Couple Photos (May-June 2016, incl. Trip to Belgium for my dad’s passing)

July 2, 2016 – This blogpost has no radiation data. 

It’s mainly photos I took in the past 6 weeks, with minimal narrative…

Starting in late May 2016:

‘The technosphere’ – Alamosa, Colorado:

Alamosa_Technosphere_EndMay2016

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado:

EndMay2016_SandDunesNP_2

EndMay2016_SandDunesNP_1

EndMay2016_SandDunesNP_3

Full Moon at Hooper Pool, Hooper, Colorado  (artesian hot water-fed swiming pool near the Sand Dunes NP):

EndMay2016_SandDunesPool1

Drive through the Rocky Mountains, Colorado:

Colorado_May2016_1

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado:

ColoradoRocky_May2016_1

Next: Denver International Airport, a unique airport I’ve written about before (in the conspiratorial vein it is most known for) in these blogposts from 2012:

These next ones are far more popular than most anything I’ve written about Fukushima:

DIA

… Lay-over at JFK was long enough for a stroll in Manhattan:

Grand Central Station:

GrandCentralStation_NYC

May31_DetailGrandCentralStationManhattan

Manhattan_May31_2016

Onward…:

Airport1

Aboard

To arrive in Belgium…

800px-Great_coat_of_arms_of_Belgium.svg

The Great Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Belgium

As my dad used to say:  “We are currently occupied by Belgium

…I headed straight to the palliative care unit at a university hospital…

I suppose this is a follow-up on the August 2014 blog post, “Summer 2014 – Belgium Visit – 54 photos, and then some. (Oncology, etc…)“, in which I mentioned I had gone to Belgium to accompany my dad on all his chemotherapy visits.   Things improved for some time, but took a turn for the inevitable in February this year (2016)…

June 1 – I got there just in time for the last day my dad still had semi-clear moments to recognize me and say a few things.  Beautiful memories…

Just a few days before, he still sounded great on the phone, still at home on the coast, and we had some good conversations.

PalliatieveZorg

Because of the privateness of those weeks, I picked only neutral photos without anyone recognizable in ’em.  (Otherwise I’d have to go ask around for share-permissions, and I’m not feeling like that.)

View from his room over a part of Leuven on a foggy early June morning, after I spent the night at the hospital:

View

The cancer that had been (partially successfully) operated on and irradiated two years ago had returned… and spread everywhere.  There was little that could be done.  He had chosen for quality of life rather than throwing every medical trick at the disease just to stretch life a little longer.  Things can get ugly that way, and he knew enough to make what I think was a wise decision.

He stayed home near the North Sea as long as he could.  Once he surrendered to the dying process at the hospital,  it went fast.  He was only in the hospital for 5 days, during which he was beautifully cared for by the hospital staff and always surrounded by family in his final days.

At the end, I wished him a good journey onward (‘Goeie reis, papa’), and just a few breaths later… he passed away.   Serenity.  Magical.   Of all the ways to go, thát ain’t bad.  ;-)

Sadness and wonder alternate, but a sense of gratitude has predominated, for who he was, all he passed along (the knowledge, the attitudes, the principles, the inquisitiveness, the kindness, the dignity, the curiosity, …) , all the long walks and conversations over the decades, and so much more,… and also gratitude because the suffering at the end was kept to a very minimum.  Much to the credit of the staff of the palliative care unit, the correct use of morphine, it was graceful.   There was a lot of beauty to this mysterious transition.

And then, of course, there’s all the pragmatic things that need to get arranged and figured out after that…

Pues

The rememberance service / funeral at nearby Park Abbey was beautiful with over 200 people present.  Very dignified, fitting music, uplifted, yet personal and with lighter humorous notes.

AbdijVanPark

I used to bicycle through this abbey’s gates every day on my way to high school…

His remains were carried to the front of the church, while an excellent (better sound quality than this YouTube video) recording of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards played ‘Amazing Grace‘ on bagpipes:

It was an honarable farewell to my dad, a Royal Reserve Officer  (KRO) in the Belgian Air Force, a long-time computer specialist / consultant (his own company, ADVICO, and various big corporations), as well as a member of various organizations dedicated to the protection of birds, wildlife and marine mammals.  I could go on and on, but the internet doesn’t feel like the place for this, so I’ll cut it short.

He was also was one of my best friends.  From UFO’s to geopolitics, Fukushima to the pros and cons of various environmental activist approaches, I could talk with him about almost anything.

Although he was pretty much ‘a loner’, he’ll be missed by many.

A few days later, I watched the casket with his remains disappear in the bright orange flames of the crematorium…

End of an era…

—- —- —-

Some more photos…

Four days in Oostende, to sort through several thousands of books and other stuff…

Oostende_1

Oostende_2

I loved visiting him on the coast, where he felt so at home…   It’s the only thing I miss in the mountains sometimes: the ocean…

This (next photo, below) made me think of radiation for some reason. ;-)

Oostende_3

Just to pass some time, I used the hours on the train (or when still jet-lagged at night – I averaged less than 4 hrs of sleep per night those 3 weeks) to compile some of the blog posts with radiation graphs seen in the past month.

The rest are just some more photos I snapped on walks or just passing through town.

