“She was grand! She was grand! If there was more of her sort, sure, the world would be a better place!” Arthur said,
This came from a man who had known her for almost as long as her husband had.
What could have prompted him to use words like this? No need to question why,
because she was.
For all of her life I don’t think any of us knew that our mother was called ‘the golden girl’ by her circle of friends when she was younger. Daddy had a nick name for her, Gog. It all makes sense now.
Her family were her life. The sense of family was passed on naturally to all of us, without anyone even trying, so strong were the lessons she taught. That wasn’t her only strength.
When they chose to go to South Africa, I don’t think she could have perceived how far away it was: she went with her man, two babies and a crate of meagre belongings. They had a job to go to, and one room to live in. But importantly, they had each other.
The foreign land, of Africa, where every day must have been a learning curve. Understanding the very nature of people, who were different, even alien, to one as naive as Mom. South Africa was to her stranger than the language people spoke. In many ways, though, with all her naivety, she was the strength behind our Dad.
He worked shifts and it was she who dealt with the daily challenges on the streets of Port Elizabeth; what to eat, she thought watermelon was raw meat! Vegetables were foreign and food labels confusing written in Afrikaans. Like an adventure every day.
It began on the boat, the Winchester Castle when the family were separated for the first time. Woman and children had separate quarters to the men. She had to be strong to cope with a three year old and a new baby amongst women she did not know, nor trust.
I think that was the beginning of the tight circle she held us in as children, the nest, until she knew we were able to fly. Outsiders had to earn their trust, but when they did, she had so much love to give.