Dear Dad,

Circa 1950

For the past year and a half, you’ve been constantly on my mind. Covid-19 has sent the world in a tailspin, and as much as I miss you and mummy terribly, I’m forever grateful that you’ve been spared this ‘inconvenience’, and selfishly, that we have not had the added worry of keeping you guys safe. It would have been a lonely existence for you both, one which, after such a long and happy life, seeing your children and grandchildren almost daily, would have possibly left you bereft of what was most important to you – family.

We’ve managed well, though – and keep in touch with each other often. Meeting up when we can for quick get togethers at each other’s homes, dropping by to share excess fruit (Julie mangoes, Mummy’s favourite), Zabocas (the boys are still competing as to whose is the best), homemade bread (your eldest has become quite the baker), but most importantly, keeping our family bond strong.

You’ve left us with a legacy so ingrained that in this time of forced isolation, our family connections have pulled us through and we thank you for this.

Circa 1972

And oh the family keeps on growing – with some scattered across the globe, we still remain in touch thanks to the technology which baffled you so much towards the end. Your great grandkids keep us busy and entertained. Some we have not yet met due to Covid, and some on the way. And they all look ‘just like you’ – if not physically, certainly in their hearts which are full of love of life and family.

You would be proud, as are we.

Forever and always……

Always give thanks…

We all take this time of year to reflect. Reflect on what we have done, could have done, should have done. What we will do differently in the New Year to achieve different results – to become the person we always wanted to be and make promises to be better in every way in the New Year. This Year will be the best year of our lives.

I’ve stopped doing that – quite some time ago. I’ve learned that making New Year’s resolutions are filled with drunken hopes of ideals that, for the most part, never happen. Filled with wishes that never come true. Filled with high expectations that I can never live up to.

Now, I simply thank God. Thank Him for my blessings. And I have very many. I thank Him for my husband of thirty-something years who still manages to surprise and delight me in the simplest of ways, my children who continue to burst my heart with pride, my daughters-in-law who share my passion for life, and now my grandson, who has opened my heart to a different kind of love and adoration that I never knew existed.

I thank Him for my siblings who always have my back, no matter what. I thank him for my friends who always show up, without expectations. I thank Him for my health, my passion to carry on, my love of life.

And with this gratitude I embrace the New Year knowing that I can and will survive, endure, enjoy whatever life has to offer.

May your New Year be filled with an abundance of blessings.

I’m on my way …

And so the journey begins… One flight down, 3 more to go, to meet my grandson.

You must be dying to hug him and kiss him. How can you be so calm? How come you’ve waited so long. Why didn’t you go for his birth?

You see my two eldest sons now live in a land far far away from our home. I often joke that they couldn’t have run further away from me if they wanted. But it is what it is, and as a family we try not to make the distance an issue. And to a large extent, we’ve succeeded. At this point in time though, the distance has created a huge hole in my heart. And with each flight today, the hole will close bit by bit.

Until then, I will read, watch movies, sleep, eat, toss and turn. All the while wondering how it will feel to touch his little toes, to hold his little hand, to caress his little face, to hug him, kiss him and let him know, beyond the shadow of a doubt that his Grandma loves him to the moon and back.

An angel is born …

Within the four walls of this beautiful 19th Century Church a bubbly baby girl was baptised and christened. Surrounded by family and friends, the princess of the day was annointed with oil, prayed for and welcomed into the Catholic church. With many promising to keep her and guide her along the right path. To share, with her parents, the responsibility of bringing her up in a community that will teach her how to love, how to forgive. Teach her right from wrong. Teach her how to be strong in her faith and most importantly, the virtues of humility and grace, honesty and integrity.

Madison Lesley, may you keep your joyful spirit, may you always share your beautiful smile, readily and willingly as you do now. May your heart always be filled with love.

And, may you always have one more hug and kiss for your Great Aunty Denise.

What are weddings made of…

A Prince in shining armour and a Princess in waiting – a promise of love ever after – a life filled with joy and laughter.

You may wonder which fairy tale I’ve been reading lately but the truth is that there are still weddings that are truly magical. Maybe not in the way we all imagine it to be with all the visible glitz and fluff. But magic sometimes happens in our hearts and manifests itself in the simplicity of our actions, over a period of time.

In this instance, the groom proved himself to be the prince in shining armour through his commitment, strength and dedication over the years. The princess in waiting, used his love and support to overcome her challenges and shine for all the world to see. Witnessing their journey warms your heart and gives you the assurance that there will be a love ever after – that the ‘til death do us part’ will be real. That their new journey will continue to be filled with adventure, joy and laughter – and hopefully little ones as well.

Congrats Rob and Gill – may your magic continue.

33 years and counting…

My eldest brother, as is usual, was one of the first this morning to congratulate me on yet another year of marriage. He also took the opportunity to remind me that Jesus Christ lived for 33 years and that during his short life he had performed just as many miracles, suggesting at the same time that I should expect an Amethyst stone from my husband on this occasion. My sister was quick to chime in noting that that would indeed be a miracle.
It got me to thinking though as to whether or not my life had been filled with as many miracles, if any at all. I guess the mere fact that my husband is still alive after so many years of marriage could be considered some type of miracle. My three sons would probably attest that they are living miracles considering the many occasions I threatened to tie them up in a tree and leave them there for good. If my dogs could talk, they too would thank their lucky stars that their many digging episodes in my garden didn’t end more tragically.
I sound like a mad lady, and yes, at times I may have acted like one. But reminiscing on my married life I can confirm that I have witnessed many miracles. Not those of the like of Jesus Christ maybe – there are many a time, though, that I would certainly have liked to have been able to change water into wine – but, there have been small ones which make life full and worth the while.
– The miracle of giving life – holding your treasures against your body for the first time, welcoming them into your world.
– The miracle of family – skipping bravely through life with the confidence that someone has got your back
– The miracle of unconditional love – knowing that when you mess up, because inevitably you do, there’s that one person who will help you pick up the pieces and move on
Two of my sons are soon to embark on this wonderful journey of marriage. And I’m hoping that their life, too, will be filled with many many miracles.

