So, I have been quiet.  Honestly, I haven’t felt much like writing.  Work is hectic; fuses are slightly shorter than usual all round and, I’ve been preoccupied with both good/fun-, and not-so-good/fun things.

A friend introduced me to a great guy, Charlie, with whom I’ve been chatting for quite a while already.  To get to know each other better, we’re doing the “50 I’s about Me” challenge, that I did on this very blog eons ago.  It’s fun to see how some of my answers haven’t changed at all while others have done a complete one eighty.

We haven’t been doing them in the same order as the original list.  Yesterday’s “I” was meant to be “I fear”, but I just couldn’t face it.  You see, I realized yesterday, that more than my fear of dying by drowning or smoke inhalation, I fear being an orphan.  Even as I type the words, bile rises in my throat and my vision becomes cloudy.  Ironically, in a previous conversation, Charlie said that fear is a learned emotion.  When we’re born all we fear is loud noises; everything else we fear is imprinted on us.

I’m sure you’re wondering Where the hell is she going with this? So, I’ll get to it:

Neither my mom nor I knew The Toppie had decided to take the garbage out early yesterday morning.  All we heard was a loud “Ooohhhh”, followed by a blunt grunt and then an even louder, “Owww!!”  I bolted down the wet stairs to find him at the bottom, bleeding, shaky and unable to stand.  He had a gash above his right eye, a long cut on his arm, so deep that the bone was visible and instant bruising on his legs and thighs.  My first aid training flew right out the window.  I began to shake as adrenalin began to course through my veins.  All I knew was he would need stitches and that we had to stop the bleeding.  Mom gave me a towel which I wrapped around his arm before loading him into the car and driving like Lewis Hamilton to the local state hospital, all the time  quietly reciting, Please God, don’t let him die. Please! 

Sitting in the cold waiting room, my poor dad was rocking backwards and forwards with pain.  I have never seen him so vulnerable.  It just made me even more aware of how mortal he and my mom are and just how much I’m not ready to have God take either of them away.  He started to doze off and I panicked thinking he may have a concussion, so when a nurse came to call another patient (of about twenty sitting in the waiting room), I walked up asking how long the wait would be, given that he was now drifting in and out of consciousness.  It was then that the brain fog cleared and I remembered the big words I’d learned in first aid training, cranial contusion and bleeding laceration to right forearm with suspected fracture.  Bless the nurse, who told me to immediately bring him in.  We waited a long time for help, but once the nurses got busy, they were efficient and professional.  The doctor saw him, and said that X-rays would be required, because she too suspected a broken arm.  The X-rays took a long time because the radiographers (in both state and private hospitals) don’t work on weekends.  In the instance of the former, the hospital waits until there are at least five patients requiring X-rays before they ask the radiographer to come in.  If there aren’t a time of at least two hours must elapse.  The nurses in the meantime disinfected the wound on his arm, which had him flinching and then applied strips to close the gaping hole – he couldn’t have sutures because his skin is too thin and gave him a shot of morphine for the pain.

It was frustrating to have to wait, but Aunty Carol, Uncle Barry and Cousin Lola popped by with a bite to eat, a flask of coffee and two magazines.  It helped to pass the time until the radiographer arrived.  The process of the X-rays was quick-sticks.

The verdict – broken ulna, less than two thirds, which thankfully means that no surgery is required.


Not The Toppie’s X-ray – just a Google one for example.

The doctor applied a temporary cast (because the arm my still swell) and told him to come back on Friday, for it to be removed, the wound to be cleaned and a proper cast to be applied.

It was a harrowing six hour ordeal that left The Toppie broken and bruised, The Bean emotionally frazzled and Yours Truly on an emotional rollercoaster.

I’m scared that it might happen again, and that if it does, it won’t be just a broken arm. I’m furious because so many people knew where my parents were when the going was good, but 95% of them have disappeared into the woodwork now that it isn’t the case anymore.  I’m tired of the pretenders; exhausted in fact.  I’m willing to wager that had we called for help, only a handful of people would have come to our rescue.  I’m relieved that it was only a few bruises, a bashed head and a broken arm.  I am hopeful that everything will be okay in the end.  As Cousin Lola said yesterday, ”This too shall pass” and it will.  My mantra right now is that EVERYTHING that is happening now is for my ULTIMATE GOOD, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.


Butterfly Kisses

I’ve tried my hand at many creative things.  Fabric painting, cross-stitch embroidery, colouring-in, and quite recently mosaic.  I didn’t attend a class, or anything like that; I just winged it.  The store that sells kits close to where I stay has a limited selection, so I opted for a butterfly, not sure what I was going to do with the end-product.  I found out from my friend, Alice, earlier this week that a butterfly signifies metamorphosis in some circles.

