Elation and Heartbreak … at the Same Time

I have many best friends.  And they’re all besties for different reasons.  There’s Elizabeth who has dried my tears and hated my ex-boyfriends for me even before they became exes to begin with.  There’s Keira, from Jozi, who even though more than 1000 Km’s (over 580 miles) separates us, when we see each other, it’s like no time whatsoever has passed.  There’s Theresa, Harriet, James, Carmen, Eliza, Steve, and many more.  But there are two in particular I want to share with you about today, and how I am torn between them, because they both need me, and it is breaking my heart.

There’s Shayla-Rae who has been my best friend since we were 9.  That’s a whole 29 years this year.  We were thick as thieves at school, lost contact for a while and when we finally did reconnect after more than a decade, the bond forged in fire, stood the test, and strengthened even more after her dad passed a little over two years ago.  She and her husband are expecting.  Their first.  A petite girl who will be named Lily.  Shayla-Rae asked me to be the little flower’s godmother, which both scared and exhilarated me at the same time.  She is going to bloom very soon as the due date according to the gynae is this coming Tuesday, the 30th.  I am almost as excited as the Mamma bear herself.

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On the other side there’s Wolf.  Wolf and I have been friends for about 13 years now and had it not been for life happening and our respective responses to those events, we could very easily have got hitched.  I could have been writing my bestsellers while he tended to the garden and cooked amazing meals.  I love him, and he knows it, but alas, we’re just two star-crossed lovers, fated to either be with other people, or as is more preferable to us, alone.  I met his parents when they were holidaying here one year and we just hit it off.  I refer to them as Mom and Dad, and in an unofficial capacity, they will always be my in-laws.  It broke my heart when Wolf let me know less two weeks ago that Mom had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Stage 4B.  For those of you not familiar with what I mean – Stage 4A = localised cancer, in the pancreas only, Stage 4B means that it has spread.  In Mom’s case to her liver and her kidneys.  She wanted to see me, and once again, because of life happening, I was forced to put it off. He was (still is) willing to fork out the fortune for me to fly to East London via Johannesburg for me to fulfil one of his mother’s dying wishes. I let him know the soonest I could be there was the first weekend in July.  I was thinking the first weekend in June, but explained to him that I wanted to be here for the birth of my god-child (she may make an early/late appearance), the following week we have customers visiting from overseas and because I am the Account Manager for that specific customer, I have to be here.  The following week I am alone in the office and the week after I am writing exams.  He was fine with it.  After all, the doctors said her prognosis was 3-6 months.

But, they are not God.  They do not know He plans to call Mom home.  Wolf called me just after lunch to let me know that Mom is in a deep sleep now and it is not likely that she will wake up.  His words to me, were, “Be strong.  I’m okay.”

Goodbye April! Things are already better in May…

Inspiration.  It comes from the strangest of places sometimes most times.  More often than not, it isn’t really subtle either…

Today, the Giggling Gourmet, @Jenny Morris, whom I follow on Facebook posted a quote by Marilyn Vos Savant:

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If you read my previous post, you will be more than aware of how defeated I felt, how close I was to tossing it all in the fuck-it-bucket and having a pity party of epic proportions.  Giving up really did look like a promising option.  Not only because of my flooded flat, which more than two weeks later has still not been assessed by the insurance for damages, but because of the struggles my parents have faced of late.

Mom still mourns Marley daily, and their living conditions leave a lot to be desired, but, with that said, acceptance of- or resignation to the fact that this is how things may be for the foreseeable future, has made things a little easier to deal with.  I still hate having to see my parents live in an industrial area where all sorts of noxious fumes are the order of the day, especially with Mom’s propensity to bronchitis and asthma.  The confined space that she and Dad have to share is also not ideal because he is frustrated to the point of physical aggression.  Just yesterday, he tried to hang a shelf which he spent hours making.  A piece of the wood split when he drilled it into the wall and he almost smashed the thing to pieces with the hammer.  It worries me a great deal.  I wish there was something I could do, but short of holding a gun to their heads, forcing them to come and live with me, my hands are tied.

Then of course, there are the tired expressions, such as, “this too shall pass”, or “it could be worse”, or “count your blessings, not your problems”, which I will admit, are all true.  Hearing these platitudes from people who actually are in my- and my parents’ life is acceptable, but I have to muster every last bit of self-control not to tell other people who know us, but prefer to live in happy obliviousness in their ivory towers, to shut the hell up.

