Today, 18th January is the anniversary of my dear mum’s death. She passed away peacefully after a long illness on this day in 2002. It was also my parent’s wedding anniversary. My mum only lived 16 months after my dad died. It seemed as though she didn't have the will to carry on without my dad. On the morning of the day she died, she asked my sister to colour her lips with her favourite lipstick. She said she’d be meeting Dad that night.
My parents met a few years after WWII. My dad, my mum's father and her two older brothers were in active service together up North. (Italy) When he came home, my grandfather introduced my dad to my mum. It wasn't long before they became engaged and on 18 January 1947, they were married.
My parents on their 50th wedding anniversary
In the mid-fifties, my parents and their young family – my two older brothers, I and my younger sister - moved to Southern Rhodesia, (present-day Zimbabwe). This country was A Land of Opportunity at the time and my memories of living there are all wonderful. I know my parents enjoyed their five year stint as Expats as well.
Back in South Africa, I remember our family home as being modest, with a lovely garden; both my parents were avid gardeners. The thing that stands out about my childhood home is that it was the most welcoming abode in the world. When I was thirteen, I had to go to boarding school; from the very first weekend, I brought girls home. These were mostly girls with divorced parents in far-off cities who either couldn’t afford to fetch them home or couldn’t be bothered with them. Only years later did I realise that with four school children of their own, my parents must have been hard-pressed to feed the extra mouths that I and later, my sister, brought home for weekends. Yet, everyone was always welcome and well-fed.
When they retired, my parents moved to a town in the Natal Midlands. They lived near to my sister, Rose and her husband who were always there for them. For seventeen years, mum and dad lived in a ground-floor flat with a beautiful garden and a black-and-white cat called Matewis.* Their home was always open to everyone who had the pleasure of knowing them, kith and kin alike. They were only a short way off the National Freeway so it made a welcome break to stop for a cuppa and delicious home-made chocolate cake (my mum was also a wonderful cook) before continuing on your journey.
I thank God for the wonderful parents I was born to. I honour them with this post today.