Category Archives: Uncategorized

Share Your World – 5 December 2022

Here are my answers to this week’s SYW challenge

Do you have a favourite outfit you like to wear?

I had a favourite long-sleeved shirt that I bought at Marks and Spencer in 2013. I would have it still but it actually wore out! It got a tiny hole in the back. I darned it and as the hole became bigger I darned it some more. It tucked into my jeans so you could not see it but very recently it just got too bad to mend. My friend, Stephen saw me tear up my beloved shirt and said, “Hey, I can use that – I need rags in my workshop.” And so my beloved shirt lives on doing menial labour.

I live thirteen thousand kilometres away from the nearest Marks and Spencer but when next I visit the UK I hope to find another shirt like the one I loved so much. Sadly, I can’t find a photo of me in it!

I couldn’t find this photo when I first published but then this turned up!

I also have a favourite dress – also bought in 2013 at a little boutique called East. I have it still and wear it often.

My dress in 2013
Only the wearer has aged – Me in my favourite dress – my grandson, Josh, beside me

What is the worst thing you were forced to wear as a child (school uniforms aside)?

My parents gave me free choice as far as clothing was concerned but I did have to wear a hat to church. I don’t know why, but I hated wearing a hat. I still hate wearing a hat but I did wear one to Harry and Meghan’s wedding.

Okay – so I dressed up to watch the wedding on TV! I had a few friends over for tea too!

Do you have a sweet tooth, and if so, are you a chewer, cruncher, or sucker?

I do have a sweet tooth but not for the kind of sweets/candy/lollies that most children like. I hate chewing gum/bubble gum – so I’m not a chewer. If I do have a boiled sweet then I prefer to suck. Chocolate is my preferred sweet treat and I allow that to melt slowly in my mouth and may have it with black coffee which makes the experience even more enjoyable.

Do you think you could eat your weight in chocolate?

When I was much younger I considered myself to be a chocoholic. I could certainly consume an entire bar all by myself. No, I could not eat my weight in anything in one sitting. Chocolate is still a favourite treat but these days it’s dark chocolate and only one square at a time. I do, sometimes, indulge in the odd chocolate from a box – Lindt! Anything chocolate-flavoured goes down well with me.

Three Thing Challenge M167

Here is my contribution to today’s TTC from Pensitivity100

This week’s theme is HOLIDAYS
Your three words today are:
VACATION
ABROAD
ROAD TRIP

Being retired is like being on a permanent vacation. We even live in a holiday resort. From Monday to Thursday during the working week, it is a sleepy, quiet and peaceful place to be. Come Friday afternoon, the village becomes quite busy as the weekenders arrive for a break from city life. We try to avoid shopping on weekends as Hubby gets very upset if he can’t get his favourite parking spot outside our local supermarket. During school holidays Struisbaai becomes even busier and the vibe is completely different. But because we have such a lovely, long, white-sandy beach there is plenty of room for everybody. The harbour is also a popular destination with a lovely restaurant with plenty of outdoor seating where one can enjoy a meal, coffee or sundowner and watch the fishermen come in with their catch.

Even though we live in the most beautiful place in the world, we like to get away from time to time. In fact, when we tell our friends and family that we’re off to some far-flung place, they respond, “What, again? Do you never stay at home?”

Yes, again! We have a Gecko Off-road caravan and we love to hitch her up and head off on a Road Trip Sometimes this will be planned and sometimes it will be a spontaneous decision. Our favourite destination is The Kruger National Park and we like to go there at least once a year. The problem is that now that we are getting older, longer trips are becoming stressful. It is almost 2000km away, fuel is expensive and because of the increase of the number of huge trucks using the highways the roads are a nightmare. We take it slowly though, choosing the easiest routes rather than the shortest and making the trip part of the holiday. We won’t drive for more than five hours each day. This year we gave a long road trip a miss because of the huge increase in fuel prices. Camping is inexpensive but when you tow you use twice the amount of fuel than when you don’t. Next year, our long road trip will be to Kgalagadi National Park in the Northern Cape.