Before I get lynched, I have the greatest respect for the trials we all have to face, but no two situations are the same.  Your wife leaving you for another man is regrettable and tragic, but so is my parents’ loss of almost everything they worked hard to build up.  I could go on like a long-playing record, but I would rather not rant more than is necessary.

In between all of this drama, I had to still find time to complete my second assignment before my upcoming exams in June.  I finished and handed in by the deadline, but part of me feels that had things been a bit calmer, I could have done more.  I anxiously await the results.

Since last week I have received incredible support from not only my friends and my colleagues.  Elizabeth and her parents put me up for a few nights, feeding me well (she still makes the best chicken pie in the whole world!) and allowing me to enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings.  The restlessness of living out of a suitcase got to me though and I opted to take a colleague and his wife up on their offer of staying in the granny flat on their property until such time that my flat is habitable again.  At first I was hesitant, but after arriving, and seeing a beautiful bunch of proteas on the table to welcome me, I immediately felt at home.

The stability of a “home-away-from-home” without distractions, has afforded me the opportunity to begin revision for my final exam.  Heaven knows, I want to get this subject over and done with.  Having failed twice, many years ago, I’m hoping that the third time will indeed be a charm, otherwise I will forfeit all the credits I have obtained to date, and then have to do the entire year over, which is something I cannot afford.  So, putting the positive vibes out there – when I receive the notification that I have passed my Diploma in International Trade (Exports) exam, I will be celebrating with something bubbly – even if it is just sparkling mineral water.

The messages of care from friends far and wide have been a comfort in a time that has been so dark for my parents and I.  A surprise visit from a Capetonian friend last weekend also did a lot to lift our spirits, as did a visit with Aunty Carol, Uncle Barry and some friends.  Speaking of Uncle Barry – he worked incredibly hard to get dad’s car running again, which we are all so grateful for.  Dad can now get to work every day without hassles or stressing about rapturous steam billowing out of the bonnet.  Eliza and Nicholas have invited me to eat with them in the evenings (as they are very close to where I am residing for the interim), so I don’t have to cook.  Yay!

To every single one of you, who has, despite your own storms, blessed my parents and I with words of encouragement, a loan to keep the bank from taking my car back, a pot of soup, a bed to sleep in, an ear to listen, a long, flaming-hot shower, a back & neck destress massage or who did a load (more like a mountain!) of washing.  Thank you.  You know who you are.  You are the people that I will roll a boulder out of the way for.

So yes, things are not ideal, but they are 100% more ideal than they were in April.  And for that, I’m grateful, because while we’ve been defeated, we’re a long shot from giving up.

 

Dear April 2017,

Do me a favour . Fuck. Right. Off!!!!  How much more do you expect my parents and I to endure?  Really?!  Just how fucking much?!  In my short, almost-38 years on this earth, I have never had to deal with so much pain as I have in the past almost-30 days.  Nor have my parents, who are all I actually have in this world.

First you had the bank nearly repossess my car, forcing me to give my only heirloom as collateral for a loan to get the payment up to date.  When my parents are gone, that ring is most likely the only thing I will have that will remind me of my parents, you sonofabitch!

Staying with the subject of wheels , you knocked my parents with the breakdown of their car.   In my opinion, a piece of crap, but a car, nevertheless.  Not only did you decide to allow the water pump to die, you killed the pistons and warped the cylinder head too, just for good measure.  Where on God’s green earth did you expect them to come up with the amount of money needed to repair that?  They are pensioners!  There is no amount of thanks I can relay to Uncle Barry for his help with the repair and to my amazing friend, Kayla, in Johannesburg, who lent me some money to help them, without even batting an eyelid, when her own child had to go to hospital.  Even a colleague, Charlie, helped me with a few bob, because he sees the strain I am taking.  These are the people that will help me give you the finger, you goddamn awful month.  Do you hear me?!

