What are you, but my very own? I love you!

Long before I even had big teeth or school shoes, I knew and felt deep down in my heart that all I wanted was to one day be a real mommy, and a nurse (because my mommy had been a nurse before she got me, and I was so in love with the beautiful freckled nurse on the photo). My little scraggly passed-down rag-doll was a pathetic looking dirty lifeless little child who could do just as well without me. Who could love something that couldn’t even talk or play or cry or fall asleep at my lullabies or bleed or ask why or swallow my mud-pies? 

I knew I wouldn’t be a daddy, because daddies were big and strong and had enormous warm laps and huge powerful hands and feet and voices. I was much too skinny to be able to grow that much and my voice was squeaky and soft. Anyway, my brothers’ wouldn’t even allow me to play with their dinky toys, so why would I be allowed to drive a big car or a truck. And daddies had short hair, and I could sit on mine.

When Robert from the co-op gave me my first kiss in our tree-house during my 6thbirthday party, I thought he would of course be the daddy when I became mommy. I remember swallowing a sixpence at that same party, but it was coughingly wrenched out of me. I still can’t keep money for long. Then we moved away to a faraway farm and Robert must have become some other mommy’s daddy. I suppose my wannabemother cravings were satisfied to some extent on the farm, with lots of little “hanslammertjies” needing to be bottle-fed, and a younger sister and brother to take care of. 

I was always willing and able to clean grazes on knees and dress bloody wounds (and wipe snotty noses). When my little brother landed under the wheels of Dad’s car while he was reversing, I actually stood my ground and didn’t run away. Thankfully, the injury was not too serious, but I realized that my nursing instincts were still strong.

At the age of 12 and a quarter, with an A-class pass into “high” school, off to boarding school I went. But not before being told the facts of life by Mom. Lo and behold, what a shock to my system that was. Please keep in mind that this was almost half a century ago, and it was called the dark ages because children (in our family anyway) were kept completely in the dark about anything and everything to do with anatomy. 

For the first time I found out that I had reproductive organs, along with allot of other outrageous information. My brother hadn’t come out of a toffee? This newly acquired knowledge scared the motherly instincts right out of me for quite a number of years.

Five years later, when matriculating at the age of 17, I handed my already completed application forms for nursing college to Dad to sign. (I was too young to be accepted without his consent). No, said Dad, I will not sign this. You are far too sensitive and get too involved emotionally. You will not become a nurse. Finished and klaar, that was that. My dream had been shattered. I did not speak to him for months, and refused to look for another career. 

Eventually Dad persuaded me to go for an interview to see if I had the ability to become a “tracer”. Needless to say, Dad knew me well and was absolutely right about the nurse thing, and I have loved my job. 

Tracer became Draughtswoman, became Cad Operator, become Technical Assistant, and now I am a highly skilled much sought-after one of a kind semi-retired Cad Technician, and the only person in my company proficient in both ‘Caddie’ and ‘Micro-Station’.

Let’s go back a few years again, to my first year working. My nursing dream had been shattered and I was plodding along with nothing exciting happening in my life. The YWCA was now my home as my family had moved to another town. After living an extremely protected life, I was on my own. Then everything changed. 

On a Thursday lunch blind date, I met this wonderful bare-footed handsome gentleman and we have been together ever since. 46 years and counting. Love at first sight it was, for both of us. Friday night we went to the movies (all dressed up in those days). Saturday morning he took me to meet his parents. Off to the theatre in the evening (even more dressed up – pink lurex mini dress for me, suit for him). I stood in a puddle of mud with my silver shoes, and he took his snow-white handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped the mud off. Sunday – a marriage proposal and a resounding yes. It was love at its best (and it’s worst).

My motherly feelings returned with an uncontrollable bang (hehehaha). Morning sickness, sore boobs, tears, happiness, fear, anxiety, whispering, shame and disgrace on the family (this was the dark ages remember), excitement, kitchen tea, wedding, honeymoon in Durbs, stork tea, prenatal classes, thinking that all the glasses we got as wedding gifts would last us for the rest of our lives, buying second-hand furniture, moving into our own place, etc etc. It was such a rollercoaster ride. And I was only a very young 18 years old. (My man was a more grown-up 24 year old). Thank you my Love of my life, for EVERYTHING!

