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.

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.

In search of the sunset…

What better way to spend your Sunday afternoon than following your son in his search for that perfect sunset. With the rain beating on the road as you climb the mountain, you anxiously anticipate the clarity and beauty of the setting sun as the rain dissipates. You hope for clouds as they always add interest and mystery. You look forward to the serenity of the view and the peace and quiet that such beauty brings. You capture the changes in the sky as the sun sinks ever so slowly into the depths of the horizon. And you very secretly thank God for such precious moments.

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…

Long Circular Road…


When you think of a street or road, what’s the first name that comes to your mind? Is it that place with your favourite shops / bars / connection points? Is it that place where you met your first love, or had the most interesting encounter in your lifetime? Or is it that place which conjures up your fondest memories?

For me it’s the place where I grew up. Long Circular Road is that place for me. It’s where I played with friends, got teased by my older brothers and sister, climbed trees picking fruit or just to get away from my pesty older siblings. It’s where I played game after game of cricket with my older brother. It’s where I had my 16th birthday party and kissed a boy for the first time. It’s where I courted my husband.

It’s where I learned the true meaning of family and friends, winning and losing. It’s where I learned about life and love.

When you think of a street or road, where do you go?

 

Where is Home…

Home is where the heart is….

I asked a couple of friends to give me their ‘one word’ synonymous with home and I was able to build the following simple list :-

  • Security
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Relaxation
  • Comfort
  • Love

For me home is all of the above and more. Whenever I’m with family, I’m home. Whenever I’m in my garden, I’m home. Whenever I’m with friends, I’m home. Sometimes when I’m by myself, I’m home. When I watch the sun set, I’m home. It doesn’t have to be a place and it’s certainly not a thing. It’s that feeling you get when you heart is quiet, full and at peace when you know you are home.

Where is home for you…

Dealing with ‘Stubborn’…

If stubborn means fighting for what you believe is right. Then I’m stubborn.
If stubborn means not wavering until your point of view is heard. Then I’m stubborn.
If stubborn means doing what you need to do to get your own way. Then I’m definitely stubborn.

But is being stubborn good or bad. If I had a penny for every time someone referred to me as stubborn, or even commented on my stubbornness, I would be a millionaire. And quite frankly I’ve never minded being called stubborn because most times I’ve gotten my way, and I was happy. So there. As long as no one was hurt in the process it didn’t really matter.

When my youngest son, at the tender age of 2 years, exhibited this characteristic, I paused before taking action. We stared at each other and I attempted to talk through the point calmly. I thought I had won as he succumbed to my wishes, but little did I know that he was playing my game, and playing it very well. He too paused before taking action and figured out that, due to my authority and size, he would probably not win right away. So he conceded in principle, but once my back was turned, he continued on his quest, quickly and with such agility that I didn’t even know I had been duped.

I have always tried to nurture this trait in him hoping that it would lead to a sense of determination and self confidence, of course lathered with honesty and integrity. Praying all the while though, please oh please, ease up on me as your mother. For this is not the easiest trait to guide and develop. As parents we are faced with so many decisions on a daily basis. Dealing with a determined toddler can be quite a challenge, so you can well imagine dealing with a stubborn teenager.

As our children mature however, we can only hope and pray that our decisions were the right ones.

Life is a *itch, and then you die…

How often have I heard my mother-in-law utter these words. And each time I chuckle, thinking that it could be true, but not quite understanding the depth of it from her point of view.

The first time I met my mother-in-law, she was crouched on the floor with her butt in the air, ‘releasing gas’ as she later explained. She was not aware that I was coming to visit. But as the years have passed, I realise that that would not have made any difference. She needed to ‘release gas’ and that was the best way she knew how. She would have crouched on the floor even if I were there, for the first time.

You hear many stories of ‘in-laws’ and I have made it my life-long commitment not to be the nightmare mother-in-law, as described by so many. But quite frankly how could I be when my personal experience has been filled with great examples from both sides. Little or no interference, always there to support when needed. Everything has always been just easy.

Actually it’s also been quite entertaining when we consider the character that is my mother-in-law. Strong-willed (although not always so as a teenager), frank (and you better be able to take it), loud (a trait the entire family has inherited), kind (always thinking of others – she would feed the world if she could), generous (to a fault), grateful (more and more so as she gets older).

I was once asked about my ‘parents in-law’ – you know to give my experience. And I found it very difficult to find something wrong. I could think of not one moment when I felt unaccepted, frustrated or even annoyed. Today, 32 years later, I have the privilege of sharing a few days with my mother-in-law, and I am beginning to understand why life could be a ‘*itch’, from her point of view.

Imagine a busy life filled with its ups and downs. Imagine being able to manoeuvre this life with strength which comes from within, the support of family and friends that makes it all worthwhile, the love of a spouse which is beyond description. Imagine bringing up 5 children – the physical and mental agility that is needed to stay one step ahead of them, so that you can ensure that in turn they will be capable of taking care of themselves in the future, and, secretly, you as well. Imagine achieving your goals, in one way or another. Imagine that stage of your life when you feel accomplished, that it was all worth it.

Then it all starts to crumble, slowly at first, then with increasing speed. You become slower, less agile. The aches and pains of your deteriorating body. The loss of your companion of over 40 years. The feeling that you have become a bother to your family as opposed to the guiding force. You loose your independence and now need to rely on those you took such care of years ago.

You become tired, you become confused at the slightest change in your daily routine, your memory fails you and what you remember most and long for most are those days when you were at your peak. Or do you? What do you really long for at this stage of life?

And I guess, that’s when you realise that life can be a *itch, and then you die…