Introducing 3 generations of Danny van Leeuwen’s. Inclusive, blood, intentional family lore. Spiritual health can come from family. From the Holocaust to today.
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Music by permission from Joey van Leeuwen, Drummer, Composer, Arranger
Web and Social Media Coach Kayla Nelson @lifeoflesion
The views and opinions presented in this podcast and publication are solely the responsibility of the author, Danny van Leeuwen, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute® (PCORI®), its Board of Governors or Methodology Committee.
Inspired by and grateful to Henri B, Evaline, Nathan, Kato, Leon, Ruben, Daniel, Lea van Leeuwen
Danny III on SoundCloud,
About the Show
Welcome to Health Hats, learning on the journey toward best health. I am Danny van Leeuwen, a two-legged, old, cisgender, white man with privilege, living in a food oasis, who can afford many hats and knows a little about a lot of healthcare and a lot about very little. Most people wear hats one at a time, but I wear them all at once. I’m the Rosetta Stone of Healthcare. We will listen and learn about what it takes to adjust to life’s realities in the awesome circus of healthcare. Let’s make some sense of all this.
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I talked about the magic levers of best health in my first blog posts in 2012 – ten years and 535 posts and episodes ago—pretty mundane stuff – hydration, rest, diet, exercise, and team. The most important team – you and yours, family, however you define that. I am a van Leeuwen. That’s my blood and relations family. We are a kooky, solid, kid-oriented, widely dispersed, mostly get along sometimes, clan. I’m proud to be a van Leeuwen. I take the opportunity to introduce some of my family – the three Dans. My Uncle Danny just turned 90. The youngest of six, the patriarch, lives in Utica, NY, with his wife, Beth. He’s had four heart bypasses, and until a few years ago, he played basketball every week and, recently, pickleball. Covid set him back. Strength of spirit is a van Leeuwen trait. I, Cousin Danny, almost 70, live in Arlington, MA, with my wife, Ann. You know me already. My cousin David’s son, Danny III, 26, lives in Morocco with his partner, Leslie, and teaches music. Three generations of Dans.
Danny Health Hats: All right. So here we are. The three Dans, Danny. We’ve got an old fart, a middle fart, and a young fart.
Danny III: Yes, and a cat.
Danny Health Hats: Uncle Danny, how are you feeling?
Uncle Danny: Slowly getting there. I regressed. I got better. I was playing pickleball, then regressed, and I can’t go very far. I could do it like a six-minute walk, and I get out of breath.
Danny Health Hats: Okay. And you have the bleeding?
Uncle Danny: Oh, my nose bleeds. I don’t know. I got all kinds of; I can go from head to toe and something wrong with almost every part of my body. Ugh.
Danny Health Hats: Are you thoroughly discouraged?
Uncle Danny: Sometimes I am, yeah. But no, then something gets better.
We’re all three well partnered
Danny Health Hats: And you’re still married.
Uncle Danny: I’m still married, and I don’t know what I would do without my wife.
Danny Health Hats: I understand that. And Dan, you’re still with your partner?
Danny III: Yeah. She’s over there in the other room. I promise she’s real
Danny Health Hats: How long have you been together?
Danny III: Since May of 2020.
Danny Health Hats: Wow. Close to two years. Uncle Danny, how long have you been together?
Uncle Danny: 34 years
Danny Health Hats: I’ve got you guys beat – 46 years. That’s ridiculous, isn’t it?
Uncle Danny: You only had to do it once.
Danny Health Hats: I lucked out on the first round.
Uncle Danny: I lucked out twice.
Forgetfulness runs in the family
Danny Health Hats: I want to recognize that we spoke a couple of weeks ago, and I forgot to record the chat. Nobody was surprised.
Uncle Danny: There’s a lot of stories about your grandfather forgetting.
Danny Health Hats: Yeah. So, tell one.
Uncle Danny: I understand that he had an audience with the queen (of Netherlands), and his zipper was open.
