PENTICTON, BC – They attended the same school in Holland, lived less than a kilometer apart, and even chose to retire in the Okanagan – but they didn’t become friends until they were both admitted to Penticton Regional Hospital.
Yet, from their interaction, it would seem like they’ve been lifelong friends.
“It’s a thing of fate or something,” says 87 year-old Henry Vandenburgh.
Vandenburgh rode on the same school bus as Dick Gouwenberg, 93, but because of their age difference, they had separate groups of friends.
But the pair finally met when Gouwenberg’s eldest son heard Vandenburgh speak Dutch at the hospital.
That’s when the son made the formal introductions.
“I didn’t know, really, after so many years what he’d look like, but I recognized him somehow,” says Vandenburgh.
Now the men are inseparable, meeting on the patio to chat about the people they both know from Holland.
“We’re good friends; we got along quickly,” says Gouwenberg.
The men’s families have also met and are becoming friends.
Most of all, Gouwenberg’s daughter is grateful her father has a new companion.
“It’s amazing,” says Marian Gouwenberg, “They both talk to one another now, and watch TV. They’re quite happy together.”