Tuesday, July 18, 2006
My great-uncle Frans died this weekend. It’s been a while since I last saw him; he hasn’t been much about lately since his health was a bit fragile. That’s an understatement. He looked like a bag of bones made of parchment.
He was a nice man, especially so because he used to provide me with tonnes of comic books when I was a child. He worked in a printing firm where they printed a comic book series called ‘Piet Pienter en Bert Bibber’ (lit: Pete Smart and Bert Tremble). It’s a very typical Flemish comic with a lot of action, inventors, archaeological discoveries, vintage Ford cars, mean bad guys and the lot. But what makes it so typical is the magnificent humour of its otherwise very shy author Pom. Let me declare here frankly and without any quiver of doubt in my voice that I am an enormous fan of this series. And let me add to this bold statement that my great-uncle Frans is solely responsible for this.
He was also my grandfather’s best friend. They met when they were transported to Nazi Germany during the Second World Evilness Olympics, where they were forced to work in the German industry will being bombed by the allies. These things tend to create a bond. Frans had a girlfriend then, Tinne, and he invited his best friend over to meet her and her family. That’s where my grandfather saw Tinne’s sister for the first time. They fell in love, and thus Tinne’s sister Rosa became my grandmother (after producing my mother and waiting for a bit obviously). Incidentally, after my mother was born, the young couple moved to the street where I recently acquired a new home. I love history. Unfortunately, his funeral will probably on Saturday, when we move to the new house. I feel bad about not being able to go.
Anyway, I will miss the old man, and not just for the comic books. That source dried up many years ago when he became a pensioner. But not before I got him to bring me the numbers that were missing in my collection. However, I will not miss the way he used to crunch my hand, with his bloody firm scouts' grip.