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Female Forum Member – cassandra

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    Today we interview cassandra – she’s been a member here for less than 8 months but has already had a hugely positive impact on the community.

    You have quite an interesting background – born in England and now living in the Netherlands. How did all this happen?

    When my dad re-married it was to a very lovely Dutch lady, she always made us very welcome and we loved having holidays here. It just seemed friendly and relaxed..

    Then in the late 1980’s the UK entered a recession, at that time my OH had his own company and was having to work ever harder to keep the work coming in this meant he was spending less and less time at home.

    One sunday he had taken the boys then 5 and 7 swimming and as a treat he took them to macdonalds afterwards but when he asked the little one what he wanted our son was too shy to answer his father hiding behind me instead..

    My OH was so upset by this he decided that we needed a change, needed to put the children first and so we looked for a more child friendly place to live..

    We had liked the Netherlands so much that we thought why not just move here? So thats exactly what we did, we just packed up and moved!

    You mention in your profile that you’ve tried writing a book. What was the book about? Do you plan on pursuing this?

    I was unemployed and wanted to do something other than watch daytime TV.

    When I tell people I moved here from England with 3 kids under 10 and a dog they all ask ‘how did that come about’?

    So I decided to write it down, about how and why we moved, the move itself and our adventures trying to learn the hows and whys of living in Holland speaking no Dutch and all the funny and frustrating things that happened in the first few years…Like the time my OH mispronounced the word for rootball ( kluit) and told everyone in the pub he was getting a Christmas tree with klote, (bollocks) !!!

    I printed a few copies for friends and family but I lost part of it when the old PC crashed and haven’t pursued it any further..

    You’re an independent thinker and you aren’t afraid to speak your mind. Is this something that comes naturally to you, or have you consciously developed this habit?

    My father had bi-polar disorder which lead to him showing some bizarre behaviour sometimes but he was also a thinker, a theologist he was always looking for the truth about man, our purpose, our destiny etc..

    He told me I should always be looking for the next level, the truth beyond that which I was being given and not to just accept what so-called experts spoonfed the masses.

    He encouraged me to read and re-read to cross reference and think differently..Outside the box as its now called! He said that the only place a person could be truly free was within their own mind.

    He also warned me that as a woman my views and ideas would be challenged and dismissed so I would have to learn to fight my corner and stand firm on things I believed in without becoming blinkered to the opinion of others, he taught me debating tactics that have helped me in many situations.

    I hope that I have been able to pass some of that wisdom on to my daughter who unfortunately never met her Grandfather.

    You’re a foster parent – tell us more about how that came about. Would you consider fostering again in the future, or was it a challenge you rose to more out of obligation than choice?

    I hadn’t considered fostering and to be honest I was just getting used to OH being back after 5 years away in England. The children had all left and we were entering a new phase of our lives together..

    Then S was basically dumped by his parents, my son had him stay for a while but my son admits he does not have a 9-5 lifestyle and the stability that a boy like S needs.. so together my son and S called in child services. They looked after him for a couple of months in a temporary home but there were no foster places available and so turned to my son again asking if he could take S again or knew someone who could just until a foster home could be found.( Its all very badly arranged) As we had the room we agreed to give S a temporary home but that now seems to be extended from the original 6 weeks to 1 year.

    S is a gentle boy and openly gay. At the moment he dresses as a girl in his free time and has said he eventually wants to be considered for gender reassignment.

    This is the problem for his parents they cannot accept this part of him and so they only call to voice their disapproval of their son and his lifestyle,friends, clothes, etc etc..

    As to whether I would do it again? I really couldn’t say, I suppose if the need arose such as it has with S then I would but its not something I feel drawn to do ‘full time’.

    You are a staunch believer in animal rights and abhor animal cruelty – what brought this about? Have you seen the effects of animal cruelty firsthand? Is there any personal connection here?

    Again my dad gets the blame. He bought home a long line of strays and badly treated dogs he had found or rescued and my dear mum put up with all his manky waifs and strays without any complaint.

    We nursed all those dogs back to health and then they went on to their forever homes..It was amazing to see a dirty, matted, cowering wreck, that wet itself in fright gradually become a proud, shining and happy dog that people wanted to love and give a home to. One of his wrecks turned out to be a former Crufts best in breed.

    Since Ive been married we have only ever had rescue dogs.

    I couldn’t even consider paying someone to force a dog to have pups just so that I could have a
    ‘ puppy made to order’ ..

    I use my own dogs to try to educate people. I’m often stopped and complimented on the condition of my dogs and asked about how I’ve ended up with 3 different breeds.

    I take time to explain how each of them was badly treated and how they have recovered and now pay me back 100 times over with love. I hope that by seeing what lovely dogs they are people will be encouraged to adopt a rescue animal themselves..

    A year ago, your brother took his own life and you’ve explored the issue here in the forums. Why do you think that the discussion of suicide is still taboo? What can be done to get people talking about (and better understanding) suicide and its impact on others?

    You know when I stop and think about it it still stuns me.. That 3 members of one family could each take their own life.. and the fact that I have never been to a funeral of anyone who died naturally..
    That takes my breath away and still takes me by surprise so how can I even expect anyone who hasn’t been through it to imagine how it feels?

    World suicide remembrence day is 10 September… not a good day considering, and while there are coloured ribbons to show support for breast cancer and aids and just about everything else suicide gets brushed under the rug again.