The meaning of our name
Danny Health Hats: We decided last time that Daniel meant The Judge, something like that.
Danny III: God’s Judge
Uncle Danny: Dan is judge, and el is God.
Danny Health Hats: Is that judging God or judged by God?
Uncle Danny: Not a judge of God. Not meaning that you’re judging God, but you’re one of God’s judges.
Danny III: I didn’t know that.
Some say Daniel means God is my judge, others God’s judge. Daniel was a Hebrew prophet whose story is told in the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament. He lived during the Jewish captivity in Babylon, where he served in the king’s court, rising to prominence by interpreting the king’s dreams. Our Uncle Leon van Leeuwen was an interpreter of dreams. He hosted a dream group in Manhattan for more than 30 years. People would tell their dream, and they’d go around the room, if this were my dream, it would mean…
Danny Health Hats: What did we decide van Leeuwen meant? We decided it meant the lion or something mundane.
Danny III: Tombstone.
Uncle Danny: Yeah. Tombstone. That’s what I remember.
Danny Health Hats: We decided to go for the lion Daniel of the Lion. It’s more poetic.
Music in our lives
Danny Health Hats: What can I tell you guys about? I’ve been playing a lot of music. I had a rehearsal last night. We haven’t played in four months because of the weather, and some people didn’t want to play indoors, but we got together a couple of nights ago. My bandmates thought it showed I’d been rehearsing and that I was much better. I couldn’t tell, but they could, so that was nice.
Danny III: That’s all that matters.
Danny Health Hats: How about you, Cousin Danny? How’s your music going?
Danny III: I’ve been practicing a lot, too. I’ve been practicing flamenco techniques and some electric guitar stuff for my students. I have to learn a lot of new songs because the kids want to learn things I’ve never played before. All I learned how to do was entertain myself with the guitar, which only goes so far. So, I’ve enjoyed that. I don’t play a lot of Moroccan music. I’m familiar with some of one of the basic rhythms, but that’s about it. We do a couple of songs in Moroccan Arabic, but they’re not very Moroccan in how they’re made up musically.
Danny Health Hats: And who’s we?
Danny III: We is my organization group thing that I’m a part of – Crescendo. I think it’s Crescendo Baby Music. They go to different schools and hold classes and stuff for babies, sometimes with their parents or other family members. Teach kids basic elements of music and rhythm and expose them to stuff like that.
Danny Health Hats: Is any of your music on YouTube or anything like that?
Danny III: I have some old songs on SoundCloud, and maybe there’s some stuff on YouTube. And with me with the work that I do. I know we have a YouTube. We have a Facebook page and probably some of the base Facebook videos. And we’re going to have a concert next weekend. So, I’ll probably be in that video for that.
Uncle Danny’s feeling it
Danny Health Hats: Uncle Danny, what do you want to tell whoever might be watching or listening to this?
Uncle Danny: I miss them all. I hope to see many of them at my birthday party on the ninth. Whoever’s living far away may be the last time I see you because I don’t think I will be traveling that far unless you come to see me.
Danny Health Hats: Yeah. So, you’re feeling your age.
Uncle Danny: I was not feeling my age. I played pickleball every single day this summer before the wedding. And I was starting to play again. And then suddenly, I don’t know, I don’t know what happened.
Danny Health Hats: You got COVID.
Uncle Danny: Yeah. I was trying to gain weight, and when I looked at the scale, I was happy that my weight was going up. It turns out that was because I had congestive heart failure.
Danny Health Hats: Oh, it was fluids? That’s not a good thing.
The team: care coordination and family
Uncle Danny: Yeah. That’s not a good thing. So right. I’m dealing with that now. I don’t know, a couple of other things. Some things come and go by themselves, and some things I need the doctor for. But I try what I don’t have. I thought I would contact the lady you sent about the care coordination. But I think I’d rather have somebody local here if I could find somebody.
