Cousin Lola always used to tell me when I was younger, “God lets you choose your friends, because you can’t choose your family.” I’ve been thinking about this more and more lately, especially since The Toppie lost his job at the beginning of the month. Family are nowhere to be seen – and yes, I’ll concede that some of them are estranged because of bad attitudes, stupid feuds and stubbornness. I keep coming back to the adage “blood is thicker than water”. I don’t see much of my family, and to me it’s not really a big deal – there is no animosity between any of us (well almost any), it’s just that we move in different circles, and we have virtually nothing in common. These family members are those that I don’t ask for anything, nor they from me. It works.
But then…let’s face it – we all have someone with whom our DNA is interwoven that quite frankly we’d rather not be related to. Others unfortunately join the ranks through marriage. The upside of this is that the feeling is usually mutual and as a result paths don’t cross that often. These people are the ones that you might bump into at a wedding, or a funeral. In my experience it’s usually the latter. I could chalk it up to paying respects, but sometimes attendance is merely to say I’m still around, Fam-i-ly, just in case… you know, my name might be appearing in late Uncle Joe’s will. I always did love that landscape painting by Obscure Artist that hung in his dining room. What my hypothetical Wannabe Art Collector doesn’t know is the good ol’ Uncle Joe ended up on the bones of his arse and worked himself into his grave to keep his wife safe and cared for as he promised her a lifetime ago in front of many of the people at this very funeral. It doesn’t say much for my Wannabe Art Collector, but it does speak to the kind of person Uncle Joe was.
Moving away from hypothetically dearly departed Uncle Joe, and back to the reality at hand…
The past three months have been hell for my parents. The Toppie had a tough time at work (more than that I am not allowed to say at this stage), and he was let go four days into 2019, tensions were (still are!) high because of rising costs and the place they’re living is in an industrial area, so human contact is almost non-existent. I’ve tried my best to get them to come and stay with me (as hard as the adjustment would be for all of us, and they’ve declined), and they’re both still competent, so I cannot force the issue. I’ve tried too to get even a little help from some family members who should as far as I’m concerned have a moral duty, but with no success. It’s disillusioning to say the least. I hate seeing the two people I care about most in this world have to suffer as they are, when there are people that knew where my parents were when a hand or Rands were needed. The only thing I have to console myself is not everyone thinks like-, nor were they raised like me. Add to that, that God doesn’t sleep and I do feel a little better about things.
But, as I have learned in an attempt to become more enlightened, I look to what I can be grateful for in this situation – and it is for friends. From the ones that travelled from Cape Town in September last year and brought my parents a crate of non-perishables and some meat, to the one that baked them some biscuits, so that they’d have something nice to nibble on over Christmas, to the one that drew money out of her bond to loan to me so they could pay their car (and yes it’s a loan to me, which is to be paid back), to the ones that gave The Toppie a painting job so the rent could be paid, to the ones that are sharing a post I’ve put on Facebook to try and help The Toppie find a job to keep him busy and bring some money in, to the one that lets me travel with her to work, so that I can help my folks out with some things they need, to the one that sent me money to take The Bean and The Toppie out for their anniversary. These people have zero obligation to help at all, but they care about me, and by extension about The Toppie and The Bean.
You know who you are, and I just want you all to know that everything you all do for me (no matter how big or small), is valued and appreciated. I’m grateful to each one of you, and I’m proud to call you all family.
This past fortnight has been quite emotional for me. It can be written off to the Mirena I had put in when the doctor did the other two procedures in November last year. It’s normal. Apparently. I must just ride the wave. Does that mean surf’s up?
Last week was a particularly bad week for me. I would go from zero to bitch to activist to snivelling heap, to centre of attention to strong silent type in a matter of minutes. Add to that I sometimes have foreboding premonitions and well, you pretty much have a category five hurricane on your hands.
