Peter and his good friend, David, were both born on the same day (the 10th of February) two years apart and in the same hospital (the Mater Dei in East London). David turned 70 this year so last weekend we drove up to Johannesburg, where David lives with his lovely partner, Julie, to celebrate this milestone birthday with him. Oh I do love the country and the simple, frugal life here but there is a part of me that also loves the bright city lights and the sassiness of city folk – just in smaller doses. It was very pleasant shopping at Woolworths in Rosebank. The last time I was there was with Kiera when she flew out to Zim via Jo’burg unexpectedly and we did a bit of shopping together. Oh I missed you Kiks, you are my favourite shopping companion!
David had invited a few friends and family to Sunday lunch under the trees in their beautiful back garden. Some mutual friends we had not seen for many years were there so it was a wonderful time of catching up and reminiscing. And it wasn’t long before we were all taking the piss out of each other, just like the good old days. It made us realise that there is just no substitute for history when it comes to friendship. One of our friends, like me, is also trying to lose weight and has been on the LCHF (Banting) diet. I was telling her how much weight I had lost and not only that but centimetres around my waist. As if to back me up Peter announced to all at the table “her waist used to measure the same as her boobs”. Of course, everyone packed up laughing at my expense as Sol explained to the family members present that it was okay, we are used to being rude to each other.
We returned home on Monday afternoon, a little worse for wear, and it seemed like there was no time at all to recuperate. I’ve been busy, busy, busy ever since and absolutely delighted to be so.
Ever since my youngest, Alex, flew the nest making me redundant, I have been searching for purpose. At first I decided that my goal was to create a beautiful and productive garden and I immersed myself in that. Then I turned my attention to making the farmhouse into a comfortable home for the two of us. After that, I had a wedding reception to plan and plenty of distractions like trips to Stellenbosch, Cape Town and America to visit my children. But all the time I felt like something was missing and I kept hoping that whatever it was, given time, it would find me. And it did.
Last year I took Judy to a nearby leather shop, Groundcover, to buy shoes. While she was trying them on, I bumped into the owner, Amanda, who I know from years ago when I worked in the NGO sector. She asked how I was enjoying my “retirement” and I replied that I really needed to get my teeth into something. A few days later Amanda contacted me and asked if I would like to attend a meeting of the Curry’s Post Educational Trust, an initiative that helped to establish, and now supports and raises funds for the Curry’s Post Primary School, a local farm school. To cut a long story short, I did. A few months later I became a trustee, joining Amanda and 6 others. Not long after that I agreed to take over the fundraising portfolio from one of the trustees who was leaving the Trust.
In order to fund-raise effectively I felt that I needed to get to know the school, the staff, the children and the community. And the best way to do this I reckoned, with a great deal of trepidation, was to volunteer as an assistant, once a week, to the Grade R teacher, seeing as I’m a preschool teacher by profession. I must admit I had a lot of misgivings about this: I wasn’t sure if I could commit my time (I’m so used to being a free agent), if I had the energy to work with kids again, if the children would like me or if the staff would accept me. I didn’t need to be scared, I didn’t need a plan, I just needed to listen to what my heart was telling me. All I can say is what I wrote in my first blog (Lost for Words) almost 4 years ago, leap and the net will appear.
I’m loving what I’m doing and feel like I’m finally back in the saddle.
Peter also attends Trust meetings when he can and has been an amazing help with fundraising. Last week one of his colleagues from SANRAL visited our school to hand out backpacks for all the kids and give them a talk on road safety. It was humbling to see rural kids, who get so little, so appreciative of their gifts. What made my heart sing was that I know there will be more to come.