The Gecko all set up at Kruger National park

We have not been abroad since 2019 due to COVID restrictions. Now that they are lifted we are dreaming. After doing a month-long cruise from Mauritius to Venice in 2019 I have become very keen to do another cruise. It really is the most relaxing way to travel. Your floating hotel provides you with accommodation, food and entertainment and drops you off to explore a number of places along the way. The only deadline is to get back on board before the ship sails. All things considered, it is also less stressful and less expensive than booking a number of flights, hotels and meals. But still, it is expensive to travel abroad no matter how you do it. Our biggest expense would be the airfares to the starting port and back home again. Right now I’m dreaming of an Australia/New Zealand 30-day cruise. The trick is to think of some novel ways to earn some extra cash. Letting our home while we’re off caravanning is one way! If I can get somebody to rent for a year we could go on a year-long road trip caravanning vacation so we can afford to go abroad.

Costa Victoria berthed in Seychelles

Three Things Challenge #M163

For the first time, I am responding to The Three Things Challenge from Pensitivity101

Each week there is a theme – this week’s theme is Time. Today’s words are Life, Birth, and Occasion. We are challenged to use any one or all of the words in any way we like.

The birth of my child was the most amazing occasion of my life. No, I did not enjoy the actual birth nor did I glow during pregnancy. Some women love being pregnant, I did not. Most say they forget the pangs of labour. I did not enjoy morning sickness, back pain, exhaustion and discomfort. Labour was the worst pain I have ever experienced and I have not forgotten it. I swore that I would not go through that ever again in my life and I’ve kept that promise!
But when my baby was put into my arms, I fell instantly in love and went on a high that I have yet to come down from. She was the best thing that ever happened to me. She was just perfect and although plenty happened in my life after that none of it spoiled my relationship with my child. I know many mothers struggle to bond with their babies, suffer post-natal depression, anxiety and feelings of inadequacy and while I can’t say things went swimmingly, nothing could take away that love and connection I had and still have with my daughter.

I did not have any more children of my own. My child was two years old when my marriage broke up and almost three when I met my husband. He was widowed with two daughters aged 11 and 12. These two girls brought joy to my life too and we have certainly grown closer over the years. Because I adored my own child so much I didn’t think it would be the same with her step-sisters. So I was surprised when I became like a she-tiger if anybody messed with them! The mother/baby bond was not quite the same but boy did I care!

When our eldest daughter divorced she brought her two babies to live with us and they and our youngest lived together till the boys left school. This meant we were involved with each other completely. They are all in their own homes now and we live 200km away in the house that was once our holiday home.

What a rewarding family life we have had. When we were not helping the eldest raise her two, we were dashing off to visit her sister and our other two grandkids 1400km away. No, we could not do without being completely involved in their lives.

Our grandchildren are all grown-up now. Our daughters are still precious to us. They all live busy lives but we make time for each other without being controlling. I don’t call my kids every day and I don’t expect them to constantly check up on me. I want them to live busy, exciting, fun-filled lives without worrying about their parents/grandparents. Heck, we’re still having our own fun and beware if they tell us we’re beyond it and need to settle down now.

Christmas is our next big occasion. All ten of us plus one or two extras will be together again for a few weeks. Believe me, we will be bonding and having lots of fun!

Stream of Consciousness Saturday – 26 November 2022

The prompt from Linda this week is What’s on Your/My Plate.

Both my husband and I enjoy cooking. Now that we are retired our only argument is over who is going to cook. He insists that he is better at it than I am. But every time he gives in and allows me to prepare the meal, he says in a very surprised voice, “Wow, this food on my plate is pretty good!”

