23 November is a special day. The day that my grandmother was born and the day that my grandfather passed away. I miss them both, especially on this day. I miss the firm arms and fingers of my grandmother, her resounding laughter, her Burgundian appearance en mostly her amazing cooking skills, their preference for all kinds of sweetness and their unconditional love for eachother. And their love for me as well. My grandfather was modest, a great listener, passion for technique, crazy about football and sports. In the evenings he smoked big cigars combined with an outstanding cognac.
Over the years I saw my grandfather working on clocks, watches and jewellry. Walking through the house, adjusting the right time and working on different watches. With a magnifier on his glasses, with a crooked back above the table in the living room. In the heat of everyday life. It was fascinating to see, concentration in perfection. There I saw the real watchmaker Van Doren, my grandfather, at work, the store still exists.
For my 21st birthday they gave me a watch. My grandfather engraved the date, my name and the name of grandmother and father. I wore it for years. Until the watch band broke and I lost the watch. Fortunately there was this honest finder who brought the watch to the police. I was so happy but I was scared loosing the watch again so I put it away securely. June 2003 my grandmother passed away. My grandfather, then 90 years old, lived on. Until 2010 when physical discomforts took over, mentally he was still fine.
Four days before his death I was with him together with my mother. He wanted to do one more experiment to see what he could still do physically. He stepped out of bed en wanted to take a walk. That didn’t went well. I had to carry him to put him back to bed. He couldn’t walk anymore, couldn’t sit, he saw very little, his time came. Four days later I visited him again, together with my mother, uncle and aunt. The clock stroke midnight. My mother lay a hand on his hand, and told him he should go and congratulate grandmother on her 90th birthday. Then he breathed his last. Time stood still for a moment. My grandfather was 97,5 years old.