There IS Beauty Everywhere…

I took these photos this past Wednesday, a 10-minute drive from my home.

Soul restoring stuff, I tell you! #Grateful

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Belief…

A lot has happened the past two to three months. Some of it hard, some of it easy, but all of it growth. As I approach the last year of my thirties, and I reflect on the person I am today vs the person I was, as short as a mere year ago, I often don’t recognize the person looking back at me in the mirror. She’s a little greyer, a little thinner, a little more assertive, less worried about what people think of her, a lot more open minded, and mirroring the behaviour of the people who treat her right.  The ones that don’t?  Well, let’s just say, they don’t know what they’re missing, which brings me to the subject of this post: Belief:  The belief in one’s self, the belief in others, and others’ belief in you.

No matter how I word this, it is going to sound conceited, but it’s not meant to be.  It is a statement of fact, akin to me telling you that the moon’s cycle determines the tide.

Many people, when they first meet me find me charming, and they’d be right. I have a stellar personality and I’m able to hold my own in most conversations because I have a broad general knowledge, acquired over the years through a love of (reclusive) reading. What they don’t know is how many internal battles I’ve had to fight to become the non-Sandra-Bullock-version of Miss Congeniality. Self-belief is something that I had intense struggles with when I was younger. I can’t tell you when it was no longer an issue for me, but I will be honest and tell you that although few and far between, some days my body gets snatched and I trip into a pit of self-loathing. This is where others’ belief of me carries me through.  It’s a circle – sometimes I’m in the pit, sometimes I’m helping others out.

Belief in one’s self doesn’t come from an Ivy League education, or being born into an affluent family, or having the best material things money can buy.  If that was the case, then a very large percentile of the world’s population would be unhappy and hateful. This specific belief has a two-fold root system which stems from

  • Something within, something intangible that tells you, “Despite the chips often being stacked against you, you’re doing good, Kid. Just keep doing what you’re doing”.
  • Valuable, honest, genuine people building you up, often amidst trials of their own.

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I’m going to make specific reference to my friend TJ here. She’s been a huge confidante for me about things I can’t discuss with anyone else.  She’s offered advice, encouraged me to move outside my overgrown-hedge-comfort-zone and told me to never stop believing that I am enough, that I matter and that everything that has happened to me until this point has been for a reason. This despite her receiving news that she has breast cancer (in the very early stages, so the prognosis is good).

Last night she used one of my insecurities and a person I care very deeply for to illustrate a point.  It was horrible!  Her execution was utterly reprehensible. She basically stripped me emotionally bare, and then revealed that I’ve grown in a certain area that I have always struggled with. She also illustrated the belief I have in the person she basically crucified to get her point across.  Yes, there is a positive outcome, but I was majorly pissed.  I called her a fucking psycho but her response was one that disarmed my shock and had us both in fits of laughter.  Her self-belief that her little sadistic exercise would succeed boggles my mind, but then again, it was very likely a calculated risk on her part.

She did call this morning in the wee hours to apologize, telling me that she believed in me enough to know I’d be able to handle what happened.  She’s right; and I’ve grown.  A few months ago, had this episode played itself out, I may have reacted very differently. I did tell her she doesn’t know the person she used as a pawn in her Cosmic Chess Game, and about that I’m hurt.  Her reply was, “YOU believe in him/her, MTM and because of that I believe in him/her.  It’s clear that the bond you have is strong.”

My belief in others depends on whether or not they rest on their laurels.  Shallow, I know, but I abhor people who want everything handed to them on a silver platter.  I know that life often deals hands that nobody expects, but in that instance, you’ve got two choices – give yourself an extra dose of self-belief and roll with the punches, or stand back doing nothing.  I have many dreams, some of which are on my dream board and I work hard to try to realize them.  I have other priorities, but my belief in myself, my skills and the support of the honest, valuable, real people in my life keeps me forging on.