If truth be told when he cooks, I’m usually involved in some way. He will take care of doing the braai or cooking the fish while I do the salads, vegetables and dessert. If he’s doing a curry or a casserole then he does do it all by himself. He also loves to do roasts but the one thing I will not allow him to do is lamb. He wants to do it the British or Scottish way and I insist on the Greek way. Greek wins every time! I will only allow him to cut the slits in the joint for the garlic! The rest of the prep is mine. I use lots of garlic, origanum, olive oil and butter and plenty of lemon juice. Then it is slowly roasted on very low heat for at least five hours depending on the size of the joint. When it is done it will fall off the bone and there will be no need to carve. I pour the juices from the cooking over each portion and serve it with Tzatziki. Of course, there is also the obligatory Greek salad as well as roast vegetables done in the air fryer.

For a week or so I have not been hungry due to an attack of diverticulitis so there was very little on my plate. But now that I am well on the road to recovery my appetite has returned with a vengeance. Still, I have to watch what I eat. Soups and soft foods, until your gut has had a rest, is the advice I’ve been given. So what then do I put on my plate? Soup was fine in the beginning. For a while, bananas and yogurt were about as much as I could take in the solid food department. Now I really need proper meals but I don’t want to relapse to feeling sick every time I eat! “What about baby food?” somebody suggested. I never gave my child bottled baby food but instead mashed everything myself. So that’s what I’m doing now. Mashed butternut is delicious. Pureed cauliflower and broccoli is a treat! I put the cooked florets in my food processor, add garlic and herbs, creamed cottage cheese, some yogurt, and blits. For a creamier result, I finish it off in my blender. Green peas crushed into mashed potato is fine too. In fact, any vegetable can be mashed or pureed. Add a bit of creamed cheese or yogurt and herbs and spices and they become quite gourmet.

I tend to be a one or two-meal-a-day person – brunch of eggs, bacon, banana and tomato and dinner with food from all food groups. Now, I need to eat a little at a time otherwise I feel ill. So it’s chopped bacon and banana on my breakfast plate or perhaps a boiled or scrambled egg. Lunch will be soup and dinner a tiny bit of fish or chicken and my mashed veggies. If I’m peckish in between some pureed fruit and yogurt or sugar-free jelly and custard does the trick.

But what is normally on my plate and why did I get an attack of diverticulitis when I’m very careful about my diet?

Diverticulosis is a condition many people have and most don’t even know it because they never get sick. It occurs when tiny pea-sized pouches develop in your colon. When one or more of these pouches become inflamed or infected, the condition is called diverticulitis.

I believe that when I’m in peak condition, my immune system can fight a potential infection. But a few weeks ago I had the ‘flu – possibly mild COVID – I wasn’t tested so I’m not sure. This would have caused my resistance to infection to be low so I succumbed to an attack.

Normally we try to eat a high fat low carbohydrate diet. That means we have plenty of vegetables in our diet. It does not mean we chomp away on as much fat as we like! We simply do not go for low-fat or fat-free products which tend to be full of sugar to compensate for the flavour lost by removing fat. We avoid all processed foods and stay away from deep-fried food. I recently acquired an air fryer and it is awesome. I love cheese but limit the amount I eat because if I have too much rich food my gut reacts badly. So basically for dinner, we have a protein food the size of a fist, a small potato or sweet potato, a Greek salad (every night) and some cooked vegetables. We like cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, gem squash and I try to prepare them in interesting ways. We have always lived near the sea and my hubby has been a recreational deep-sea fisherman all his life so fish appears on our plates more than once a week.

Hopefully, the BIG D will keep its distance for good while now. Although I am eating almost normally again, I won’t forget how bad it feels when I am suffering an attack. The festive season is a time when we are tempted to ease up on our strict dietary rules but this year, I am determined to be careful so that I can deal with everything else that will be on my plate as we prepare for the holidays.

On my plate – cauliflower and broccoli puree, braaied chop, gem squash, sweet potato
Greek salad in the bowl.

Growing Old Gracefully or Is it Disgracefully?

When my grandparents were in their seventies, I thought they were really old. My maternal grandparents lived into their eighties and we thought they’d done well! When, however, my parents reached their seventies, they didn’t seem old at all. So it was a shock when neither of them made it to eighty. When I reached sixty, I realised that age does not make you old. Anything can happen at any age. You are not guaranteed a long and ripe old age. You have to live life to the full for as long as you can before it simply passes you by.

