[Transcript of interview with Sonja Niekerk Walther and Wilma Vandenberg, November 20, 2017]. Walther, Sonja Niekerk and Vandenberg, Wilma Interview, 20 November 2017. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
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An Interview with Sonja Niekerk Walther and Wilma Vandenberg An Oral History Conducted by Barbara Tabach Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ©Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2014 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV - University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcriber: Kristin Hicks Interviewers: Barbara Tabach, Claytee D. White n The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first- person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas in Preface The documentation of the Holocaust of World War II reveals the desperation of Jewish families to protect their loved ones from doom. In this oral history, Sonja (nee Niekerk) Walter recalls the story of being an infant handed off to a family friend for safety and nurturing. Next to Sonja is Wilma, her “sister” and the biological daughter of that friend. Sonja and Wilma are tethered together by history and love for Cor Vandenberg, mother and protector. Sonja was bom in 1943 Holland to Simon and Rose Niekerk. At thirteen days of age she was given sanctuary by Cor, who raise her as her own for the next two and half years. She and Wilma reminisce about the circumstances that brought them together, their love of Cor, and the impact of being a child survivor of the Holocaust. Sonja also shares her family’s journey to the United States and to Las Vegas. IV Table of Contents Interview with Sonja Niekirk Walther and Wilma Vandenberg November 20, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Barbara Tabach Preface.....................................................................................iv Sonja introduces her special guest, Wilma Vandenberg from Holland, whose mother raised Sonja as a small child in Holland. Talks briefly about relocating from California to Las Vegas in 1991, husband Stephen Walther, owns air conditioning business here; tells story of meeting husband, to whom she has been married for 55 years; mentions grandchildren Kierstyn and Andrew, and her siblings...................................................................................1-3 Talks about circumstances of her birth in 1943 in Nazi occupied Holland; father searched for places to hide his family, found various places for each of his children. Sonja describes being taken in by a nanny named Cor, Wilma’s mother, when Sonja was only 13 days old. Explains a “transcript” of Cor’s oral history [see Appendix], Wilma describes her family, the youngest of three, and becoming aware of her mother’s heroism in raising Sonja for two-and-half years during the war.........................................................................................4-8 Mentions her Aunt Rose who was in Auschwitz camp with Anne Frank; who perished and who survived in her family; her parents were in The Hague, siblings in different places; close attachment she formed with Cor van den Ent, the inclusiveness of her “bonus family” and how she straddle a Christian foundation and Jewish heritage........................................9 - 13 Wilma talks about Cor sharing Sonja’s story with her own children, exchange of letters over the years. Sonja talks about relationships her siblings had with their protectors; talks about relationship with Wim, Wilma’s father. Explains how her parents Rose and Simon survived the war; Cor sharing photos of young Sonja with her birth mother; story of her naming and grandmother’s ring. Simon was butcher, story of him trying to reclaim money, decision to move to America - Artesia, California..............................................................................14-19 Story about being reunited with her birth family, found time to spend with Cor’s family. Post-war Holland described by Wilma, what Holland is like today, democracy and open, how Wilma identifies with her mother’s values. Discussion of photos and Christmas memories and of traveling aback to Holland with Keirstyn..........................................................20-26 Sonja talks about her identification with Judaism after being raised in a Christian household; Holocaust survivor groups, being a child survivor; more about photos being shared. Talks about Simon Niekerk honoring Cor and her bravery caring for Sonja with a tree in Palestine....27-32 v Discussion of post-traumatic stress, Cor’s dealing with before it had a diagnosis, stress of caring for an infant secretly, escaped close encounters, adult relationship with her sisters Ann Jenner and Sera. Talks about parents coming to America, to California, and going to school not knowing English; putting up a Christmas tree, Dutch community, Jewish temple for holidays......33 - 40 Appendix includes photos of Cor and Wil van den Berg and transcript of an interview Sonja conducted with Cor............................................................................41 - 55 vi Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project