Every day we just need to remind ourselves – we matter, we’re here for a reason and BELIEVE it!

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Gut Feelings…

A mere two weeks ago, I blogged about this very topic. If you want to read that post, it can be found here.

Premonitions.

Forebodings.

Warnings.

Omens.

Signs.

Call them what you like, they’re never good. There is always something dark attached to these feelings of impending dread.

This morning my mom phoned me on my direct office line, with a simple question: “Are you at work with your own car, or did you travel with Nikita.”

“Nikita, why?”

“It’s just a question.”

“No Bean, it’s not just a question. You wouldn’t be asking without some sort of reason.”

She proceeded to tell me that for the past two days she’s seen shadowy figures passing by her bedroom window, or door. I’ve seen one before too, shortly before Malcolm died, so I don’t merely want to dismiss her feelings, because I believe they hold some merit.

I’ve done a lot of reading about Shadow People, which as defined by Wikipedia are:

“A shadow person is the perception of a patch of shadow as a living, humanoid figure, particularly as interpreted by believers in the paranormal or supernatural as the presence of a spirit or other entity.”

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They generally are associated with sleep paralysis. The night I saw mine, I woke up to see the figure at the foot of my bed. I was terrified, but it merely put a finger to its lips and I heard ssshhhh and it walked through the door. Gone. Disappeared into thin air. I knew something was wrong and mentioned it to my parents as I had a sick aunt at the time. It never crossed my mind that Malcolm might be coming to say goodbye.

The Bean sees them when she’s awake, and her sense of them extends beyond merely seeing them.
This morning, after her daily quiet time, she felt anxious about me and got a strong smell of my perfume.

“I’m so worried for me, Chickpea.”

“Don’t worry, Bean. I’m fine. My car is at home.”

“Okay, just tell Nikita to drive safely. Please. Promise me.”

The distress in her voice was tangible.

“I will. Promise.”

As much as I tried to downplay it and reassure her that everything is fine, because it is, it does have me wondering…

I told Nikita and the poor woman is now as high-strung as a faulty Jack-in-the-Box.

We’re taking it seriously though. I will let my mom know when I am home.

House Hunting: A Nightmare in the Garden Route

I’m a member of various FB groups in our region – mostly to market my Herbalife sideline business, but also to stay in the loop as to what is happening in the area, because I live under a rock most of the time.  I don’t buy the local rag because it is more ads than news and with social media being reported in real time, by the time the paper makes the round on a Friday, most of the news is old already anyway.

One thing I have noticed on many of the groups is how many people are looking for accommodation, yet they can’t find because of limited availability and for those who do manage to find something available, the places come with ridiculous rentals and the owners are very particular about no pets.  Some even state “no children”, which I think is cruel – and this coming from someone who is not a parent.

House Hunting

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It’s the price of living in the Garden Route, I suppose, but it doesn’t seem fair.    It brings that Roger Miller tune, King of the Road to mind.

One member pointed out, “How am I supposed to afford a house with a rental of R8K when between my wife and I, we’re only bringing home R11K.  We have accounts that need paying, kids that need to be fed, clothed and schooled, and then some…”  Some replies were, “If you can get a house for R8K you should count yourself lucky” and “if you don’t want it, I’ll take it.  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find accommodation here?”  These statements are true, but it doesn’t make the reality any easier to deal with for those who are struggling to make ends meet, because in many instances employers in this area are still pay their employees way-under-market-related-salaries.  Every morning I say a prayer of gratitude because I work for a company that not only remunerates its workers well, but also allows for both professional- and individual growth.  Add to that great colleagues, and it’s a recipe for success.

Besides the supply vs demand for accommodation in general, another topic came up for discussion: In December many people were left out in the cold as their landlords put them out to rent the places for the summer holiday at rents only the Northerners can afford.  There are two sides to the argument of course – as a tenant of a furnished flat, the first thing I did when signing the lease was to check that I wouldn’t have to vacate the property during the summer holiday, because my brain said, “where will I go?”  I wanted the assurance in writing that I would have a roof over my head during the busiest part of the year, and I got it.  I will say too, that the couple that owns my home, are amazing lessors.

