FROM CRADLE TO GRAPHThe loyal Zeistenaar Jaap Bouterse was an introverted man, but because of his warm appearance he always felt close.
Suddenly the tears came. Jaap Bouterse was standing with his youngest son in the cemetery at his Zealand hometown of Kamperland when he was overwhelmed with emotion. That’s how it was now and then. He talked a little about his feelings. At times, it was extra hard. That was in 2013, more than 35 years after his wife’s death.
Janny had cancer. Short illness. They had just returned from Germany with their families with children, where they had a good life. Jaap was stationed there by the Royal Netherlands Air Force and was very active in the community. For his services as a major, later also in Zeist, he would receive a royal ornament. Jaap and Janny were ready to start a new life in Holland when the bad news came. Jaap’s children were six, twelve and fourteen.
IN From cradle to grave we tell the story behind a family message. Today, the life story of: Jaap Bouterse (1934 – 2022).
On her deathbed, Janny said to Jaap, “You need to find a mother for the children.”
Loyal as he was, he placed a personal ad in Centraal Weekblad, the largest information magazine in ecclesiastical Holland. Widower (42 years) looking for a sincere woman with good general development to start a happy family again. There was a reaction from Janneke van de Weg, a nurse at the Bronovo Hospital in The Hague. When the two met, they knew: God has brought us together. “What a reliable man,” thought Janneke. In uniform, with a strong and friendly expression.
People around Jaap thought it was strange to remarry within a year. But Jaap was not sensitive to what the outside world thought. When is the time ripe for a new love? What worried him more was why Janny had died so young. His faith in God was shattered, he was left with many questions. He solved the dilemma for himself. Life could not be perfect, and it did not affect his faith.
Janneke took him with her. After a while, as everyone got used to each other, a warm family emerged. Although he was a man of few words, he showed his love for Janneke with little attention. A big kiss in the morning and in the evening, a daily set table. Or he asked her to buy flowers and not worry about the money.
Despite expressing little emotion, he certainly expressed his opinion. Especially at the political level and not always tactically. He told his mother-in-law that police actions in Indonesia were a black page in Dutch history, while his father-in-law had been an army priest in Indonesia during that period. When he found something, he did not turn around. From his youth he was a member of the CDA (first ARP), but two years ago he resigned his membership because he felt the party was denying its social ideals.
No more going to church
Jaap did not always understand everything that was happening around him. He had a hard time dealing with divorce, especially when children were involved. Yet he would continue to give his support to anyone close to him. He found it difficult, but he had to accept that his children chose not to go to church after they were eighteen.
Over the years, he became more open. It was beautiful to see him take his grandchildren on his knees and give his full attention. He also enjoyed Zeeland, his native land. As if he came home. After his mother’s death, he had inherited his birth house and used it as a summer house. He sold it five years ago because his physical condition deteriorated due to, among other things, heart and kidney problems.
It was a hard blow that he could not pursue hobbies like cooking, driving and going to the Swiss mountains, worse or no longer. Jaap deteriorated faster when his son Kees died late last year. But no matter how much he suffered, he did not complain.
For Janneke, in addition to the great loss of her husband, there is also a consolation. She had hoped and prayed that she would live longer than Jaap. Becoming a widower again, and the accompanying struggle with his feelings, was something she really would not do against him.
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