We discussed finding a case manager or care coordinator a couple of weeks ago. I had recommended my podcasting crony, Kathy’s Consulting, to Dan and Beth for a brief consultation to get on the right path. Dan elected not to. His insurance company said they wouldn’t cover it. Another of his sons, Jason, is a rabbi and hospice chaplain, who told him they had to pay for it. But perhaps only for local care coordination. Uncle Danny’s blessed with three sons, one lives in the region, and all have experience with the health system. Having a team is everything. Dan’s wife deals with health issues herself. They take care of each other as best they can. Just this week, we spoke. One of his long COVID symptoms is limited vision. He just lost his driver’s license. Communicating when we each have the same name is challenging. I asked Danny III a question, and Uncle Danny answered it.
Uncle Danny: I said sometimes I feel fine. And sometimes I don’t. My wife is an inspiration because she’s had back problems for a long time and just keeps going. And she doesn’t let it get her down, so she’s my hero and takes care of me.
Danny Health Hats: It’s good to have somebody care for you. Do you think about somebody being able to help the both of you, maybe grocery shopping or stuff like that?
Uncle Danny: We have Beth’s daughter; she was in Texas for three months having a granddaughter. Now she’s back. Okay. And she’s willing to do anything that we need to do. But Beth is very independent. And she likes to do what she can, and she pushes herself, and that’s what I’ve got to do. I got to keep pushing myself.
Danny Health Hats: Yeah. It’s such a tough balance to stay active because movement is your friend but not wear yourself out. Do you find that a difficult balance or an easy balance?
Uncle Danny: A difficult balance. I constantly feel fatigued and try to sleep. And if I do sleep, I don’t sleep well at night. That’s one of the problems, insomnia. I never had it before.
Danny Health Hats: And what do you do? Do you get up, or do you just lay there?
Uncle Danny: I get up. What helps is what they tell you not to do – watching TV.
Danny Health Hats: And what do you watch?
Uncle Danny: Right now, I’m trying to watch the last season of the Outlander and whatever else I can find. I like to watch Rachel Maddow. Except for half the time, she’s not on. But that helps me to sleep when I watch something.
The life of Danny III
Danny Health Hats: And cousin Danny. What’s your day like?
Danny III: Lately, I get up and drive Leslie to work. Depending on the day, I either go home and work out and then practice or do my job. So, on a Thursday or Friday, I go to this school in another neighborhood, and we do two classes there every Thursday and Friday. And then, I come home, and I might have some private lessons in the afternoon that I go to.
Danny Health Hats: And are those in person, or are those on Zoom?
Danny III: They’re in person. But I still keep my mask on because I don’t think this thing is over. Everybody just got distracted, maybe by Ukraine. And it just completely dropped out of the news. But I’m not. I don’t want COVID.
Danny Health Hats: You’re vaccinated?
Danny III: Yes, I have two shots. I got vaccinated in the US with Pfizer. I got vaccinated and then immediately directly exposed to COVID. I didn’t get it. So, I guess the vaccine works.
Joey van Leeuwen
Uncle Danny: Danny, you know we’re having a big event in the family. Joey, who’s in India now, is getting married.
Danny Health Hats: No, I didn’t know that. OMG.
Joey van Leeuwen moved to India. He spent some time there a few years learning more about Indian music. He’s back there now and fell in love and is getting married! Joey van Leeuwen, Danny III’s brother and Uncle Danny’s grandson, also makes the music for this podcast. This family is worldwide now, with contingents in Israel, Morocco, LA, NC, NYC, Boston, Philly, upstate NY, Boston, and San Diego. Not uncommon today. Listen to Kathy’s consulting podcast to hear more about managing health at a distance.
Uncle Danny: Family’s coming on December 26th. It’s like a 20-hour flight. I’m not going, but all his brothers and sisters are! They’re all coming over.
Danny Health Hats: And where is it going to be?
Uncle Danny: In Calcutta. He’s married to an getting married to an Indian woman. What’s her name? Malita, that pronounced right?
Danny Health Hats: Wow. Mazel tov. That’s great. Yeah. Oh my God. Good for him. Good for her.