I remember…

I remember your smile, with that dimple that I longed to have so much. I remember your love that you gave selflessly, willingly and to everyone you met. I remember your devotion to your one and only love. I remember your quiet reserve, your patience, your support.

I remember the close relationship you had with your siblings. The fun times and the laughter you shared with them, as we looked on as children, marveling in your joy of living – wishing that we too would one day be as happy as your were. I remember you dancing with your infamous finger pointing to the sky.

I remember you teaching me to sew, encouraging me as I made mistakes with your clever quip – “every mistake is a fashion”. I remember how you picked up for me when the older ones took advantage of my devotion to them (well only one sibling really). I remember your behind-the-scenes love.

I remember the sparkle in your eyes when I brought my boys to visit you. They remember your caring, your warmth. They remember always wanting to visit you, they remember the custard you always made for them as a treat. They remember your birthday cake, your soupees. They remember Christmas mornings.

Just to let you know that, on this particular day, we all remember…

You never …..

At times I over-use the phrase “you never…..”. And that’s being very kind – I probably use these words to lash out more often than I care to admit. And most times it’s when I’m in a mood – any mood other than my happiest – tired, overwhelmed, feeling sorry for myself.  “You never do this… You never do that…”

But really, don’t we often overlook the smallest signs of affection, caring, love. So focussed are we on the bigger things that everyone else can see. The bigger things that are probably not as heartfelt or meaningful as the really small things.

When in fact the simple hugs in the kitchen while you’re washing dishes. Remembering to bring your helmet for you when you go for a ride. Turning off the light so you can sleep. Telling your sons in a round-about way that you’ve worked hard and deserve your rewards. The unexpected smile and a wink that still make you blush. The quiet moment admiring the sunset together. And the list goes on.

These are the moments that you should really cherish and keep tucked away in your heart. The moments that will keep you going when you are tired and overwhelmed. The moments that will keep you from feeling sorry for yourself.

For these are the moments that are real. The ones you can take with you wherever you go.

The big FIVE ZERO

Today one of my younger cousins told me, with some hesitation, that she was 50. My immediate response was “No way! You’re catching up girl.” We laughed. We talked about the changes. And she admitted that turning 50 and more so admitting it, was not easy. Afterwards, I marvelled at the idea of 50. What does 50 look like. What does 50 do and think. Where does 50 go. There she was, as young as I’ve always remembered her, same laugh, same sense of humour, same joie de vivre – only she was now 50.

I distinctly remember the day I learned that my mother was 40 years old. I remember staring at her for a while and then crying secretly in my bed later that night. For at the tender age of 10 or so, I thought my mother was going to die. In my mind, forty was old. So you can imagine what fifty must be like.

Today, having spent some years being both forty and fifty myself, I can attest that growing old is really not so bad. In fact, apart from the reality that your body changes, whether you like it or not, and no matter how much you exercise. That your mind is not as agile as it used to be – you can only store so much data in one brain at any one time. And that you are going to need much more sleep than when you were a teenager,

Turning 50 is like getting a new life.

You become you. You are confident. You know what you want, and you make sure you get it. You have experience to share, and you do so willingly, yet carefully. You are more empathetic as you’ve seen what life can offer. You’ve built strong friendships that have stood the test of time. You’ve learnt how not to sweat the small stuff. You know that worrying is a waste of time (although you still worry some for good measure). Your children (yours and those you’ve adopted) can take care of themselves. You know how to pray. You truly understand the meaning of family.

I look at my children and my nieces and nephews growing up and I smile a broad smile. They are full of energy with high expectations for the future. And, at fifty-something, so am I. For I still have a lot to look forward to and I will do it, with the same fervour and with every ounce of energy left in my body.

I can’t wait for the big SIX ZERO.

 

We all want to be Connected…

 

This blogging thing is quite crazy actually. I write arbitrary thoughts about things that cross my mind from one day to the next and I take great care in selecting some of my better photographs to share. I read and re-read every post, several times, and most times I share with my husband – my biggest fan – for his critique. Then, I press ‘Publish’.

I wait. Patiently at first. Then not at all. Wait for what you may ask? I wait for the ‘likes’, the comments and the new followers.

It’s just crazy and my husband laughs at me every day. How many likes did you get today? Any comments on that topic? Read them to me. I laugh too, for it has become such a game for the both of us. But deep down, for me anyway, it really isn’t a game at all.

Being  connected is an important part of being human.

I feel as if there’s a virtual world out there that I’ve connected with. A world where there are people just like me who want to express themselves. People who have arbitrary thoughts about arbitrary topics. Thoughts that resonate with me. People I have made a connection with. It’s almost as if it were my secret world.

And don’t we all want to connect and feel a part of something, something bigger than ourselves. Don’t we all have that special friend, sister, brother with whom we share our deepest feelings and with whom we can happily sit in silence, finish each other’s sentences, or understand very well their every facial expression. With whom we can laugh about nothing, cry about everything. With whom we have a special bond, a special connection.

The very essence of life is about connection.