Intent on starting the project to keep myself busy while cat-sitting for my colleague, Nicola, I ended up binge watching Girlfriends Guide to Divorce, with the cats chilling on the couch next to me instead.  Then a little disaster struck (well, if I’m honest, it’s been a long-time coming) and I had to flit off to hospital for two small (although very invasive) procedures, which left me with a week at home to recover.  I’d started the butterfly somewhere before that, but it lay gathering dust on the shelf because I didn’t really have an offset point for it.  I happened to mention it to another colleague, Carrey, (who was kind enough to take me to the hospital the morning of the procedures) and she asked to see the progress as I worked, because she loves handmade things, but is not arty.  At all!

I finished it earlier this week and while I was admiring it, I received a message from her and thought I’m going to give this butterfly to her for her birthday, because every year, she transforms into a more beautiful soul.  The last photo I’d sent her was of it covered in grout, so she didn’t know that I’d indeed finished it.


She almost dropped it when she opened the box this morning, tears of overwhelming gratitude and excitement running down her cheeks.  I felt a bit of a tug at my heartstrings, because I felt like I’d accomplished more than just completing a project; I’d touched her heart in a special way.  She is filled with ideas of where to hang it, and when it’s up, I will go for coffee and see it in all its glory.


Just goes to show – everything does happen for a reason.  On some level I must have known why I’d bought this butterfly kit, in these specific colours…

The bug’s bitten me though.  I ordered three more kits from a Facebook friend who has a mosaic-kit business.  The will be here later today!  They’re also going to be gifts.  One, a pink and white cross, for my beautiful goddaughter on her Christening which is taking place on December 8th, and the others (I’m not going to say what they are, because the friends for whom I’ve earmarked them, will immediately know what they’re getting as gifts).




October 30th, 2017.  In South Africa, Black Monday.  A day when many of the country’s citizens donned black clothes and stood in solidarity against the heinous farm murders taking place in our beautiful country.  Yes, I did attend one of many gatherings held all over the Republic.  The message is clear.  The violence must stop.  Now, many of you know me in person, but for those of you who don’t, I like to be a bit of a Devil’s Advocate.

And, before I any of you decide to stone-, waterboard-, bury- alive, or burn me at the stake, I categorically state that I do believe in the cause.  But farm murders are not the only problem our country faces.  There is a ridiculous amount of violence against particularly (but not limited to) women and children, committed not only by adults either.  Just this past Saturday I was told of a young female teacher who is being targeted by her male students, and another incident of a second- grade little boy being sexually assaulted by three other boys a year old than he.  Every year there is a whole month dedicated to Awareness of Violence against Women and Children, yet the statistics continue to rise.

Earlier this year, almost the entire country just about came to a standstill to march against the state president, because he is not doing his job.  There is proof of corruption and collusion with a very controversial family that subsequently left South Africa when things got too hot to handle, rape (yes, despite the activism against violence against women and children, our state president ignored a young woman’s right to say No! #RememberKhwezi) If you’re in the dark about what I’m talking about, read it here.    Again, he’s still in office, with a cabinet of ministers that he has reshuffled for the umpteenth time since January.

I believe in the Collective Voice, but I’m also a realist.  The only hope for South Africa (and other parts of the world too) is a Divine Intervention.  The problem is that as a country we are divided – because of racial-, cultural-, gender- and religious differences (to name but a few).  Until we really stand together long-term against the system that is failing us, we’re merely a few needles in a colossal haystack.

And it’s with the haystack analogy that I come back to the farmers – without them there will be no food (or milk), no jobs for the farm labourers (nor shelter for those fortunate enough to receive housing on the farms), increased import costs (because we will have to get produce from somewhere).  In short, it is going to set us back and put us on par with our African neighbours who really have nothing to show for ‘righting the wrongs of the past’ except barren land and empty store shelves.


Image from SABC

The Big Things in Life are Often Inexpensive…

…Yet leave us with a wealth of contentment.

Last week I headed off to the The Mother City to write exams.  My Herbalife-friend, Tina tagged along for the ride.  I was so grateful because she drove most of the way and as a result I had a few extra hours to study.

We stayed in a delightful flat in Mowbray that I found on Airbnb.  Our host, Noel, was absolutely amazing, adding a personal touch by including a small bottle of sparkling wine to the welcome basket in the flat, which we drank on Thursday afternoon after we’d spent the rest of the day at Signal Hill, playing silly buggers and The Company Gardens feeding the pigeons and the squirrels.  A highlight was “The Perfect Cup” which was served at the coffee shop at the latter.


