When I look back, my father was a genius and way before his time. Or was the time passing him by and was he just very back to basic? Who will tell?
After a long career at the port of Antwerp, Papa bought a ruin in Portugal five years ago. A hundred-year-old house on a hill by the river in a little quiet town Ul, where time stood still. This was his dream, he would completely restore the house and make it self-sufficient in an old and traditional manner. As soon as he retired, he would come to live in his little ecological house permanently.
He lived his dream, saved money and went to Portugal every holiday and free moment to work on his dream home. And there was a lot of work, no electricity (which had to be generated by a ruin of a grain mill), no water, damaged walls and roofs. Steadily he got the house in shape. A very beautiful shape.
The house brought us so much closer together, I did the administrative work for him, the translations, the banking business and occasionally travelled along when ‘scholarly and literate things’ – his words – had to happen. I began to understand his vision of life, was inspired and looked up at his courage and unstoppable enthusiasm.