But boy oh boy, was I ready to be a mommy. Isn’t this what I knew I was born to be? My love for my unborn child grew with my belly……

To all 3 my beautiful children:

Before I knew you, I already loved you. As I felt your life in me growing, I was filled with absolute knowing. During your birth and through the pain, my joy and elation I couldn’t contain. And as your life continued to unfold, precious memories in my heart I still tightly hold. The feeling of your warm little fingers entwined in mine, still somehow miraculously lingers. You were and are part of me, and will remain so for eternity.

I was there for all your feeds, and to fulfill all your needs. I happily changed and rinsed all your crappy nappies. (No disposables in those days). I stayed up nights wiping feverish brows, and cleaning up vomit. I sewed and mended your clothes, and I fetched and carried and taxied. I dropped you off at school and fetched you again in the afternoon. You only knew that I had a job because I told you so. I was at every event – sport, boys brigade, brownies, ballet, PTA meetings, birthday parties, hospital visits etc etc. I was always there for you. I always made time for you; my life revolved around yours. And I loved every single minute of being your mother (still do actually). This was what I had wanted since before I had teeth, remember! I was in the process of fulfilling my role in life. No pathetic looking dirty lifeless little rag-doll, but a real child to play and be with. And this child returned and responded to my love. Oh what immeasurable joy! 

I must say that it was during your growing up years that I realized that I was not a nurse at heart. I wanted to cry and run away every time one of my beloved children got hurt or bled or had an operation. (Tried hard to hide this though)

I always tried to be fair. I always tried to understand. I always brought you before God every single day, as I still do to this day. I also know that I made plenty of mistakes. I have luckily forgotten most of them, and hope you have too. I am truly sorry if I did or said anything that left a lasting negative effect on you.

I know that in the last years I have not always been all that pleasant to be around. It is not easy to carry on with everything regardless of constant pain and exhaustion. I want you to know that I love your father beyond measure and because I feel so secure in his love for me, I have unfortunately taken out all my frustrations on him. I am in the process of making it up to him.

Just want you to know that all 3 of you make me so proud (make US so proud). You have grown up to be really special human-beings. I am crying now – tears of joy and sadness all mixed up together. I have felt all your highs and lows with you – how can I not, as I am part of you! And here we are and we are all fine and honky-dory.

Perhaps after reading this, you will understand why it sometimes feels so natural and normal to be giving advice to you as adults, or even telling you what to do or not to do. Please forgive me for this. I have been doing it my whole life, and sometimes I just slip into that role, even though I know you are quite capable of making your own decisions. 

You know when you should shave or brush your hair or sleep enough or eat well or not drink and drive or swear etc etc. I always have your interests at heart, and remember that I probably know you better than anyone else. (Our personalities basically remain the same, even when we are all grown up). I will do my best to only give advice when it is undoubtedly called for or asked for by you. I am always here!

It is a privilege to have you in my life……THANK YOU for fulfilling my dream in such a perfect wonderful, warm, living way. 

Tjaart, THANK YOU from the very depths of my soul, without you none of this would have been possible!

Mother Mary

Turns out we both liked men.

Dear friends, family and interesting creatures,

I happened upon my dearest friend, Louw’s video about being different yesterday. I’d never thought different could mask the word gay.

When I finished watching Louw’s video about coming out to his Dad, I had an ugly face cry.  I hated that Louw had felt any hurt ever.

I felt compelled to acknowledge the truth in my own life. My children’s father is gay.

I usually am very quick and witty about this subject. I say things like: (insert drum roll here)

I love gay men so much, I even married one once.

The truth is nothing like that. Truth is jest.

I would like you to watch Louw’s video, before you read the 30 things Brian is most grateful for. Perhaps it will explain to you, why I have felt an assortment of emotion, but never anger, nor blame. It’s a strange, strange world we live in Master Jack. 

I urge to you attempt to accept, embrace and have empathy for what you do not understand. I know this is not easy. Not for you, and certainly not for the person standing before you.

Thirty things I am thankful for:

There are so many ways I could look at this, so I will probably split my thirty things I am thankful for between the serious and the slightly more flippant.

