To Teresa…from Bokkie

Many of you know that a few years ago I worked at a local soft fruit farm.  Many of you also know that the pressure at that farm nearly drove me into a psychiatric institution.  Why?  Because I simply couldn’t handle the pressure.  There. I’ve admitted it.  But that is not what this post is going to be about.  This post is going to be a tribute to someone I had the privilege of meeting during my tenure there.  Her name was Teresa.  Teresa Momsen.

Teresa was the contact I dealt with regarding orders for the Gauteng-based stores of a large retail chain.  She never called me MTM, I was always “bokkie”.  It stemmed from my colleague Sandy telling her that our boss had appointed a “jong bokkie” (young girly) to deal with the male buyers.  That was it.  I was “Bokkie”.

I had the privilege of meeting Teresa in person shortly after I’d started working and I remember her not being anything like the picture I’d formed in my head.  I knew she had chutzpah, but not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined just how much personality, pizazz and love was packed into her short, stout frame.  She was simply a person to whom one can’t help but be drawn.

Sandy, a friend of hers, Kate, Teresa and I were due to out for supper, but due to circumstances, we ended up at Sandy’s house eating soup and laughing until our stomachs hurt.  I remember telling her about my retirement dream – to own an upmarket sandwich shop.  Kate, who is an amazing artist joined the conversation and soon the upmarket sandwich shop would have a gallery where Kate could exhibit her works and there would be a dress-up vintage photo studio and “Bokkie, you must call the place Over the Top…”

As the evening wound down, Teresa shared stories with us of local celebs she’d met and told us about her daughter, and how proud she was of her.

When Teresa returned home, she gave Sandy, Kate and I each a small gift, in my case, a candle.

Life however happened, as it often does, without any prior warning, and I lost contact with Teresa.  While we were connected on Facebook, but she never really was active on the platform.  Sandy, Kate and I see each other quite often and just the other day Sandy mentioned that she had been wondering how Teresa is, and what she’s doing.  She had tried to contact her, but it appeared that the number we had for Teresa had been disconnected.

Two weeks ago, I was cleaning out the spare room to make space for my new room mate.  I came across one of my memory boxes and in it I found this card, which was given to me with the candle.

T 1

T 2

The message, for those of you who don’t understand Afrikaans, reads:

“Dearest Bokkie,

Many thanks to God for the opportunity He has given me to get to know the special person that you are.

Thank you for every e-mail filled with laughter, praise, motivation; for your joyful laugh and your cheerful Spirit.

You give unconditionally and I believe that you will receive it back seven fold.

Thank you for your love and pure friendship.  You’ve stolen my heart…for ever!”

Again, I sat wondering “where in the world…?” and still took a photo of the card and tagged her on Facebook.  I never received a reply, but didn’t really expect one either, given her usual Facebook usage.

It was with great shock and sadness this morning that her name appeared in my news feed, tagged by the daughter she was so proud of, “R.I.P Mom. God came to fetch one of His angels.  We will miss you.”  It appears that Teresa had been fighting a hard battle with cancer and succumbed to her disease this morning.  I let Sandy know.  She too is equally disheartened.

But, if I sit back and think about it – in the short season I was fortunate enough to have known Teresa, she was a hard-hitting, spunky woman.  A fighter to the bitter end.

Teresa, it was a privilege.  You were loved by many and will be sorely missed.  Rest in Peace.

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