UNLV University Libraries Use Agreement Name of Narrator: \A \iJ^LTk C g Name of Interviewer: JiA /?K/f A ft ______________ We, the above named, give to the Oral History Research Center of UNLV, the recorded interview(s) initiated on // - 2.0 '£>£>/7 along with typed transcripts as an unrestricted gift, to be used for such scholarly and educational purposes as shall be determined, and transfer to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, legal title and all literary property rights including copyright. This gift does not preclude the right of the interviewer, as a representative of UNLV, to use the recordings and related materials for scholarly pursuits. I understand that my interview will be made available to researchers and may be quoted from, published, distributed, placed on the Internet or broadcast in any medium that the Oral History Research Center and UNLV Libraries deem appropriate including future forms of electronic and digital media. There will be no compensation for any interviews. Signature of Narrator Date Signature of Interviewer Date Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries 4505 S. Maryland Parkway, Box 457010, Las Vegas, NV 89154-7010 702.895.2222 Vll Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project L UNLV University Libraries Name of Interviewer: ___________ We, the above named, give to the Oral History Research Center of UNLV, the recorded interview(s) initiated on U " ko '-JOt'7 along with typed transcripts as an unrestricted gift, to be used for such scholarly and educational purposes as shall be determined, and transfer to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, legal title and all literary property rights including copyright. This gift does not preclude the right of the interviewer, as a representative of UNLV, to use the recordings and related materials for scholarly pursuits. I understand that my interview will be made available to researchers and may be quoted from, published, distributed, placed on the Internet or broadcast in any medium that the Oral History Research Center and UNLV Libraries deem appropriate including future forms of electronic and digital media. There will be no compensation for any interviews. Use Agreement Name of Narrator: Signature of Narrator Date 11 -“2 O-'IOI U Signature of Interviewer Date Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries 4505 S. Maryland Parkway, Box 457010, Las Vegas, NV 89154-7010 702.895.2222 Today is November 20th, 2017. This is Barbara Tabach with the Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage project for UNLV. I am sitting with Sonja and Wilma. I’m going to ask each of you to say your names and spell them for everybody. We'll start with you, Sonja. SonjaNiekerk Walther. S-O-N-J-A. Niekerk, N-I-E-K-E-R-K. Walther, W-A-L-T-H-E-R. Thank you. My name is Wilma, W-I-L-M-A. Vandenberg, V-A-N-D-E-N-B-E-R-G. That's one word or two? Vandenberg; it's a whole word. Wilma, you're a guest here. You're visiting Sonja, which we will get the stories of how your lives intersect, and you're visiting from Holland for a month. Then we go back home again. Are you going anywhere else besides Las Vegas? Oh, we're going to do lots of things, California, see the family, of course, and then we are going to Utah, so lots to do. That's great. Time will fly, though. Before you know it... Oh, yes. It's already almost a week and we go. Yes, we do. Sonja, you said that you actually moved here more permanently in 1991, but you had been coming to Las Vegas... Since the late sixties. I've always had a place here because my husband sells air-conditioning to casinos and hospitals and that type of thing, so the large units for the hotels and schools and hospitals. He had a company here. 1 What company? ACS Nevada. He's still working under the name of ACS Nevada part-time, semi-retired. Well, it’s good to keep busy, for sure. Yes, it is. It keeps his mind active. That industry would have kept him very busy for that period of time. Yes, we were very fortunate to be here at that particular time. We came from California when the business was kind of slowing down. We always had an office here and he said, "We have got to move here," which I never thought we would, but it was the best thing we ever did, really. We raised our children in California in a place called Palos Verdes, California. Did you work outside of the home? I did not, no. That's great. Yes, yes. I was very young when I married. I had children very young. I met Steve when I was sixteen and he was twenty-one. He was graduating college and I was a sophomore in high school. We met through a blind date. My girlfriend JoEllen was engaged to his fraternity brother Mike and they wanted to introduce us. We hit it off and we've been married fifty-five years, in February it will be fifty-six years, and we've known each other fifty-nine years. Wow. You don't even look like you're fifty-nine years old. Wow. That's tremendous. Thank you. It's been good. We both knew even though I was so young. He took me to my junior prom, my senior prom, and we got married right after I graduated that next February. Then I had a little girl [Shari] a year later in January. She's a teacher and she's been teaching for twenty-five years and she will be fifty-five in January. Then we had a son [Steve] eight years later, who lives here and is in the gaming business; so he is near to us. 2 Oh, that's nice. Yes. We have two beautiful grandchildren, a girl and a boy, Kierstyn and Andrew. Kierstyn is twenty-two and Andrew is nineteen. Kierstyn is working for Adobe in San Francisco. She just got out of college in June. Andrew is a sophomore at University of San Diego. You've got everybody in the same time zone; that's very nice. Yes, that's wonderful. He transferred from Notre Dame; that's where he went; his dad went there. But I think being a California boy, he really missed that sun. He was a runner. So he reapplied at USD. They gave him his scholarship. He had already gotten a scholarship back as a sophomore. We're very proud of him. He's doing very well. She graduated from the University of San Diego and got a job at Adobe in San Francisco. That's great. Calling Las Vegas home after all those years, you saw a lot of changes. A lot of changes. A lot of good friends through business. Then when I moved here I got on a tennis team and met some wonderful ladies that I've been friends with for years. They're just wonderful. I couldn't be happier here. I quit tennis at sixty-five and started playing golf because I had hurt my knee and started that and that was a challenge. Are you still playing golf? We're still playing golf, yes. I wish I had taken that hobby up. It's a relaxing one, for sure. Yes. My sister [Ann Jenner] lives here and my younger brother lives here. I have a couple of nieces that live here. We have a lot of family here, so that's good. My other family - One is in California, my younger sister. My brother Harry lives in Arizona and my brother Sidney lives in California, too. So we're not that far from each other. We just had a wonderful family reunion that my son put on honoring my parents. There were forty-seven people—cousins, nieces, 3 grandchildren, great-grandchildren. It was wonderful. You were born in February of 1943. Talk about the circumstances of where you were and your birth; what you know about that. My mother [Rose Niekerk] found out she was pregnant and it was a terrible time because the Nazis had occupied Holland, come into Holland. As Corry tells it, in the beginning they weren't taking the Jewish people, but then they apparently were taking the Jewish people. My mother was pregnant and she was quite a big lady. We were very good friends with Dr. Brunt, which was our doctor. If you were six months pregnant and over, they weren't going to take you yet; later on they took everybody. When you say "they weren’t going to take...?" The Nazis. She got to stay in her home. They said, "When she has the baby, they needed to come to the camps." My dad [Simon Niekerk] decided he was going to look for places for the family to hide because he saw people going on trains where the Nazis were putting them on trains and he said, "This is not going to be for us." He got all different families to take...My sister Ann was with a Catholic family. My brother Sidney was with Corry's grandmother; she arranged that. My brother Harry was with another family. Corry was the connection to all that. She did that with my father. But nobody wanted a baby. My parents had a place to go, but nobody wanted a baby. It was too chancy. So Corry decided that she would take care of me and told my parents that if they survived she would give me back; if not, she certainly would raise me. She called her parents and asked them if she could bring me home. Actually in the transcript, she said, "I need to move," and her father came and picked us up. My mother had a very difficult time with that because she hadn't had a baby for seven and a half years and now my father convinced her you 4 need to give her up to save all our lives, and obviously she had done that. But before she gave me to Cor, what happened is that the Dutch police warned my father that the Nazis were coming to our home to get us; that we needed to get out. My understanding is we left through the backyard and went two houses over to where Dr. Brunt was (who) delivered my parents' children, the three older ones, and then they came and destroyed everything in the house. Dr. Brunt, as my understanding is, found us a place. There was a minister who was going on vacation in the same neighborhood and he said that we could go there, have the baby, and then we needed to leave. So we all went to the minister's home and I guess Cor was there, too. Yes. So for thirteen days we were there after I was bom. Then Cor took me to her parents' in Woerden. Her father came to get us. She put me in a basket and carried me and pushed me under the blankets because I was thirteen days old. I must have been—she said—a pretty good baby; I didn't cry, much. She took me on the train. But when her father and she got on the train, they saw the train was filled with Nazi officers, so they decided to stay on the outside of the train for that ride to Woerden. So we get to Woerden and she brought me home. The story was that if anyone asked where this baby came from, she would say it was a niece and she needed to take care of me. Before that she says in her transcript that we were at the nurse that always helped with delivering of the children, but she couldn't stay there because she had to keep me quiet all the time and she couldn't do the wash and that's why she took me to her parents' in Woerden. So I stayed there and she used to say—I don't know if you know that—she'd take the bottle underneath the dish towel to the other room if they had company so she could feed me. But I don't think anybody in the town ever knew that they had me. 5 Correct. She also had a younger sister. Yes, Will. Her name is Will. She was five? Five or six years old. She went to school and they told her, "Don't ever say that we have a baby because that would be very dangerous." For a six-year-old to keep that secret...She never told that I was in the house there. She never did. This was Cor? [looking at photograph] This is Cor's younger sister. Let's establish a couple of things here before we get too far into the story: you're the fourth of the children. Yes. Say the oldest down to you. Sidney, Harry, Ann and then myself. The older three were— In different places. But they were seven, eight, nine, did you say? Yes, they were seven and a half; Ann was, Harry was eight and a half, and Sidney was nine and a half, because there's seven and a half years' difference between Ann and I. 6 When this was happening in 1943...Explain who Cor is. Cor was our nanny in the house who took care of the children and helped with the cooking and that type of thing. She was hired to help with the children in our home. How long had she been with your family? Altogether she was with us seven years, she said. She was nineteen when she took me and Ann said she was seventeen when she came. So she must have taken care of us after the war for a period of time, my understanding. Also. She did also. Cor is Wilma's mother, biological mother. Right. Cor became your mother for what period? Two and a half years. Let’s concentrate on what you know about Cor. Just for the record, the “transcript” [see Appendix] that's being referred to is a transcript of testimony that Cor gave you that's been transcribed, which we'll put into your bound book so that others can look at that as well. Right. I was there for one Mother's Day, and the girls, my sisters, said, "Could you please go upstairs with Mom and have her tell you the story?" Which is in Dutch, obviously. In the story she tells what I'm basically telling you. Then when I was a little girl, she sang all these wonderful little Dutch songs, so in there are the little Dutch songs that she sang to me, which I also have sung to my grandchildren. Just so we put this in the context of time, Wilma, you were born in 1954, so there’s eleven 7 years approximately difference in age between the two women here. Wilma, did you have older siblings? I have one sister. She turned seventy last month and my brother is sixty-five, so I'm the youngest of three. When did you become aware of this history of your mother? Since when I was little because there was always talking about what Mom did. They wrote each other, your mom and my mom. We were always in contact with each other. There was a strong feeling vice versa. So my mom talked so many. Although after the war I was born, I know a lot because she told us. Really after the war it has been a hard time on her, too. Nowadays you say you have PTSD because it was hardfor her to do the things for Sonja. And everybody else. At that time nobody knew what PTSD was. Then she was tough and strong and after all this she just collapsed because it's pretty hard what she did. The chances she took was amazing because she would go from Woerden, which takes her all day on a bicycle, no tires, with hose around the bicycle, nineteen, twenty years old; she would go to my father and tell him, "Sonja is fine." She would go to see Ann, Harry, Sidney, and tell them, "He's fine." My parents had given money, jewelry and bonds to buy food for all of us to survive at these homes that we were all at, and she [Cor] would be the connection to go to that person that had the bonds and money and then go to these places to give them so we could be fed and they had the money to feed us and that type of thing. So she was I would say resistance. She couldn't understand and thought it was horrible what they were doing to the Jewish people and that's why she saved our family, actually, with my father. My father was very smart. He could see forward saying, "This is not good." 8 My mother lost her mother, her father, her brother, the whole family, no family left except a first cousin. That first cousin Rose De Liema was in Auschwitz with Anne Frank and was friends with Anne Frank. She was the only survivor of her family and my mother's family. So the only family we knew from my mother's side was a first cousin, Rose de Liema. When they made the movie Anne Frank, Poppa Frank survived and he came and stayed at my aunt's to corroborate the story for the film. Of course, my aunt had the numbers in her arm from being in the camp. She escaped and came to the United States