The Wedding

It was such a glorious day!
My darling girls looked absolutely beautiful
I am so lucky to have them in my life
My son and Grandsons are so handsome

I did a huge alteration to the wedding dress
69 hours of hand-sewing the beads, sequins and lace
I also made Stacy’s Sunflower dress

Mike and Whitney
Gareth, Kyle and Stacy
a blessed and beautiful family

My Dad, My Teacher, My Friend

My father and mother met in Primary School. He apparently came home and
told my Granny that he’d found his wife. She had red hair and was beautiful,
and Granny would have grandchildren with red hair, like she’d always
wanted.
They were star-crossed lovers, and called Romeo and Juliet by everyone at
school. He was rich and Jewish, she was ordinary farming folk, and Irish
Catholic. Every afternoon he’d ride out to visit her at the farm, and pay his
future brothers-in-law to wipe out his bicycle tracks with a leafy branch.
At the ages of 17 and 16, their plan to be together forever produced a
planned pregnancy. They were finally allowed to marry just weeks before
their daughter was born. She died almost immediately.
Theirs was a happy marriage and produced 3 live children; myself, my sister
and brother. I was born 2 years after Charmaine, and we share the first part
of our names. We emigrated to South Africa when I was about 7. Terrible
tragedy struck in February 1969. My 27 year old mother was brutally
murdered at the front door of our home, by an unknown intruder. My father
came home to find her lying in the entrance hall, while we were asleep in
our beds.
My father was accused and arrested for her murder, and refused bail while
awaiting trial, as a “flight risk”. My Granny had taken us home with her to
Zambia. Meanwhile, the truth was witheld from us. We were told our mother
had suddenly become ill, and been rushed to hospital. Shortly later, that she
had died. We were told our father was selling our home and belongings and
would be with us soon.
Dad kept a diary in prison. Strictly forbidden, and very carefully hidden for
all those months. In it he recorded daily prison life; stories of other awaiting
trial prisoners, visits and visitors, letters and news, lawyers and advocates
advice. He wrote of his intense grief at not simply losing his soul-mate, love of
his life and mother of his children; but of the anger and fear and horror of
being accused of killing her. He wrote of their love and reminisced. 43 years
later I am still trying to shape it into the book he wanted to write as a
testament to their love. It is still so painful.
After 9 long, tortuous months of fear, confusion, grief and cruel separation,
he came home. The Verdict was that she’d opened the door, thinking it was
him. Instead, her jaw was broken by a punch, and she was stabbed 14 times;
so viciously, that the wide-bladed knife snapped in two. It was a huge relief,
but still so sad, so awful.
Dad was a complete madcap, in many ways a child at heart, always
laughing, always playing and teasing. He loved children, especially his own.
He never tired of playing board games or cards, making up stories or, our
favourite, reading to us. When Mom died, he was reading Lassie to us. Every
night we would all climb into an arm chair in the lounge. A tangle of arms,
bodies, heads, legs. All dreadfully uncomfortable, but enthusiastically leaning
over, turning a bit, whatever was needed so all could see the pictures, and
Dad could see the text. Mom would curl up on the floor and lean against his
legs and ours, her head on a lap or knee, arms entangled with ours. And he
would read until someone started nodding off.
We tried it again when he came home. But everything was wrong. Our chair
was gone, we’d all grown, our book with the pictures was gone. Mom was
gone. It hurt too much and we just hugged and cried for a long time.
Dad remarried, and I did not get on with my step-mom, Val. I was angry that
she’d usurped my mothers’ place. I was angry that my father had betrayed
my mother’s memory by marrying again. I was a typical teenager, rebellious
and angry, and made everyone’s life difficult. The only bright spot was the
birth of my half-brother. I adored him.
Soon after that, we were sent to boarding school in South Africa. I hated
every second of it. We went to my uncle for mid-term break. My step-mother
was visiting too. I ran away from home. My uncle was in the police force,
and one of the neighbours, a cop in his unit, saw me sneak out. I was under
observation before I left the house! I flew home alone. Dad and I sat down
and had many heart to heart, no-holds barred talks that week. I opened up
completely to him, and he treated me like an adult. I needed to know what
had happened to my mom, the truth had never really come out. I’d heard
bits and pieces over the years. He gave me the transcript of the trial, with
descriptions of her injuries removed, as well as the photographs. He also gave
me his diary. From then on, my Dad and I were very close. It was a very
good thing in the end. I was 15 years old.
The whole family, Granny too, emigrated back to South Africa when I was
almost 16. Dad was almost immediately transferred to Botswana. I did not
want to go with the family. He and my step-mom were having problems, and
I didn’t want to be there. We discussed it at length, and with family living in
Johannesburg, and he agreed to let me stay.
He came through once a month, and we’d spend the weekend together.
People watching over breakfast, having great fun at their expense! We’d
always go to a bookstore, browsing around deliciously. Dad always had 3 – 4
books on the go at once, I’m the same! We’d read bits out to one another and
leave with new reads for the month. We’d visit friends and family. We’d see
movies, eat out, talk and laugh and be delighted to be together.
The marriage eventually broke up. 4 years later Dad moved back to South
Africa, about 2 hours from Johannesburg. My sister went home to finish
school. He married again, to a woman with two children.
3 months later he died suddenly. He was 39 and 1 month. It was 33 years ago
today. I love you and miss you so much Dad. X@

