Yet, my blogger friends, I'm back and posting about the first month of the year's happenings.
As I posted earlier in January, my mother-in-law, Pam, passed away at the ripe old age of 90 going on 91. I knew her two years longer than I knew my own husband; she had outlived him. In November I posted about going to my old home town and packing up our home which had been in storage. During the four days of hard, dusty work, (where my dear old house-lady Emily assisted me) I also spent many hours with Pam in her unit in the assisted care center. I am glad I did.
With her passing on 11 January, I was very much involved in remotely arranging her room to be packed up (my DIL Amanda and Erica, Emily's daughter did this job with love.) My BIL, Chilly, Pam's only remaining son, lives many kilometers from where Pam passed away. So, in lieu of his uncle, Angus, Pam's second oldest grandson, attended to the identifying of the body in the hospital mortuary, met with the funeral parlor, chose the coffin and authorized the cremation. This is all we needed the parlor do.
Although Angus was on the spot, there were many little facts he had to ask me about: Where was Bammie (the grandchildren and great-grandchildren's name for Pam) born? Her birth certificate was in the home's files. What coffin should he choose? Pam wanted the simplest, most economical coffin. So when he sent me the options on Whatsapp, I chose one. He and my BIL decided on that one. Is there anyone in the family against cremation? I said I could guarantee the answer is no, and Pam told me in November she wanted to be cremated. Pam was a feisty old lady and insisted on this particular last request. I fielded all these questions while traveling in extremely hot conditions to my accommodation in the Valley and afterwards to hold my Weigh-Less group at the Nest Hotel.
Meanwhile, I was due to attend a Weigh-Less conference in Durban - two hour road trip to the eastern seaboard of South Africa. This took place the weekend before we were having the memorial service in Marquard - a three hour road trip to the north and center of South Africa!
These conferences are always pleasant as we country group leaders, meet with the city slickers. Zulaika, my mentor from Ladysmith, rode in the car with me so we caught up on family news. She has been with Weigh-Less for 16 years and I learn so much from her while in her company.
The meeting started at 11am and after a welcome by the Weigh-Less Chairman and founder, Mary Holroyd, we had 45 minutes of training. After this we are grilled by the branch manager, Rouna and said Mary on what we learnt from the video lecture. As group leaders guiding people to lose weight the healthy way, Weigh-Less keeps up with - and is often ahead of - the latest in nutrition and health issues.
We were served with a delicious meal after which the awards ceremony began. Last year in February I won the Newcomer Group Leader of the year award. I had been running two groups for five months and had 18 members. here . This year as Rouna and Mary, awarded this year's Newcomer of the year and the Group Assistant of the year, Zulaika, seated next to me, whispered that she was sure I would get the next award. Mary then stood in front of us and said the Group Leader of the year's membership had grown phenomenally but the criteria for being the winner would be member retention. I, in turn, whispered to Zulaika, that Amina or Sadia, from Durban had a better retention that I.
Next Mary (looking to the back of the hall where one of my contenders were seated) announced: Group Leader of the Year for Kwa-Zulu Natal is Joy Hedges ! Mary, Irish by birth, still has much of her accent pronounces my name, Jo as Joy!
I was thrilled, of course, and went up for the award, a certificate and several gift vouchers which I will enjoy spending.
Moi, above with certificate and top with Mary
I now run six groups in three different towns; I have 85 members on my tallies and I'm quietly training three members (one on target, going for goal; and the other two still with weight to lose) that as soon as they have "qualified" to become group leaders and one group assistant in their home town.
Back home that weekend, I had to get on with the obituary I had written for MIL in the Afrikaans newspaper in the Free State. I also had a deadline for the first Probus newsletter of the year that Sunday night. Meanwhile, I was arranging eats for Pam's service the coming Wednesday. I'd spoken to the pastor and pianist the previous week, and they were available. Estelle (my erstwhile employers at The Art Box) and good friend, printed the service sheets for me.
On Tuesday afternoon, my SIL, Shelley pulled into the farmyard in her Kombi. In the passenger seat was BIL, Chilly and behind them were the two aunts, Gill and Carole.
We had a companionable trip up to Marquad; a repeat of our journey in May last year! The two aunts, Carole 77 and Gill 84, are delightful company and regaled us with stories from their youth.
Pam's family: Jo (yes, I wore the same outfit!) Eryn, Gill, Joshua, John, Carole, Angus, Amanda, Shelley and Chilly, with Joel, Abbey and Liam with their mom
We were sad to bid farewell to Pam, older sister to Gill and Carole; mother to Chilly and MIL to me and Shelley; grandmother of Angus, John (my sons); Bruce, Louise, Kerry and Mitch; (Chilly and Shelley's children) and 13 great grandchildren. But we were grateful for her long life and that she only had a short illness before going to her Maker.
HAPPY SUNDAY TO YOU ALL !