But if you know me, you have been impacted by Helen Driesse.
From my perspective, I can summarize her life in one word. Welcome.
Helen was the living embodiment of hospitality. When Sandy and I first came to New Jersey, Gerry and Helen Driesse opened their home and their hearts to us, and that welcome mat stayed out for years. From Gerry (for whom I worked during the summers for years as a mason’s assistant), I learned the art of hard-working craftsmanship. From Helen, we absorbed the lesson of an open front door.
At times, from the outside, the Dutch culture can seem a bit insular. If there is any truth to that stereotype, the Driesse’s embodied the opposite.
Gerry and Helen were 10 years ahead of us in life’s journey. They didn’t make any efforts to “teach” us. They didn’t have to. We watched and learned.
Some of you who have met us remark about how open our home is. It is our intention (and joy) to live a lifestyle of hospitality. And while we have no known Dutch genealogical roots, you should know that our front door is imported directly from the Netherlands. Figuratively speaking (or maybe not – it is a Dutch door!)
Helen showed us how to use it.