  1. I am thankful for the path I have walked, for better or worse I feel I am a more authentic me.

Roughly a decade years ago my life was in turmoil. I realized whatever life I was living it was not me. Being a sometimes compulsive writer I wrote my thoughts down at the time and made a decision to try something new.

What I wrote at the time follows:

“I have never been afraid of death until now, not death itself but rather the life I will live until I die. A life lived in fear, a life that becomes banal, uninteresting even to myself” For a few months I know I lost the plot completely and drew into myself. No More.”

I will not live an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to love
so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

– Dawna Markova.

To not live an unlived life I realized was to require an absolute freedom, not bound by the shackles of my past, or the shackles of a grafted on morality.

I would rather live a life guided by that which sits deep within me. An honest life that is true to me and true to those around me.

“Accepting a freedom like that is both exciting and terrifying. How much do the points of reference on a moral compass shift, when reliant on purely one’s sense of self and who one is?”

The words above were written by a man who had been living in absolute fear and conflict with himself, deeply closeted to a point of denial.

Making a decision to seek something different, I never imagined where the journey would take me.

Today, I am a happy, out of the closet man who can fully accept me without conflict. So yes, for this I am thankful.

  1. I am thankful for my three children. Each a unique and special blessing who have walked the long path with me. Who love and accept me for who I am, flaws and all. Without them I am nothing.
  1. I am thankful for the mother of my children. Without her I would have nothing to offer this world when I am dead and gone. I hope that they each carry a piece of me, so that others will know my character even if they never met me.
  1. I am Thankful for a Grandmother who carried me in my youth. She was a mentor, a confidant and a friend. Certainly she formed part of the mould for who I am today.
  1. I am thankful for those others dear to me no longer of this earth. The lessons learned the memories cherished. For them in those dark hours I will still steal away and cry.
  1. I am thankful for past lovers. Some left me hurt, some left me poorer. Some I will carry in my heart forever. The all left me older and wiser.  I am thankful for that wisdom.
  1. I am thankful for the children along the way who I did not raise but still call me dad. It has been my privilege.
  1. I am thankful to live in a country and community that makes room for all and gives all a place in the sun.
  1. I am thankful for a small but precious circle of friends. These are the family I got to choose.
  1. I am thankful for my brother. He will always be a shining star in my life. Never on this earth could anyone be more proud of a sibling.
  1. I am thankful for late night conversations, the sharing of tears. I hold these moments sacred.
  1. I am thankful for my first love. Music. The soundtrack to my life would be an eclectic mix. Everything I have ever felt can be expressed in music, be it the lyrics or the emotion of the instruments.
  1. I am thankful for the fact I have lived over two decades in the one industry, it was foretold I could never make it in.
  1. I am thankful for those who will put themselves on a stage to perform. These courageous people who put themselves out there for our entertainment.
  1. I am thankful for the artists in the world. The ones on gallery walls and the ones on the subway walls. Creativity in all its forms inspires me.
  1. I am thankful for the moments when my mind grows still.
  1. I am thankful that in most cases we get to try again tomorrow.
  1. I am thankful for a world rich in fragrance, be it a flower, a dish to feast upon or the unique scent of a man or woman.
  1. I am thankful for the tree lined avenues I travel on my daily commute.
  1. I am thankful for the random smile of strangers.
  1. I am thankful for the animals I have loved throughout their lives. I love them still.
  1. I am thankful to the genius who first took leaves from a plant and let them steep in boiling water. Five Roses African Select is its perfect form.
  1. I am thankful for the genius who figured out fermentation. Beer or wine for me.
  1. I am thankful for the genius who figured out distillation. Vodka anyone?
  1. I am thankful for the genius who first processed a Cocoa Bean. 75% Dark chocolate for me.
  1. I am thankful for the Afrikaans language. Truly a beautiful language.
  1. I am thankful for the months that run out before the money does. Wish it happened more often.
  1. I am thankful for the nights where I beat insomnia. I wish they were more.
  1. I am thankful for “out swimming” a lot of other sperm. (Sorry I could not resist)
  1. I am thankful for any of you who took the time to read this.

 

May love and laughter light your days,

and warm your heart and home.

May good and faithful friends be yours,

wherever you may roam.

May peace and plenty bless your world

with joy that long endures.

May all life’s passing seasons

bring the best to you and yours!

 

With Love,

Brian