I lived and grew up in a urban area which I enjoyed muchly. We didn't have very much, we lived in a three room apartment. The address was 199 Gelston Avenue, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn . I went to a Catholic Elementary School, St. Patrick's School in Brooklyn. My best Friends were Lois Klele, Lenore Kirkeby and Evelyn Luisi. I remember my first day of school. I didn't trust the "Sister" so I took my bookbag home for lunch and I forgot it when I went back! Yipes!!! What would I do when she asked at the end of the day to go and get it???? I was a wreck... actually there were so many kids there that she didn't notice! My first day at school was traumatic! But I kept going back. Ugh! Actually I kept going back all of my life, I was in school all the time till 1999!!!! First as a student then as a Teacher for 30+ years!
I received First Holy Communion when I was 7 years old at St. Patrick Church, a very special day for me when I felt very close to Jesus, I felt that he had touched my head with a special love on that day...from that day on I prayed in a very special way, I knew that I was different in some way...Like I had different "powers" that others around me didn't have, I could not see into the future but "feel" the future in some ways with some people. JW and Steve have experienced this with me!!!
My first real friend was Jimmy Flynn, he lived in the same apartment house that I lived in and we would play Cinderella and the Prince. I wonder what ever happened to him? That was such a long time ago. I remember that he came to my first Birthday party with his brother Robert.
I remember my cousin Nico Vonk who visited us from Holland and always sent me beautiful postcards. He was so exceptional. He held the family together, I miss him so. I want to be close to my family in Holland. They have no idea of how much they mean to me. I write to my little cousin Carla now.
I received the Sacrament of Confirmation when I was 13. I went to High School in Staten Island, New York--- St. John Villa Academy. On the first day of school I met Lucille, and after all these years we are still best friends. I love her like a sister. My friend was Margaret Brander too, but we lost track of her. My Teachers were the Sisters of St. John the Baptist. (By the way-- I made this website for them!) I remember Mother Veronica, Sister Louis Anne, Sister Vitalina, Sister Placid, Sister Margaret Mary, Sister Johnathan. These sisters impressed me so much by their kind and gentle ways that I entered the convent after graduation. I went to the Immaculate Heart Novitiate in September of 1964 and studied to be a nun. I was taught by Mother Angelica Velardi, may she rest in peace. She was a real living saint. On August 6, 1966. I was called Sister Veronica Anne, C.S.JB.
I vowed my life to God. A strange thing happened on that day! In my mind I felt very strongly that a special child was being born in the Netherlands, he was a boy. Throughout that day, I thought about that baby. I thought it was a very strange thought for someone who had just vowed their life to God! I really tried to get it out of my head but it wouldn't go! Now, I know that on that day Jan Willem was born! I have known him in my mind for all of his life. I have dreamt about him while he was growing up and I have prayed for him all of my life. He is very special to me. He is MY LITTLE BROTHER
At an early age I was interested in Science and the study of nature - I always brought home stray animals and pets! My study of Science grew and I always was interested in Computers. I was asked what I wanted to do with my life when I was a nun by the Mother General, Mother Claudia. At that time, she came over from Rome and I told her I wanted to be a Dentist...she patted me on the head and told me that I would make a fine teacher. That was that,,,,I would be a Teacher and I became a Teacher! It was natural that I became a Science Teacher, I was also sent to the Biblical Institutes at Trinity College in Vermont, I met Father Jeff Mickler there and we are still good friends, and Providence College in R.I. to study the Bible. I became very interested in that and Biblical Archeology at that time, I received a grant to go on a dig to Israel, but my superior said I was needed at summer camp, so there I went to Gladstone, New Jersey...to be in charge of about 25 little boys during the summer. They let the pig out and it scared the He# out of me one morning, the giant pig was looking through my window! I don't eat pork!!!or any red meat. I don't like to get pigs mad at me!!!!!
My Sisters in Christ were and still are friends of mine. Sister Claudette, Sister Seline Mary, Sister Mary Cecile and Sister Lois. I was stationed at St. Bernard School in Plainfield, New Jersey to teach Religion and Science to the 6, 7, and 8 th grade students while I was still going to Seton Hall University for my degree. I received my B.S. in 1970. I loved it there, met some wonderful people, Fr. John Flesey and Mary Ann Gumina Grant, she was in my first class! She is a special girl, she is a special adult now! her husband is David and she has two children, Caitlin and Josh. I love you Mary Ann.