When you reach a milestone age, younger people tend to ask you certain things.  Having just made it to 70, I got to thinking a little more deeply about the answers to these questions.

Do you miss your career?” 

I loved teaching and I have many happy memories about my chequered career.  For forty years I was involved in Education and taught every grade from pre-school to Grade 7.  I specialised in speech and hearing and gave support to children with speech, language and hearing problems for seven years of my career.  I also taught computer skills to the elderly.  It was all very rewarding so it took me a while before I stopped feeling guilty about not being in the classroom or doing something useful with my remaining years.  But now I am enjoying making myself and my husband Number One. We do what we want when we want and the freedom is intoxicating.

If you had your life over, what would you do differently?” 

To quote, Frank Sinatra, “Regrets, I have a few, But then again too few to mention.” 

I certainly made many mistakes and cringe at the thought of them but feeling guilty about them is a wasted emotion.

Maybe If I could do it over, I would be kinder, more tolerant and less judgemental.  But it was Life that taught me these lessons.  I hope I am a nicer old lady than the hot-headed youngster I was. 

I loved the movie, “Goodbye Mr. Chips” and also the song, “Fill the world with love,” which was featured in it. “Did I fill the world with love my whole life through? ”  I tried but sometimes I failed.

What part of your life was the most rewarding?

My teaching career was very fulfilling and was concurrent with the most rewarding part of my life which was raising my daughters and helping our eldest raise her two boys.   Life between the ages of 30 and 60 was a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. I adored being a mother and I loved my kids but sometimes I felt pressured and exhausted and on occasion, I was horrible to my kids but they just loved me back.  My home was filled with noise and chaos and sometimes I would feel that it was all just too much! 

“Is this what I signed up for?” I would ask the gods.

And the answer would be “Hell, yes! You wanted love, marriage and a houseful of kids. This is what it is! Take it or leave it!”

There was never a dull moment. I loved waking up on a Saturday morning knowing all the kids were safe and finding several others dossing down wherever they could find a space. We had fold-up mattresses and couches and seldom were they empty. Every time we went to our holiday home in Struisbaai for weekends and holidays, it wasn’t just our own kids packed into the Hi-Ace or Caravelle – it was double or more and a dog, as each had to bring a friend or two.

My elder grandson said to me one day, “Gran, we’re such a dysfunctional family but everybody wants to be us.”  

“And why do you think that is?” I asked.

“Because we’re happy and everyone feels welcome.”   And isn’t that the secret?  Love conquers all – the ups and downs, the dramas, the chaos. It doesn’t matter that the house isn’t in perfect order – as long as there is love and food, there is happiness.

Those thirty years were when the very young and the very old were my priorities.  Making sure aging relatives were not neglected, being there for friends and siblings and their kids, putting everything possible into my career and maintaining a good relationship with my husband, all this made it difficult to get me time but I did.   I took time out for exercise, book club, breakfast club and hobbies.   I had good friends and siblings and we simply helped each other out.  It was just a normal part of being parents.  Sharing kids is what we did.  I had it all and I loved my life.

What is the secret to having a good marriage?

A young bride once said to me, “I want a marriage just like yours.’  That was a high compliment and I didn’t want to spoil it by telling her that it didn’t come easily. Having a good marriage is not the fairy tale or Hallmark version. Living happily ever after requires effort and commitment.  You will clash, and you will have problems but if you keep love at the centre of everything you will learn to compromise, to be tolerant, and to accept your partner, warts and all.  When something really tough happens it will either drive a couple apart or bring them closer together.  If it’s the latter, then the marriage will survive. I feel very lucky that I have the best husband in the world. He has been an awesome father and an amazing grandfather. Unlike many men of his generation, he was totally hands-on when it came to household chores and raising kids! We have a good marriage because we put each other first, above all else and we deal with the problems that life throws at us, together. We have had plenty to deal with in our lives and we have worked through it and come out stronger each time.  This is not to say that you should stick to a bad marriage – if it’s toxic – get out!