Other highlights included catching up with my friends, Jakes, and Alijay for quick coffees.  Oh, and I had the best curry of my life the Wednesday night (yes, in Cape Town, not Durban!)

and a smashing Lemon Meringue with “The Perfect Cup”.


All in all, looking back, I am glad that I didn’t once, set foot in a mall and spend money on stuff that I not only don’t need, but can’t afford – and that will be fleeting pleasures.  These #memories are forever!


Aimee’s at It Again…

My blog is a relatively no-holds barred space.  I write about different things, and often from one extreme to the next.  I know that I have different readership, for which I am grateful, but I want to state, again, that I will not tolerate prejudice from those readers who disagree with the content of any of my posts – like the atheists about my religious/faith posts, or the Bible followers that disagree with my view on people like Aimee and her choices.  If you can’t respect that, then I’d rather have you unfollow me.

Thank you.

Now, if you’re still reading:

Read this post first, so that you have the background.

My exams are finally over.  *Happy dance*!  I got back from Cape Town on Friday afternoon, and was surprised to hear that Aimee was in town.  Obviously, we had to get together to catch up on what’s happened since our last visit, a fortnight shy of a year.

Poor woman.  She is totally fucked – in the physical sense of the word, but in the psychological realm too.  She’s not crazy (well, then again, she is in my inner circle, so maybe she is a bit touched), but mind-fucked.

A lot has gone down in the past year, which is the last time I saw her:

Junior got involved with a girl his own age and from what Aims tells me, he seems idyllically happy.  She seems okay about it, telling me that on the odd ocassion he’ll call, just to hear how she’s doing, which she appreciates, although he did tell her the other night that while he was in the shower, he thought to himself that he should phone her.  Hello?!  He’s involved with another chick, yet he thought about Aimee when there was steam surrounding his naked body while hot water was pounding his flesh.  Well, maybe it wasn’t just hot water…   In the back of her mind though, I think she knew even if they had got their groove on, it would have been short-lived.

Mr. Married Willy is also out of the picture.  I say, “Thank God!” even though she is devastated.  While all he initially wanted was the intellectual sex, they decided to meet in person a while ago, but he couldn’t get out of the house, “for fear of making my wife suspicious” and then again recently, but nothing came of it.  I said he got cold feet, she said he got a cold heart, which shriveled his dick and crumbled his spine.  I get her anger, but he is married, although I know better than to bring that up because it’s not what she needs-, nor wants to hear right now.

She tried to be brave when telling me of her disappointment, but I know she’s hurting.  I’m not sure if she was in love him, but she was curious, and with her vivid imagination, I think she had some kind of picture in her head of him getting a divorce, then having rip-roaring, sheet-tearing, chandelier-swinging sex with him, and possibly, some kind of future.  It’s a definite no-go after he made some shitty excuse about not being able to see her.  Snap!  That’s the sound of the little bit of frayed line that held whatever-it-was-they-had together.  I want to phone him and tear a strip off of him, but she’s put a leash on me, so she’s planning her own revenge.  She knows who his wife is, and it’s easy enough to get in touch with her on Facebook.  She has every last text message, and e-mail exchange of the almost two years they’ve been corresponding, and she has no qualms about forwarding them to his unsuspecting wife.  I can only hope she changes her mind because while he deserves to be miserable and alone, his children didn’t ask for this.

There’s no shortage of virile men around Aimee though.  Mr. Freak, now known as Mr. Hot Bunz is still in the picture, which surprises me, especially after her disconnection from the moment the last time and because Friends with Benefits is not her style; being a fuck-buddy, with the right guy is.  For those of you not sure what the difference is:

Friend with Benefits:  Person who is a friend, with whom you enjoy spending time, doing friend-stuff, but it may or may not end up with you doing the horizontal mambo.  When either one is in a relationship, then the benefits are forfeited.

Fuck Buddy: You both fuck each other senseless and then sleep in your respective homes.  There is nothing friend-like about the arrangement.  You’re basically carnal rabbits in a cosmic pheromone-filled warren. Synonym: Booty Call.

So, now that you have the nutshell meanings, Aims is the kind of girl that’ll hook up for the occasional one-night-stand, and if he has her coming like a garden hose, she might even enter into a fuck-buddy arrangement with him, but it will never involve doing ‘relationshippy’ things, like drinks at a fancy bar, walks on the beach or a movie-night, with pizza and wine, nor will it ever involve him/her spending the night.  It will be wanton sex. Nothing more, nothing less.

