“Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought” – E. Y. Harburg
Halloween Wednesday I went to the Flood Museum in search of my grandfather. Although I’ve never had the honour of meeting my mother’s father (he passed away before I was born), I feel a strong connection to him.
And that’s where my journey of learning to feel begins.
As I entered the museum I felt excited: would I succeed in finding my grandfather’s name or maybe even his photo in the museum?
I haven’t told you yet, but he was one of the engineers who worked on the Delta Works! Awesome, right!?
Don’t get me wrong: my grandfather wasn’t a famous engineer. He didn’t come up with the Delta Works, but he did help create them. I was determined to find him mentioned in the Flood Museum, since building the Delta Works was a reaction to the disaster.
My mother once told me her father was super proud of having helped build the Delta Works, but I doubt he’s prouder than I feel. I feel!
My excitement soon shifted to feeling sad. You can’t imagine the impact of a disaster until you’ve seen it. And the introductory film, compiled of 1950’s TV news items, surely hit home.
My sadness made way for shock as I later found a model of the dykes that broke on that faithful night in 1953. I started to utter my shock by saying: “Oh my, are these all the dykes? There are so many!”, when I found a sign saying they only displayed the most important dykes that were destroyed in the flood. Because there were too many to show…
From shock I went to silence and from silence to a little hope as I discovered books with photos of the disaster and the rebuild after. I thought this was a sure place to find my grandfather, but unfortunately it wasn’t.
Feeling a little deflated, I came across a photo sign with a horse on it, that described the heroic acts of a marine officer who saved this animal’s life. It put a smile on my face.
Moving through the museum, I felt a heavy burden on my shoulders and the longing to cry. This feeling was multiplied as me and my parents entered a room that displayed all the names of the victims, slowly gliding over a fake beach like the credits of a movie. Next to this display was a screen with names on it: clicking on one made a voice appear, telling about that name holder’s life until the flood had taken it.
I felt overwhelmed and barely managed to control myself, when I quickly stepped outside and saw a huge list of countries and what they sent us to help us get back on our feet. My sadness made room for gratitude.
As I took a final stroll over a dyke, enjoying the October sun and taking in everything I had just experienced, I smiled. Despite not having found my grandfather’s name, I felt blessed. Because the love I feel is real.
Because I feel.