I don’t often have these gut feelings, but when I do, they’re generally not wrong. My friend Cassey was on my mind a great deal last week, and instead of just touching base, I kept putting it off. Turned out she, along with another friend of mine, both lost parents last week, and one of my FB friends lost her brother, but the heartbreak doesn’t stop there 😦 On Saturday Shayla-Rae let me know that a couple of our former teachers lost their eldest son in a tragic drowning accident. He was only seventeen. A young man, with his entire future ahead of him. It puts things in perspective for me once again. Life is precious and in the blink of an eye, it can be ended, whether after a long illness, or in a heart-rending accident. It also leaves one asking Why? Why did God decide to snuff their candles out? Only He knows…
In the bigger scheme of things – you all know how scared I am to lose my parents, but having heard of all this loss this past week, I’m grateful The Toppie only broke his arm. It could have been a lot worse. A few people have sent well-wishes after my post about The Toppie. As I said, going back to work did him the world of good. I also think it saved The Bean from committing murder 😀 The next bridge to cross is when the plaster comes off. I’ll give y’all another update shortly after.
On a happier note, I’m having a catch-up with Carmen after work tonight. She’s visiting her parents for a few days. Can’t wait to have a decent chinwag with her. Even though I saw her three weeks ago, it feels like years has passed.
Have a great week everyone, and remember – tell the important people in your life that they mean something to you. You never know when they won’t be around anymore!
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:
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.
Note to reader – You are welcome to comment on this post, but I WILL NOT get into a flame-war with you, should you disagree with my post. I am entitled to my opinion. This is MY space. If you visit, respect that. If you disagree with my views, and wish to comment, be adult about it. I WILL NOT tolerate being sworn at, nor abused. Such comments WILL BE REPORTED and subsequently DELETED. If you can’t handle that, then please leave.
Many people, have, in my opinion, made a god of Nelson Mandela, forgetting that he too, like you and I, was a person, created in the image of God. There is a global outpouring of grief today, as his passing is mourned by millions. I can’t help but wonder if Jesus had been on earth now, if His crucifixion would have got the same media coverage. Now, before any of you decide to put me in front of a firing squad, stone me, burn me at the stake, or hang me by the neck until I’m dead, I’m not saying that Nelson Mandela wasn’t a great man, a great leader and a shining example to us all, not only as South Africans, but the world as a whole.
A while ago my parents and I were listening to the news, where the report was about a six-week old little girl being raped. A few weeks prior to that, two little girls had been gang-raped, their broken little bodies left in a make-shift toilet to be found. In South Africa we daily hear news about rape, murder, looting, corruption and AIDS to name but a few. So much so, that it actually isn’t news to us anymore, and THAT readers, is where the problem lies. I believe that the only hope for us as a country, and the world as a whole is a Divine Intervention and while I don’t know what Nelson Mandela’s beliefs were, I believe in my heart that God made him a wise, humble and forgiving man and that the wisdom, humility and forgiveness God placed in him will be remembered for generations to come, and that many people who are touched by those traits, will feel a transformation in their hearts, and turn to the One True God.
Today my Facebook status reads: “I think regardless of anyone’s political views, we cannot deny that Nelson Mandela was a great man, with a great vision for our country. He could very easily have incited a black on white war if had wanted to, but instead, he chose to FORGIVE and move on…
I’m in no way saying that our country is perfect – I often think that the vision Madiba had for our country has got lost as politicians fight for power, officials lie to the people, and ignorant people rape and murder women and children…and it saddens me and I could go on, BUT we need to remember that Madiba had a positive vision for us, that he loved this country, that he FORGAVE. He too saw the vision being lost – after all he was still alive during a great deal of it, but he continued to believe in this country. He remained strong in his vision and mission for all South Africans – for us to reconcile and move forward. Who knows, maybe now that he has finally gone, the vision will be re-instilled in the Rainbow Nation’s heart.”
My only hope is that we get to a point where we all realize Who placed the greatness and vision:
‘We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world. Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all.
Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign! The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement! God bless Africa!’ (Excerpt from Nelson Mandela’s Inaugural Celebration Address)
upon Nelson Mandela and that we get to know Him, because “we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, and who are called according to His Purpose”. Romans 8:28
…since I last blogged. Shocking! I should be court-marshalled, or burnt at the stake, or something…
So, let’s see, where shall I start?
