Not only am I trying to negotiate my way to a heavy duty driving license, which in itself is nerve wracking, we are gearing down to change lanes in our lives too. Once we took the plunge to put the indicators on signaling a changing of lanes in our personal life it was inevitable that many parts that make up the sum of our life here had to be closed.
Thirty nine years ago I nervously, and with a heart filled with foreboding, drove into Worcester with a newborn babe (4 days old) to start a life in this industrial town. The sun had already set as I stopped in front of the doctor’s quarters at the Eben Donges State hospital and entered our institutional flat with a carry cot and a hungry baby. I was petrified.
If Leo Tolstoy hadn’t written War and Peace I might’ve been able to use the title for my memoirs. I always think there’s a book in it, but, don’t have the courage for it. The years passed with all its ups and downs and now it’s time to move on.
Last month was my last get together with my Book Club friends. Ladies who have been there for 39 years. We’ve read a lot, laughed a lot, occasionally shed a tear, but mostly had fun. We found a kinship based on our love of words. For many years I was the youngest member and found the wisdom, kindness and unpretentiousness grounding and I could, with them, just be. They are solid.
Fortunately Butch and I have a love of stories in common as we both love reading, he on his Kindle and together we enjoy “reading” Audiobooks when we travel. This has been a great experiment as we both had to move from our normal genres to subjects we have in common. We’ve read Murakami, Follet, Grisham, JK Rowling, John Boyne, Peter May and Margaret Atwood to mention but a few.
Someone once said there are two types of people, one who reads books and one who collects books, I do both and love the smell of old paper and when I buy a new book I fill my lungs with the air of them. On our travels it will be one of my joys to go in search of a book. Imagine what I might find in Timbuktu or Nigeria (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ben Okri, Chris Albani, or Yaa Gyasi I have read).
Being at a loss to think of a gift for a man who has “everything” I gifted Butch with a promise to do three spinning classes with him every week, this at his request I must admit. This was a very fortuitous gift as it has kept on giving for at least 10 years! At the end of November our subscription to the gym will come to an end. Now that I know my spinning days are virtually over I am the one to spring out of bed first in the mornings, very unusual. And so another circle is completed.
Fortunately we both realise we need to exercise and the cancellation of our subscription has prompted us to knuckle down and investigate bicycles, to be strapped onto our Honey Badger and used as our mode of transport once we’ve set up camp. We found ourselves fabulous Darrvin EBike EA910006 which we hope to roll out soon.
At the end of November we'll be closing another circle as we raise our glasses for the final time and wish our Sundowner Club friends cheerio too.
My driver’s licence test will take place on the 11th November (11/11 at 11h00). The thought has almost been insurmountable as I have been terribly nervous every time I have to head off to a driving lesson. My driving instructor Deno has been fantastic, very patient and a good sport. It took 10 lessons before I felt comfortable behind that wheel and could report to Butch that I’d had my first lesson without nerves last Tuesday. Deno of course, thought I’d lost it and kept saying “stadig Tannie, stadig”. (Slower Auntie slower).
Hurrah! I can reverse using my mirrors! With that licence in my arsenal I will be fully loaded and ready to roll. Even at our age the world is our playground.
The countdown has even begun with my Bridge afternoons. Of all the circles closing I think this must surely be the most heart breaking for me. It is very rare that I partake in a tea party or even a visit to a friend or acquaintance, also hereditary it seems. But, once a week for a few hours, with no distractions, I have had the pleasure of playing cards with a group of amazing older women. I started as a newbie in 1988 if memory serves. I have met and got to know brilliant minds and women (and one gentleman) at a bridge table. My grandmama was right, you can go anywhere with Bridge.
The world is truly small, especially in a small town, when a patient of my then husband, Melene, invited me to join their Bridge group. I learned that she had been one of my mom’s best friends at University. A formidable, intelligent woman who did not suffer fools gladly became a wonderful true friend until her death last year. During those 30 years, I became acquainted with her children and her grandchildren are friends with my daughter. We almost solve the world’s problems while we bid our hands on a Wednesday.
That is the beauty of a small platteland town in South Africa. Here the generations add up. It is often said that no matter how long you’ve lived in Worcester unless you were born here you’re never a Worcesterite. Love it or loathe it, it settles in ones heart like stone buffed by the decades into a jewel.
It was with a measure of surprise that I was asked by a neighbour when our departure will be. We have not decided on a final date for the removal van to pack our sticks of furniture to ship us off to Onrus. Fortunately I could tell her it will only happen in the new year. That’s a small town for you.
Our beach home in Onrus will become our permanent home, this has also opened another can of worms to be sorted out e.g. we have no garage and would like to be as comfortable there as we are here with some of our favourite things surrounding us and a few creature comforts like a studio or work space for our many hobbies. To make the living easy a few upgrades are on the cards.
The thought of a new G.P, dentist or gynaecologist fills me with dread. I still use the same toothpaste as I did 40 years ago for goodness sake. When I broke from tradition, got married and decided to use what I liked I stuck to my guns. Now I find change in routines quite daunting.
We make promises to keep up, to visit, to phone and WhatsApp. I hope we do, but, I am a realist and know that the waters washing around us all too soon close as the ebb and flow of life takes its toll and all our lives just return to normal or mundane. If ever asked the question “why do you blog and put yourselves out there” then the answer would be to keep up with all the people we know and love using modern technologies at our disposal. To write a postcard has always been my preferred method of saying Hi! Wish you were here! Now it’s my old blog.
Although Butch never says much about the subject I know he must be under tremendous emotional and mental strain to change lanes. To realise he’s reached the ribbon at the end of his race and to make the effort to give the last few meters his best shot all this must give him sleepless nights. As a professional person who has always treated his colleagues, clients, acquaintances, friends and family with utmost respect, always doing what is in their best interest fairly without prejudice no matter how much it affects him personally. A man of integrity who loves the law.
Many retirees buckle under the strain. He feels energised, healthy and excited about the future. We do realise it will take some doing to get our ducks in a row after he takes his final bow, but we’re looking beyond that already, making plans for our adventures. I think he'd love to swing in his hammock, beer in hand, binoculars at the ready taking in an African sunset somewhere in the bush, knowing he may do so until the cows come home!
So as my driving instructor says, “Aunty, look at your blind spots and mirrors and then when you’re quite sure the road is open, indicate and just go, go, go! But not so fast!” We’ve looked behind us, examined our blind spots, we've rehashed the past we've looked left and right at each other. Forwards is the way to go. The open road beckons, and we must go while the lights are still green. Circumstances can change so quickly and unexpectedly. As we so well know. Please hold thumbs for me on the 11/11 at 11.