Jolanda van Hoeij en Peter Oud
The Resonance Foundation says farewell to Sandra Escher
(Jolanda van Hoeij)
I can well remember our first acquaintance in the year 2000 in Schoorl. I had read an article you wrote together with Marius on dealing with voices. I showed this article to the psychiatrist I then had and told him I was interested in meeting you both and your work.
This was realised.
I attended a five day course. Everyone was in time, except for Marius and Sandra. But no one seemed surprised. Then we met. Marius with a dignified walk and your dog Alba in a small basquet on his arm. You came from the airport. After a long journey you were fully up to starting the course energetically.
Sandra, one of our first conversations was about…yes, indeed: Harry Potter. We happened to share a great love for books, many, many books. And yes, also for Harry Potter, who was not yet that popular at the time. Together we advertised this book among the adults present; how good this book was and that they should absolutely read it, even though it was a children’s book. Indeed, we were telling well educated people, who wished to behave as grown-ups, about the sorcerer’s apprentive Harry Potter. Sandra’s remark: I BET you that many people will read the book.
Our friendship grew; our shared love for books and for dogs. I got to know you as a remarkable woman. Warm-hearted, loving and truly interested in people. You always listened carefully to people and so you knew what people in vulnerable positions needed. I remember you and Marius bought a refrigerator for someone, because that can be as important or even more important than a good conversation.
Sandra, you taught people to listen to their voices. In that way you gave them back their own voice. You saw to it that people are more than their diagnosis; you made them a person again.
All this you did together with Marius. Marius, a strong man! But, you know what, Sandra? Everyone knows that behind each strong man stands an EVEN stronger woman! That is ho wit is, isn’t it. Marius and Sandra, you complementede ach other well. It did not take you long to see your child being born: the Resonance Foundation. (Stichting Weerklank) A movement started up. A movement that for many, very many people was of invaluable significance and still is. The Resonance Foundation has even obtained international brothers and sisters. Your voice is heard far into the distance! Very far!
Sandra, after your accident with your horse you became less strong physically. When it became clear you also had Parkinson, things went less well for you. Your body gave up. This was frustrating and sad too.
Last year you spent some time in a nursing home. Marius wished to go to Curacao. Your condition did not allow you to join him. I was with you. This afternoon was quite impressive to me. Your body failed and yet there was so much power and love in you. You laughed about Marius’ stubbornness and you said you loved him so much. Proudly you showed a drawing by your granddaughter she had made especially for you. You told me your sister came over regularly, which you greatly enjoyed. And then you said: ‘Max is under my bed’. I looked but saw no Max. I thought, OH MY, this doesn’t look good.
I drove home and was very sad about what I had seen. Such a strong, sturdy woman and yet her body was giving up. But then I realised that you were right. Max was here, indeed. Max was with you. The love for your grandchildren, your sons and your sister and brother. They were all here!!
It was an honour tob e able to get to know you.
Together with Marius , Sandra set up the Resonance Foundation in 1988 and later Intervoice. It is thanks to Sandra that people who hear voices are interviewed in a ‘journalistic way’. This was her initiative to start a development to approach voice hearers differently. Not from the viewpoint of an illness model, but rather from the fact that hearing voices is a particular human characteristic and that voices are often meaningful. Sandra remained active as one of the editors of the quarterly Klankspiegel. She organized yearly conferences, wrote many articles and books and was the first to do research on childres hearing voices.
I remember our first meeting in Voeren, where a colleague and I in the spring of 2012 were warmly welcomed by you and Marius. How we looked up at you impressed: THE FOUNDERS of the hearing voices movement. How you informed us about your worked during lunch time.
I remember the congress in October 2012 in Castricum: HOW… you took the floor and tol dus about your research with children hearing voices. You made an ASSERTIVE impression…while…at the same time the first characteristics of Parkinson became noticeable.
These last years… you moved to Vrijburg in Amsterdam together, which I welcomed as it was now easier for me to visit you and have dinner together. Other board members also cherish good memories of visits to your place. I let myself be INSPIRED by your stories. In our conversations I always WELCOMED your scrupulous attitude. And I realised there was a lot to be learned from you as INSTRUCTORS. Every time you received me happily and enthusiastically and spent time to spar, also about developments within the Resonance Foundation. Until…the last few times, when you suffered too much pain to talk.
Marius buying a speedboat, the mischievous look in your eyes. How you granted him this adventure, while you yourself chose for a physically more quiet life. Together with Marius I saw your wrestle with the decrease of your physical health. How much pain and sorrow this meant for you.
The 10th World Congress in The Hague in October 2018: how WE organised this with a large group of volunteers in name of the Resonance Foundation, out of appreciation for you…Sandra, you transmitted YOUR experience with the organisation of conferences to me.
Marius remained active. You left the Resonance Foundation and your active participation in the Hearing Voices Movement. You also discontinued your contribution to the editorial board of the Resonance Journal. I heard that in the meetings of the editors you always mildly corrected the non-journalists on the board. As a LOVING, WISE mother.
Last year you spent some time to revalidate in a nursing home. This was not the most agreeable place for you. You wished for Marius (he was too enthusiastic) to go to Curacao for a few months, to work on his book. My wife and I visited Marius in our vacation. After returning home I visited you in the nursing home and was surpised to find you had made such progress. I have a short film, hilarious.
We are thankful for all Sandra has done and meant for the Resonance Foundation and for the editorial board. You really were invaluable. We express our condolences to Marius and the children, grandchildres and family and wish them strength to bear this enormous loss.
Sandra, you are a very remarkable woman. It is also impressive that your book: STEMMEN HOREN BEGRIJPELIJK MAKEN (making voice hearing understandable), written together with Dirk Corstens (psychiatrist) will appear tomorrow! Your ideas live on in many.
Jolanda: Dear Sandra, you made the world a better place.
Peter: Thank you.
Dirk Corstens is the next speaker.