Sunday, April 26, 2009

In memoriam of Jaap Stam 1942 - 2009

What makes someone special? Is it what they are able to accomplish in life? Is it the way they hold themselves in different situations? Is it how we see them that makes them special?

In a two-week time frame last year Jaap and his wife both got diagnosed with cancer. They had different kinds of cancer, so were treated by different specialists in different hospitals. During this time they both were diagnosed, and operations were performed on them in different cities. They had to support each other over the phone, both connected to tubes and needles. They both came home around the same time. She fully recovered from the cancer, but Jaap's cancer metastases and they put him on a pain prevention plan and an unknown time frame.

This January I was in the opportunity to visit him and his wife at their home in The Netherlands. I knew it was probably the last time I would see him and I'm very grateful to have gotten that opportunity. This week I received the message that Jaap Stam passed away. He was a very special person in my life and he will for always be a very special person in my heart.

What made him so special to me? He and his wife accepted who I was in a time that the world seemed dark and challenging to me. I was a teenager with an unstable family life. I could not always rely on help from home. But they opened their heart and their house for me. They invited me to their dinners, they invited me to their family gatherings, they took me with them on the family holiday. They were interested in my schoolwork. They asked me how I was doing. They shared with me what they were doing. They showed me their love for gardening, for helping youth, for being friendly, open and accepting towards others. They showed me how to support others and enjoy their company. They modeled for me an complete different side of family life then I knew. One that was loving, accepting, non-judgmental and fun. One that I am creating myself today.

Jaap didn't perform in an extra-ordinary way. He didn't cure world-hunger or invented the telephone. But I believe he was extra-ordinary in how he lived his life. And because I knew him, I am a more loving person today then I would have been otherwise. That's what makes him so special to me.


  1. thank you for sharing your gratitude, love in this moving eulogy.

  2. thank you for reading it and commenting back to me..


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