Ah, I know, my hospital two weeks ago. I came to work feeling very chipper because I was only due to work half day and then a mini-holiday awaited me as we were only due to restart work on this following Tuesday. Well, as I sat down in my chair, a searing pain (that I’m sure is worse than childbirth) took hold of my back, and that was me. I couldn’t move, and worse, I couldn’t feel my legs. I yelled up the passage for help, which arrived and I was loaded into the car and taken to casualty, because the stupid doctor’s receptionist couldn’t comprehend the term emergency, and failed even more to understand that I couldn’t wait until after lunch for an appointment. I was in pain and needed help. Immediately!
I ended up having to wait for the casualty doctor for about a half hour, but I got to lie flat which relieved a great deal of the pain, but I still couldn’t feel my legs. I have only ever felt so helpless once before. He poked and prodded, and I yelled like I was being murdered. Eventually I was put on a drip with serious pain meds and for a while I think I saw little birdies and stars. I was sent home with strict instructions to lie flat on my back for the entire Easter weekend. So not cool! Needless to say, I didn’t listen.
I went to physio the following day. My legs nearly gave way underneath me again, but not because I couldn’t feel them anymore – the therapist was one of the most handsome (young) men I’ve ever laid eyes on. And that is no exaggeration! He also attempted to assess my pain, but all I could do was squeal like a pig off to slaughter. He told me to come back the Saturday, but that I’d be seeing his colleague as he already had prior work commitments. So I lost the gorgeous-blue-eyed-boy’s hands on my body…alas!
Went back a few days with significantly less pain, thank goodness. Turns out the gorgeous-blue-eyed-boy’s colleague is equally handsome. Not as drop dead gorgeous, but a looker nevertheless. I’m not sure if it is a pre-requisite to have beautiful eyes to work at this specific practice, but therapist two has equally beautiful eyes, and a soft manner which made him immediately likeable. He pulled and propped and yanked and prodded and while it wasn’t exactly a heavenly massage, I walked out of there unassisted! I even drove myself home without having to drink pain meds when I got there! I was so happy, I could quite easily have kissed him, because it meant that I could go to a concert that evening.
Now, those of you who aren’t South African may not yet have heard of this amazing foursome, Romanz. Do yourselves a favour and check some of their YouTube videos. Go on…I won’t let you read further until you have!
Right, now that you’ve done that, all I am going to say about the concert is, “Wow! Amazing! Super! Bravo, bravo, bravo!” So, that’s pretty much my Easter weekend in a nutshell…
Two weeks before that I went with Carmen, Ewan, Nicolas and his wife, Eleanor to a little holiday village called Jongensfontein. While there, my car was broken into (it was parked at Nic and Eleanor’s place as I drove with them), but fortunately not much was stolen, but the schlep involved to get everything sorted out was not amusing, believe me. The police came to take fingerprints, but there wasn’t a single usable print, so I don’t hold out much hope. The most valuable thing the stupid tits stole was my reading glasses, which the insurance is not replacing and I don’t have a medical savings account, so I will struggle on without them. Besides that, a pair of my favourite sandals broke that weekend too. So, if bad things happen in threes, mine are over! *Happy dance*
On the subject of that weekend, here are some of the photos I took.
It is a small piece of heaven, that is less than an hour’s drive away from where we live. The break was just what I needed and while I thanked them, I don’t think they comprehend the extent of my gratitude. We had quite a few laughs and I got a tan that should last me through the winter – physiotherapist number two even commented on it *blush*
Oh yes! I’m moving round about the middle of July – to a place that is a mere 10 minutes away from my folks’ home. I started thinking about moving out when Dad started talking about retiring – he’s not getting any younger and the hard, active work on the rig is taking it’s toll on him. He wants to scale down a bit after retirement, and if I’m honest, I should have moved out ages ago, but living at home is convenient, and mom needs the company because she doesn’t drive. If dad still decides to work for a while after I move, I will spend some nights a week with her and some at my own place.
I looked at a few places online in our area and what fell in my budget was mostly bachelor pads, or single-bedroom places. I’ve always had champagne taste and beer money, so this was obviously not really working for me. I found one place that I would have deemed habitable, but I was put off by the bathroom being off the kitchen (I am not a germophobe per sé, but I seriously don’t want to be flushing the loo an arm’s length from where I’m going to be prepping food) and then someone else at work showed me that there is a cupboard affixed above a door-frame. How the heck is anyone supposed to reach there? Seriously, even I could have drawn up a better plan… another place I looked at online was well within my budget, and semi-furnished, but almost everything furnishing wise was zebra stripes. And the walls were a violent shade of orange. So not the restful zen-retreat I had in mind.
