News - April 13, 2011

A living legend in the woods

Not long ago, actually just now, in a little 'forest' of Wageningen Hoog, there live a very old man and woman. They were...(YES! Not 'are' but 'were') called Frederikus and Catharina, now they are known as Frits and Cato. You can learn little about them via Google except through this blog. But their stories are worth writing into a living biography to be engraved from generation to generation.

A collage of photos of Frits and Cato
Last Sunday was Cato's birthday of 80, 9 days before Frits's birthday. I was invited as the only non-Dutch to their party at a restaurant by the riverside of Rijn. It was a big party with around 80 guests; relatives, neighbors, or friends. They got together from all over Netherlands. A quiz was underway when I arrived. Bertus, their eldest son acted as the host, asking the guests questions about Frits and Cato. One of the questions was quite interesting: What is the shoe size of Frits and Cato put together? The answer is 82. But it reminded me of a story about Frits.

On November 28 th 1991, Frits retired from the position of CEO of a company. Bertus visited Frits' office and gave a speech in front of him and his colleagues. After the speech, he delivered a gift to Frits: a pair of leather shoes posed on a pedestal. On the fa├žade of the pedestal were some words Latin: mens sana in calceo sano. Instantly the office burst into laughter. Why? Actually it was a joke adapted from a famous Latin quotation 'mens sana in corpore sano', which means 'a sound mind in a sound body'. And 'calceo' means shoes. 'The secret of his successful career is written on his always-shiny shoes, that is, keeping clean and tidy,' Bertus' words earned a lot of applause, as Cato told me.

Do I digress? Anyway, back to the party. After the quiz came the instrumental performances by their grandchildren. The party reached its climax in the following solo of Billy Joel's 'Just the Way You Are', given by Ageeth, one of their daughters. Oh my unexpectedly amazing voice! She won a long standing ovation from the touched people. I bet you can't find any cover on YouTube better than hers.

'When I was at school, no matter when I went home, sunny or rainy, my mother was always the one greeting me at the door,' said Gerard, another son of them, 'the first thing you got back home was always her smile and warm hug. She is the greatest mother in the world.' It was the first time Gerard spoke so seriously. Everyone tried to pay their sincerest praises to this legendary couple.

At last, I just wanna say one more words to them: 'Cato and Frits, many happy returns!'

Video of the week:
'Just the Way You Are'