How do you stay young?

Staying young, I’m afraid, is not going to happen – we all get older but enjoying the journey is what we need to do. Live in the moment and appreciate the small things.  Embrace every opportunity and do the stuff you want to do as soon as you can.  Have fun!  Cry a little, laugh a lot.

How come you are so energetic and fit?

I love it when I’m asked this because I don’t do even half as much as when I was in those child-raising days. I have the luxury of pacing myself now.

You don’t have to train like an athlete to be fit.  I am blessed with good health. I have learned to look after this gift by watching what I eat, exercising regularly and getting my health checks.

I used to be smug about my excellent health but after one or two little issues I am learning that anything can happen at any time and at any age. So now I really listen to my body and if I need a nap, I take one. If I don’t feel up to doing certain tasks I don’t do them till I can or I ask for help. Life is short, look after yourself so that you can enjoy every moment before it’s too late.

A short while ago, I was seven years old.  Suddenly, I am seventy.  Each decade has only become better.  I intend my seventies to be sensational!

Share Your World 21 November 2022

Here are my answers to this week’s questions from Pensitivity101

1. As a child, did you prefer to watch TV, play games outside on a nice day, or read?

When I was a child growing up in South Africa we knew nothing of television until I was already grown up.

I grew up in a safe seaside village where the beach was our playground and adventuring without adult supervision was perfectly normal.

On cold or rainy days, we played board games and card games. We loved listening to plays on the radio. Our favourite on a Friday night was “Squad Cars” It was about how the cops prowled the empty streets at night to keep us safe from criminals! Nowadays we have the radio on most of the day so that there is music playing in the background. There are no plays and very else interesting to listen to. I love, though, to listen to BBC 4’s Women’s Hour which I download as a podcast.

2. What would you rather do now, read a book, watch a movie at home, dine out with friends, or go down the pub?

I read at least three books per month. I enjoy Television (Netflix) in the evenings. We have friends around for dinner at least once per week. Here in South Africa, this will usually be a ‘braai’. But believe it or not, we have other culinary skills too and I love doing Roast Greek Lamb with all the trimmings.

3. Are you fashion-conscious?

I am a little but I am certainly not a slave to fashion. A lot of my clothes are over 10 years old. Grooming is more important to me than fashion. My clothes must fit properly and not be uncomfortable to wear. I like wearing dresses and skirts in summer. In winter I either wear skirts and dresses with tights and boots or jeans with button-down shirts or polo necks and jackets. I don’t like to look sloppy or untidy or to wear clothes that do not suit my shape. I also like to wear jewelry. I have a few pieces that include gold and diamonds but mainly I wear inexpensive fashion jewelry. My shoes must be comfortable. I have one pair of heels and they’re not that high!

4. Do you wear slippers, clogs or go barefoot indoors?

I wear the same shoes that I put on in the morning indoors and outdoors. If I get up at night, I usually nip to the bathroom barefoot.


Share Your World Monday 14 November 2022

Here are my answers to this week’s Share Your World

Does the weather affect your mood?

Not really. It is something we can’t control so it’s best to just go with it and adapt. Obviously, I get irritated if I’m caught in the rain or there is mist when we’re travelling because that can be quite dangerous. But if it doesn’t interfere too much with my plans I just deal with what’s thrown at me.

I found that wind affected the kids in my class at school. They were way more hyper. Rainy weather made them restless too because they couldn’t go out to play.

If a stranger smiles at you or says ‘good morning’ when they pass you in the street, do you return it?

Always. But I’m probably the first one to greet or smile.

Smile: A Poem by Spike Milligan
Smiling is infectious,
you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today,
I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner
and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realized
I’d passed it on to him.
I thought about that smile,
then I realized its worth.
A single smile, just like mine
could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin,
don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start an epidemic quick,
and get the world infected!

