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:
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado:
Full Moon at Hooper Pool, Hooper, Colorado (artesian hot water-fed swiming pool near the Sand Dunes NP):
Drive through the Rocky Mountains, Colorado:
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado:
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:
- Hedgehog Trip (2/5): An Elephant in the Denver Airport!
- Hedgehodge Trip (3/5): Visions of Humans Living in Harmony with Nature )
… Lay-over at JFK was long enough for a stroll in Manhattan:
Grand Central Station:
To arrive in 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.
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:
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…
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.
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…
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Some more photos…
Four days in Oostende, to sort through several thousands of books and other stuff…
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. ;-)
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:
Swung by Antwerp for a short visit in the afternoon.
I was born here, in the inner city, with lots of family history:
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)
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:
‘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:
A detail at the entrance of the Cathedral of Antwerp:
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…
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.
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:
A new mural in de Mechelse Straat near De Vismarkt:
Some clothings stores (short mix Leuven & Antwerp):
For an example of that from somewhere else, see also (Dec. 2011), Icelandic Fashion and Window Installations
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…
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” …
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… 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 …
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