When Tante Jans learns that her death from diabetes is imminent, she first "put(s) her hands over her eyes and (begins) to cry". After a short time, however, in a way that is nothing short of miraculous, she finds strength in God. She lowers her hands and whispers a prayer, then, "with a flourish of her handkerchief and a forceful clearing of her nose, (she) let(s) (the family) know that the moment for sentiment had passed". She then spends the time she has left determinedly getting her affairs in order.
Tante Jans had first learned that she had diabetes a little less than a year earlier. In those days, "this was a death sentence as surely as tuberculosis had been". At that time, Tante Jans "went straight to bed on hearing the news", but soon tired of the inactivity, and, to everyone's surprise, appeared at breakfast one morning "with the announcement that doctors were often wrong". From then on, she "threw herself more forcefully than ever into writing, speaking, forming clubs, and launching projects" for philanthropic purposes. Corrie administered Tante Jans a blood sugar-content test weekly, according to the doctor's orders, and all went well for the next several months.
In November, however, Tante Jans' blood test comes back with frightening results, and the doctor declares that she has at most only a few weeks to live. The family gathers to tell Tante Jans the news together, trying desperately to convey their message in a positive light, but "(their) well-meant words (are) useless", and Tante Jans begins to cry. After a short time of lamenting, however, she is blessed with inner strength, and, asking the family for "a little privacy", resolves to use the time she has left cheerfully and productively (Chapter 3).