What I really desired in my heart was a place with two bedrooms and a full bathroom. Make no mistake, I love my shower in the morning, but there are just some days when only a bubble bath can make a bad day better. So, with that said, God knows the desires of my heart, and He blessed me beyond that. It is a blessing that came across my path, through Carmen. She and Ewan are currently living in the flat. It is underneath her parents’ house, but with a separate, private entrance. She was telling me that she and Ewan want to move out later this year and I asked her if she’d ask her parents if they’d be willing to rent the place to me. I thought even if they would be willing to, I may very possibly not be able to afford it, but turns out that it is R200 more than I had in mind BUT it includes utilities, satellite TV and will be furnished with whatever I don’t have (which is almost everything!). It has THREE bedrooms (although I will use the one as a dressing room, as they currently do), and two bathrooms (the one bedroom is en-suite), and the other has the bath!
I bought myself a little second-hand lounge suite from a friend of Aunty Carol’s and the lady threw in a round table too. Mom has given me a food steamer, a fridge and while there is a bit of a fight about it, I’m sure my orthopaedic bed will be moving with me (after all, I don’t want to have to go to hospital again, now do i?) Dad bought me a little two plate stove oven and Aunty Carol and Uncle Barry gave me a George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Grilling machine. In the meantime, I have been buying a few things (dry groceries mostly) which I’ve been boxing and storing. One thing I can tell you is that if I have friends over for dinner, there is a good chance that they will be eating Mince/Tuna/Rice Mate because I have about 8 boxes of those meal kits already and most likely canned fruit of some sort for dessert (or jelly and custard)! I have everything to make the flat shiny and clean from Toilet Duck to Mr. Muscle. I have been trying my best to settle all my small niggling accounts (but the back episode has set me back quite a bit this past month, but I’ll survive – I have faith!).
I’ve finally reached goal weight, having lost 20 Kg (although with all the meds for my back and subsequent need to have a pity party (I’ve eaten two boxes of Lindor balls in as many days), I’m quite sure I’ve put some of it back, but I’ll be back in the gym tomorrow (with permission from physiotherapist two) and I’ll start shedding it again. Apparently I have to do more pilates-type exercises, so I’m not only going to be thin, I’m going to be bendy too!
Then, a shocking revelation came my way two weeks ago. A very close friend, Jesse James, of mine for whom I carried a candle for almost a decade (read the linked post, you’ll understand) came to visit his folks and we got together for drinks. I had the most incredible cherry vodka and mint tea cocktail – served in a teapot! He had two beers. From there we popped around to another old haunt and while we were waiting for our drinks, he asked me if I had regrets. I said I think everyone does and he told me that he…he… and then he tried to change the subject, but I pressed. He told me he regretted that we never ever ended up together. I wasn’t sure I’d heard right, so I made him repeat himself. “I regret that we never ended up together, that we never gave a relationship between us a chance.” Now, if you’ve read the linked post, you’ll know he knew how I felt about him, but I honestly had no idea he felt the same. I’d made peace with the fact that it just wasn’t meant to be, and I believe in my heart that I’ve met the man I’m going to marry anyway. Jesse James knows how I feel about this man, and he says he’s happy for me, and I believe him, because I know him better than he knows himself and I’ve never seen him so sincere. I told Elizabeth what happened and the cynic in her says it was the booze talking, but how much truth serum is hidden in two beers? Even if I didn’t feel about this other man the way I do, Jesse James himself has told me that he knows it would never work, because in our case, we really love each other, but it’s not enough. We’re from different worlds, and he can’t give me the life I deserve…part of me is glad he told me, because I’ve always wondered, but part of me wishes he’d never said anything because the dynamic of our friendship has changed a bit. I don’t know how to describe it other than “it’s complicated”.
So, that’s a glimpse of what’s happened in the last few weeks… I’ll try to blog more often, but more often than not, I look around and think “where the hell did the day go?!”