The Rollercoaster That Was February
Forest Gump’s Mother said “life was like a box of chocolates”. February was like that, but the metaphor looked more like the box my sweet sister-in-law presented us with two weeks ago. The box was beautifully crafted and finished off with a pretty red bow, but, alas, had melted into one snotty blob. I thought it funny, she was embarrassed. That’s life. The opened box is still sitting in the pantry cupboard I’m not sure I know what to do with the unfortunate offering!
It was the month of love and we almost overdosed on it all. We met the love of my son’s life. Having him around is always fun, unexpected and worth waiting for. He doesn’t lavish one with his favours, he’s far too busy for that. The times we spent together were extraordinary. Never dull, he fuels one’s emotions, challenging everything you believe in. This one can’t be taken for granted nor will he be tied down. Too complex, emotive, opinionated and charismatic; he will have his say and more times than not his way.
He is a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but, he’s not the boy I ferried to boarding school all those years ago. I see a strong-willed Knight and the boy who stubbornly filled his pockets with stones until they weighed him down, I hear his joyful laughter and see the lines around his eyes. With fingers crossed I hope that will never change.
An opportunity arose where I could snap a quick photograph of two women in his life, the one his childhood best friend, the other his best friend in adulthood. Lucky. And Yes! He's a smart cookie who has fought for it tooth and nail. I respect him for that. Years ago he painstakingly dripped hot wax onto his hand moulding an exact replica. I have it still. He may be changed, sophisticated and a man, but each joint in his hands have remained the same. That is his birthmark, I know it so well. This Boeta (his nickname – little brother) who sheds his name like skin, each time reinventing his persona as he confidently grows truer to himself.
Emily is the gift. Like a Petit Fours she’s sweet, small and sensational. She oozes confidence. She’s kind, considerate and easy going. She’s spirited, adventurous and hungers for knowledge. Her wanderlust and open mind allows her to experience places that would intimidate the most hardened traveller. She’s made a lasting impression, she’s a smart cookie too.
In 1971 I left my friends behind when I boarded a train back to our farm in Hazyview not suspecting that it would be the last time I saw many of the girls again. I was 14. All I had to remind me of my time there were two, small, faded photographs and a letter my best friend sent me during the December holidays. Not in a million years did I think I’d ever see any of them again, but then Mark Zuckerberg came along and the world changed. Not long afterwards we were “friends” again.
On Wednesday I had lunch with one of my school friends, we’d not seen each other for 45 years! Lynda hasn’t changed one bit, her hair still has a strawberry glow when the sun hits her head at the right angle. Like mine her life has taken many twists and turns, our timelines are almost identical. We both have children living overseas, we adore our grandchildren and find that life after childbirth can be exciting, invigorating, stimulating and way beyond our wildest dreams. We will be 18 until we die. We're planning a reunion next year where the fabulous five will reconnect. (the photograph of the three amigoes was taken in 1971 on the veranda of the little hall at Pretoria High School for Girls.)
Lynda is very involved with baby boomers and retirement, she's aptly coined the phrase "refirement", changing our perception of middle age and the role we can play in society with our knowledge, expertise and wisdom. As she says, "we don't retire we refire". Her proper title is: Connection Specialist and Wisdom Preserver at Refirement Network.
It can be just the light on a familiar face which sets the ball rolling and the course of one’s life can change. Two weeks ago we noticed that the slight swelling on the right hand side of Precious’ face had changed and become more marked. Off to his GP he was ordered. A series of tests and scans showed a large tumour on the Parotid gland (salivary gland). A week ago, on the 29th day, a very skilled surgeon removed the tumour, Precious recovered quickly and we were delighted to hear that the tumour was not malignant and a clean bill of health was delivered on Friday.
Patience is not my middle name and Nurse isn’t a title best describing my talents, but, I tried, my patient was extremely easy to please which made the job very rewarding. Bandages are off, stitches out and with a warrior's scar my Precious has returned to work. The week of angst has been a wakeup call. Life is short and precious. We will live it to the max.
This week we’ll start with the conversion of our Honey Badger Overlander truck. First off the bat will be reconstructive surgery. We need a walk-through from the cab to our living quarters. The roof needs a lift and the sides need to be shaved away to make room for extra water tanks, utility drawers and an outdoor kitchen etc. Exciting times ahead. Sometimes we need a prod to keep us foscussed and on track
We celebrated Joe and Emily’s visit with a last supper at The Chef’s Warehouse on Bree Street. Oh it was bliss. Every course perfect. Starting with a platter of beautiful plump oysters we meandered through our Tapas offerings and ended our meal with a selection of all the desserts. Heavenly delights. This is just one of the fabulous restaurants not to be missed. No reservations can be made, but that’s just another reason to mosey on over for sundowners and tapas on the veranda, at one of four long tables or at the bar. While the bill was settled Emily and I browsed through the recipe books and picked a few jars for the grocery cupboard. Sadly, our next stop was the airport to say goodbye as Emily winged her way home.
Our box of chocolates was sweet, bitter and sometimes too tart but then that’s the way of a good Swiss chocolate. Trying to get my family to pose for one family portrait is a bridge too far, but, eventually I managed one click.
Lynda Smith – Refirement Network.
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