Birth: December 18, 1917 in Gorinchem, Netherlands
Death: September 21, 2021 (age 103) in Victoria, B.C.
The following eulogies were given at the grave-site:
From Nancy Travis, daughter
Mom was known as many things. Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Baba, Great Baba, and an Aunt. BUT the word that describes her best is, SURVIVOR.
Mom was born a survivor. She was a person who continued on and prospered in spite of hardships and setbacks.
Duifje van Haren, known to everyone as Delia or Baba, was born in Holland December 18, 1917.
As a small child she survived the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918.
She survived the loss of her mother at age 11.
As a young woman she survived the Holocaust in Holland by going into hiding with Albert, her husband.
She survived the anguish of learning that most of her family did not survive.
They prospered again after the War, but were afraid to stay in Europe so
Delia, Albert and their four children immigrated to Canada in 1953.
They prospered after the war, but their savings, that was to be sent to them from Holland, was stolen. They paid for a prefab house to be shipped to Canada, but it never arrived. They started all over again in Canada with nothing but 4 children.
They survived and started to rebuild again.
They were very successful in business. Our mother loved being a businesswoman and that was her main focus. In that aspect, she was ahead of her time. She always said she was happiest working with Albert.
They had a very good life together.
When her husband died, she learned how to continue. She learned how to write checks, lock doors, and look after herself.
This is because Mom was born a survivor.
She was a strong minded person who survived nearly everything. In the end she could not fight Covid and old age, but she gave it her best.
From Philip Maerov
Some thoughts about Baba…
Delia Van Haren, nee Van Dam, or just Baba to us kids (and Baba D to the great-grandchildren). I have such fond memories of my times with her, visiting her, being in her presence. How excited we would get when we visited her and Zaida at their condo in Victoria. Apart from the ferry ride, which we loved, it was always so much fun to be there. I remember the little candy bowl she would keep in her kitchen. She would let us take as many of the little candies as we wanted. I always loved the little coffee ones that had the special wrapper on them. And of course she would always have double salted licorice. There was no such thing as too much sugar in her world. For breakfast, we would have white bread that we would liberally cover with chocolate hail. There were also stroop waffles. For a little kid, this was heaven. The real treat though was when she would make a stack of roll up pancakes. We would douse ours with maple syrup before rolling them up. I remember that Baba had her own method, which even as a kid I thought might be a bit extreme. She would cover her pancakes with white sugar. Who knew that eating a lot of sugar was the key to a long life? Baba always had a smile and a joyful laugh. She took pleasure in us, her grandchildren, something that I felt even as a young child. She would call us “schott” or “shatzi” with a smile and a twinkle. Sometimes she would entertain us grandchildren with little tricks, like showing us her dentures. We would stand around in a little circle as she would demonstrate how she could take out her teeth. Or remember her favourite little prank? She would hold up a dessert to one of us and say, “Smell this”. When you bent down to smell it, she would raise it just enough so that your nose would sink into it. She thought this was the most hysterical thing and would laugh and laugh. Baba loved little kids and this was even evident in the pictures she had on her walls, many of them of little boys innocently peeing outdoors somewhere. As I think about my childhood experiences with Baba, I realize that she was able to cultivate a kind of joyful refuge in her home, a fun place for us kids.
What a stark contrast to the experiences she must have had when she was a young adult. We know quite a bit about what she and Zaida went through during those terrible years, but I’m sure that there are many things she never spoke about and which will remain unknown. Baba D was one of the last of a generation that experienced one of the worst times in Jewish history, and despite that, she was able to maintain a capacity to experience and bring joy to those around her. Whenever ! was around Baba, I felt loved, cherished and happy. It was something taken for granted but as I write this today, it occurs to me how remarkable this was, since I’m sure that for many Survivors, the ability to bring optimism and joy to those around them was lost along with so many of their own loved ones. I know that beneath the surface, Baba carried her losses with her. Later in life she spoke about them more and more. In particular her brother Phillip, who I was named after, and his family. Its impossible for those of us who didn’t experience the terrors of those years to understand the grief and trauma she must have harboured deep inside her, and even more difficult to appreciate how she was able to bring such love and joy to her descendants.
Baba leaves a remarkable legacy. She has 27 descendants (my apologies if I have miscounted). These are 27 lives that have been touched by her in some way and who have inherited a remarkable heritage of Dutch Jewry. I know that when I am asked about my family’s background, I always feel a sense of pride when I tell others about my Baba and Zaida, their lives in Holland, their experiences in the War, and of course, all about the little town of Gorkum where Baba and mom were both born, in a house that I, and Elana and the kids were fortunate enough to see during our visit there. It was such a different world from the one I live in now, but I feel a special connection to it due to her.