If you had a choice of just one of these things to eat, what would it be and why?
Chocolate, a sweet pastry, a plate of chips/fries (this is not a forever choice, just one instance).

Chocolate every time. The reason is that chocolate makes me feel happy. I consider it an essential food group for teachers too. Nothing improves stress like chocolate does.

If you could go back to when you were a specific age, what would that be? Why?

I can’t pick an age. If I could be younger now, that would be fine but I don’t want to go back to any particular era. I have arrived in the future and in many ways it is awesome. I had a wonderful childhood with a great deal of freedom. My teens weren’t great but they were okay – just glad that phase is over. My twenties were marginally better as I enjoyed college and teaching. But my life really took an awesome turn in my thirties when I married my current husband. Raising kids and grandkids, having a fulfilling career, good friends and enjoyable hobbies all made me happy. Now I have freedom, enough money to live on without going to work, a comfortable home, good health most of the time and technology. Going back would take all that away from me, so no when you’ve arrived in the future why would you want to go back to the past?

Gratitude:
I’d happily have the cabin in the woods.

Isn’t it strange that a big house and lots of money etc does not mean you will be happy? However, as my brother always says, “I’d rather be rich and miserable than poor and miserable.” I believe that it’s your attitude and how you treat people that make you happy.

I am quite smug about my health and grateful that I am seldom ill. But over the last month, things have gone a little pear-shaped. Mild COVID hit my hubby and me a few weeks ago. This week I landed up in the hospital for two days. I had Diverticulitis and did not respond to oral meds so had to go on a drip. I am grateful that I was close to a hospital as we are visiting our daughter in Plettenberg Bay and our other two daughters are visiting too so there was plenty of support for my hubby. I am back now and will stay with the kids until I feel well enough to travel back to Struisbaai.

Share Your World Monday 7 November 2022

SYW is now being hosted by Di at Pesitivity100 as my dear blogging friend Melanie has passed away. I never met Melanie but we communicated through our blogging and I felt that I knew her. I will really miss her blog posts. This week’s questions are all about friendship and I dedicate my answers to Melanie from Sparks from a Combustible Mind.

Do you consider friends an extension of your family?

I consider my good friends as part of my family and will always be there for them.

Would you confide in a friend more than you would a family member?

There are some family members that I would confide in and others that I would not. I have friends that I am very close to and trust totally so I would confide in them.

How long have you known your best friend?

My best friend and I met when we were seven years old. She has just turned 70 and I turn 70 in a couple of weeks’ time. Our friendship has stood the test of time and distance. I have other close friends who I love dearly but she is the one who I am closest to.

Do you believe distance has a negative effect on friendships?

It certainly can but it’s not necessarily so. If you are soulmates you will be friends for life. You might lose touch with friends who move a long way away but then you could also lose touch with someone who lives close by.

I have drifted from a number of friends since leaving school and college. However, some I have kept up with and we are still good friends.

My best friend and I are definitely soulmates. We met at school when we were seven years old. Her father was transferred to another city when we were eleven. In those days we couldn’t even telephone each other as you would have to book a trunk call and our parents did not encourage that! So we kept in touch with hand-written letters. Imagine that! I just wish we’d kept the letters but we didn’t. Of course, the letter-writing was quite erratic but we did manage to see each other for holidays. Through High School, we saw each other perhaps twice. We connected again when I went to college and she lived with her parents 120 km away and I spent the odd weekend with her. When she moved to Johannesburg and I went back to Cape Town, I thought we might never meet again. But after completing her degree through a distance learning university she came to the University of Cape Town to do her Teacher’s Diploma. It was like we’d never been apart and we picked up that friendship once again. I was married with a small baby but my marriage was falling apart and she was there for me when I got divorced. We even taught at the same school very briefly. I thought we would never be apart again. But it was not meant to be. She got married and her husband needed to be in Johannesburg so off she went again! Imagine my joy when a few years and two kids later they moved to Cape Town! We were once again inseparable. It didn’t last long. Three years later they emigrated to England and she’s been there ever since. Hooray for the internet! This has really made being apart so much easier. And we see each other fairly often. She has been back to SA several times and I have visited her over there too. I am so excited because she is coming over in December and will be spending some time with me!