Uncle Danny: Yeah, my family’s traveling all over.
Danny Health Hats: Are you going, Dan, Cousin Dan?
Danny III: Yeah. I’m definitely going to get there by hook or by crook.
Uncle Danny: You’re the closest.
Danny III: But it’s really expensive because I don’t think there are a lot of flights between Morocco and India.
Danny Health Hats: So where do you have to fly?
Danny III: I think I will probably fly to Paris or something and then fly from there. But even then, it’s crazy expensive. I don’t know. It’s costly and a lot of US dollars, but it’s a lot of Moroccan money too. More Moroccan money.
Uncle Danny: You’re talking about different standards, right? When you go to Morocco, everything’s a lot cheaper. But flights are not.
Danny III: Flight to India isn’t because I can sometimes get to Italy for 30 bucks, but not India.
Danny Health Hats: I mentioned your invite to visit Morocco to Ann. I don’t know what that means, but It’s on our list. She had an interest.
Danny III: Yeah. You guys should make it out here. I’m sure there are places you guys are doing like, what was it? A race or run?
Danny Health Hats: We’re going on a pilgrimage to Portugal.
Danny III: There are plenty of pilgrimages in Morocco.
Danny Health Hats: Yeah, I’m sure. Anne likes to hike. I like when I can go with her, with my chair or whatever.
Danny III: So, to me, the best part of the country is in the south. And that’s where all the hiking is.
Danny Health Hats: Is that mountainous?
Danny III: I don’t know. I was only there once, and we drove all over the place. You can access a lot of different terrains in Morocco. There’s like mountains, and then you can get to the Sahara, and you can get to the coast.
Uncle Danny: Isn’t there an area where they paint themselves blue?
Danny III: They don’t paint themselves blue but all the buildings blue.
Danny Health Hats: Why is that?
Danny III: I don’t know. Some people say it’s because of like the Jewish population there. I don’t know. That shade of blue is a popular color in many places, but in the city of Chefchaouen,
which is like a mountain city, it’s blue everywhere. It’s a city on the side of a mountain, and everything is painted blue. I went, it was lovely. That’s a place that’s totally worth visiting. It’s very quiet.
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Danny III’s health
Danny Health Hats: How’s your health?
Danny III: My health is good. I just finished having a broken wrist, which kind of sucked.
Danny Health Hats: That makes it hard to play.
Danny III: I’m a guitar player. Yeah, it does.
Danny Health Hats: What happened? Did you fall?
Danny III: Oh, I was driving home from work. I ride a motorcycle. I saw the road was wet, and it was right at this roundabout. So, I’m like, okay, I’m going to slow down. I’ve already slowed down enough because it’s a roundabout. No, then one wheel just decided that the back wheel wanted to be in the front, and the bike slid right down. I instinctively reached out my hand, which is not what you should do. And I just jammed it right into the ground. I stood up right away because that seems to be what I do when I get into accidents to make sure I’m alive. And I started waving my hand while talking to people on the street. It still moves. It still moves. So, it’s not broken. And they’re like, yeah, you’re fine. I get back on the motorcycle. And we were going to visit another city for a little weekend vacation, so I came into the door Leslie, I think I broke my hand. We got to catch a train now. And
Danny Health Hats: Yeah, that was fun. So, did you go to the emergency room or the equivalent?
Danny III: I did not because I’ve had broken bones before. And I was pretty sure, based on the range of motion that I had, that it wasn’t broken, but it was excruciating. And we also had plans. We drove, we went to this other city because we wanted to visit there are the Roman ruins in Morocco. Now those, I would recommend. We went, we wanted to visit the Roman ruin. So, we went to this other city, and the next morning I went to what I guess is a hospital. It’s like a bunch of rooms with some medical equipment. It’s better than that, but it’s not great. And they took x-rays of me, which I got to keep, which is cool. And they said it wasn’t broken, so I didn’t wear a cast for three weeks. And then I found out that. I went to another doctor because it was still hurting, and he was like, I can’t see the break, but you need to wear a cast because it’s probably broken. Oh. So that was fun.
