Anneke Mahler

Obituary of Anneke Charlotte Mahler

Anneke Charlotte Mahler April 20, 1922 â€" October 1, 2012 The time has come for our mother, Anneke Charlotte Mahler, to leave us and this earthly existence behind. At age 90, she has lived a very full life, having experienced the many great joys and sorrows, triumphs and disappointments life presented. Anneke was born in Indonesia on April 20, 1922 to Dutch parents, and spent her early childhood on an Indonesian sugar plantation that was managed by her father. There, she especially enjoyed talking to and playing with the plantation workers and their childrenâ€"being able to communicate with them better than her parents since she was able to speak the different dialects/languages of the workers. During her teenage years, she and her three siblings were separated, usually in pairs, and sent to various families who cared for them during their middle and high school years. This, for the most part, was a very difficult time for her; however, it may very well have served to build both character and independence, characteristics which all who knew her noted and appreciated. During her post high school studies, she was offered a spot as a triathlon competitor in the 1936 Olympics hosted by Hitler, but she declined. She demonstrated talent in a number of creative areas as well, among them acting and drawingâ€"having participated in plays and exhibits and having illustrated, among other things, a book which unfortunately was later lost. She eventually became a nurseâ€"just in time for the warâ€"and worked as an RN during WWII. She was a member of a very close-knit groupâ€"the special kind of closeness only extremely difficult times can fosterâ€"of seven nurses. These friends managed to find solace and laughter during the worst of times. Also during the war, Anneke served in the underground helping to surreptitiously smuggle medicine, supplies, and messages to Jews in hiding, and to help others escape to unoccupied territoryâ€"surviving a number of spine-chilling close calls. She also tried to locate and free her parents, who were held in concentration camps, which she was eventually able to do. She lost, however, her closest brother, Edward, during the war, and missed him terribly throughout the rest of her life. During the days of exuberance just after the war, sheâ€"like so many young couples at that timeâ€"got married after an extremely short courtship, in her case of only 11 days. Her family had lost everything, and she and her husband, Pag Bisschop, immigrated to the United States just after the war to start a new life in the new world. The young couple had two children: a daughter, Ingrid, born 2 years before immigrating to the US and a son, Peter, born two years after. Anneke continued in nursing while bringing up her childrenâ€"something not so common for a woman in those days. She also found time to pursue her creative interests, especially as an artist, demonstrating a wonderful talent in pen and ink drawing, pencil drawing, and oil painting. She and her husband parted ways after 11 years, another courageous act at a time when divorce was tabooâ€"often causing her to be ostracized by her peersâ€"and continued to bring up her children alone. In 1964, to help relieve her son from environmental allergies, she sold her belongings in New Jersey, packed up her car, and drove cross-country with her two children (leaving at 4 AM each morning so her children could continue to sleep in the car for most of the trip, and driving until the early afternoon, so they could swim in a motel pool before dinner and bed) to Tucson, Arizonaâ€"without a friend or job in the area. She successfully found work, made friends, took care of her children’s needs, and eventually even bought a houseâ€"one of her great dreamsâ€"there. During the latter part of her life, she was able to see both of her children graduate from university and marry; was able to relish and help care for her three grandchildren: Maryke, Cassandra, and Jeff Bisschop; was able to revel in her three great-grandchildren: Vaniel, Cody, and Sebastian; and was able to enjoyâ€"for many yearsâ€"her home and art. Sadly, she suffered from a rare muscular disease which slowly but surely caused her lose the use of her muscles, including her hands and fingers, which tragically rendered her unable to do what she loved so much, her art. Life can be hard, very hard, especially towards the end, but, a life well loved is a life well lived. And she loved and was loved dearly.
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