Just a few books worth reading, I think

These are a few books that I think all women should read.
They may sound similar, but are not.
The wisdom contained in them
Is priceless and profound.
I loved them

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh – a must-read for every mom – wisdom on relationships and juggling the details of life

A Year By The Sea by Joan Anderson – Empty Nest Syndrome – Joan Anderson does something totally unexpected – She takes a year’s sabbatical – from her marriage and her  life. “Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman gradually evolved. I didn’t run away to write a book. I was too brain dead to do that. I ran away to get rid of the clutter in my life and listen to what my heart was trying to tell me. My two sons were out of the nest, my husband was pursuing his dreams, and I needed to ask myself some hard questions without relying on the input of others. So I retreated to our Cape Cod cottage (off season) and gradually– as I walked the beaches, ran into a fascinating mentor, and took a job in a fish market–came up with some unconventional answers for a new life.”  

An Unfinished Marriage by Joan Anderson – In this moving sequel to her national bestseller A Year by the Sea,  Joan Anderson explores the challenges of rebuilding and renewing a marriage with her trademark candor, compassion, and insight.

 A Walk On The Beach by Joan Anderson – “One thing I was not expecting, nor looking for, was a mentor—someone who would guide me and yet not have a stake in what I became. Joan Erikson’s life cycle logic has become a part of what I share with women who also are in search of their strengths. Understanding the phases of a woman’s life and how vital we are until the end, are gifts that Joan Erikson would have me pass on. In fact, the book is written so that the reader is mentored by Joan Erikson and then mentors others.”

The Second Journey by Joan Anderson – “We are born to be ourselves—in need of upgrading the gene—to look back again and again and befriend that person you once intended to become. Life, like a beach, is always rearranging itself. The trick is to welcome and then work with, not against the changes. We are in a constant state of metamorphosis, experiencing conflicts for which we must find resolution and in doing so deepening our innate strengths. Knowing, acknowledging and celebrating the phases all women go through—how we’ve risen above our angst—respecting our very determination—that is the fodder needed to continue our independent journeys. The goal is to come of age in the middle of life rather than live out our days lacking purpose and energy. It’s all about rearranging our lives in our own image.”

A Weekend To Change Your Life by Joan Anderson – “It is no easy trick to unravel a self, to drop old habits and climb out the box. When I looked back on how I managed to change my life during that year by the sea (and then develop a workshop program that would help other women do the same) it all boiled down to the six R’s. A woman would need to retreat, retrieve strengths from her past, repair the worn parts of her body and soul, regroup by getting rid of unnecessary baggage, regenerate by taking new paths and having adventure, and then (and only then) return to her old life as a new person!”

Read them,
You’ll be glad you did.

Travel Challenge: Ocean

Travel Theme: Oceans

These photos were all taken at Club Mykonos, Langebaan, Western Cape, South Africa.
This is the Atlantic Ocean.

My 3 boys and I spent a week together, just hanging out.
It was just 8 months after my accident, and it was very special.

The Ocean is my “happy place”,
Going there refreshes, rejuvenates, renews, repletes, re-energises, recreates me.
I miss not living there any more really badly.

These photos are really my simplest, greatest treasures:
my sons, the ocean and a sunset.

I love you guys so very much
Thank you for this time we had together

Accident Prone

 Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run
than outright exposure.
 Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
Helen Keller

I am VERY accident prone.
Although, now that I am at home most of the time,
perhaps I have finally grown out of it!

