Making connections with 'Romulus, my Father'.

I described previously a visit by a family friend. She and I visited a mutual friend and our connection is our migration, to Australia, from the Netherlands, in 1956.
This mutual friend lent me her DVD of Romulus, My Father and, last night I settled down to watch it.
Was totally absorbed in the movie, although I must admit that the releasing of bees as book-ends to the movie I was not convinced about.
Nevertheless, as someone who migrated as a boy and who was transferred to a one-teacher school on the other side of the Hay Plains some years later, there was so much to identify with.
The bit that got me though and I’d really had only two glasses of red and well before watching the film, was when the mother sang Weißt du wie viel Sternlein stehen. an dem blauen Himmelszelt?, instead of Happy Birthday, when the boy is about to blow out the candles, on the birthday cake, in the presence of his Pappie and Muttie and the two elderly ladies (neighbours).

When I was a little boy, my mother sang: Weet gij hoeveel held’re sterren Aan de blauwe hemel staan’ Weet gij hoeveel donk’re wolken Boven alle bergen gaan’ Al die duizenden te zamen, Roept de Heer bij hunnen namen Weet gij hoeveel held’re sterren Aan de blauwe hemel staan’

Not only suddenly seeing and hearing the character, Christina, the mother, singing this familiar song (albeit, in German) connected with me, but the singing to the child, blowing out the birthday candles, had connections, with the birthday celebrations of my children and the singing of Happy Birthday to them (They were born in Sydney.) always immediately followed by Lang Zal Ze (Hij) Leven (Long shall she/he live) in Dutch by their Australian-born mother, myself and my parents and in German by their mother’s Australian-born, partly Scottish heritage, best friend (nominated as a mentor at their birth because their aunt and uncle were nominated as god-parents).
What a mix!
My mother passed away May 2004. My father is in high care, in a (Dutch-Australian) retirement village, and I watched Romulus, My Father, now by myself, in their former home.
Honestly!! If Johannes Mul, my father, had not convinced us to leave the city of Gouda, in 1956, I cannot imagine that I would have enjoyed life in small, cool, often wet, Gouda or beyond, as much as the many experiences and so much space and such a great climate and fun teaching, as I have, here, in Australia but, as is said by one of the panelists, on the second DVD, it is so easy to understand why the mother found it so hard to cope with the difference between life in a Germand city and life on the land, in Australia.
I remember the shock my mother had, finding herself in a hut, in Bonegilla, with a bed, army blankets, a chair and (to us, disgusting toilets, somewhere, outside) having given up a modest but neat, typically Dutch home unit/flat, on the edge of Gouda.
Have a look, here!

Making connections with 'Romulus, my Father'.


Ramsgate Beach, Australia

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Artist's Description

A fellow, ex-child migrant, lent me her DVD of Romulus, my Father. We were not Yugoslavian, or German. We did not end up (Almost did!) on a property in the country, in Victoria. But there were connections!

Artwork Comments

  • MaryO
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