So, the question begs, did these people that were displaced not know about the requirement to vacate, or did they merely not bother to procure alternative accommodation in time?  Or did the property owners merely shaft them?  It’s anyone’s guess.  The plight of the tenants left stranded has now been raised to the point where the legality of such rentals is going to be investigated.  A good thing, I believe because there is clearly exploitation of a loophole somewhere. Whether it is intentional or not is irrelevant.

It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the investigation is.  Guess we’ll have to just wait and see…

Looking Back on 2017…

It’s that time of the year, when I look back reflectively on the year past, and with excitement and expectation for the one that lies ahead.

2017 was a tough year.  As an individual I was tested, as a couple my parents were tested, and as a family, you guessed it, we were tested.  Yet, here we are on the first day January, with hope and courage in our hearts, and the faithful belief that things will be better this time round.  It was also the year that I bid goodbye to seven pairs of shoes, six pairs of which broke at the office.  Pair seven broke as I got out the car for my year-end-work-function. As I look back though, as tough as it was, it was a good year, all in all.

January started off slowly, but I did do one parkrun; the only one for the entire year.  It was a destined one though, because it was there that I met Heather, with whom I have become quite close.  We “get” each other, like uMeredith and Christina do.  We’re both book sluts and Dischem whores, who love drinking wine out of enamel mugs at Kaai 4, or eating fish and chips out of polystyrene containers on top of the iconic red London bus at the harbour.  In a short twelve months, she’s joined the ranks of “heart sister”.

In February I was faced with a bit of a surprise.  The institution through which I studied years ago let me know that if I didn’t complete the final subject of my tertiary year by the end of 2017, I would lose all the credits for that period.  I took the leap, borrowed the money and, at the tender age of thirty-seven, hit the books again.  It was an experience to say the least, because I struggled with self-discipline.  Honestly, had it been anything to do with writing I would have approached it with more enthusiasm.  It was also the month I met Charlie, in passing, at Heather’s birthday party, blissfully unaware that by the end of the year he too, would be someone genuinely important in my circle.

The Toppie, Bean and I also went on a bit of a safari adventure, arranged by Tina and some of her friends.  It was such a special time for us as a family, where memories were made.

March marched right by.  I’ve gone through my photos and I can’t find anything blog-worthy that happened that month.

In April, shortly after The Toppie’s 70th birthday celebration, my parents bid their home goodbye, and moved to a much smaller place, in an industrial area outside of town.  It was gut-wrenching to have to watch them sell off their possessions to be able to make ends meet, but through the hardship, they’ve learned that they didn’t need all that stuff – they’ve got each other.  It broke my heart when The Bean lost her precious cockatiel, Marley, shortly after.

That same month, a tiny pipe in my bathroom broke, resulting in a flood right through my flat.  For three months I couldn’t live there, but thanks to friends and an amazing colleague and his wife, I had a roof over my head the entire time.  If I’m honest, I kind of became attached to my transit-home, which was a garden cottage in said colleague’s back garden.  The fact that their beautiful Labrador would visit had nothing to do with it.

May was a cold month, so most of the studying I did for exams took place under the duvet, with a cup of hot chocolate in hand.  I also spent a great deal of time reading for leisure in the evenings.  I discovered the literary genius of Afrikaans author, Deon Meyer and have since read two of his books, Koors and Spoor.

One of my best friends, Wolf also lost his mom, 19 days after having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 😦

June brought with it the birth of Shayla-Rae’s first child (and my goddaughter), Lily-Rose.  She was the most perfect little person I had ever seen.

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Here the precious little mite was not even a full day old yet.

My heart swelled with pride, not only because I was now a god-mommy, but for my childhood best friend, who pushed that perfect little person out of her vajajay.