While the last 5 years or so were not easy for Baba, I believe that until a very late stage of life, she was able to continue to experience joy in many things: She loved to spend time with her children and their families, she took joy in her needlepoint, in her long walks, in her outings for lunch to Cactus Club, in her talks with her stockbroker, and of course in her massive stash of chocolate covered macadamia nuts, piled high in her closet.
I loved Baba D and cherish my memories of all the wonderful times I was able to experience with her. Even though it wasn’t possible to connect with her the last few years, when I think of her, I think of my white haired Dutch grandmother with the twinkle in her eyes who was always laughing and enjoying the company of her loved ones.
May her memory be for a blessing.
From Elana Segal
Dear Emmy and Perry, We are here at the cottage and thinking about Baba D and you guys. I remember Baba’s warm, welcoming smile the first time I met her. She called me shatzi and it was my first Dutch word. Her playful nature and joking nature with a twinkle in her eye were infectious. She loved chocolate I discovered very soon after meeting her, and I was joyfully amused at her stash of Hawaiian macadamia nut chocolates she kept tucked in her drawer.
She lost her husband, Zaida Albert, far too early in life, and yet, she prevailed. She lost her brother, her mother, her father, step mother and so many more so tragically and painfully. Her legacy to me is her resilience to build the life she did in the face of all of that. She has 27 direct descendants, I believe, and that is quite something. We were so lucky that Baba and is we’re able to be at our wedding.
As Phil and I have built a home together, Baba’s beautiful challah cover has been part of that, adorning our Shabbat table each week. Our walls proudly hang her lovely needle points and decorated our children’s walls when they were growing up.
I remember the delight she displayed at playing with our kids, her great grandchildren. When Micah was born, so too was the new title “Baba D”. How lucky they were to have had to experience the love of a great grandmother. Our kids will forever think of their Dutch heritage when they ask Phillip to make Dutch pancakes!
Visiting Baba’s house in Holland after living in Israel for the year as Israeli citizens was one of the more meaningful trips of our lives. We saw where she grew up, imagined all the paces she’d had to hide and got a window into her life long before we were born. As we stood by her mother’s grave and placed a stone there, the sunny sky darkened for just the few minutes that we recited Kaddish and gentle raindrops fell. And then, when we were done, the sun shone again. You named Phillip after Baba’s beloved brother and that knowledge, too, has brought meaning to us all.
And Micah twinned his bar mitzvah with Abramache, because Abramache never lived to have the privilege of becoming one himself.
I know life was not easy for Baba even after the war. I can’t imagine moving four children to a new country, in a foreign language, with no family and having to start a business to support everyone.
Yes, Baba’s resilience is remarkable, in all that she endured. Her smile and that twinkle in her eye is how I will hold her in my heart.
I am fortunate to have known her.
Sending lots of love and wishing we could be there with you at this time.
From Eric Maerov
From my earliest memories of Baba D, I knew that she was a force to be reckoned with After all, how many Baba’s lived in an actual castle? I have such fond memories and was always excited to visit her and my Zaida’s apartment on Cooke Street in Victoria. I loved going through her massive matchbook collection and would imagine all the places they had travelled to. I loved being taken to the roof to look out on the city and then down to the pool and sauna where we were allowed to pour water on the rocks to create a steam bath. To be honest though, I was also a little terrified, for in my mind, if they lived in a castle, surely there must be a king, and I worried what would he do if we were caught playing around. But, in the end, I knew that Baba was always ready for me and my brothers to visit. I loved that she always had a can of Strawberry Nestle Quick milk tucked away for me, and that, along with double salted licorice, chocolate sprinkles on white bread, and crepes loaded with chocolate spread, strawberries and powdered suger, made visiting her such a special memory. I’m grateful to have inherited her sweet tooth, but have not yet reached the level of creating a separate room just for my chocolate. She will always reign supreme on that front.
When Baba and Zaida moved to Vancouver, I was so happy and continued to be excited for Sunday night dinners together. I was always impressed with her ability and philosophy of enjoying living life out loud after everything she lived through. I’ll never forget repeatedly falling for her tricks such as when she would insist that I get close and smell just how sweet my birthday cake was every year, and every year she would then push my nose into it. Eventually, I caught on, but loved that she would still do it. I’ll remember her witty sense of humour always. Once, she told me about how proud she was that she owned a plot of land. In my mind, I imagined somewhere far away, sunny and exotic, but then with a great laugh, she told me it was her grave plot and she’d visit it when she was ready. I’ll never forget how death never bothered her because she was too busy living life. I hope that I too can carry on her incredible spirit. We love you, miss you, and will never forget you.
