Tuesday, April 5, 2016

And then there were two...

Readers of my blog will know that since Grant and I returned from Tanzania for good last February, we've been three adults living in our home.

In 2013, after losing her husband to malaria, (you can read about this here) Rina was left alone in South Africa. (read the highlighted link, if you like). Her sickly mother died shortly afterwards and her brother, who owned the flat their mother occupied, said Rina could live there forever. (Rina has six brothers and two sisters)

One sunny afternoon nine months after moving her furniture from the Cape where it had been stored - while she and Dick worked in Tanzania - and after I'd sent her two cats to South Africa, Rina answered a knock on the door . Four estate agents stood there and asked if they could show the flat to potential buyers. 

Rina was devastated. At the time, and to this day, the brother who owns the flat has not contacted her. At this time, I happened to phone her from Tanzania. She was very upset and said she didn't know where she'd find accommodation. Dick had died intestate and Rina lives on a small government pension. 

Grant suggested Rina moves to our house in Marquard and takes care of it and our animals in our absence. You can read about this here if you like.

The arrangement worked well.

Then in  February 2015, Grant and I returned home to SA. We three have lived in the same house all these months with not a bad word or vibe between us. Why should there be? Our home is large enough for Rina to occupy a bedroom and use a bathroom in a separate wing of the house.  Rina's Tanzanian cat, Tipsy has his own bedroom in this wing. When he's asleep in this room, my three Tanzanian cats are able to run around the house and garden. 

 Meanwhile Rina said she'd love to be able to unpack her many [many] boxes and place her furniture in a home of her own. In January this year, another brother of hers living in Cape Town gave her the message that another brother was going to ask her to live in his town flat in the little town of Kareedouw, Western Cape. She was so excited and told everyone she met here in Marquard.  Except that brother never came to the party. He never phoned her personally and when she phoned him, he didn't answer her call; instead he sent her a text message saying he would contact her shortly. After the second time, Grant told Rina not to degrade herself any more.  

On Good Friday, after church, Grant and I visited MIL Pam in the retirement center. As we walked down the long passage to her unit, I looked out of the windows. There I saw that a cottage was empty. I knew the owner of the cottage well and immediately said to Grant that we should book this place for Rina. 

Well, long story short; we had to wait for Tuesday after the Easter Weekend before I could see Hester, the admin manager of the center. I was armed, though. I'd gotten permission from the owner that he wanted US to rent his cottage. As I stated my case to Hester, she said there was a married couple interested in the place. I said: "Come on, Hester. You know Rina is a widow and would love her own place."  Hester went to her peg board, took a set of keys off it and told me to follow her! 

After showing me around this beautifully modern, spacious and light cottage, she asked when Rina would be moving in. I dashed home. There, after telling Grant what I'd achieved, he followed me to Rina's room where she was packing away laundry. As she looked up, I handed her the keys saying: "Here's to your new home!"

She burst into tears and cried for about three hours. She and I went to the center where we walked through the cottage oohing and aahing over it all. 

And how's this for a bonus? Rina has most of the furniture needed to set up her own home, except a fridge and a stove. Well, this cottage has both AND a fully automatic washing machine.
 The back door to Rina's new home
 Rina, still overwhelmed, poses in front of the kitchen cabinets . Note the eye-level oven and hob on her right; the washing machine on the left and the fridge behind her
 The front garden. MIL Pam's room is off that passage window on the right

The initial excitement  over, Amanda (my DIL) arranged to borrow her dad's pick-up truck. On Thursday afternoon, Rina and I loaded as many boxes and Africa bags as possible
We loaded her little car to the roof. Together we drove to the center (two blocks from here) and unloaded everything

Soon the pristine open-plan lounge/kitchen filled up with Africa bags
The bath was filled with linen, suitcases and miscellaneous objects 
The guest room was filled with boxes, Africa bags and loose furniture

On Friday as soon as John had completed his early morning chores around the garden, we asked him to help us move the rest of the boxes and loose / small stuff 
The Project Foreman - ahem!  