I also taught Norman, who committed suicide. I wish he would have talked. He was a wonderful boy and very special to me because of his sensitivity. No matter what the problem, he didn't have to do that. I miss him.
My father was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1969, and I could not get permission to go home and help my mother,,,here I was helping others, teaching, building houses for the poor, on the Plainfield City Council and Planning Commission and delivering food for the poor, but I was denied a visit to my own family...This resulted in severe headaches that immobalized me and put me into the hospital, where I had a radioactive isotope brain scan and a neurologist examine me. Well, he discovered that a piece of my brain didn't have the right connections, and gave me the physical reason why I didn't know my right from my left, I had thought that I was just stupid or a bit slow all these years and that I could not memorize any numbers because that part was malformed too, not a deadly thing,,,actually a great relief. Today they call it dyslexia. Anyway, the cause of my headaches was that I was under a lot of stress. He gave me a letter saying that I needed a "leave of absence". Which I got and I went home to be with my parents. I had to dress up in the habit and go back on weekends to the convent!!!!! That did not last long because I was finding out that "the world" was a not too bad a place to be...I got a job at St. Anselm School in Brooklyn, New York doing the same things that I did when I was a nun. I remained at St. Anselm's for 11 years.
While at St. Anslem's God blessed me with my wonderful Godson André. He has always been in my heart and prayers. I love him as my own son. I love his sisters Carol and Donna and his wife Marie and their three lovely children Angelica, André Jr. and Christopher
My father died of lung cancer on December 12, 1970. I did not cry,,,he was in a lot of pain and it was better that he went to God. I wish that he had talked to me more when he was alive. I also wish that he would have taught me how to speak Dutch. I finally accepted my father's death about 10 years after he died!
I got my Masters Degree from The City University of New York in 1973 (also got married in 1973).
I moved to Aberdeen, New Jersey in 1976 and met my wonderful neighbors there, Mickey and Dick McQuestion. They were the best! We had lots of fun times together. I remember our "kitchen talks" with Lucille and my mother.
My mother died on Sept. 17 1978 at Aberdeen, New Jersey. That was a big shock, she fainted the week before and I had her go to the hospital for tests, all the tests were negative , so she was to come home the next day! I had a Welcome Home, MOM! Sign up above the door and she died that night! I cried for months! I still cry today! I miss my mother very very much.
I moved to Tampa, Florida in 1980 and taught at St. John School, St. Pete Beach till 1999. One of my most memorable students was Josh. We are still good friends. (He should have been a Science Professor instead of an English Professor!) Josh visited us in July and December of 2000. He was here for a few weeks then he went to Antwerp and then to Poland where he is teaching.
I lost one student at St. John's. Adam, who had Tourette's syndrome, he shot himself. He was a lovely boy and he will be remembered. I remember his poetry.
My best friend at St. John's was Barbara McMahon. I loved teaching at St. John's. I was the 7th grade Moderator and the Science Teacher for grades 6,7 and 8. I also taught Geography, Religion, Art and did Adult computer training. I also was an Adjunct Professor for St. Leo College. I loved teaching Teachers how to use the computer and Special Methods of Teaching Science (secondary).
I met Carol Anderson online when I was working for Catholic Online on CompuServe in 1996. We became good friends and she was my Maid-of-Honour at my wedding. We met Margery Hawkins there as well. Two of my dear friends now. We all moved to CNN on CompuServe where I was the Religion and Society Editor for two years. I also met Father Steve Peters there. One day Father Steve will come to visit us here in England! When CompuServe closed the CNN Forum, I started my own Bible Study Site. The site has been very successful and we meet every week on ICQ for Bible Studies.
I also was the Bible Study Director of St. Patrick Parish in Tampa, Florida for 9 years and had a special group of students ..Jane, Paula, Alan, Maryann, Rosemary. They mean a lot to me. Across the street and down the road lived Anne and Jerry, they did me a BIG favour by checking my US Mail after I left for the Isle of Wight. Thank you so very much! Jerry made the beautiful stained glass window at the entrance of St. Patrick Church.