From Gabe Macron
So during the last few speeches you’ve heard our Baba referred to as Baba D. Why? Well when you consider that she had both grandchildren and great grandchildren, it could get confusing with up to three different ‘Babas’ – Baba Emmy, Baba Pat (my dad’s mom) and Baba Delia. I believe it may have been my nephew, Micah Maerov, in an innocent moment of clarity to coin the name Baba D. and it has forever stuck. However, many of you may not know that she had another name and that name was “Crazy Baba”.
I called her Crazy Baba when I was little because when someone who has roughly 60 years on you takes you down to her ‘storage room’ and shows you stacks of floor to ceiling boxes of chocolate – I called her Crazy! When she asks you to smell the birthday cake set out in front of you and then proceeds to push your face into it….I called her Crazy! By the way, that act ended when she tried to shove my face into a cake of hard ice cream and the ice cream didn’t budge! My dad took Baba aside and told her that trick had to end. She also taught me my first Dutch words, “oinche, stoinche, coincha, boincha” which translated into a loose list of swear words and nouns. This is why I always perceived some sort of unconventionality about her – she was my Baba but she acted and behaved in ways only matched by people many years younger – her sense of humour, her physical stamina and of course, fix for sweets.
My two brothers, Phil and Eric have shared lots of memories and I would like to share a few more of my own: I also remember family visits to Victoria and visiting Baba D. and Zaida Albert at their Cook St. condo known as the ‘castle’. I’ll never forget the when the elevator doors would open to her floor she would always be waiting in the hall with her wonderful smile and her greeting of, ‘Helloooo00’ followed by ‘shutzi’ and a very warm embrace. Inside her home, I remember seeing gigantic puzzles of over 1000 pieces, sometimes more – work in progress. There were also works of art of boys and men peeing, her carving of the famous ‘drunk on the bench’ and bin of art supplies for us grandchildren to use – I especially remember the Spirograph. Another feature I loved to finger through was her giant collection of matches from around the world. These matches were collected while she travelled the world with Albert and they lay in a basket next to her fireplace.
One thing I always wanted to know as a child was why Baba didn’t drive – I never saw her with a car? So I asked her one day she let out a chuckle and told me. When Albert became sick he thought it would be a good idea for her to learn to drive – up to that point Albert was the driver. So they took the car out and practices driving around Victoria. On one of those early drives, they were practising in the Uplands. Baba at the wheel, drove the car straight into two brick columns which came tumbling down on the car. The city charged them for the damage and Baba D….or should I say ‘Crazy Baba’ never drove again!
Later, Baba said goodbye to Victoria and moved closer to be with family, settling in Richmond. This was exciting for all of us as we got to see Baba D so much more. One place she would always be waiting to see us, with her great big smile, was in the Arrivals lounge at the Vancouver airport whenever I was returning home from Camp or University. It was my mom and standing next to her was Baba D never to turn down an opportunity to see us first.
As I got older, I was able to go visit Baba D with my own family – Jessica and Lila. It gave me such pleasure to sit and visit so that Jessica could get to know her and watch our daughter Lila play with her bin of toys on the floor in much the same way I played at her condo in Victoria. After having a cup of coffee or hot chocolate -with a topping of canned whipped cream, it was off to Cactus Club for her regular order of Hot Wings.
Later in life, Baba said goodbye to Richmond and a grudging ‘Hello’ to the Louis Brier care home. Because she was ‘downsizing, her loss was our amazing gain as we welcomed to our home much of her furniture including, Zaida’s desk, chair, dresser and stunning bookcase that they brought over from Holland many years ago. It is an honour to display these pieces in our home and remember think of Baba and Zaida each and every day.
Back to the Louis Brier, Jessica, Lila and I would go and visit with her in her room or lounge. On these visits, Baba would tell us, in such detail, all of her experiences during the war, after the war and all about how her and Albert’s unbelievable survival story. Even though she would tell us the same story in precisely the same detail, I believe that this was cathartic for her and we were always ready to sit and just listen.
I’ve always felt so proud to tell people all about my Crazy Baba. As a teacher, 1 shared her stories with my students so that her memory and experience is never forgotten. Recently, when I told friends and colleagues that my Grandma was just shy of 104 years old, that she experienced a century and is survivor of the war they often replied with, “she sounds amazing and remarkable and you must be filled with so many stories and memories” to which I reply, “you can’t even begin to imagine.”
I love you Baba and I hope you are now getting in your long missed walks and spending time Albert and all your long missed family.
Gravesite Details: Row E – Plot 37
Emma Goldstein van Haren
Avraham van Haren
Albert van Haren