At 9am I took John to a corner in the main street where unemployed men sit all day waiting for someone to give them piece work or set them on. John selected two of the strongest men and brought them to me at the vehicle. I asked if John had explained what job they were expected to do  and did they know some of the furniture was very heavy and bulky. They both said yes, and that they were very keen to work. 
While Rina supervised the men dismantling her beds and loading them onto the pick-up, I collected up her clothes hanging in cupboards in my home. When I arrived at the new house, I simply hooked the clothes onto the rail and voila! 

We worked steadily with the men - emptying my house into Rina's new cottage - until 12.45. Erica had cooked a large pot of maize meal which she served to the men with pilchards in tomato sauce. After a short break, the three men said they were ready to move the rest of the furniture. 

Finally it was time to remove the large solid display cabinet from a corner of my dining room and ease it through the passage and out into the garden. Jacob, my other gardener, who'd been helping Grant in the workshop, joined us in this mammoth task.  

The large (and heavy) display cabinet on my lawn
John had the brainwave of borrowing a trolley from Grant and wheeling the cupboard across the lawn to the pick-up
Rina was very tense in case the lads dropping the cabinet

 At the center, the men carefully took the cupboard off the pick-up and wheeled it around to the front door of Rina's house 
I called MIL to the window and pointed to the men carrying Rina's large cupboard into the house 
Maneuvering the cupboard into the allotted space next to the stove

When the cupboard was in it's place, Rina and I cheered and clapped. The men merely smiled...

The final cartage was of two large driftwood stumps which had stood on my front veranda. Here at Rina's new home, they grace her front patio

Rina has slept in her house since Friday night and is slowly getting herself sorted out. 

I'm linking to Our World Tuesday here


  1. WOW! How wondeerful for Rina to have her own place now although I am susre she enjpyed staying at your place. She looks like hse has so much stuff. Your home must have been bursting at the seams Jo.

  2. I've followed Rina's story through your blogs posts since you both lived in Tanzania. it is sad that her brother's let her down but after all her grief and loss she now has a perfect home. Thanks to you and Grant for being such great friends to her and being helps in times of need. Hugs. xx

  3. Hello JO, awesome news for Rina. I am so happy she has her own place now, it is an independence thing. It looks beautiful too. Congrats to you and thanks to you for finding the place. Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day!

  4. Jo - I found you via John (Going Gently) and thought I'd say hello this morning after reading your very touching post. Then, going back over your friend Rina's story, and the devastating news of her husband's very sad/quick death from malaria, made me realize yet again that the scourge of this very serious illness is still rampant worldwide - and they say becoming worse as most countries no longer spray to keep the mosquito population down. I have been to Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa twice (two amazing safari trips) and was diligent in taking my preventative meds. as prescribed. Because that medicine is not fun to be on, I wonder what you do when you actually live there - do you have to take anything constantly for protection?

    Your friend Rina is so fortunate to have your and your husband assisting her - what amazing friends and generous people you must be. I hope she will be happy in her new home and that life will be good for all of you. You certainly have had an interesting one by the sound it - travel is wonderful in many ways. I plan to return to Africa later this year - looking forward to sharing more stories and photos with my readers as they seemed to really enjoy previous ones.

    Take care - Mary

  5. this is such a wonderful and happy post, i am so happy for her that she has her own home. i do love a Cinderella story with a happy ending and this is surely one.... i am thinking you will miss having her around. it is good she will have alone time and people nearby to visit. will your next post be about rearranging you home to fill the gaps left by removing her things>

  6. forgot to say.. No Comment on her brothers..not here anyway

  7. Yes, Rina has been an important part of your blog Jo since her husband died and I am so thrilled for her to have a place to unpack all those memories. How sad that her brothers were so unreliable. God bless you all.

  8. congratulations to this dear woman! what a lovely place she has now!

  9. How wonderful that Rina has her own space and place to live. But I'll bet it will seem empty in your house for a while.

  10. What a surprise ! I know of course Rina's story and her cats ! and now you have found a home for her that's wonderful for her ! What a work you had with the move ! but it all looks so nice, she certainly will be very happy there !


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo