Here’s to you Mom

 The best mother in the world, my Mom, died on Tuesday morning,     31 July 2012 at approximately 08:30. God granted us a grace period of 9 months since we literally prayed her back from the dead on the 1st of November last year. Though I couldn’t be next to her bed when she breathed her last breath, I could at least be on the phone with my Dad while it happened, as it happened quite suddenly. If you could call any end to her suffering suddenly.

Her health has steadily deteriorated over the last eight years since the huge heart attack where she literally died for a few minutes and came back. She told us then that she felt a sudden rush of air as she literally shot up in the air. Another man was with her that died at the same time – she could remember vivid details of what he looked like. Halfway she suddenly stopped. Jesus was with her. He stood behind her and told her to close her eyes. She told us that at some point she tried to open them, but it was impossible as the glory of His presence was so overwhelming. He spoke to her and He gave her the opportunity to listen to the prayers of her husband and her three children. She said that when the prayers arrived in heaven, it sounded like thunder. She told each of us what we prayed when she came back, prayers that we prayed in the solitude of our own homes or in the waiting room of the hospital.

She was very emotional when she spoke about it and I remember that she told me once that she didn’t want to come back, that the peace and the love she experienced was so overwhelming, that she wanted to stay. But Jesus told her that her work wasn’t finished yet. I asked her many times what they talked about, and though they talked about a few things, she always said that He emphasized that there is not enough love in this world. If only we could all love each other more, He said. We keep ourselves busy with things that don’t matter, He said. I remember at the time that I didn’t think the message to be thát profound. But as time passed, it was as if my eyes opened and I came to understand why He thought it was so important that He sent her back to tell us all.

On the first of November last year, she nearly died again. I was in America, just three weeks away from returning to South Africa and I begged God to save her life long enough so that I could say goodbye in person, and hold my Dads hand through the process. He answered my prayer and gave us 9 more months to enjoy her for old time’s sake.

She really suffered the last 6 to 8 weeks. Her health deteriorated rapidly and she was in constant pain. I felt so guilty for asking God to let her live a little longer and I kept praying, God, is this what I have done to her? Is she suffering because I wasn’t ready to let her go? Please forgive me my Lord, it was so selfish of me. Please don’t let her suffer too long. I promise that I won’t pray her back from You again.

The last time she came to visit was the last weekend in June. She could still walk, but she couldn’t get up without help and my Dad had to bathe her and dress her. It became clear that we weren’t equipped to care for her at home any more.

We started to make arrangements to get her 24 hour care. We finally had everything lined up and she was supposed to go into frail care on Thursday, 2nd of August. It was heartbreaking for all of us, but mostly for my Dad, who had to help make arrangements to let the love of his life leave him to stay somewhere else. Luckily, God had other plans, and her last move was to a much better place.

I remember when I was young, how my Mom used to tell me about her house in heaven. How she thinks that her kitchen tiles will have fresh roses in them. How big her kitchen is going to be. How she is going to dance on the streets of gold. She loved turtle doves, fruit trees, carnations and the sound of water, so I can only imagine how beautiful her garden must be. I have such vivid memories of her walking in my garden, talking to the plants and I’m sure she is doing that in her new garden.

When I close my eyes, I can see her leaping with joy, with a fully functioning body, finally free of pain. I imagine the joyous reunion with her grandmother, whom she loved so much, her dad, her brother and my twin brother. And the way I know my Mom, she is probably baking and cooking up a storm in her new kitchen. It is her birthday on the 13th of August and I think she is going to have the mother of all parties, doing all the catering herself with all her favourite recipes – chocolate cake with caramel, lamingtons, sausage rolls, custard slices, milk tart, frikadelle, marshmallow pie, peppermint crisp pie, lemon meringue – ag Ma, I just know you are going to make way too much food like you always did.

It was such a privilege to have you as our Mom. I don’t know of any other Mom that prayed so much for her children. You made so many sacrifices for us, most we only learnt of many years later. You taught us so many things, things I thought all moms did, but as I grew older, I realised you went the extra mile.

Thank you God, what a privilege is was to have such a phenomenal woman as a mother. Thank you for lending her to us. And thank you for ending her suffering. Though we cry tears of sadness for our personal loss, we cannot help but to sometimes laugh through the tears as we remember her quirky personality.

You will be dearly missed, Mamma.

Until we meet again.

 

Spring-Cleaning

I think I have proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that evolution cannot be true.

I base this staggering statement solely on the case study of our home here in South Africa. I mean, if evolution was true, our house should have improved itself in the four years I spent in the USA, not so?

Instead, my house stands as a living confirmation of logical entropy: the longer left alone, the more it tends towards chaos. Instead of finding brand new curtains and the spawn of furniture waiting to be hatched into miniature versions of itself, I found dust, cobwebs, large happy families of spiders, dust, cracks in the walls, leaking pipes and more dust.

Have I mentioned dust? Layers and layers of it in nooks and crannies I never knew existed. Suffice to say that I now know what a year’s worth of dust looks like and it’s not pretty. Nor is it beneficial for those tiny little spaces called sinuses, which tend to feel not so tiny when it rebels against its dusty environment.

So began a long and extended spring-cleaning in the middle of summer. I have learned and confirmed many truths during this laborious time, of which I will include some highlights here:

  • If it finds you alone in a deserted alley, the African sun will kill you. Atlanta may be hotter than Pretoria, but the sun here takes no prisoners. I am still mourning the premature death of at least a quarter of all my curtains, as they literally fell off the rails when I started taking them off for a well-needed wash.
  • Everything really is bigger in America. Okay, maybe not everything, but my washing machine certainly was. Most of my curtains and bedding had to be washed very much manually in a bathtub. Which brings me to my next point:
  • Those Voortrekker1 tannies2 were not a bunch of sissies. After a couple of days of treading washing in a bathtub, lifting the now tripled-in-weight-curtains and lugging them up and down stairs, I felt like a freight train has run me over. And backed over me again. A couple of times, actually.
  • It may take days to wash all the windows, but it will take only a couple of minutes worth of rain to undo your crystal clear view.
  • Angry spiders throw tantrums too. They tend to bounce up and down rather animatedly if you bump their cobwebs. Quite an intimidating display of territorialism, but I’m bigger and I can bounce too, so I won this one hands down.
  • A single family of birds nesting above your front door can produce enough bird-poop in a year to fertilize a full size garden.
  • A matchbox size piece of forgotten cheese in your refrigerator will generate more culture than an average country and western concert gathering.

Who knew such life changing truths were hidden in the mundane tasks of spring-cleaning?

As I subjected myself to involuntary experiments on the effectiveness of different anti-histamines (a girl’s sinuses can take only so much dust), Cowboy Ken had his share of maintenance too. Apart from a gate that has rusted shut and a swimming pool that sprung a leak (twice), he also had his hands full with long overdue car maintenance and The Case of the Leaking Toilet (don’t even ask, it will take several blog-posts to cover this one and I’m not sure I want to remember).

At least all the flurry of activity had numerous enjoyable social encounters in between. Ken and I literally felt like celebrities as we couldn’t find enough time on our calendars for all the kuier3 and braai4 invitations. From everyone we heard the same thing: we are sorry that your plans to reside in the US didn’t work out, but boy, are we glad you’re back!

How can we not feel special?

What is even more special is the extra time I have been granted with my Mom since her heart attack early November. We have been spending lots of quality time together, something I do not take for granted anymore. In fact, since our Close Encounters of the American kind, there are lots of things I don’t take for granted anymore, but that’s a different story altogether.

So as I massage my spring-cleaning muscles (yeah, I didn’t know I had those either) and wave to the neighbours through my now curtainless windows, I cannot help but to feel blessed.

To know Mom and Dad is just a short 2-hour drive away. To have so many friends, receiving us back with open arms. To at least have a house to clean and a swimming pool to fix.

Perspective is a beautiful thing.

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Vocabulary for Afrikaans-impaired people

1 Voortrekkers: the [V] is pronounced like an [F], the [oor] in Voor is pronounced the same as the [ure] in sure
= Voortrekkers in South African history is similar to pilgrims in American history

2 tannies: the [annies] is pronounced like the [unnies] in bunnies
= old ladies or aunties

3 kuier: pronounced “kayer”
= to visit or socialize

4 braai: pronounced “bruy”
 = to barbecue meat, especially steaks and wors

Hello America!

What is a girl to do when she has met so many wonderful people in the good ol’ United States, but then jumps on a jet-plane to her own piece of Africa? Especially when some of these dear friends are so old (…nervous cough…) that you cannot stay in touch via Facebook? (I’m suddenly quite relieved that I’m more than a continent away, I’m fully aware that this last statement might provoke some of you to hit me with your walking cane).

I have considered many options, including smashing my piggy bank for a quick visit (and discovered that piggy has not been fed enough) and writing e-mails (wa-a-a-ay to old school for such a young tech-savvy person as myself), but has concluded that creating a blog in your honour would by far be the best option as I can fulfill all these goals in one go:

  • Give my geriatric friends a chance to exercise those decaying little braincells by forcing them to use their computers for something other than e-mail
  • Hopefully salvage the relationships I have just damaged as result of the previous goal by repeating and emphasizing the fact that this blog is created completely in your honour
  • Force myself to learn how to post a blog so that I can scratch that darn “learn at least one new thing”-line off of my resolution list (pretty bloody daunting, I might add, took me hours to find the writing space, but still have nooooo idea how to post this rambling monologue)
  • Save little piggy from a premature and gruesome death

I am sure you all will agree that these are high and lofty goals worth reaching and would therefor oblige by subscribing to my humble little blog so that I can keep in touch and update you on our boring little lives here in Africa.

If you are still not as fluent in Nonsense as I am, I will help translate the above by saying that its obvious I miss you guys! Lets see how this blogging thing goes.

Now if I can just find the send/upload/post button…