Tag Archives: relationship

In memory of my granny

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Friday this week marks one year since the passing of my precious little German granny.

Googie

My granny

We called her Googie, and she was my penpal, my friend, my role model and my strongest link to my German heritage. In honour of her, here’s a short memorial (my German is a bit rusty, sorry for any errors).

Googie war ein liebevoller Mensch, und ich bin sehr dankbar daß sie meine Großmutter war. Ich vermisse sie sehr. Aber ich bin froh, daß ich sie im 2011 besuchen konnte. Googie war sehr schwach und gebrechlich zu dieser Zeit, aber sie wußte noch, wer ich war. Wir hatten ein Paar Stunden zusammen die von unschätzbarem Wert waren. Wir saßen zusammen im Sonnenschein und redeten langsam über unsre Zeit in Österreich, als wir dort vor zehn Jahren eine Cousine Googies besuchten. Ich hatte auch die Gelegenheit, sie zu sagen, wie sehr ich sie liebte und wie dankbar ich immer sein wäre, daß sie ein Teil meines Lebens war.

For Googie

For Googie

My dear granny reached out to more people than anyone I know. She could strike up a conversation with anyone, and made a point of learning a few words of as many languages as possible so she could engage with people from different backgrounds. She was endlessly writing to, visiting or telephoning people she knew and loved.

As a young woman she had been a school teacher, and I remember being amazed that some of her pupils still kept in touch with her over six decades later! She had that effect on people: she could get along with shy little kids and grumpy old men; she could bring out a smile on the toughest face.

I gained many blessings from being one of Googie’s granddaughters. Although we lived with the length of the whole country between us for most of my life, we kept in touch with letters from the moment I could hold a pen. In this way she also introduced me to other relatives and friends of hers that I began to correspond with. Even though I only spent time with Googie in person a handful of times, she was one of the people I felt closest to; I could pour out my heart in my letters and she would always respond in kind.

One of my favourite memories of my relationship with Googie centres around my birthdays. I must have inherited my love of birthdays and gifts and giving from her. When I was younger, the anticipation for my birthday was always heightened by the arrival of a large parcel from my gran, wrapped in brown paper, tied with string and sealed with red wax. Inside there’d be a collection of interesting items… cards, stickers, stationery, dried fruit, trinkets… and usually themed around whatever I was ‘into’ at that stage of my life (such as kittens, or horses, or collecting old perfume bottles).

My granny never forgot a birthday (or any other special occassion) because she had a thick notebook filled with peoples’ names, numbers and important dates. I remember being impressed with that and wanting to make people a priority in my own life too. We also shared a love of reading and of languages.

One of the loveliest things about Googie was that she rarely complained. I love the story of how my gran touched the heart of one of the doctors who was caring for her towards the end. She was very frail and ill then and could barely see, but when he asked her how she was doing she sweetly replied, ‘Life is beautiful, doctor.’ And if you knew Googie, you’d know she meant it.

It’s hard to think about the gap left behind by this very special person. I know there are dozens of people in countries around the world who will miss her letters and phonecalls and presence. I am so grateful to have had her in my life, and I pray that I will take the good from her example and continue her legacy of living life with her arms wide open, welcoming other people and looking for the best in them.

There’s so much more I could say, and then there’s only this:

I miss you terribly, meine kleine Großmutti.

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A Mother’s Day tribute

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Mother's Day gift

Mother’s Day gift

Tomorrow we celebrate Mother’s Day in SA, lauding those hard-working, nurturing souls who raised us.

I’m generalising, of course.

Not everyone has a loving, present or involved mom. But among those who have been blessed with a dear mother in their lives, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone with a mom as unique as mine 😉

My little mommy is funny, eccentric and devoted. She loves the Lord and serves her family wholeheartedly, but she’s no ordinary old-school housewife. Marzipan (as I call her) is headstrong and opinionated, spontaneous and cheerful. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who cared less about what other people think of her actions… and yet it hasn’t made her arrogant.