Sure, my Toppie got to celebrate his 70th birthday, but at what cost?  That nice braai cost my parents money that they couldn’t afford, but we, as a family, couldn’t allow a milestone like that to pass.  Something had to be done, even though it lacked the lustre of a real celebration.  One thing you couldn’t take away from us that night was our spirit of fun, but you eventually got your revenge.   This past weekend, all of us had to say goodbye to the home that has been ours for countless years.   We have had to box so many memories and my parents have had to move.  From a comfortable, three-bedroom, 860 square meter property to a three-roomed place, totaling maybe 60 squares in an industrial area, because that is all that they can afford.  Well played, April 2017, well played.  I am breaking my back to help where I can, but I can’t support two families on my salary, and my parents don’t want to stay with me because they don’t want to be a burden.  I don’t see it like that, but they do.  Yes, they could be in a safer area, with people around, closer to civilization.  But no… they’ve been reduced to living like this, because, amongst other things, the Rand has zero value and many of the people closest to them are blissfully ignorant to the true gravity of the situation.

Then you decided to add a little more spice to the mix.  You saw to it that a pipe burst in my bathroom, resulting in the flooding of my flat.  So, even if my parents had wanted to stay with me, you saw to it that it wouldn’t be possible.  Fuck you, April.   Just fuck you!  I’m displaced as a result, having to rely on my friends to house me, because my parents can’t.  I can sleep on their couch, sure, but it’s with my head in the kitchen and my body in the lounge.  It’s fine for a weekend, but long-term?  But, you know what, April 2017?  I don’t really care about the trouble in the flat.  I have great land-people who understand the inconvenience, and who, as a result, are willing to meet me halfway. I also have incredible friends who are willing to help me out, even if it means living between them like a nomad.  So, I’m giving you the finger here.  Look, you doos, do you see that bird I’m throwing you?  Hmmmm, do you!?

Realizing that you struck out with your attempt at a mini-tsunami, you decided to kill my mother today.  And that, you goddamn bastard, was the last straw!  How.  Dare.  You!?!  You took away the only company she had in the day.  Her precious Marley…her little grey meadow. That cockatiel is not ever going to be replaceable, you hear me?  Not. Ever!  She is so devastated.  In my lifetime, I have never seen my mother wracked with sobs telling me she has nothing to live for anymore.  My heart broke a million times for her today.  I can’t bear to see her so soulfully unhappy.  I can’t!!  How much more heartbroken do you need us as a family to be before you relent?  How?  Much?  More?!  We’re beyond worn-out; we’re almost dead.  Are you waiting for me to be driven to prostitution?  Because right now, I actually empathise with ladies of the night, because while it may be the oldest profession in the world, it is driven by desperation.  A desperation with which I can identify.

The problem is:  You know me.  You know the compassionate, involved being I am, but right now, I can’t take this anymore.

So April 2017, I ask you again.  Do me a favour.  Fuck. Right. Off!  Because if you don’t soon, I may be an orphan…  And honestly,  I’m not ready to lose my parents yet.   I’m not! 😦

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Where Were You? At Nyaru!

I have posted this entry on Tripadvisor, as well as my Niume blog, but the photos are not necessarily the same as the one in this post.

Many private game/nature reserves often lean towards being just a touch pretentious.  This is not the case with Nyaru.  The place is a tranquil, family-friendly getaway, about a half hour from Mossel Bay.  Two Saturdays ago my parents and I visited the reserve, just to have some much-needed down-time.  We weren’t really sure what to expect, because after all, we’re not really bush people.  But…it was close enough from home for us, and as we didn’t have to travel far, we were able to use the money we would have spent on fuel, on a game viewing experience.

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When making the booking, the process was handled quickly and efficiently, by a lady named Sarah, who followed up with a printable copy of the confirmation.  I made a special request for an early check-in, which was met with special consideration.  The check-in process was also dealt with quickly and we were showed to our accommodation by a young, friendly member of staff named Lauren.  Not long after we had unpacked, Sarah came to personally check on us, to see if everything was to our satisfaction.

The facility offers various accommodation options – The Nightjar Retreat, which is the only option that offers a bath and shower.  All other rooms, be they villas or chalets, have showers only.  The balcony not only overlooks the dam, but gives the occupants a 180-degree view of the reserve.  If you’re a keen game-, or bird watcher, don’t forget to pack in a pair of binoculars.

We stayed in one of the villas, which, like the chalets, are self-catering units.  Each villa has large sliding doors which open onto a small verandah, overlooking the pool and the mountains, giving the illusion of space and airiness.