  • I fell down the steps at the Butchers when I was 18 months old, and changed the shape of my skull forever. I was off to a good start.
  • At the age of 15 I was training for an International Swimming Competition. I took a break (!) and went all the way to the top of the 18′ diving board. I realised I was being a show-off, and turned back. I slid, or bumped and bounced, down the stairs. Dislocating all my fingers as they met the vertical struts of the handrails, but I held on grimly, if vociferously! Towards the bottom I realised I had to let go, or break my pelvis. I went through the handrail and steps, but caught the inside of my right leg. Lost the calf muscle and I had over 100 stitches!  Cool! Of course, my Olympic Dream was shattered.
  • The ambulance people sent to bring me in for the above, had two awful experiences. They dropped me. TWICE! The doorway was narrow, so they tilted the stretcher! I hadn’t been strapped down. Then, the guy at the head of the stretcher, THOUGHT he’d hooked the stretcher on to the tracks in the ambulance. The other guy pushed. I saw stars as I zoomed head-first into the back of the ambulance. Topped and toed!
  • My family owned horse. My ex-racehorse, Acerae, and I went out alone. She spooked and had a hissy fit. She dragged me, upside-down, down the dirt road for a while. I managed to grab the girth and yank. Dislocating and cracking my shoulder. But, my foot dislodged and I lay in a crumpled heap until help came. My foot was also dislocated. I was really p****d when they cut by fabulous, knee-high, leather, imported boot off!
  • A friend’s horse threw her and she broke a collar-bone. I offered to ride Snowy about 3 weeks later. Snowy headed straight for the Clubhouse Verandah. From inside the Arena. He was gathering himself to jump between the roof and railings when sense prevailed. He swerved, I went straight; into a concrete filled pole. The paralysis below my waist was caused by swelling, and came back after a few days. She never even OFFERED to ride my two horses while I “rested on my laurels”!
  • Nine years ago, I was tootling along in my gorgeous, red sports car. WHAM! I woke up in hospital. Totally confused. An 18 year old smashed into the side and back of my car. My car spun, FOUR times they said, and wrapped around a traffic light. I was cut out of the car – which was now a piece of modern art! I suffered head, neck and leg injuries. Lost some memory too. I was  really p****d about my beautiful car!

  • Nearly 5 years ago, I was standing at the side of the road, waiting to cross and WHAM! *sigh*. I woke up in hospital. Another 18 year old, on a motorbike this time, at immense speed, catapulted me into the air. Landing on my face was not good. Many surgeries later, I look different but  normal. Eyes were damaged, which is sad, as I can no longer draw like I used to. Other injuries healed slowly, some still need surgical tweaking. But, I’ve been seen, in varying states of undress, by dozens of top Medical Specialists. They’re all very grateful. (They were paid a fortune!)
  • There have been others. I have had more stitches than ANYone I know. Fallen off horses the requisite 7 (plus, plus) times. Come off the pillion of motorbikes with spectacular grazes, bruises and broken ribs. How I made it to Granny-hood I’ll never know!

                                            Laughter is the shock absorber of life

As a result, I am not the person I used to be. I look quite different. Not because of aging, but because of surgical reconstruction.
I am not the woman my husband married. Or at least I don’t have the same brain in my head. The head injuries have taken their toll, and I have changed a lot. I also have memory loss  – MBI – Minimal Brain Injury – hubby says MAJOR, but oh well.
I see things very differently – er, ‘cos my eyes were damaged, but also because I am so glad to be alive!
I have straight teeth – I got 15 new ones after the motorbike incident left mine missing or broken.
                                                “Life isn’t like a box of chocolates.
                                               It’s more like a jar of Tabasco sauce.
                                                                 What you do today,
                                   might burn your behind tomorrow!” Unknown
Through it all, I have learned that counting your blessings and being grateful, thankful and excited about them is all that is important. It gets you through many a rough spot without losing your mind.
Grandchildren are an incredible blessing, and I re-experience so much through them.
Photography has taken me to places and events I have no memory of, but through looking and talking about them, I’ve made new memories.
The internet is FANTASTIC! I’ve reconnected with friends from my first day at school, through to my last. Some I remember, some I don’t. But it doesn’t matter, they know the story, and fill me in.
My kids also fill me in on things I have forgotten, sometimes I just KNOW they’re having fun at my expense and we laugh like mad!

                                           “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
                                  It turns what we have into enough, and more.
                                               It turns denial into acceptance,
                                                            chaos to order,
                                                       confusion to clarity.
                                              It can turn a meal into a feast,
                                                        a house into a home,
                                                     a stranger into a friend.
                                          Gratitude makes sense of our past,
                                                    brings peace for today,
                                         and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
                                                               Melody Beattie
I wouldn’t change things. My husband believes we would have been divorced by now, we’d been living apart for over a year. He has taken care of me, shuttled me back and forth to dozens of doctors and specialists. Paid through the nose for surgeries, procedures and therapies. He cooks for me and everyone else. He is wonderful.
                Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be… Robert Browning
We are planning to go overseas on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and we’ll renew our vows before we go. A 2nd  Honeymoon. It’s my gift to him, from a bit of the settlement that I will be receiving soon.