman, his last mother had left the monastery in shock.

She visited her parents in Omen, who slammed the door in her face and caught the street in front of the house in a frenzy. The sister, now struggling with gaps in her memory, took care of her.

Long live Mrs. Van der V. With her sister until she met Mr. D.K. , a lively person from Amsterdam who made mysterious deals. She had never been in love before, she was blinded by unknown feelings of happiness. Despite the objections of the sister, who had doubts about De K., Mrs. Van der V. moved to live with him. In Amsterdam Bijlmere, he rented a house in a new apartment.

According to the son, his mother was a rather dependent woman. His sister, who now lives in Tasmania, was born in 1969. Mrs. Van der V. With the baby like a living doll. “I thought it was a little sister, she spent the whole day playing with her.”

The relationship with her son, born in 1972, developed in the opposite direction. “She neglected me because she wanted to be alone all day with her so-called sister.” In her experience, he broke off their close relationship.

Then it turned out that Mr. D.K. He not only sexually assaulted an underage girl from a neighboring apartment in Bijlmer, but his daughter as well. He was convicted and imprisoned.

Mrs. Van der V. has divorced. her husband, and she found shelter with the children elsewhere in Belmer. The son remembers being bullied, kicked and beaten. The father’s work revealed the man’s hatred in her.

Unable to handle the upbringing, she explained to aid agencies, the son was eight when he ended up at Burgerweeshuis. “She was glad she got rid of me.” He was placed in a nursing home, and then in a boarding school.

When he called his mother at about the age of 15, Mrs. Van der V told him. “So she was repeating what her parents had done to her.”


The son experimented with drugs, which led to a persistent addiction that he only conquered in France, where he worked for years as a landscape gardener. He returns to Holland in search of his father, who turns out to be living in an attic in the west of Amsterdam and has become an alcoholic. The confrontation was not fun. “He passed away soon after, and I didn’t attend the funeral.”

Meanwhile, his sister had left for Tasmania, and had not responded to the letters he sent. In order to come to terms with his past, he also decides to track down his mother and confront his own uneasiness.

That was twenty-five years ago, Mrs. van der V. Now at Bijlmerplein. The bell did not work, the son knocked on the window. Since Mrs. Van der V. was receiving benefits, and people were constantly trying to help her find work against her will, she thought the person at the door was an inspector of some agency.

When another occupant exited the central front door, he slipped and banged on the front door. The door opened, and Mrs. Van der V did not recognize him. I said: I am your son. Mrs. Van der V did not hesitate. He shut the door and screamed until the police came.

In the auditorium at St. Barbara’s cemetery, music was played by Barbra Streisand, according to Mrs. Van der V.’s son. When Barbra Streisand came home from school, he knew she was in a good mood and the day had been more fun than usual.

There you lie, just like this, silent and invisible,
With a bunch of puzzles in your locker:
Five hundred thousand five hundred pieces.
Was it beautiful, your castles in the air
Among the mouse droppings on the floor,
When the twilight of the blinds closed?

Then the memory puzzle:
Unwelcome child, expelled, nuns,
Your parents and their closed door,
Your daughter as a toy to play with,
Your husband, his mistreatment of your child, your hatred,
Your son is expelled from your life
As you have been exiled before.
A great inexplicable mystery.

Sometimes I used to play music about love
And my dear it was your doll, sister, I thought.
Just two pieces of puzzles.

Jos Versteegen wrote this poem specifically for the deceased and read it at the funeral.

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