While all the villas are furnished to the same design, each villa is unique in its selection of furnishings.  The one we stayed in had two large vintage-like wingback chairs, African artwork-, and a large wall clock made out of a barrel. It had a large double bed, with two bedside lamps.  The other villa, which I viewed for comparison in this review had two leather single-seater couches, twin beds, a single bedside lamp, abstractly-modern art- and a large silver clock on the wall.

Both villas were equipped with flat screen televisions, a sleeper couch (for a third guest) and selected satellite TV channels (although with the breath-taking surroundings, I am not sure one really needs TV).

I am quite the advocate of a small kitchenette in any room, because when I’m away, I don’t want to be dictated to by meal times, or schedules.  I had enough of that in boarding school!  The kitchenette is well-equipped with crockery, cutlery, an induction hot-plate, the requisite pots to us on the hot-plate, airtight-containers for left-overs and a fridge/freezer.

There are a few small things that need attention in the villa we stayed in, which did not at all negatively impact our overall experience.  We did mention these ‘snags’ upon our departure and Sarah assured us that our comments have been noted and that the required action will be taken to rectify these issues.

Only my parents and I were booked for the 16:30 game viewing experience, which made it a special family affair.  Our outgoing guide, Natasja, answered all our questions and shared her knowledge with us.  Her love of bird-watching was also evident as she pointed out many ground-, and tree-dwelling birds to us.  It must be mentioned though, that if you’re looking to see the Big-5, then this may not be the lodge for you.  There are many species of antelope to be seen, as well as giraffe, ostriches and zebra, to name but a few.

The resident meerkat and warthog are huge hits and are happy to pose for a photo with the guests.

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After our drive, Natasja was kind enough to show me the chalets as well.  The little thatched units are cosy and depending on the number of guests, can house 3, or 5 people.  Each chalet also has its own verandah but includes a braai area.  The chalets are also located much closer to the main reception/dining area than the Nightjar Retreat and the villas.  If you’re looking for a bit more privacy, I would recommend the villas rather than the chalets.  Both sets of accommodation have a small pool close by to cool off.

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We opted not to have a formal sit down dinner at the restaurant, but rather a picnic.  The selection of food blew us away!  While we were on our game drive, the staff set up the food at a small sheltered ‘lapa’ overlooking the entire reserve.  A true ‘dinner with a view’.  We did have an unexpected guest too.

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Ironically we were tuckered out from a day of fresh air and relaxation and retired to our clean, crisp, comfortable beds for a good night’s rest.  The following morning, after a steaming hot shower, we went to the restaurant for breakfast.  Many of the reviews I had read on Tripadvisor prior to booking stated the breakfast as rather ‘basic’.  I guess it depends on the guests’ expectations.  To me, a selection 2 juices, 3 cereals, fruit salad, cheeses, yoghurt, croissants, muffins, cheese and preserves and the option of a full hot breakfast of bacon, eggs (to preference), sausage, baked beans, hashbrown, tomato and toast, seem more than sufficient.  The only thing that I did miss at breakfast was filter coffee and hot milk (for both cereal and coffee).  The hot breakfast was served quickly, on a heated plate (big thumbs up), and again, it was a meal with a view.

We were quite sad to have to leave, because while we arrived as strangers, we left as friends.  We will definitely be back.  After all, this soul-restoring hidden gem, is literally, right on our doorstep.

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God is Never Late and He is ALWAYS Faithful

I’m officially a student again.  I never had the real student experience though – uni, tech or the like.  I studied after hours, through correspondence for 7 years to obtain the Import and Export Qualifications I have.  Year 7 was a year of doing the same subject twice (and having to pay for it!) and still not completing my Diploma.  One subject, just one subject is all that stood in my way of having an NQF 6 qualification, which while in South Africa is notequivalent to a university  degree, it is in other countries of the world, and, even if it wasn’t – it is an internationally accredited qualification.

I’m a little apprehensive.  After all, it has been 11 years since I last opened a text book.  But, with age comes wisdom (apparently), so maybe this time round I’ll be more grounded in applying what I learn and not just parrot-spewing the words I thought to memorize.  Minor terror aside, I am so grateful for the opportunity to actually be able to complete my studies – without the help of some very special people, I would not have been able to do so.  As I said to my friend, Simon, the other day, International Trade isn’t my first love (writing is), but it is a challenging line of work to be in and it affords me the opportunity to utilize my education.

