Uncle Abben

This post has been a long time coming.

Last November, Mary and I were fortunate to be able to take a trip to Anaheim to visit my uncle, Abben Feikema. It was a great treat. He and I had stayed in touch on the phone and with frequent emails (normally inspirational ones from Abben).

While we were chatting one day in September, I vowed that we would visit soon. It finally worked out in mid-November. It was great. It was also timely as his health was declining.

We had a great time, playing dominoes, cards, talking at length, connecting. It was great for me to be able to get to know him even better. My Dad died twelve years ago, and since that time Abben had became a bit of a surrogate. He was a great father figure. Here is a shot of us at the kitchen table playing dominoes.


We had a great time. Abben seemed to too. He seemed to have an extra spurt of energy that weekend.

We also had a chance to go out to eat. We met near Knotts Berry Farm. Here are a couple of shots of the crew (thanks to Eliot Hansen).

I took a couple of snapshots of the garden.

And notably the adopted cats. They were quite a hoot. I am an early riser (as was Abben) and when I popped my head out in the morning they stood at attention. I am assuming that they thought that I was Abben, getting ready to feed them. Unfortunately they were mistaken.

Our trip was very important to us. It was certainly a great opportunity to celebrate life with Abben, to spend quality time with wonderful Marlene, and also to reconnect with cousins and their families.

It was also a time for me of reflection on a life well lived, a family well loved, and Abben, a great standard bearer.

Unfortunately, it was a short three weeks later when received a call from Ann Lynn. Abben was dying. My heart sank. I am so grateful that we were able to visit. He passed away shortly thereafter, having lived a wonderful life, loved by many, respected by most, and most importantly in love with his creator.

My cousin Coby LaVenture and I were privileged to be able to represent the Minnesota Feikema’s and go to Abben’s funeral in December. We met so many folks, old family friends, relatives, and reconnected. I know I can speak for us both when I say that we left with renewed friendships with family members too distant, and I know that I came away with a better feeling for what it means to be a Feikema and more importantly a friend of God like Abben was.

I look forward to continued (and more frequent) connections with my family.

I still miss Abben but I am happy that we ALL know exactly where he is today.

3 Responses to “Uncle Abben”

  1. Anonymous says:

    John,
    What wonderful memories about your visit with the Feikema’s in California. It was a great time to reconnect with you. My Dad’s spirits were lifted by you and Mary, he felt blessed to have you there. It has been about a week since I first read the blog. It took me that long to be able to respond without totally falling apart, crying tears of sadness and joy knowing he is no longer in pain. I know he is watching over all of us with other family members who have gone before him to heaven. We are all blessed to have been apart of his life, as a father, grandfather, great-grandfather and uncle. He is always that little voice in my head.With much LOVE,Ann Lynn

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi John,
    I discovered your blog doing family research. This may be a long shot but I need to ask… Was Abben Feikema ever married to Gertrude “Tootsie”Van (Van Wermeskerken)? Did he live in Bellflower and Paramount Ca.?Did he serve in the Navy?
    I ask these questions because my first cousin was Tootsie married to an Abben Feikema.I saw your photos of him and he resembles my memories image of him. Don’t know how we can correspond so I hope you receive this comment.

  3. Abby "Feikema" Hansen says:

    John,
    Yes indeed, Tootsie was married to Abben. Would like to know who was the first cousin of my mother.
    Abby

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