I also met Fred in the Netherlands Forum of Compuserve. Nice to have a real Dutch friend in America! We always understood each other and could talk about what was in our hearts. He is a very special person in my life too and I made a website for his daughter. I also met my dear friend Wim and Ankie. I loved the dolls that Ankie made for me and Stef and I visited them in Belgium and Wim and Ankie visited me in Florida. Wim is in Thailand now and Ankie in Holland. The computer gave me international friends.
Jan Willem also found my cousin Clary in Australia for me. I had really missed her for all these years. She came to my wedding and it was the first time that we met face to face. I love her and her husband and my cousins Jody, Helen and Karen in Australia.
In between all of this on June 2, 1973 I made a big mistake, got married to the wrong person and stayed that way for way too long. (21 years!!!) For 10 years I went to Al-Anon. We separated in October of 1994 and the divorce was final on Feb 14, 1995 (St. Valentine's Day) and a Church Annulment on Nov. 27, 1997 (Thanksgiving Day!) it was a REAL Thanksgiving Day for me! That time is past. I will remember the good times and forget the bad ones.
I really put myself into my work and was awarded three special Awards. I am in Who's Who Among America's Teachers. (1992 Edition 2 -1994 Edition 3 - 1996 Edition 4). Click on the picture to see my Resume
By that time I had adopted my three "little brothers" in the Netherlands, Jan Willem , Alexander, and Peter. (you will remember at the beginning of the story that Jan was the name of my Grandfather, and Willem, Alexander and Peter were the names of my older brothers that passed away) At the time that I adopted my little brothers, I didn't know that! My Aunt Stella before she died told me the names of my brothers! I almost passed out when she said the names! Jan Willem, Alexander and Peter are truly my brothers and they have brought me so much happiness. JW brought me to the Netherlands twice and I was reunited with my only living aunt and all my 90+ cousins! Jan Willem is extremely special to me and always will be, because of him I felt "whole" again. I had also met my "bestest friend" Stef, who helped me through the hardest times of my life. He actually saved my life. Well that is another long story. I love him very much and always will, I love his mother Koos and his father Herm very much also. They are part of my Family. Alexander was always there for me and I love him. He has given me so many beautiful gifts and we had a fun time when he came to visit me in Florida. The first time I went to Holland, Peter drove me all around and we had so much fun together. I met Arie and his lovely family and we still keep in touch.
JW and Stef
MY LITTLE BROTHERS!
We are the First documented "Digital Family" in the World
I have the papers to proove it!!!
This was one of the happiest days of my life! Thanks to Jan Willem
from Left to Right
Jan Willem, Claudette, Peter, Stef, Alexander
My Pastor at St. Patrick Church in Tampa was Father Venard. He was a very holy, wonderful and loving man. He would drop into the house just to chat and see how I was. He tried to tell jokes to make me laugh but he really wasn't very good at telling jokes. He had the most beautiful eyes that saw deep within me. But most of all, he was the first one who told me that God wanted us to be HAPPY in this world and that I deserved better than the life that I was living. He was with me through many hard times and he would confide in me also. WE were friends. He was a real FATHER to me and I miss him very much, He died on Feb 13, 1997 after heart surgery the night before the surgery he came to my house and I told him not to worry that all would be well. I hugged him. I think of him every day.
I met Steve
I met Steve on March,13, 1997. He came to Florida and I went to England and we found that we really did love one another very much this was the REAL THING!
Steve calls me
The Isle of Wight
We were engaged on March 31, 1998 and we were married on the Isle of Wight in England at St.Saviours Church on July 10, 1999. We now live in Shalfleet on the Isle of Wight.. and are very very happy. Jan Willem gave me away and it made me so proud to see him and Stef read the Prayers at my wedding. Thank you to Carol too for reading and being my Maid of Honour. Jan, Steve's sister was my Bridesmaid. It was the most wonderful day of my life. Everything was elegant and perfect. I now am part of a wonderful family, I love my Mother-in-law, Jean. She is a most wonderful woman. She has made me feel loved and welcomed in the family. She made our wedding day Wonderful.
Jan Willem, Claudette, Steve, Steve's Mother - Jean
click on the cake for some wedding photos!
I am " resting" now after 30+ years of teaching. My business Claudette's Web Design has taken off and I work at that full time. I also teach ART and COMPUTER and Adult Computer Classes at Shalfleet School I donated my time and talent to make their website.
I have discovered GARDENING again! I just love growing flowers and vegetables. I also have done some Watercolour paintings. You can see them in my Gallery.