Center of Leuven, the town I grew up near:

 

Leuven_1

Leuven_2

 

Leuven_3

Leuven_5

Leuven_6

Swung by Antwerp for a short visit in the afternoon.

I was born here, in the inner city, with lots of family history:

AntwerpTrainStationDetail

Note the Caduceus here as well, as also seen on old buildings in New York (see further above) too.  Among more esoteric understandings (in which the serpents rise upwards like kundalini along the spine to reach the pineal gland, seat of enlightenment), it was an ancient astrological symbol of commerce and is associated with the Greek god Hermes, the messenger for the gods, conductor of the dead and protector of merchants and thieves. 

(See also http://www.crystalinks.com/caduceus and elsewhere)

Downtown Antwerp:

Antwerpen_2

Antwerpen_3

Antwerpen_4

Antwerpen_5

Hadn’t gone into this gem stone shop, De Gouden Ram, in a very long time.  One of my grandparents sometimes bought me special stones, shells or fossils (which I used to collect) here.  It is in Japanese style, fashionable among affluent travelers awhile back:

Antwerpen_6

Antwerpen_7

‘Het Steen’, a medieval fortress (built between 1200 and 1225, but signifcantly modified later) on the banks of the river Scheldt in the background here:

Antwerpen_8

A detail at the entrance of the Cathedral of Antwerp:

Antwerpen_1

Antwerpen_9

I went there solely to burn a candle at the Maria Chapel, where my grandma on that side of the family used to go to pray.  This was my dad “parochie-kerk”, where he even served as an altar assistant in his youth.

A nice afternoon with my mom at Kasteel van Horst… 

KasteelVanHorst

As a child I used to walk here from my village (Linden) to this casttle (in tiny Sint-Pieters-Rode), often with my dad, through the pathways along fields and the old (erosion-created) “hollowed roads” of Hageland, Brabant (Central Flemish-language Belgium).  Its history goes back to the 12th century, maybe before, but the tower (dojon) dates to the end of the 1400’s.

KasteelVanHorstVijver

One of the things I often do while walking from one place to another in Belgium is taking photos along the way, of street views, and things in the windows of stores:

Leuven_7

RodeDuivelGekte

PinkUnicornSpring2016

Leuven_8

A new mural in de Mechelse Straat near De Vismarkt:

Leuven_4

Some clothings stores (short mix Leuven & Antwerp):

InBelgiumJune2016_4

InBelgiumJune2016_3

InBelgiumJune2016_2

 

InBelgiumJune2016_6

InBelgiumJune2016_7

InBelgiumJune2016_1

For an example of that from somewhere else, see also (Dec. 2011), Icelandic Fashion and Window Installations

InBelgiumJune2016_8

Meanwhile I’m back in the Colorado Rockies…

Rain following a heat wave… the Crestone Mosquito Season is in full swing, providing abundance to bats and birds, and “free acupuncture” to us locals. ;-)

My mind often drifts to the proud addition to…   ‘my ancestors’… 

Besides a couple clothes, my dad only took one thing from his home in Oostende to the hospital in Leuven: a rock from Crestone, picked up on a hike in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains above Crestone a couple years ago, and ‘charged with protective prayers and sacred geometries‘ before I left from the Salt Lake City airport.  I had given it to him just over two years ago.  I don’t know what it meant to him.  Perhaps he felt its prayerful energies, or something about the power of this beautiful place…

He would have loved the colorful birds here, that I know.

He very briefly worked in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1970s, but never visited the US after that, in the past decade and a half mainly due to what he read about the less-than-honorable practices of the TSA (Transportation Safety Authority, part of George Bush jr.’s  Homeland Security, brough into existance after the 9/11/2011 attacks.).  Last year, I asked him again to come visit, and for the first time he said, “Sure, that would be great.  Why not.”    Things went differently… 

KTTG_endJune2016

Yucca in bloom at the 16th Karmapa (Tibetan Buddhist) Stupa between Crestone and the Great Sand Dunes National Park, end of June 2016.    See KTTG.org for more info.

See also Stupas in Crestone

…   After its just over two years in Belgium, that rock, somehow precious to my dad, has returned to Crestone, “the spiritual center of Colorado”

— — — — — — —    — — —  — — —    — — — — — — —

…  May all who die pass over gracefully to that mysterious “whatever is next” Other Side, and, if that is possible, end up in the most auspicious circumstances possible …

— — — — — — —    — — —  — — —    — — — — — — —

Disclaimer

— — — — — — —    — — —  — — —    — — — — — — —

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4 Responses to Couple Photos (May-June 2016, incl. Trip to Belgium for my dad’s passing)

  1. thefoolonthehill says:

    Hi Michael.

    My sincere condolences.
    I’m glad it was peaceful and your father was well cared for.

    My home move is complete – and I’m totally exhausted but much less stressed now.
    Lots to sort out, but it can be at my own pace thankfully.
    I’ve had no internet for a week (actually quite refreshing) and am catching-up with things.
    One thing is it looks like the brexit thing will finally put an end to the Hinkley Point new reactors project which has been hanging over us here for about ten years – a small relief in a world of nuclear craziness.

    Peace
    The Fool.

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