Travel and language
Uncle Danny: How did Leslie get around from place to place?
Danny III: I drove her with the cast. I just hung my hand on the throttle and turned like that.
Uncle Danny: How does she get the places alone?
Danny III: She can take a taxi. Now, she has enough language to tell them where she’s going. So, she does that. That’s a lot of individual transport. We have a lot of taxis here in Morocco, a lot of taxis.
Danny Health Hats: Are people multilingual?
Danny III: I wouldn’t say that. You don’t have to look far to find somebody who speaks English, especially in the neighborhood we live in now. I don’t meet that many English-speaking taxi drivers, but I do in other more touristy cities.
More about Morocco
Danny Health Hats: What city do you live in?
Danny III: I live in Rabat.
Danny Health Hats: That’s the capital?
Uncle Danny: How big a city is that? How many people?
Danny III: I think it’s like a million or something, but it’s spread out. It doesn’t seem like there are a million people here at all. I think it’s the size of Rochester, maybe.
Danny Health Hats: Is Morocco a kingdom?
Danny III: Yes, it is a kingdom. We do have a king. I can’t know anything about that.
Uncle Danny: You can’t say whether he is a nice guy or not.
Danny III: No, I can’t
Uncle Danny: You’re being recorded
Danny III: Yeah, he’s rich.
Uncle Danny, tell us a story
Danny Health Hats: That’s something. Uncle Danny, what else do you want to tell us?
Uncle Danny: What do you want me to tell you?
Danny Health Hats: What’s the first memory that you have?
Uncle Danny: The first memory? I first remember being given a tricycle when I lived in Holland. And I didn’t like it. I tried to lose it.
Danny Health Hats: You tried to lose it?
Uncle Danny: I tried. They always brought it back. I couldn’t lose it.
Danny Health Hats: You were the youngest of six, right?
Uncle Danny: I was the youngest of six.
Danny Health Hats: What was it like being the youngest of six? What did that mean, that you were the youngest? What was your place in the family?
Uncle Danny: I always felt like I was stupid. I was made to feel stupid. I was put down a lot, and I felt stupid. When I first came to the United States, I remembered one memory. First, I thought there would be Indians there, all over the place—cowboy movies. And of course, that wasn’t, and then I saw it was the most beautiful sky I’d ever seen. It was a beautiful pink color that turned out to be smog. It was beautiful. ++
Danny Health Hats: That was in New York.
Uncle Danny: That was in New York City? Yes. I lived in New York City. We lived in New York City for a while before moving to Forest Hills.
Danny Health Hats: How old were you when you immigrated?
Uncle Danny: I was seven.
Opa returning from the concentration camp
Danny Health Hats: Do you remember when your father came home from the concentration camp?
Uncle Danny: Yes. I’m trying to remember. I think somehow; we missed him where he was supposed to be at the boat. Then we went back home, and he came to our house now. That might be faulty memory. I don’t know for sure.
Danny Health Hats: Did you think he was alive?
Uncle Danny: I didn’t think much about it. I had the life of a young American child. I learned the language very quickly. At my Bar Mitzva, I had a traumatic experience that had to do with my father. A friend of his came to visit. He wasn’t there yet. My father wasn’t back, but I was in the bathtub, and his friend told me all about him. And I started crying. And I cried. I couldn’t stop crying. And it was because all those years I had lived a good life, so to speak, and never thought much about my father. And he made me think about it. And they thought that the rest of my family had all kinds of reasons for my crying. They didn’t know why I was crying, but that was the reason.
Israel and the Kibbutz
Danny Health Hats: How was it you decided to go to Israel and work at the kibbutz?
Uncle Danny: When I was in high school, in Forest Hills, I joined a group of people going to Israel and decided I wanted to go. And when I went to college, I went to Cornell, and I went to the agricultural college to prepare me for Israel.
Danny Health Hats: I didn’t know that.
Uncle Danny: In my second year, I conned my parents into letting me go. I told them I don’t go to Israel; they’re probably going to draft me for the Korean war. I said, I better go now and not finish college. And Uncle Leon stood up for me. He agreed with me. So that’s when I left.
Danny Health Hats: You were in the Israeli army, right?
Uncle Danny: I was in the Israeli army. I went in with my group, and my paperwork got screwed up. And when they went to another place where they got training, I was left where I was. And finally, they sent me where it was supposed to be, but then I got yellow jaundice. I got sick, and then I don’t know.
Danny Health Hats: Did you have hepatitis or something?
Uncle Danny: Yes, hepatitis. That’s something you get from what you eat. I was eating fish, and they finally released me from the army, and I went to the kibbutz where the rest of my people and a lot of them had it. We had a hard time because there wasn’t enough to eat at the kubutz. There wasn’t enough to eat in the beginning. I don’t know. We got over that.
Screwed up paperwork
Screwed-up paperwork has been a theme for this family. My Dad, Ruben, and Danny’s family lived in the Netherlands when Hitler came to power. My Opa had the foresight, and my grandma, Eva Van Zwanenberg, had the money from Unilever stock so the family could emigrate to the States. They landed in New York the day the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in May of 1940. Unfortunately, My Opa, Henri B van Leeuwen, couldn’t get a visa because his reference was a business friend, Leon Trotsky. Not the Russian author and politician. It was a common name. But he was denied a visa by the United States. He was swept up with other Jews and interred at Bergen-Belson, among other concentration camps. In 1945 the family thought Father was dead. My Uncle Nat, working for the Red Cross, saw his father’s name on a list of inmates and changed the entry to say that his wife was an American citizen. He was subsequently traded as a prisoner of war.
First meeting my Uncle Danny
Danny Health Hats: I think I’m trying to remember when I first met you. We were living in Northbrook, Illinois, I think. My dad’s younger brother was coming to visit. And you were young, weren’t you like 19 or 20?
Uncle Danny: I went to Israel when I was 18.
Danny Health Hats: I think this was after Israel.
Uncle Danny: Oh, after Israel? No, after Israel, I went to Holland. And I stayed in Holland for a couple of years. I didn’t come back to the United States until I was 28.
Danny Health Hats: So, you were 28? Did I meet you before you went or after you went?
Uncle Danny: It can’t be before I went to Israel because the day I arrived in Israel was close to the day that Jacky was born (1951).
My dad, Ruben van Leeuwen
Danny Health Hats: Of course, I wasn’t born yet? What do you remember about my dad?
Uncle Danny: I don’t remember a lot. I remember he was the only one in the family with brown eyes. I went to visit him. Let’s see, when was that? When I lived in Indianapolis. After I came from Holland, I lived in Indianapolis, and I forget what I came for. I drove up to your parents and visited there. I don’t remember whether I went alone or with my future wife.
Uncle Danny’s first wedding
Danny Health Hats: I don’t remember either, but I do remember your wedding. I was at your wedding.
Uncle Danny: That was a kind of a small wedding.
Danny Health Hats: I remember we got stuck in the bedroom, like most of the time. Because there wasn’t a place for kids, and I don’t think Lee was really into kids.
Uncle Danny: You mean my mother, Eva, who was called Evaline or Lee, my wife?
Danny Health Hats: Lee, your wife.
Uncle Danny: It’s funny because I thought at the time when we were engaged, we went to visit some friends, and she played with the kids. I thought, oh my God, she’s going to be a great mother. Little did I know?
Danny Health Hats: Little did you know? Oh, my goodness.
Danny’s calming voice
Danny Health Hats: Anyway, Uncle Danny, do you have any questions for your grandson, Danny?
Uncle Danny: When am I going to see you?
Danny III: Probably in August or July. That’s when I’m back in the US.
Uncle Danny: Listen, I want to see you. I want to hear you sing. I love your calming voice.
Danny Health Hats: I’m sure you could borrow a guitar.
Uncle Danny: He plays some of the songs I mentioned I knew when I was his age. And I told him about it. He looked it up and found some of the songs. Did you ever find the Fireship first recorded by (the Weavers)?
Danny III: I found the Fireship. I found Peter Paul and Moses playing Ring Around the Roses.
Uncle Danny: With that duet.
Danny III: I found September Song. I like September Song a lot
Uncle Danny: With Walter Houston. That’s one of my favorites. Some of those songs might be sung on my birthday. A card will come soon. Because Andrea (Dan’s sister, Uncle Danny’s granddaughter) asked me what my favorite songs were.
Uncle Danny’s 90th Party
Uncle Danny: Who’s coming?
Danny Health Hats: to your 90th? From out of town?
Uncle Danny: All my direct family and Beth’s family are coming. All of that.
Danny Health Hats: Oh, good.
Uncle Danny: And Beth’s grandson’s coming with his wife and new baby. Got a baby in January, and they’re coming, and I don’t remember who else.
Danny Health Hats: That’s good enough. So is there anything either of you would like to ask me?
Concentration camp, faith, draft counseling
Danny III: just thinking back on it. I remember I asked you a lot of questions when I visited you a few years ago. You told me that you were like a draft counselor at one point.
Danny Health Hats: I was. Yes. When I was 16, the war in Vietnam was going on, and the draft had been reinstated. I was very concerned about it. And this is an aside, but I talked to my Opa about it. It was one of the most exciting conversations I’ve ever had with anybody. I was thinking about this business of being a conscientious objector. Could I be a conscientious objector to avoid the draft? I didn’t want to go to Vietnam, naturally. So, I talked to Opa about that and about being in a concentration camp and faith. How did he survive? Wasn’t he angry with God? I didn’t understand. He was great. He talked about how all he could do was affect how he was. He tried to treat everybody as well as he could because he wanted that energy around him and thought the only way he could survive was by having decent relationships with the imprisoned people. He asked me about my faith. Nobody had ever asked me that. I was stumped. I didn’t know what to say. One of the things coming out of that conversation was that I felt if I was going to stay out, and become a conscious objector, that I really needed to understand it all better – the law, the regulations, the processes, the politics. So, at 16, I went to a church that did draft counseling in Detroit and signed up to learn to become a draft counselor. I took a course. I went to this draft counseling every Sunday and sat at a table with a bunch of other people and counseled people, whether they were, Vets who were at home or trying to figure out how to deal with the draft. I taught them what I learned about the law and the regulations. It was a good experience for me because first, I met a whole new world of people. After all, here I was, this 16-year-old with 20-, 30-, and 40-year-old people. I was respected as a man, as an adult, even though I was 16. Because I was there doing what they were doing. That was interesting. Yeah. I think now, what am I now? I’m an activist. I’m a patient caregiver activist. I feel like this business of knowing. The thing is to understand how it works, how something works so that you can survive it. And, back to what Opa said, you have relationships in a trying situation.
Uncle Danny: My dad, I don’t think he hated anybody. I didn’t, really. I didn’t even hear him express hatred for the Nazis.
Danny Health Hats: Okay. Not of the Nazis, really? I didn’t hear it.
Uncle Danny: I never heard him express it. I don’t think he hated the Germans, that’s for sure. But I don’t know how he talked about the Nazis. I think I wrote it up on my Facebook, but most people in the world, no matter where you are, no matter what country you are in, get up in the morning, have breakfast, eat, and go to work. You have a normal day. People are all basically the same. And then you get some asshole, that his reasons want to invade your country. Who wants to do something to hurt you? And most people just want to live.
Danny Health Hats: I’m with that. I agree with that. Most people just want to get on with life, take care of their kids, and make a living. That’s all pretty profound.