But it’s different with Mr. Hot Bunz and it’s messing with her head.  He’s become her friend and a confidante.  I’ll chalk the latter off to the fact that I live too far away for her to pop in for a heart-to-heart over a glass of good red.  She hooked up with him the same night Mr. Married Willy stood her up, and it blew her mind, but she feels guilty now.

“Oh. My. God!  Aims, you’re not…”

Yes, she’s in love with him, and she has made the epic mistake of telling him how she feels.  Kudos to him for not getting into his car and riding a million miles in the opposite direction, even more so when she may, or may not have told him in a hazy sleep-awake moment that she loved him, or someone else.  She knows she heard a loud, “What?” from a voice, but she’s not sure if it was his voice, or if she dreamt the whole thing.  If she did say it out loud, I hope it was that she loved him, because she’s already had one strike.  I also hope that if he is an actual knight in shining armour, that he will at least be open to something more, because while Aimee almost never has her shit together, she is a one in a million girl and when she’s in a committed relationship, she’s in it for keeps.  All she needs is a good guy to take a gamble on her.  I know if he does, he will have struck the biggest jackpot imaginable.

To balance things out, Aims finally stopped gushing about herself and Mr. Sexy Ass, just long enough to ask about how things are with my love life.

“Less complicated than yours”, was my response, which is the truth, but some days I wish I had her open mind, smoking hot body and happy-go-lucky (for the most part) attitude towards life and fiery rabbit-love.

I have a feeling too, that another year isn’t going to pass before I give you an update on Aimee’s Escapades, given that she is seeing Mr. Sexy Ass more often now.  So, ‘til next time…adios!

Ma-V: Steel Magnolia



On Saturday evening, Wolf’s mom has left her diseased earthly body, exchanging it for her angel wings.  Her pain is finally over.  Yes, the doctors said three to six months, but the reality of the situation was, that today marks nineteen days since Wolf shared his mother’s diagnosis with me.  How sick she was before then, I do not know, nor did I ask.  The news in itself was awful enough.

While she was Mom to Wolf, she was an unofficial mother to many of his friends too.  Her name was Verona, or as I sometimes referred to her, Ma-V.  I was fascinated by her name, and only a while after having met her, did I find out Verona is a town in Italy.  Verona and I often talked about our dreams – both of us wanting to tour Europe, having even gone so far to get the brochures, check out the tours and make plans – only to never execute them, because we were always too busy with the things our lives threw at us.

She often said that she wanted me to write her life story.  I thought she was being flippant, but it turns out her desire for me to tell her story was genuine.  I feel dreadful about not taking her seriously.  I said to Wolf I would write it posthumously, but he said there is so much even he doesn’t know, and if I’m honest with myself, I would be doing it for the wrong reason:  guilt.  And I know Verona well enough to know she wouldn’t have wanted it that way.

I have fond memories of her.  Our first meeting – an unplanned New Year’s party at Wolf’s house, where a few of us, Elizabeth included, shared a concoction of booze out of a giant wine glass, while we laughed at Wolf who decided the best outfit for the occasion was his late Gran’s bathing costume.

I spent some time with her and Uncle Jannie, who I endearingly refer to as Oom Brombeer (Oom Grumpy Bear).  For the first while of that holiday, I spent time with them in their little home in Queenstown, where I learned that wild spinach or umfino is an edible weed.  It was a cold night and we sat at the little kitchen table, each with a little tipple and she made pancakes for us.  She tried to teach me to make them, but alas, I am not made for such delicate kitchen ventures.  That same trip she ran me a bath after a phone call to my parents that had left me particularly upset.  She even went to the trouble of lighting a few kombuis-kerse  – “for effect, Koeks”.

During that same visit, I convinced her that she and I needed a spa day.  She had never done something that indulgent, Koeks, but she eventually conceded defeat and made the appointment.  Not wanting to scar her for life during her first visit by taking her for a therapy that required any kind of undress, we opted for Indian head massages.  While she said that she had “loved it, Koeks,” she couldn’t wait to get home fast enough, so she could wash the oil out of her hair.  I tried to explain that the longer she left the oil on her hair, the more relaxed she’d feel, but she was having none of it.

We left Oom Brombeer in Queenstown and headed off to East London where he would join us later that week.  With no real plans, we took a slow drive, turning off at a sign that said “Thomas River”, which is a historical hamlet with a population of less than ten residents.  We had a ball there, taking pictures and chatting to one of the gentlemen in the restaurant/bar.  It was amazing to be in a place that time had literally forgotten about.