    I quoted all the figures in my post, the fact that suicide claims 10 times more lives in the USA each year than the 9/11 attacks did and that in the UK there are on average 500 more suicides than road deaths each year..

    In each of those examples we talk of ‘innocent victims’ but what do you called someone who commits suicide? A victim?.. a victim of what exactly?

    They ‘ killed’ themselves.. so are they killers? Of course not.

    So what do we call them, how do we attach a label to this horror we wont even talk about?

    Often on a death certificate it will say whilst the balance of his/her mind was impaired..implying that a person who commits suicide must be mad or unbalanced..

    That often only adds to the social stigma for the family left behind..

    Then of course there’s the gossip…about how they did it and why and what sort of family it must be when your kid thinks he´s better off dead than living with you..That hurts.

    Yet talking about it is the only way its going to become less taboo but when people cross the road rather than talk to you its not easy and it becomes understandable why people want to hush it up when it happens in their family.

    Of course religious taboos are really difficult to break because people will have been told since birth by their church leaders that it’s a mortal sin to take ones own life and you cant expect people to just suddenly turn their back on something that has given them comfort and support all their lives.

    As someone who has lost loved ones through suicide I often feel not entitled to grieve because after all the person who is dead got what they wanted didn’t they?

    They wanted to die otherwise they wouldn’t have done it.. Would they?

    Answers on a postcard please… because I have no idea!

    We will gradually come to terms with it. Just as we have with other taboos like homosexuality and un-married mothers.. People like me who cant keep their big mouths shut will talk about it and if we go on long enough I’m sure someone will listen, or maybe there will just be a worldwide shortage of earplugs!

    You recently became a grandmother (congratulations!). Has that changed your perspective on life, or is it still business as usual?

    Business as usual, I’m a long distance nan as the little madam lives in Ireland so I only get to see her via Skype.

    I’m not one for butting in and I’m sure I’ve raised my son with enough skills and enough love for him to be a great dad and my daughter in law is a lovely gentle woman who I’m sure will be a wonderful mother..

    This is their time. If they want me they will let me know..

    Thank cat for this one: Do you ever feel as hopeless as I do when it comes to saving animals as we can only do or donate so much yet it feels like a drop in the ocean.

    I suppose if I thought about the massive scale of the problem then I would be overwhelmed so I just do what I can, donate, adopt, educate.

    I have learned to accept that I am one person and that my destiny is not greatness.. There are two quotes I love which help me with this..

    One is from Mother Theresa
    ‘We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love’.

    The other is attributed to Lao Tzu the founder of Taoism
    ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’.

    I hope my small act performed with the greatest of love will encourage others to do the same and my single step will be the first on a road that leads to change and improvement.

    What part of your life makes you the happiest right now?

    Knowing that my children have all grown into decent and settled adults and that they are all happy in their lives.

    Seeing S relax and start to enjoy life the way a boy of his age should. Hearing him laugh.

    What part of your life do you find the most challenging right now?

    Dealing with S parents.

    Trying not to let them make me closed and angry. Being determined not to let them draw me into their argument.

    Name one thing you love about Female Forum.

    The personal aspect. This is like a night at the local all cosy but casual and friendly. The genuine advice that’s given without judgement. I thank all the members for that.

    What could Female Forum do to become an even better community? You can’t say ‘Nothing’!

    Promoting the individual things such as these interviews which help us to understand each better and get a more indepth look at members without being intrusive..I have never seen this on another forum.

    Finally, which member of Female Forum should we interview next and what’s the one major question you would like us to ask her?

    Majorcagirl. I see in her profile that she is a Alzheimer’s volunteer. Has her work with those affected changed the way she sees them and what one thing would she like to see done to improve the care for alzheimer’s patients?

    Thank you for such an open and honest interview, Cassandra. Oh, and Majorcagirl – don’t go answering your question until we get your interview sorted out; I’ll be in touch soon!


    Cassandra what an absolutly fantastic interview!! I have learnt so much about you!! Brilliant!! Well done. 🙂


    Ditto your comments Souxi, Cassandra, You are one talented lady, well done !


    Thakyou all for your comments.

    Can I just say that an interviewee is only as good as the interviewer in this case Martin..
    By asking the right questions and allowing forthright and uncensored answers he has made all our interviews interesting and informative..

    Thank you Martin


    Cass – someone should really think about making you an admin or something of the site?!



    great interview cassandra it was a pleasure to read and find out a little about your nature 🙂


    When you talk of the 3 family members committing suicide, I am in the same boat. It was 2004, I had 3 do it to themselves and it was unbelievable how they can do such a thing? I still really don’t understand.


    When you talk of the 3 family members committing suicide, I am in the same boat. It was 2004, I had 3 do it to themselves and it was unbelievable how they can do such a thing? I still really don’t understand.

    Im so sorry to hear of your loss.
    This is what I meant when I said we have to talk its happened to more of us than we dare imagine..
    Most of the time I tell myself they were grown men and they had the right to make their own decision about their lives..
    When I see my mother shattered by the loss and I feel my own fears about my son creeping into my head its hard to be so logical.
    I dont think those who choose to leave understand that..


    Wow, I can relate to some of your answers so well. It’s nice to learn from you and get to know you as well as other staff members. I’m enjoying these interviews!

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