with her two boys; that's why we came because also that was all the family we had on that side. My father's parents survived, but I believe—I'm not real sure—I think he had a sister and a brother that didn't survive. I'm not sure of that side who survived. I just know a lot of my mother's side. We are very close to Rose De Liema. Rose went all over to California to the schools to talk about her stories and her memoirs of the camps is amazing. That's something that I don't have right now. I just lent it to a friend of mine to read. But if you're interested in reading that some time that is an amazing of this twenty-year-old that went to the camps. A Frenchman helped her escape with some other people from the camp. I don't know how long she was in the camp exactly. Your parents—the four children— Immediate family. —have been scattered to different people. Cor is the link. Where were your parents? My parents were in The Hague, I believe, with another family. I think she has the names of it in there. Then my brothers and sisters were with... The thing is, Sonja, that none of you knew where your brother or sister or parents were because 9 if they were caught by Nazis and they were asking her or her sister in this way, like, do you have more family?, she couldn't say because she didn't know where they were. My mother was the only connection. The only link, yes. What a frightening position. So she took chances. I had the realization of when I had my daughter in my arms when she was bom and I looked at her and thought, could I have made that decision? My mother made the decision, which was the right decision, but I didn't feel that until I had my daughter in my arms and thought, to have to give her up thirteen days later and not see her for two to two and a half years, what it was, was amazing. Cor, I called Momma, and her parents Opa and Oma, grandma and grandpa. She tells you how difficult it was to give me up because she raised me as her child. She told me I was hysterical that she had to leave me with my parents. But fortunately for me my parents loved Cor as family and they were able to give me to her every summer until I was eight and a half, almost nine, and then I went to the United States. I still remember that to this day. She was at the shore and I was on the boat and we left each other. We wrote each other, but I didn't see her. On my thirtieth birthday, my mother said, "What do you want?" And I said, "I want Corry and Wim here; please send for them." So they sent for them and that's when I got reunited with her at thirty. From that time on my husband said, "We need to go every two years. You need to be with her." So we did. They came over for six weeks, her and her mom, and Wim, her dad. Then from then on, you came with Will afterwards. Yes. In between, my father died and then— I'm glad we saw him. 10 —the year after you asked us to come over for Christmas. Cor was still grieving, of course, but I told her, "Mom, let's do it; let's go." So we did. We had a wonderful time together. Then the time after, then my husband was there, too. For me I think it's the fifth time I'm here spending time with you and your family. Yes. But Cor gave me the biggest honor because when she got married she said, "I have lost Wim. You are my oldest daughter. I want you to come and be at her wedding." Which she didn't know. Yes. I was surprised. My husband couldn't go because of work, so I went. It was a beautiful wedding. I am four years older than her oldest daughter, Willie. So the reception line was there and I kept trying to step back and say, "Willie..." And Willie goes, "No, you are the oldest. You need to stand here." I spent a whole week with her and that week she took me to Woerden where she hid me and she introduced me to the butcher, the baker. "And this is my American daughter; this is the girl I saved." It was the most incredible experience of my life. They all, after the war of course, knew what she had done. She was a hero; she was. My family, my husband, my children know that if it wasn't for Cor and her family now I would not be here and we're so grateful, absolutely grateful to this family that I either would have been their daughter permanently...! had two sets of wonderful parents, really, even though there was a space where we were always connected. My family adores this family, as they adore mine, thank goodness. It's like you have a bonus family. I have a bonus, yes. She was so good to me. I spent the summers with her. Wim was in the Dutch Marines and he was fighting in Japan, right? Yes. He was kept hostage. 