The friendship that my BFF and I have has stood the test of time. and distance. So many times she has called me just as I’ve decided to call her. Before she even knew my mother had died, she got the urge to phone and she did. It wasn’t the first. We both seem to just know when the other is in need. Whether we are apart or together, on WhatsApp or in the flesh, we connect on a very special level. We are true soulmates!

Flash Back Friday

Fandango has challenged us to re-blog a post that we did on this day in the past. I have taken up the challenge to post something I wrote on 4 November 2015. It was in response to a writing prompt:-  “When you were a kid, did you want to have the same job or a different job than your parents when you grew up?”

Immediately “SHOES” came to mind.  My father was a shoe man – he sold them as a travelling rep, then as a store manager until he opened his own stores in Fish Hoek where I grew up.   My feet were always shod in the best quality shoes and were both stylish and good for young growth.  He cared about feet and what was placed upon them.  

“You have a healthy foot,” he told me, A good instep but they’re too broad across the toes and too narrow at the heel.”

This made it difficult for me to find a good fit, but luckily Dad made sure I always did right up to the time he closed his stores and retired.  But I diverse. Did I want to follow a similar career?   No, I didn’t – but Big Brother worked in one of the shops Dad managed and so did Little Sister – from very tender ages too! Neither of them went into retail but I’m sure the work experience made them wealthier than me who shunned the idea of touching the feet of all and sundry.

Not for me, thank you!

No, secretarial work sounded more attractive.  Mom had been a legal secretary before marrying dad. She gave it all up to raise a family of four lively kids although she did work on and off when the need arose.   The idea of dressing up in smart clothes and wearing high-heeled shoes while taking dictation seemed to me to be a very glamorous job when I was about 10 years old.  And Dad encouraged it.

“It would be better than working in a shop,” he said. “Good secretarial skills are like gold. If you’re good you’ll be in high demand and will be able to command your salary. An academic matric is not good for girls. When you’re older you will send you to a school for secretaries!” He did too – but that’s another story!

I fancied myself as a smart, efficient secretary

Dad brought an ancient Typewriter home from his company’s office and Little Sister and I had hours of fun pretending to be secretaries. We banged away on its resistant keys, talked on a discarded broken telephone and busied ourselves writing out accounts.

But then in my teens, the “higher calling” ideas started to set in.  I should do something worthy. Perhaps I could become a missionary, a nurse, or work in a home for orphaned children. I fancied myself as a saviour of the underdog.

Yes, I would be the Perfect Florence Nightingale, ministering to the sick and making a difference in their lives. So when I was seventeen, just before my final year of high school, Mom encouraged me to first try it out during the Christmas Holidays. And that is how I landed up working as a nurse’s aide at the local hospital.  How I loved the white nurse’s uniform complete with a red cape. It made me feel very grown up and oh-so-worthy.   But it was hard and dirty work. I learned to make a perfect hospital bed, to dust and clean the metal beds and side cabinets, and to empty bedpans!

Not very glamorous work

One of my patients was a young mother of three, terminally ill with cancer.   The first time I held a bowl for her to vomit into, I almost vomited myself!   I won’t even describe the things I had to do for her but the emotions I experienced were the worst.  To me, the staff nurses seemed indifferent. Perhaps they had learned not to get emotionally involved and to maintain a professional barrier between themselves and their patients.  I, on the other hand, ran immediately to answer the bell when the young mother rang. She complained bitterly about the nurses and if one of them did come to her she would ask for me and they were only too happy to let me deal with her as she could be ‘difficult’  

“Well, wouldn’t you be if you were suffering like that?” I asked them but they shrugged their shoulders.

She was skeletal and her pallor was yellow but before visiting hour she’d call me to help her put on her makeup and brush what little hair she had.  