I look back on my childhood and can only laugh. When other kids’ moms were getting manicures, my Marzipan was climbing the local mulberry trees with my brother and I to get the best berries before the birds did! When other mothers were sending their children to all manner of extramural activities, my mom gave us the freedom roam the neighbourhood and play down by the nearby stream (always praying fervently until we returned safely).

My mom grew up on a smallholding near the sea, so she had a vastly different upbringing to her two city-bred kids. And yet she found ways to give us a healthy, adventurous childhood. Some of my favourite memories are of our family hiking together in the nearby hills and my mom teaching us about the plants, birds and creatures in our area. As a trained horticulturist, her love of nature always drew her outdoors – and often us with her.

She also made sure she instilled a spiritual awareness and knowledge of the gospel in us from an early age. She wasn’t afraid to discuss sin and admit her need for a Saviour, which is something I admired her for as I grew old enough to understand these things. And one of the biggest gifts she gave me was the knowledge that I could turn to my Heavenly Father in prayer anytime, anywhere. She showed by example that faith in Christ is a living relationship with Him, not a formulaic or empty religious ritual.

Marzi is also practical, resourceful and hard-working. I didn’t know it at the time, but watching her while I grew up was good preparation for my own time as a housewife years later. She taught me tricks for storing food and stretching a small budget and turning everyday meals into surprise treats. She showed me that housework and housewifedom wasn’t something to be ashamed of; in fact, it was a goal worth striving for because it led to a balanced life.

As with many mothers and daughters, we did go through seasons when we didn’t agree on much. Life is such that while I was going through the throes of adolescence, my mom was battling with the changes of mid-life. We didn’t understand each other so well back then, but we made it through the rocky patches to enjoy the new relationship we have now.

Now that I’m married and running my own home, I can appreciate my mom from an adult perspective. And we’ve become friends, almost sisters, in the way we connect and tune in to one another. We laugh together, we bake for each other, we think of and pray for each other, and we appreciate each other more than ever.

For Mother’s Day I tried to get Marzipan something she really wanted, so I was delighted to find this beautiful tea towel and some very cute ceramic teacup-shaped teabag holders/spoonrests. And don’t you just love that the box is decorated with the same patterns as the towel? 🙂

A gift for Marzipan

A gift for Marzipan

It’s just a small token of my gratitude to the best mommy in the world :mrgreen:

A moonlit tea party and manly romance

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When last did you do something out of the ordinary, just for fun?

Prep for our moonlit tea party

Last night Ninja and I enjoyed a moonlit tea party outside. It was a spontaneous suggestion from my man when he saw how beautifully clear the night skies were. It wasn’t a freezing evening either – just chilly enough to warrant wrapping up snugly. But autumn evenings are possibly the nicest time to be outside, because they’re not as cold as winter and there are also no mosquitos as in summer.

So I boiled up our rooibos tea and sliced up some custard cake, and we spent about half an hour enjoying each other’s company in the clear, quiet night.

I suppose this might not seem like such an unusual thing to those of you who have gardens of your own, but since we have no access to our landlord’s yard, we had to sit out on the pavement. That immediately made it an unusual spot for tea 😛

It was one of those memorable ‘live in the moment’ times for me. I consciously focused on my cold fingers clasping the warm mug, and the sounds of distant traffic and night birds, and the sweet comfort of the custard cake. It was also special to chat with Ninja under the stars, because years ago we shared a similar moonlit conversation as friends, a few weeks before we began dating.

Reflecting on that moonlit tea party today, I can glean another lesson from it: the marital lesson of saying ‘Yes, let’s!’ more often than saying ‘No, but…’. Part of the excitement that comes with dating is the spontaneity of experiencing new things together. But I think over time many wives (including myself) can get into the habit of saying no to their husbands’ spontaneous suggestions.