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Now she’s almost seven months…

I won’t use the exact phrase she did to describe the process of child birth; needless to say, it was colourful.

June also brought with it exams, that, no matter how much I had studied, I still didn’t feel prepared for.  I dragged Tina with me to Cape Town, because she needed a break from the drama with her ex, and because I didn’t fancy being in the Mother City without decent company.  It was during that visit that I had the best Durban curry of my life – yes, in Cape Town.  It didn’t bode well for my exams the next day because it played havoc with my stomach.  I wrote what felt like a million words on the answer sheets provided and when I left, after not having completed the final question, I thought I think I’ve done enough to pass.  I took Tina up Signal Hill where we nearly blew away (Did someone say Cape Doctor?) and then we went to the Company Gardens to feed the squirrels.  The little critters are quite brazen when they know you’re hiding peanuts.

July was a good month.  I got to move back home, to newly installed floors and the luxury of a bath.  While I love my morning shower, sometimes all that cures the ails of a long day at the office in the middle of winter, is a hot, candlelit bubble bath.

I also got to visit Shalya-Rae, Shane and little Lily-Rose for a few days in the beautiful Tsitsikamma.  I really wanted to do the hike to the suspension bridge across the sea and Shayla-Rae indulged me, carrying a sleepy Lily the entire way in the car chair.  It was up countless stairs, and down through steep valleys.  The view, and the feeling of absolute freedom was amazing.  Granted we were windswept and a bit cold afterwards, but it was worth every leg-stiffening step.  It’s something I will definitely do again.

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The view from the end of the bridge – breathtaking!
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Windswept #Selfie
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The bridge is older than I am.

Charlie also came home for a holiday and we spent some time together, in an attempt to get to know each other better.  While he hasn’t managed to convert me to a KFC fan (yet), I think I did well to make him a Sherlockian.  He went back to work in August and his imminent return in January 2018 is something I’m looking forward to.

In August I got my exam results.  Thankfully I’d passed.  With distinction!  I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the results.  Over eighty percent.  I still don’t know how I managed the excellent mark; I can only think that there were many prayers going up at the time on my behalf.

September.  The month of my birthday …Usually I have some kind of shindig to celebrate, but this year, I opted for something a little more low-key.  Jensen, a family friend of over twenty-five years, came to visit and took me out for pizza and wine at a new place in town.  It was a great catch-up.  First Sighting Shiraz is a wine I most certainly need in my collection.

Carmen and Ewan also welcomed their second child into the world.  World, meet little Roger!

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World, I love bathtime!

In October, little Liam, Eliza and Neil’s second child celebrated his first birthday.  I have a special tie with him; he’s my “bonding-baby” – the first child I every held that wasn’t even a month old yet, and I believe that he prepared me for Lily-Rose.  In the imaginary world I sometimes live in, I imagine the two of them getting married one day.

It was also the first time I got hypnotised.  Theresa came to visit and I convinced her to tag along with me to a hypnosis entertainment show.  I’ve always wondered about going under but didn’t for a minute think I would be on stage.  For over an hour!  Theresa was awesome, filming all my shenanigans on her phone.  I looked like I had tremendous fun and without a doubt, I will do it again.  I woke up the next morning stiff as a board, but after watching the clips, I understand why – I was really active on stage, from being a dinosaur, to a washing machine, to a goldfish, to a rapper, to a lifeguard and then some.

