Dedicated to André de Cöning – 19 October 1961 to 18 July 1992
On the eve of commemorating 25 years of being being a widow, I had to endure the queues at The Department of Labour to claim my UIF payment. With no airtime or data (because I forgot to load), my entertainment was to rewind my life-movie back to 18 July 1992, the day I became a 21 year-old widow and my two sons, 3 and 1 year-old orphans…
I found myself smiling whilst tears well up. A concerned and confused lady in the queue asks me if I am okay and why am I smiling and crying at the same time. I get pulled back into reality, look at her, smile sprightly and give her a hug when she offers me a tissue, now even more confused when I tell her how happy I am to be here …
“But why?”, she asks. And I hit the play button of my movie.
The starting point being when I received the dreadful news and how I can hardly remember the days that followed till the funeral and how 25 years wafted past in auto-pilot mode. I smiled because I raised two awesome young men. I am so proud of them and privileged to be their mother. They are such strong and independent individuals. They’ve endured many challenges and dealt with (still do) the void of not knowing their father or what it must be like having one from an early age.
It wasn’t easy. We faced challenges, we disagreed and agreed, we cried and laughed, we celebrated, but most importantly, we loved and supported each other. We learnt that we shouldn’t waste time being negative about things that are out of our control or question why bad things happen. We accepted that, whatever happens, happens when it should, how it should, and for a reason. We did not always know why, at the time. We knew that we can not change what happened, but we can choose how we react to it. We knew that change is the only constant in life and that nothing is permanent. Enjoy the happy moments and endure the challenging ones, because that too shall pass. We chose to be positive and to make the best of every situation.
We lived in the moment. Humble beginnings. We had a roof over our head (not a mansion with designer furniture, but a warm and loving home where their friends loved to visit), a car to drive (no aircon or power steering or ABS brakes, but one that took as places and got us there safely), food to eat (not gourmet cuisine, but healthy, hearty favourites), clothes to wear (not designer brand names, but warm and comfortable). Sometimes we had money for fun and entertainment and we had funds for education in a descent mainstream school. We never had millions, but was able to progress to a nicer house, brand clothing for birthdays, motorcycles when they turned 16, cars when they turned 18 and studying at University when they left school. We had enough and we had each other. We were grateful and took nothing for granted
Coming back to why I was happy to be standing in a queue at The Department of Labour this morning; Having to cut living costs and luxuries and going back to basics, without feeling deprived. At that moment I was grateful for every experience in my life, for every bottle of perfume I could buy, for every person that I have met (each and every one had their unique purpose and contribution in my life) and all the choices I made that brought me to where I stood this morning. It has allowed me to make mistakes and acknowledge the valuable lessons I learnt from it. To not have any regrets. It reminded me of appreciating all the small things that matter. It shaped me and made me who and what I am today. It has equipped me to be the best version of me. It has enabled me to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Even if it is just to help an illiterate man complete his UIF claim form or give someone my pen.
It has reminded me of what I have accomplished thus far, and that I am able to accomplish so much more. There’s an abundance of new opportunities and experiences waiting for me, Rudi and Leon, and more challenges to overcome with confidence and determination. I am equipped to, not only design my own future, but to help others design the life they’ve always wanted.
It gives me meaning and purpose and helps me through the tough days when I miss my kids, family and friends that are scattered all over the world. I am happy, because I have so many people to miss. People who have enriched my life in so many ways!
This is what makes life interesting and exciting and so worth it!
Life! It’s what YOU make of it…