We ladies may look at our to-do lists and focus so intently on our responsibilities that we can’t see room for fun anymore. No wonder some men stop making suggestions when they receive repeated excuses. Or perhaps you say yes and then proceed to take over like it was your idea (oops… I’ve done that too!).

But in doing so we may be missing out on the one thing we actually want: romance! I’m willing to bet that men are more romantic than popular culture gives them credit for; it’s just that they’re not romantic in the same way as women. While we’re daydreaming about candlelit dinners and bunches of roses, we may have missed half a dozen romantic suggestions from our men.

The thing is, for men romance is primarily about companionship. Yes, physical intimacy plays an important part, but that’s only half the picture. Chances are your man just wants to experience fun things with you. He wants a companion to share both new experiences and old hobbies. He doesn’t always want to wait on you hand and foot (as in your idea of romance). To him, romance may be as easy as having you contentedly by his side 🙂

I know that I want to become more of a ‘Yes, let’s!’ wife.

What about you, ladies? And guys, am I on to something here?

Marriage lessons on a motorcyle

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Don’t fall off your chair.

You’re about to see the first pic of me ever posted to this blog 😛

Yes, that's me!

Yes, that’s me!

That’s me, all trussed up and ready to go for a motorcycle ride with Ninja. And don’t worry, I know I look about 12 years old next to that bike, but I didn’t do the riding. I was safely straddling the pillion seat, clinging to my husband like a baby koala to its mother’s back.

I managed to work on three of my 101 things in 1001 days goals yesterday. For Goal #10, I went on the first of ten motorbike rides with my man; for Goal #70, I ate at the first of five new restaurants; and for Goal #42 I ate the third of five new things I’ve never tried before.

The bike ride was both thrilling and threatening.

It’s not that I’m afraid of bikes; in fact, I was raised by biker parents (not that they were Harley-riding, leather-tassle-toting Hell’s Angels or anything). Both my parents enjoyed biking before they even met each other, and they had real bikes, not those awful showy cruisers that sound more like tractors. When I was old enough, my dad took me for rides too. So motorcycles were part of my childhood.

I used to think that my dad was the only man I’d ever trust to give me lifts on a motorbike. But then Ninja learnt to ride during our dating years, and my world of safe bikers is now population: 2. I really enjoy going for rides with my husband, since he’s a sensible and safe rider and he communicates clearly to me what’s expected of me as his pillion.

So yesterday’s bike ride wasn’t threatening because of him. It was all the other hooligans on the road!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The bad parts of the trip only came at the end. The first leg of the journey was lovely.

My really girly helmet

My really girly helmet

We decided to travel towards Hartebeespoort Dam, a very famous chilling spot on weekends and public holidays (such as yesterday, which was SA’s Human Rights Day). The main road leading there takes you through open areas of grassland, hills and trees. It feels like you’re leaving the city behind you for good.

Biking offers a special thrill and a freedom that even the fastest car will never supply. There’s that element of risk that’s just so different from taking a trip with four wheels. I love flying over the roads with the wind rushing around us; I love the little flip of fear that my tummy does when we lean around the corners. I enjoy sitting high up and being able to see past the traffic, and it’s always fun waving at bug-eyed little children in the backseats of cars.

Anyway, to get to the eateries you have to circle around the dam, riding on a bridge that only allows traffic through from one side at a time. I managed to take a pic of the entrance to the bridge because we’d had to pull over, since poor Ninja got a speck of something or other stuck in his eye.

The ‘Victory Arch’ at Hartebeespoort Dam

The inscription across the top of the archway says ‘Sine aqua arida ac misera agri cultura’ on this side, and ‘Dedi in deserto aquas flumina in invio’ on the other side (which I unfortunately couldn’t capture on camera). Apparently the inscriptions mean something like ‘Without water agriculture is arid and miserable’ and part of Isaiah 43:20 in Latin. (Hmm. I’d even go so far as to say that without water, agriculture is impossible. But maybe that’s just me.)