We’re van Leeuwen’s
Danny Health Hats: All right, guys, I’m going to try to turn this into an episode. I have to think about what’s the story here. The story is going to be about the three Dans, three generations. I’m proud to be part of this family. Why? It’s a source, a strength that we care about each other and do for each other. I certainly miss, oh my God, I miss Uncle Leon terribly, my mom, my dad. But my kids appreciate our solid family and a humorous and moving history. People have purpose in their lives, and our love of kids. The men in this family love kids. That’s a real defining trait.
Uncle Danny: I think most of the family have been activists at one time in our lives. Some things are hereditary, genes or something passed on socially. Which I think maybe we got from my father.
Danny Health Hats: I feel like I have that’s inherited. I’m an apocalyptic person that’s pathologically optimistic.
Danny III: That’s a good way to be right now.
Uncle Danny: The only way to survive.
Danny Health Hats: I think it’s hereditary, both from my mom and my dad.
Uncle Danny: Just talking to your mom. I used to talk to her a lot.
Danny Health Hats: You miss talking to her? Yeah, I miss talking to her. She was a pain in the ass, but man, she was a hoot.
Uncle Danny: Growing up must have been tough,
Danny Health Hats: Once we got to be teenagers, she was annoying and sometimes pretty cool. Cousin Dan, I stayed in close touch with your mom.
Danny III: Oh, really? She’s pretty in the. I don’t know what you would call her field. She’s definitely involved. It’s critical.
Danny Health Hats: She’s in the crisis management business. I interview her for my podcast. And that was really interesting.
Danny III: I bet.
Danny Health Hats: I’ll have to give her a call. I’ll have to tell her I spoke to you guys.
Danny III: She’ll like that.
Danny Health Hats: Alright, I’m going to sign off. I love you guys.
Uncle Danny: Love you too. All right. Take care.
Uncle Danny in Jerusalem
Danny Health Hats: Here’s a bonus story from my cousin, Ben, about his Dad.
Ben van Leeuwen: When we went to Israel, one of the days was Friday afternoon. We were trying to find the restaurant we had picked out so we could go and eat and have enough time to return to the hotel before Shabbat. We decided just to ask someone walking down the street. We pulled over next to a couple of people. And it turns out that the people we had chosen were schoolgirls complete with their school uniforms. They were early teenagers, maybe. Let me back up. Sometimes when someone is multilingual, they will add certain sounds to other sounds because it just flows out of their mouth that way. So instead of saying an S sound, he told an SH sound instead. The restaurant the name of the restaurant we were looking for was called Stoops. And in classic Dan van Leeuwen the first style, we are looking for a restaurant instead of saying, hello, young ladies. He bails out of the car, approaches them, and says, aha, stoops, aha, stoop. And these girls, one of them looked at us like she couldn’t believe this was happening. And the other one almost dropped her schoolbooks, was gaping and covering her mouth in complete surprise, and backing away. And I was sitting in the driver’s seat going, oh my God, I’m going to jail in Israel. And it’s not for a good thing at all. It’s for a really bad thing. And so, I said, dad tells them right now that we’re looking for a restaurant, please. And once we conveyed what was happening, they thought it was hilarious too.
Health Hats: So, what did it mean?
Ben van Leeuwen: Shtoop is a somewhat crass term for sexual relations. Of course, these poor girls see this elderly gentleman jumping out of the car and wanting to have sexual relations, asking for something other than what he was looking for. And it was just a hilarious moment. That was yes. Yeah. Especially once they got the joke. Yeah. Thankfully they did.
Health Hats: They’re probably still telling that story.
Ben van Leeuwen: I’m sure they are.
Ah, family. I love this family. My spiritual strength comes from family and family lore – the stories we tell ourselves – our belonging to an inclusive family, an open family, a blood family growing as an intentional family. I appreciate that I can produce a varied podcast that includes personal, family, clinical, and information topics and change, policy, and learning material. The world feels like my oyster. I appreciate you, my readers and listeners, with varied tastes and interests. Please celebrate with me this week my 47th wedding anniversary and next month my 70th birthday. I’m blessed to have made it this far.