JACOBA ANNA KANIS
1925 – 2010
Jacoba Anna(Coosje) Kanis was born on February 12, 1925, the third of seven children of Johan De Zoete and Maria Kraak, in Loosduinen, the Netherlands. Their home was at the back of the tobacconist’s shop on the Emmastraat, the main street of the small town where she lived.
As the small child of a ‘middle-class’ family, she was expected to behave with decorum, but that did not stop her from hanging around at the auction halls just behind their house, where fruit and vegetables were sold, together with her brothers, sisters and school friends. Coosje went to the local Christian elementary school, and then to the Christian ‘huishoudschool,’ where she learned homemaking skills – she always was a wonderful cook – and secretarial skills too. She learned English, and this stood her in good stead when she emigrated to Australia.
Coosje was 15 when war broke out. Life in the city was very difficult. Food and fuel were rationed, and often scarce, and the German occupiers were everywhere. Early in the war, Coosje’s elder brother Pieter – she was very close to him – was arrested by the enemy for ‘illegal’ activities, and later executed.
After the war, Coosje worked in the city of Den Haag as a secretary. In 1949 she met and married Jan Plug, who was 18 years older and a widower. He had four children, Jan, Teunie, Henk and Geertje. Together with the extended Plug family she and her first child Pieter emigrated to Albany, Western Australia in 1950.
The first years were very difficult. The family moved from a tent, to a shack-with-the-tent-for-a-roof, to a house with no running water, to a house with running water and an outhouse. In 1954, the family set up a small grocery store, and they lived there from then on. In the meantime, seven more children were born: Aart, Joe, Jenny, Maria, Coosje, Rikki and Inge.
Coosje became a widow at the age of 35, when her husband Jan was taken to the Lord. For five years, she managed a business and a large family, using the gifts God has given her: formidable organization skills, a good head for business, excellent health, and iron self-discipline. The biggest challenge, but one she willingly took on, was to continue bringing up her children in the ways of the Lord. This task the Lord has blessed richly.
And then, in 1965, at the age of 40, Coosje took an almost unimaginable leap of faith. She sold the business, moved to Canada with eight children, and married a man she had never seen before: Willem Kanis, a widower himself. He had six children of his own: John, Jeanette, Reinier, Linda, Andy and Irene. Willem and Coosje both understood that the Lord had put them on each other’s path, and that they could trust Him to bless what they had set out to do together before His face. The Lord did bless. Two more children were born, Elsje and Ted. Mom and Dad had a wonderful marriage, loving each other deeply, and always placing their Lord at the very centre of their personal and family life. Mom always sang. She taught all her children and grandchildren to sing. To the very last, it was the singing of psalms and hymns to the Lord that always gave her the greatest joy and encouragement.
The years went on. One after another, the children left home, married, and scattered all over Canada and around the world. Dad and Mom were not spared sorrow and trouble – far from it – but they were always strengthened and encouraged in their faith. They maintained good contact with their remaining children in Australia, and were able to visit a number of times. By the day of her death, the Lord had given her ten children, ten stepchildren, 112 grandchildren and 170 great-grandchildren. And for as long as she was able, she remembered, prayed for, and kept in touch with them all. She was an incredible writer of letters.
It wasn’t just her own family Mom cared for. For so many years, there was always space for guests at the table, and a bed for younger and older visitors to Smithers. And she took good care of the larger Family: with cards, gifts, visits and phone calls she remembered the sick, the lonely, the disabled, mothers with new babies, and more.
In 2000, the Lord took Dad Kanis to himself. By that time, Mom was 75. Her health was beginning to fail, and she found it increasingly difficult to live on her own. For the last few years of her life, she lived in the Bulkley Lodge, cared for by family, friends and staff. Mom felt quite lonely, and the loss of her independence was a big struggle for her. For as long as possible, she still went to church. It was the highlight of her week, to meet the Lord and His people in worship. Late last year, she suffered a serious fall. After that, her condition deteriorated rapidly. Almost all of her surviving children were able to visit her during this last stage. On February 13, 2010, the day after her 85th birthday, peacefully, in her sleep, the Lord took her home. He heard her prayer, and was good to her. All the days of her life, and especially on the day of her death.
We remember our mother, grandmother and great-grandmother with love and thankfulness. We owe thanks and praise to God for everything He did in her life, and for what He has given to all of us through her. Mom was predeceased by five of her children, Jan(1990), Geertje(2001), Henk(2002), Teunie(2003), and John(2009).
“Praise the Lord, for He is good. His steadfast love endures for ever!”