That weekend, Wolf and his dad joined us and we went out for a seafood dinner.  What. A. Night.  She still talked about it the very last time I saw her, which I will get to shortly.  We happened to walk into someone that she and Oom Brombeer did business with, and well, the man did think he was the last Adonis.  He passed some remark and without missing a beat I replied with something that had him opening and closing his mouth wordlessly, like a fish out of water.  A while later, the waiter brought a bottle of wine, “compliments of the gentleman at that table,” he said, pointing at the Guppy Man.  Nodding our thanks, we proceeded to savour that bottle of wine and regale tales of all sorts which had all of us laughing to the point of losing our breaths.  That night I really began to wish Wolf had made different decisions about his life and having me in it on a more permanent basis, but it wasn’t meant to be.  I wanted to pay the bill, given that I had spent almost a fortnight with them, but when I took my credit card out, there was a scuffle, some confusion and my deceptive ears heard, the bill had been settled, so I hooked my ‘skoonma’ (Afrikaans colloquialism for Mother-in-Law) into my arm and we headed off to the car, quite loud and cheery, mind you.  Imagine our surprise when the waiter came charging after us to tell us the bill hadn’t been paid.  We had unintentionally bilked, but I sorted it out quickly enough.

Another time I visited them in East London, I had big plans to cook mussels in garlic and white wine as a treat for them.  I had just got the sauce simmering on the stove when the electricity blacked out.  Verona was looking way too forward to that meal so she delegated Uncle Jannie to find the gas bottle so I could finish cooking that way.  It is probably a good time to mention that I am shit scared of anything that remotely has to do with a gas bottle, and that, as a really short person, I most often, when forced to use this means of heat, have to either stand on a chair, or have the cooker on the floor so that I can see into the pot.  This time was no different.  The gas bottle stood on the floor with the pot gently bubbling on top of it.  Every so often I would flick on the torch to see that the food wasn’t being scorched by the scary blue flames.  Oom Brombeer pulled the car close to the verandah, popped on the headlights , opened the doors and put the radio on and the three of us danced on the stoep, like we were the only people in the world.  We were brought back to reality quite quickly though because when I passed the kitchen on the way to the loo, I happened to notice thick, white sauce – all over the kitchen floor.  I was horrified, but Verona laughed it off and set to quickly mopping the gross, garlicky mess up.  I don’t remember what, if anything, we ate that night, but I remember laughter, fun and smiles.

I used to also send her and Oom Brombeer a care-package every so often – in the days when I could actually afford to.  One time I packed them a box with all sorts of goodies, including a bottle of home-made ginger beer.  As there were also fragile items in the box, I filled the box with polystyrene chips to protect the goods.  This was in the time that Verona still drove the Fiat Kangoo panel van.  I will never forget that phone call as long as I live!  “Koeks,” came the panicky voice, “the entire panel van is covered in polystyrene chips!  Something exploded in the box.  Good thing I wasn’t in the car.”  Realizing what had happened, trying not to laugh, despite the ridiculous picture I had in my head of the scene, I mentioned that there was a bottle of ginger beer in the box and that I hadn’t thought it would “go kaboom”.  Later than night she sent me a message telling me that now that she was sitting down with the little bit of ginger beer that hadn’t made it out of the bottle, she was roaring with laughter at the memory.

Later she and Oom Brombeer adopted a little girl, Kerry.  That is also something I will always remember about Verona – how she had always said she’d wanted a daughter, and how, by an unplanned turn of events,  she had been fortunate enough to have that one desire of her heart.  One thing about Verona is that she was a great mother, not only to her own flesh and blood, Wolf, but to little Kerry too.  She was a great second mom to me too, even though as life happened, and we didn’t get to see as much of each other as we would have liked, we still stayed in touch.
The last time I physically saw her was about two years ago, when she, Oom Brombeer and Kerry were here on holiday.  Oom Brombeer took Kerry to the water slides and Verona joined me for a spot of tea, in my flat.  It wasn’t a long visit, and had  I known it would be the last time I would ever see her alive, I would have told her more important things, than just the mundane.

There are many more memories I have of Verona, but I think for now, I’ve shared enough.

Ma-V, thank-you for setting such an incredible example to so many of us about tolerance of hardships, gentleness during perseverance, faithfulness in times of hopelessness and loneliness, and for being such an inspiration to so many, myself included.  I promise that one day, if I am ever fortunate enough to visit Italy that I will go to Verona, and find a quiet spot somewhere there to tell you all about it, because I know you will be listening.

Thank-you too for the happy film reel that will continue to play on in the hearts of all the people that you touched with your gentle, open and ever-joyful character – You will not be forgotten because your spirit lives on in your family who is left behind.  You are the epitome of the term, steel magnolia, Ma-V.


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.


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.”