Sine aqua arida ac misera agri cultura

If the arch looks old, it’s because it is – the dam was started towards the end of the First World War, and only completed shortly before the Second World War began. Since then, Harties (as it’s affectionately known) has become a top leisure spot. These days there are loads of fancy homes settled along the shores of the dam, and there’s lots to do in the area, from hot-air balloon rides to a small zoo.

But there is one problem with the dam: it’s always been full of algae, water plants and weeds. And sometimes (like yesterday) it can really pong! Yuck :/ Bikers get the full impact of nasty smells; at least the car drivers can roll up their windows! Eventually we found a great little Italian restaurant ristorante opposite the zoo, where the fresh air was free of foul smells. Here’s a pic of the signboard and view:

Catalino's restaurant

Catalino’s restaurant

And then, since I was in the mood for achieving goals, I ordered something I’ve never tried before: curry on a pizza!

Chicken curry on pizza

Chicken curry on pizza

It was unusual and surprisingly yummy 🙂

On the way back, we managed to skip the long queue for the bridge. That really is one of the best things about motorbikes. Car drivers hate it when bikers are pushy, but Ninja rode very politely and safely, so people let him into the front of the queue. Since he commutes with a bike daily, he knows how to show good manners on the roads.

After we’d left the bridge and dam area behind us, the less pleasant side of the ride began. My back was starting to ache because of the backpack I carried, so there was that. But worst of all were some of the rude car drivers who toyed with us as we simply made our way home. Wherever possible Ninja got out of the way so that faster cars and bikes could pass us. But one car driver in particular started driving up our tailpipe and hooting at us to move aside even though there was no space to do so. Such arrogance just boils my blood! And as we got nearer the suburbs, there were several cars that just started pulling out of driveways in front of us as if we didn’t exist.

It was hair raising. On a bike one feels so exposed; accidents that would merely be fender benders in a car, on a bike would result in broken bones or worse. By the time we got home we were rather shaken up. When my nerves are on edge like that, nothing calms me like something sweet 😉 So we had some cherry jelly as we discussed the day’s events…

Cherry jelly, a great nerve tonic

The trip gave me a new appreciation for the kind of dangers that my man faces on the bike each day. It also made me think about the ways in which going for a bike ride together is similar to being married:

1. You need to be fit for it. You use so many muscles and so much concentration to be a good rider or pillion passenger; it doesn’t happen without practice. In marriage you also need to work at a strong relationship; no one is naturally the perfect spouse.

2. There has to be a leader and a follower. Biking wouldn’t work if we both tried to take control and steer things our way, and neither does marriage. In God’s good design, he gave husbands and wives different but complementary roles.

3. You need to move as one. When Ninja leans into a corner, I have to trust him and copy his movements so that the bike stays balanced. In the same way, in marriage we need to make decisions together and move forward as one.

4. You need to look out for each other. Ninja warns me when to hold on tight or stand up for bumps in the road, and sometimes I help him by pointing out danger or directions. In our marriage we take care of each other in the same way.

5. You have to have a goal. A bike ride to nowhere is no fun, just as a marriage with no shared dreams and destinations lacks meaning.

6. You need to trust God for your journey. I never leave on a bike ride without praying for our safety, and in the same way marriages are protected when couples lift up their lives to the Lord.

7. There’s only space for two. Three people can’t fit on a motorbike, just as three’s a crowd in any marriage.

8. You need to know your limitations. Each bike is different, and each rider has different skill sets. Acting like you’re on a superbike when it’s really just a scooter will cause endless problems. And in marriage, comparing your unique circumstances to other couples around you will always leave you dissatisfied.

9. Hold on tight. Since we can’t talk to each other, we communicate with touches and squeezes during a bike ride. Which is not a bad idea for marriage, either 😉

10. It’s supposed to be fun! In bike riding as in marriage, make the most of every adventure and every opportunity to be together. You’re meant to enjoy the ride!