“It doesn’t matter how ill or old you are,” she told me “You must always make an effort to look your best for your husband.” 

I’d do my best to make sure she was fresh and presentable, prop her up on her pillows and stay and chat till her family arrived. Her hubby was always smiley and pleased to see her and the children were adorable – quiet and well-behaved bringing cards and pictures they had drawn for her.

My heart ached for them and for her as I knew she was going to die.  The pastor from the Methodist Church visited her every day and told me that at first, she’d raged against God for what was happening to her but that now she was beginning to accept her fate.

I was not there when she died.  It was in the middle of the night before I came on duty.   The pastor greeted me the following morning and broke the news to me. He had been called to her bedside.

“She went peacefully, believing that Jesus had come for her,” he said.  

I never saw her family again, but I still think about them and wonder how they dealt with their loss and whether her husband married again.  I am pretty convinced that he did as he was still young and very good-looking!  The strange thing is, I remember them all so well, what they looked like, what they were going through but I can’t remember their names.

Just over ten years later I, myself, met and married a widower with two young daughters. I believe that having had this experience in my teens helped me to understand what they had gone through losing a wife and mother to cancer.

But I also had a joyful experience while working at the hospital.  I was going about my duties when the sister called me. “One of the mommies in the maternity section is about to give birth. Would you like to watch?”  

Would I ? Oh yes, please!

I had no idea what to expect – I certainly did not expect the emotions that welled up inside me when that beautiful little boy popped into the world.  I experienced a miracle and the tears flowed – tears of wonder, joy and excitement!   It was a lady doctor who delivered the little boy and the mother was her daughter-in-law.  She said she was delighted and honoured to be allowed to deliver her own grandchild. When she put the baby into her daughter-in-law’s arms, she said,  “Ugh he’s so ugly.”  And there I was blubbing and thinking he was the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen!   But then I hadn’t been through the pain of childbirth! Now the strange thing here is, I remember all their names quite clearly!

So this is not how babies are delivered?

So after all that, did I become a nurse?  Not a chance!   I decided that all this worthy stuff was over-rated and that Teaching would be more appropriate to my skills.  After all, I could still wear smart clothes and high heels and pour out my love to the youngsters I taught. Nursing had certainly been a life-changing experience and playing secretaries with my sister had been fun but school-school was always my favourite game.

This is more my style!

Fandango’s Provocative Questions – 2 November 2022

For the first time, I am participating in this challenge Fandango’s Provocative Questions

This is what Fandango says, “Let’s have some fun this week. Or what I hope you’ll think is fun. My question is simple. It’s all about favorites. If you were asked to name your absolute favorite in each of the following categories, what would they be?”

Here are my answers:-

Song

Lady in Red by Christo Burgh is ‘Our Song’

Musical artist or group

I’m sorry to be boring but I am almost 70 and grew up with The Beatles, Elvis, Cliff Richard – so yes – they’re still my favourites.

Book

Oh my – what a question! I have so many favourites. But the one book that sticks in my mind, most people probably haven’t even heard of. It’s 84 Charring Cross Road by Helen Hamph

Author

You would think that one of my favourite books would be written by my favourite author but not so! My favourite author is Anne Tyler. I have read all her books and will continue to do so until she retires or dies.

Movie

This is a tough one. Everyone says the book is always better and usually that is true – but my favourite book and my favourite movie are the same – 84 Charringcross Road is also a movie and I loved watching it as much as I enjoyed the book. But you do need to read the book and its sequel, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, first.

Television show

Well – once again so many – Murder she Wrote, Magnum PI etc. But my absolute favourite of all time – Sex and the City. Just loved it because it was all about female friendship which I totally related to.

Movie or TV actor (male & female)

My favourite movie actors are – Julia Roberts and Richard Gere!

Stage play or musical

Jesus Christ Superstar was awesome.

Live concert

I haven’t attended many music concerts but I did see Chris de Burgh live and it was absolutely amazing.