Now, there are few things as daunting as having a man who you’re not having sex with inspect your lady-bits, but in November I trotted off to the surgery.  I’d been putting off the gynae visit for months, but due to exacerbating problems around Aunt Flo’s visit every month, I was left no choice but to face the Fanny Flapper and his dreaded (to coin a phrase by a good writer friend of mine) dildo cam.  It should be mentioned at this juncture that the past two times I’ve seen him, it has been for emergency procedures, so when he greeted me with, “It’s so lovely to see you here, in my office, instead of the operating theatre,” I couldn’t help but smile.  After likening my cycle to that of pig slaughter, it was decided that a deeper look would be crucial to get to the core of the problem.  Oh yay, off I go to the hospital.  Again.  What I wasn’t expecting was that it would be for two procedures.  I’d had the first, a laparoscopy, before so I knew what to expect.  The second, a hysteroscopy, I was a bit worried about because it sounded a bit scary.  Turns out there was reason for concern:  The monthly vampire bloodfest seeping from my uterus was due to a teratoma (the same thing the first laparoscopy had been done for to remove).  The odd thing was it wasn’t on my ovary, where the little bastards normally cling on, it was between my intestine and my stomach lining.  It had all kinds of different human tissue, which I of course find fascinating; most people find it gross.  The doctor said they do tend to grow back, but in this particular case, this might be the remnants of the original alien that the first doctor didn’t get entirely removed.  Thankfully, I am feeling a great deal better.  The night-dwelling-day-sleeping-bloodsuckers are probably really pissed off with me about it though.

December.  By definition: Hectic.  It is par for the course when one lives in a seaside-resort-holiday-town.  With only three weeks available to do what felt like three months’ worth of work, tempers were clearly frayed and the prospect of a holiday was all that kept me from committing murder.   Fortunately, before that happened, our bosses were awesome and gave us a delicious year end dinner, which gave me a reason to dress up.

I originally wore a pair of killer silver heels, but both shoes broke as I got out the car.

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I originally had a pair of killer silver heels on, but both shoes broke as I got out of the car.

Little Lily­-Rose was christened in the Dutch Reformed Church a stone-throw away from a one-horse-town called Kareedouw.  It wasn’t without its own hysterics.  Shayla-Rae’s mum put her button-up dress over her satin slip (which was keeping her warm).  As we stood up to sing the first hymn, her pretty, pink pyjamas landed in a crumpled heap at her feet.  I of course was the only one who saw it, and trying not to laugh, only made me want to laugh more.  It may not sound funny to those of you reading this, but to me it was hysterical.

It was also my twenty-year school reunion, which I didn’t attend due to other commitments.  From the photos it looks like much fun was had.  One pleasant surprise was seeing Nola and her husband Connor, who decided to surprise my parents and I with a visit.  She was also a best friend at school and boarded with us in our final year.  Our paths don’t cross often anymore, because she lives in a different city, and has Connor and two beautiful boys to look after, but she has never forgotten my-, or my parents’ birthdays.  I on the other hand am an epic failure at remembering hers.

It was also the month I realized what my biggest fear is.  After having written that post, and some of the responses I received, a few things have more perspective for me now, for which I’m grateful.

Christmas was not a lavish affair for which my jeans still thank me.  We had a small braai with Aunty Carol and Uncle Barry and vetkoek.  For those of you not familiar with the term, it is bread dough that is deep friend which can be enjoyed with a selection of savoury spreads or sweet preserves.

Shortly after, my former roommate, Sarah, and her fiancé, Sam, came to visit.  She is also someone I refer to as a “heart sister” and she is the youngest one of them all.  I am her “big (but thin) sister”.  We had plans for a day of catching up in the summer sunshine, but not before this:

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I said, “Yes!!!!!!”

They’re getting hitched in November next year, so I already have something to look forward to in 2018.  You see, I’ve never been a bridesmaid before.

And then, to almost end of 2017, Shayla-Rae and her other half, Shane took me to an open air concert, where there were 12000 people.  It may not sound like many, but in the sleepy hollow town where I live, that is probably the entire population out of season.  It was the most fun I’ve had in a long while.  The R150 Shane paid for six beers though, left a bitter taste in his mouth – it was R10 short of what they’d paid for one (golden circle) ticket.

I’m off to spend the last night of the year with Shayla-Rae and her family at the farm.

See y’all next year!  2018 is going to ROCK!

 

 

Fear…

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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.

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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.

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.