Catharina Onink was a larger than life presence in the lives of those who were lucky enough to have known her. She was complex, complicated, grandiose, belligerent, petty, loving and incredibly capable.
Miss Holland 1963 and a Miss Universe runner-up, she remained beautiful until the day she died. She was aloof with men, and made it clear that she could not only survive without them, she could soar. And soar she did.
Catharina, also known as Juno (a name she gave herself) was a self-made real estate baroness in the 1970s and 1980s, and reinvented herself as an investment specialist in the 90s and 00s. She made and lost fortunes – and made them again.
She lived life colorfully, wearing open-toed sandals in the snow and taking coffee right before bed. Catharina possessed the distinctly Dutch characteristic of extreme straightforwardness (bespreekbaarheid) and absolutely did not believe in leaving a thought unspoken. She had a soft spot for the underdog and a deeply-rooted compassion for those who had known suffering.
Born in Den Haag, The Netherlands, during the war years, she lost her father Cornelius to the Labour Camps but held fast to her memories of her Papa holding her up high, upside-down, so she could walk on the ceiling. And whistling on the way home, so she could hear him as he approached the house. Her mother, Alida, soldiered on after his death, as mothers always have. Alida’s last words on this earth were “Cornelius, what are you doing here?” shortly before she passed from cancer decades later.
My mother’s own last words were “Schaatje”, which means ‘sweetie’, spoken to her daughter, Sasha. She awoke briefly from her morphine haze a few days before her death, and the only word on her lips was a word of love.
We are the fiercely proud daughters of this beautiful and strong woman who taught us to keep on keeping on, to push, to strive, to love.
Alzheimers stole so much from my mother. Alzheimers is a relentless thief and a bastard from hell, but to the day she died my mother remembered our names: Sasha and Reneetje.
We will spend the rest of our lives trying to be worthy of such love.
Your words were wonderful. You captured Juno perfectly!
She’s showing them how it’s done, no matter where she’s gone!
I’m so sorry for this tremendous loss. This is a beautiful obituary and really gets across her strong energy and the zest she had for life. Meeting her when I was teenager changed my life forever in many ways. Simply being in her presence made you feel like you accomplish whatever you wanted to. She will be missed.
My deepest condolences. Sending prayers to you and all of your family
Renee, Sasha and family. So sorry for your loss.
You have described your mom’s journey beautifully.
She was always interesting to talk with from the day we met not so long ago. I was always drawn to her because her spirit had a fire you could see in the twinkle of her eye. It was my pleasure to have the talks we did that gave a glimpse into her wonderful soul.
Juno we will miss you. An angel to watch over us.
For a beautiful life.
Wishing you peace and loving memories to hold in your heart. With loving thoughts and love.
Juno was strong, fierce, forthright and incredibly clever. She was a feminist long before it was “fashionable” . She paved her own way and was a savy businesswoman at a time when it was very challenging to be so. All of this she did while raising her family. Her incredible legacy is her two intelligent, independent and Fierce daughters ,who are beautiful inside and out. My heart breaks for them and Juno’s equally amazing grandchildren, Nikki Indie, Liam and Petal.
So sorry for your whole families loss Renee. Such love in your words and respect in your honesty. Juno is the finest example of a mother’s love and woman’s strength beyond beauty.
What beautiful, deeply loving, descriptive and poetic words. Dear Renée, dear Sasha and your families – I never met Juno, but with the help of your words and images, she takes gestalt in front of my inner eyes. What a woman! I feel a sense of loos just by reading your words, and so I imagine the endless deep and heavy loss you experience. My deepest condolences. Sending love.
What a beautiful life, and such a loss! I now understand where your beautiful strength comes from. Thank you Renee, for sharing this with me.
What a beautiful tribute to your mother. She sounds like a real life movie start and icon. I am certain her legacy will live on in you. Thoughts and prayers to all of you at this difficult time. Losing our mothers leaves a void like no other, but she will always be with you. Hugs.
I loved reading this tribute to a formidable woman, you have captured your mum perfectly. Thank you for everything Juno! For keeping us in line as pesky teenagers, for giving me one of the best friends a girl could ask for (here’s to you Sasha) for being there all these years. You achieved so much, some of which I only just learnt of today. Your daughters really are a testament to you. With all my love to you, Sasha, Renee, Nikki, Indy, Liam and Petal. Welterusten Juno. Xxx
Juno was fierce and loved her family with equal parts strength and depth.
She was there for her children, ready to spring into action to help however they needed her. Her wisdom and unsolicited opinions in tow.
I will miss her beauty and strength.
May her soul rest in peace. May the broken hearts left behind be comforted by happy, loving memories.
You wrote a beautiful tribute to your Mum. It looks like she lived life to the fullest! My deepest condolences to your family. May she rest in peace.
I’m sorry I never got a chance to meet her but from the way you girls talk about her she sounded like a terrific woman who will be sadly missed
She loved you so, so much, may she rest in peace. Our thoughts are with you all.
x Hedda & Michiel
What a beautiful tribute! So sorry for your loss, I hope you find strength and peace.
Corwin and Jeff
Our deepest condolences Renee. Sending love and light to you and all of your family. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
I remember Juno as being a proud grandmother and a warm, welcoming and impassioned person. As over the years I became a member of the family she became something of a grandmother to me. Her’s was truly a storied past, and what I learned of it gave me the impression that she was always an independent, enterprising and charismatic person. Juno will be dearly missed by all those that knew her.
I will always remember both her stubbornness and kindness. A strong-willed fighter to the end, she loved a well-made cappuccino but not nearly as much as she loved her daughters and grandchildren.
She was so committed to her family and was loved by all. She is and will be dearly missed and fondly remembered.
I’m moved by beautiful obituary and will hold your Mom in my memory.
My deepest condolences
It’s never easy to capture a full life in a brief summary, but this one so nicely captures what a complicated and extraordinary person Juno was, and what a storied life she lived.
My thoughts are with you and your family.
Jx & D!
An amazing woman who mothered amazing women. You carry her spirit well 🙂
That is a magnificent remembrance for what sounds like an amazing woman…makes me miss her despite never having the pleasure of meeting her!
Ma, I miss you terribly.