Sunday, August 17, 2014

Amy Bolland (1926-2014) An Obituary

Amy Bolland died peacefully at home after a brief illness on June 30, 2014 at the age of 88. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, August 23, in the Santa Paula Room of the Poinsettia Pavilion, 3451 Foothill Road, Ventura, California 93003. She is survived by her three sons and daughters-in-law Eric and Patty Bolland, John and Lourana Bolland, and Peter and Lori Bolland, as well as numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Amy was born on February 11, 1926 in Haarlem, the Netherlands, the only daughter of Antonie and Christine van Niel. She was raised with her two older brothers in the difficult years of the Great Depression and World War II.
Amy got her artistic talent from her father who was a sculptor by trade, striving to support his family with a satchel of wood carving chisels and an eye for design. He produced work for private patrons, public commissions, and museum showings just as Amy would in her medium of clay.
Sharing many common interests, the van Niel and the Bolland families became good friends. Amy took a particular liking to a young, shy boy named Hilbert Bolland.
Childhood came to an abrupt end in 1940 when Germany invaded Holland. Amy was only 14. As the long, hard years of Nazi occupation dragged on, things grew increasingly bleak. Starvation, the humiliation of begging for food, and the menacing threat of death dogged their every step. In 1943, Hilbert was taken by the Nazis and shipped to Germany to work as forced labor in a print shop. Amy wondered if she would ever see him again.
When the war ended in 1945, Amy was 19. Soon Hilbert returned to Haarlem. Reunited, Amy and Hilbert looked toward the future with firm resolve to build a life out of the ruins around them. They were married in the Rosicrucian Temple in Haarlem in 1946. They had nothing. No one did in those years. Everyone was starting over.
When their first son Eric was born in 1948, it became increasingly clear that it was going to be challenging to raise a family in post-war Holland. The waiting list for an apartment was 14 years and sharing a home with her parents became difficult. They began to dream of America.
In 1950, they kissed their families goodbye and boarded a ship for the New York Harbor. Amy stood on the deck holding Hilbert’s hand as they watched their beloved Netherlands disappear over the horizon. She was 24 years old, had a two year old on her hip and was seven months pregnant.
Settling near Paterson, New Jersey, Amy gave birth to her second son John. Hilbert found work as a printer while Amy raised her two boys and began to learn English. Eight years later, her third son Peter was born.
In 1962, Hilbert, Amy, and the three boys loaded the Chevrolet station wagon, hitched the trailer, and drove across the country to California. When they got to Los Angeles they headed north, stopping for a break in the quiet coastal town of Ventura. As they stretched their legs in Plaza Park, Amy noticed the Star-Free Press newspaper building across the street. “Why don’t you go see if they need a type-setter,” she said. He came back a half hour later. “I start on Monday,” he said.
Later that year they bought a house on Clemson Street and planted an avocado tree in the backyard. Eric and John enrolled in junior high and Peter began kindergarten the following year. The Clemson Street house would be Amy’s home for the next 52 years. It was in that kitchen that she would prepare the family’s meals. It was in that den that she sewed for her dressmaking clients. It was in that garage studio that she mastered her artistic skills as an award-winning sculptor of clay busts. It was in that garden that she nurtured flowers and fruit trees under the California sun. It was on that dining room table that she and Hilbert had afternoon tea everyday when he came home from work. It was in those rooms that she dreamed her dreams, loved her husband, and raised her boys. And it was from that front porch that she waved goodbye to each of her sons as they drove off to college.
After their last son Peter left for college in 1978, the empty-nesters focused on traveling, community service, and the quiet life that love, health, and good fortune affords. Whether it was returning to Europe and the Netherlands to reconnect with their brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends, or crisscrossing America in their RV, Amy and Hilbert loved nothing more than learning everything they could about every place they visited and drinking in the endless beauty of the world. When they were home, Amy and Hilbert volunteered at the Ventura County Fair and the Dudley House Historical Museum. They took solace in the spirituality of nature, enjoying Sundays on the beach or taking in a Krishnamurti lecture under the oak trees at the Krotona Institute in Ojai. They lived in Ventura longer than anywhere else they had ever lived, and it was their home. They loved Ventura and wanted to give back in any way they could to the city that had given them so much.
In 2009, when Amy was 83, Hilbert was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The next years were difficult. In 2010 Hilbert was moved into a care facility where he could receive the kind of care Amy could no longer provide. She visited him constantly, but it was heartbreaking to live apart. When he finally passed away in 2012, she was truly alone for the first time after 66 years of marriage.
During her last years, Amy lived independently, drove her car, stayed active at church, and met regularly with friends for lunch and day trips. She loved her family very much, and was always checking in with everyone and staying connected as the grandchildren grew up and began having children of their own. To them she was Oma, the Dutch grandmother with the heavy accent and mischievous grin.
On June 19, 2014, Amy drove herself to the hospital, on her doctor’s advice, and checked herself in. She was experiencing jaundice symptoms and would require testing and treatment. Over the following week her condition worsened and after a number of procedures it became clear that it was time for hospice and palliative care.
On Saturday, June 28 Amy came home. A hospital bed was placed in the living room and 24 hour nursing care was established. The family gathered around. Surrounded by her father’s hand-carved furniture, her own sculpture, and with the light from her beautiful summer garden streaming in through the windows, Amy rested peacefully in the home she loved so well. She passed away quietly two days later.
            She had a long, wonderful life filled with love, beauty, creativity, challenge, and joy. She was deeply proud of her three sons and the lives they had crafted, and she was profoundly grateful for her long and loving marriage to the only man she ever loved, Hilbert. There was nothing that she wanted to achieve that she had not achieved. She had reached the goal so many long for and so few attain – she was happy. She trusted that the best would always win out, and passed that trust on to her sons. She is remembered lovingly as the lion-hearted matriarch who survived hardship and war to boldly journey around the world to make a better life for herself and her family. All who knew her, all who love her, all who survive her are grateful for her strength, generosity, and vision. Her character and love will continue to shape us in innumerable ways for the rest of our lives.


Joseph Garcia said...

A touching and beautiful piece of remembrance. My heart goes out to you and your family Peter.

cbs said...

I just read this Peter. You were blessed indeed to have such an Awakened mother.
~ Oh mother its you,
Until the end of time,
I'm so glad your mine~

red crow said...

this is beautiful. not only your mother, but how much you shared love with her. thank you.

GS said...

Some people are the sunshine others grow by; your parents sound like those people.