This past weekend, our family celebrated our Beppe’s 85th birthday! Complete with ‘Happy Birthday’ sung twice (English and Dutch), harmonies included. It was a true Appel family gathering consisting of lots of hugs, heartfelt prayer, a yummy potluck dinner, and 17 year old cheese. My dad is the youngest of 5 siblings, all of whom are married with children, 17 grand kids in all! Most of the cousins are now young adults with lives of our own, but the one thing that brings everyone together is Beppe. It’s hard to find another woman in our lives we respect more than this strong lady who has taught us so many things throughout the duration of our lives.
Beppe was born and raised in Friesland, a province of the Netherlands. Fun fact, Friesland is the only province of the twelve, whose residents speak their own dialect of Dutch. You may have heard “Opa” and “Oma” used in place of Grandpa and Grandma? We use Pake and Beppe, which are the Frisian translations!
Our grandparents taught us many things over the years. Like many families, Pake and Beppe’s house was the central hub of the family. As children, my siblings and I often spent at least one night a week with them while Mom and Dad had a date night or were at Bible study. The best part of being babysat by Pake and Beppe was the possibility of spending the night. This only happened if we fell asleep before we were picked up, so sometimes we would “fake it”!
This morning while paging through Beppe’s book of memories, I found this and I thought it fit so perfectly.
“There is another aspect which makes my age a ‘golden age’. A person who is a child of the Lord has time to draw close to Him. I have lots of time to pray, meditate, and reflect on His goodness to me and my family. There is time to read and dwell on the scriptures. Now can you see why my age is called ‘golden’?”
As adults, we have learned much from watching and listening to our Beppe. No one gets a point across like Beppe. She is honest, no nonsense, smart, and full of genuine love and wisdom towards everyone around her. If at 85, I am half as smart, half as in shape, and half as wise as she is, I will consider it a great blessing.
If you read the “17 year old cheese” mentioned above and thought that was a little weird, please allow me to explain. Our Pake passed away 16 years ago. This is the last wheel of cheese we have hand crafted by the person who made it possible for us to be in this business today. Time in the aging room has sucked all the moisture out of this wheel, evolving it from a soft creamy round of goodness into a hard, strong flavored, wheel you have to chip pieces off of. Think Parmesan texture, but even harder. Pake probably would have found it pretty silly that we had saved a wheel of his cheese for so long, but it was a special memory for us a family. The perfect way to celebrate our wonderful matriarch!