I was chatting to Cassey, my colleague the other day.  She’s extremely spiritual and has a close walk with God.  I told her that when I started working in 1998, for a company that was just starting up, my boss at the time trusted me enough to leave me alone at the factory after only a few months.  During his absence, documents arrived for an import and I have no idea what to do.  Thankfully I got a call from a customs broker who told me they were looking for said documents, which I obviously sent off.

Upon my boss’s return to the office he told me that for a long while I wasn’t really going to be busy with work – my job at the time pretty much entailed answering the phone, running errands, making coffee and doing a bit of admin – so he would pay for me to study.  Anything I wanted.  Any. Thing.  I opted for something to do with Imports and Exports, because that was what the gist of my work was going to be in the end.  It didn’t seem fair to use his money to study writing or drama.  I can tell you one thing – I didn’t for one minute think I would be working in Imports and Exports 19 years later (granted I’ve changed jobs twice since then).  God knew, even if I didn’t.

In recent weeks I’ve had a very emotional time.  I can’t say too much because many of you who read my blog know my family and I personally, and well, some things are not to be shared on public domain.  Suffice to say though that with this rollercoaster of emotion, a great deal of hopelessness found its way into our lives and it’s in such times that faith is tested.  Really tested.

Today though, after everything, there is good news.  There is hope.  God knows what He’s doing, and to put it in the words of my friend, Marilyn, “He’s never late”.  Everything is working out as it should, as promised in Romans 8:28. 

I’m off to hit the textbooks soon, but not before saying “thank-you” to every person I know was praying for us, and to Him for being so faithful.  The next prayer chain will be for my exams…


Exodus 20:12 / Ephesians 6:3

I want to be obedient and receive the promise of the two verses that head this post.  Sometimes though, I look at some people and think Thank God I am not them. And then I pray, God, please don’t ever let me turn out to be like them.  I don’t want to hurt the people closest to me.

There are a few situations that I know of, and while I’m not sure where to start, I feel very strongly to voice my (what many will feel is a personal attack on them (but hey, if the shoe fits…)) opinion.

I don’t like to ram my beliefs down anyone’s throat, but one thing I do believe s to “Honour your Father and your Mother”.  The Greek word for honour means “to revere, prize, and value.”  I believe that this honour means all the time, until they are no longer destined for this earth – not only when you as a child live with your parents, under their instruction and teachings, or when as an adult, you deem them to be deserving of it.  We forget that as we are growing up, our parents are growing older and that they may actually need us to be around for them – to revere their wisdom, prize their presence and value (what little) time we still have with them.  I’m the first to admit that I do fail at this, and when I do, I repent and try again, because I want to live a long life.

I was chatting to a friend’s mom, Patty, the other day.  Her dad. Arthur, is in a local old-age village, because he wants to be around people his own age and he enjoys all the activities that take place at the facility.  Every Wednesday, Patty and her husband pay Arthur a visit and on the weekends, Arthur spends time with them, at their home.  It is an arrangement that suits everyone.

Patty did tell me that there are many of the elderly people at the facility whose children don’t even bother to phone their parents.  One lady in particular’s children were here on holiday for almost a month, living it up in a hip beach house – not once did they fetch their mother to have her spend a day with them.  It got me wondering just how many children conveniently forget or simply toss aside their parents, for reasons unbeknownst to me – is it because their parents are no longer employed with an income to bankroll their children out of a bind, or because their parents have become frail and may need some extra care, or as I’ve heard one person say something in the lines of “Mom, you of all people should understand that I don’t have time – my kids keep me so busy”.

Screw that!  Your parents made time for you and were there for you whenever you needed them.  They deserve, at the very least, a visit if you’re passing through their town or a phone call on a day that is not their birthday or Christmas and not for you to hit them up for money, nor to tell them about all the luxuries you’ve purchased, when you know they’re struggling to keep their heads above water.

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Remember that you can get a new car, a new house, a new job, even a new spouse, have more kids, and possibly inherit some if you remarry, but you can never, ever, replace your parents when they are no longer here.