11 He was caught. This was during the war. So she had that to worry about, too. He was caught in a Japanese concentration camp for three years and he worked on the Burma Road. So when he got back—she never thought she'd see him again—they got married and then I'm in the wedding. I have a picture of that. I was three years old. Corry's wedding. That's me right there. [Looking at photos] Oh, how adorable. So this is Cor. That's my mother. That's Cor and Wim, her father. Do you know these other two girls? This is Will, my younger sister. Who is the other? Audrey, which was the daughter of mom's older sister. Those two girls are about the same age. Then that is a picture of Wim and Cor when he retired from the Marines, but he was always a Marine. We got to spend the summers together because he was always gone overseas, so we always had that close connection. Then, of course, I can't tell you, every time I'd come to Holland, she would have the tulips and she'd have a cake, welcome home. Apple tart. Apple tart. I can't tell you the love we had and have for each other, as I do for my brothers and sisters on that side of the family. I'm a very lucky woman to be here today because of a very brave woman. She had the goodness in her heart and she was a religious person and she felt that God had this for her to do, as I believe myself; I do. We went to church together. We prayed together. We said prayer at breakfast, lunch and dinner. My first knowledge of religion was a Presbyterian religion. Then, of course, I went to the Jewish family, but I kind of kept a little of the both. 12 How would you describe your spiritual upbringing? How did your parents raise you? My dad was always gone on a mission because he was a Marine. My mom practically raised us by herself because my dad wasn't always there. We were a warm family. We were able to do things. They always tried to make it a warm home for us. We were a great family. Did you have religious upbringing, Wilma, from Cor, too, a religious upbringing? You prayed like I did? Yes, that's what we did. That was part of your regular routine? Yes. You have two older siblings; is that what you said? Yes, I'm the youngest. What's the age difference? My sister reaches seventy this year. My brother turns sixty-five. My age is sixty-three. Such a baby. With these two extraordinary narratives about experiences of World War II between your parents, how did they share that with you kids? How do you remember them talking about it? Most of the time that happens on the table, like we are sitting now here, or on Sundays. My dad had a lot offriends, also Marines, and when they were retired all the stories came. Of course, in between, my mom told us what happened to Sonja. We knew the whole story while we were still young, so I grew up with it. We never stopped talking about it; it was always there because my mom loved Sonja and her family so much. They were always writing letters to each other, so the connection was always there. When there was a letter, we were always, "Oh, Mom, read it; read 13 it; we want to know how it is." But her mom wrote it in Dutch because she still was very good in her Dutch language, right, Sonja? So it was easy for my mother to read. My mother could read it easy because her mom wrote it in Dutch. Sonja wrote in English and you always had to come and translate. I had to translate. There was always this warm connection. Talking about it, for us it was normal, like it happened to all of us. It was in the family, what happened, all of us, yes. Sonja, for your siblings, older ones, were they able to nurture such a long-lasting relationship with their caregivers at that time? We talked about that. That was quite interesting that they never...I'll have to say my brother Sidney kept a relationship with Opu, which was your mother's grandmother, but as far as Ann with hers, no. Harry absolutely not because he was with a family that my understanding was abused him and he never talks about it. Cor talks about it a little bit because she said that the boy that was in the family told Cor that they better give her more money or, otherwise, he was going to tell where everybody was, which he didn't know, but at least Harry. Cor tells you that in there. So they gave him more money. But Harry says he was abused, but I don't know which way. Obviously, he didn't keep in contact. Ann didn't keep in contact. Sidney a little with Opu. A little with Opu, yes. But my thing was, I think because afterwards I had that relationship every summer, I just knew she was my mother. I had a mother, too, biological mother, warm and grateful. She also tells about—which I just got which is amazing because I only had one baby picture, about nine months old or something because not too many pictures were taken—but she just found from her mother some baby pictures that I was actually being held like this, as maybe three months or whatever. I'm very grateful for that because I didn't see baby pictures before. 14 I needed that relationship to continue because that's my mom and Wim. Wim was wonderful also as a father. He did not have a great amount of time because he was overseas a lot, but the times that I did have with him were special. I was there...fortunately. He got cancer. We had a wonderful visit. I'll never forget when we were walking out, I wanted to turn around and he held my shoulders and said, "Don't turn around," and I didn't. He shortly afterwards passed away. But he was strong. He was good. They made a wonderful couple; they did. I loved him, as I did your mom. I'm so glad I had that opportunity to still see him because he was ill. Very, yes. Yes. And so strong. But other than that, I've got them, right? Yes. She always felt she was part of my family, not someone that was working for my fa