Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The scariest day of my Life

Today we have stormy weather in Florida, strong wind gusts and possible thunderstorms are predicted.
To fill my spare time while the Stew is simmering in the pot and while Dieter and I sip on the second spiked Eggnog, I chose to go on with my blogging and he is reading a book.  Please, do not think this will continue in this rapid pace, like every day an episode. Oh no, when the weather improves, we will walk more - somehow we have to stay fit.


My writing today is all about a summer day at a beach in Holland - I think the year might have been 1968. I do not have exact records because we have been at the same beach very often. Our neighbors were having their vacations with us in the same little town named Ouddorp, which is located on the island Overflakkee south of Rotterdam. We rented cabins near the beach at the north-west tip of the island. At that time the prices for those were small, the tourist industry in Europe was still in its beginnings. We usually spent 3 weeks of vacation there, which meant that the wide beaches during the weekdays were almost deserted, which we very much liked.

The day I write about must have been a Sunday, the beach was crowded. We had our two sons and our little daughter with us, our neighbors had two children with them. The men and the boys were playing beach ball and I was strolling with our daughter, who was about 3 years old, alongside the water's edge, observing people.  We decided to buy ice cream at the beach restaurant.......

and started licking away the precious cold stuff from the rim of the ice cream cone. Our daughter said to me: I go to Papa, she and I had a view onto our group playing ball, where her dad was pretty active. I nodded and additionally pointed our group out to her, they were in plain sight. I finished up my ice cream, observing the shallow waves coming in. When I was done in a very short time, I went to talk to Dieter. I looked around and said: Where is our daughter? Dieter answered: I did not see her  in the last minutes.

That was the time when we started to panic and all hell broke loose in our mind. Where is she??

We alarmed all members of family and friends and we made plans to search for her - in all directions - left - right - up the stairs over the dunes, along the ocean. It was afternoon, sun was high up.... Dieter jumped into our car and drove home to our cabin, thinking that she might have gone home. Nothing. We notified the life guard, which notified the local police.
My mind was blank, I was not in tears, I was simply shocked, while all sorts of possible outcomes blew almost my mind. She loved the water but could not swim....oh my god!  Was she kidnapped??
Then the life guards started to ask questions. They skimmed the water too. What was the color and design of her bathing suit? I said blue with yellow flowers ( later on I realized that it was just the opposite - yellow with blue flowers ). I was short of collapsing and Dieter was also very upset.

After what seems to be an entire lifetime the sun had disappeared beyond the water horizon, a wind came up, we all started to shiver, and we were exhausted from running around in the sand. The beach was clearing, very few people were left.....

Then 2 of the life guards approached us....
"We think we found your little girl - she is alright! We will show you where she is!"

They were running and running - up to almost another restaurant in the dunes, about 3/4 of a mile away. Our legs were going on "automatic", keeping up with the youthful life guards.... There she was!!!! There was an elderly couple sitting on a blanket, they had their jackets on and our little girl wore a big woolen sweater, about a mile too big for her. She looked almost surprised to see us and was a little spooked when we both started to cry while hugging her. My tears were coming down in rivers....all tension releasing.....

The couple explained that she was wandering up and passing them, and they were wondering why she was alone. For security reasons they talked to her and started to engage her in little plays. They thought that her party must be pretty close and that we would show up any minute. When they were ready to call the police in the evening, the life guards found them.....

That was a lesson well learned. From then on I never left her out of my sight.
Can you imagine how we felt??

Here is another nice picture of the dunes there......

....and of a stroll in the harbor....


  1. Oh Karin, I had shivers reading this! How very fortunate that she stumbled upon some kind people and that the life guards persisted in looking until they found her!! Thanks for sharing, Karin!

  2. I know that feeling, but the other way around. I was the one that always got distracted somehow... Guess that's me!
    A story to remember and accurate. Times were different then. Oudendorp, you can actually see the village the fish boats come from on the bow of the ships, 'OD' stands for Ouddorp.
    Memory lane...

  3. Thanks, Mary, and thanks, Jan, for reading my blogs and for your comments. Memory lane indeed - of very happy hours there - we were young.... Our neighbors and we emptied a bottle of "Bessen Genever" (Berry Gin) that evening to celebrate the second birth of our daughter - - while our daughter and our sons slept soundly....