Woke up, it was a Midlands morning, and the first thing that I saw was not the sun through yellow curtains, and a rainbow on the wall. It was in fact a bleak, misty, wintry scene outside my bedroom window. I had been entertaining the thought that I should spend the day planting the rest of my garlic bulbs (it’s late I know) and thinning out the carrot and beetroot seedlings. However when I saw the weather, I preferred to stay warm indoors instead. I know that as a country person I should not allow a bit of inclement weather to come between me and my veggies but I’m ashamed to admit that recently I’ve become very fond of my bed on cold mornings. I hope it’s just a passing fancy and that I shall soon return to my former love, the allotment, and once again brave the elements to tend to its produce and put food on our table.
One of the (many) things that I miss since the children left home is the company of young people; I always enjoyed being privy to their fresh take on things and felt quite privileged when they chose to spend time with us old farts. So we were thrilled recently when the daughter of dear friends of ours, whom we haven’t seen for ages, paid us a visit. It was lovely to see Shireen again after all these years and what a pleasure it was to discover that she has grown into such an amazing, adventurous, confident young woman. She was a gorgeous, intelligent young girl when we last saw her but now she’s all grown up and so incredibly mature as well. When adults exclaim, much to the annoyance of children, my, how you’ve grown, what we really mean is my god, where has the time gone? However, children are not only the measure of passing years, they’re also a measure of how well we as parents have passed on the values we hold dear, and I think our friends can be very proud of their contribution to the next generation.
Not long after Shireen’s visit I took a few days off to visit another member of the younger generation, our son Alex, in Cape Town. I spent two nights with other besties of ours, Annie and Alec, and two nights with Alex at his flat in Tamboerskloof.
I took the opportunity while I was in Cape Town to return to a hairdresser who I stumbled across when I was last in Cape Town a year ago. I was impressed by the tattoo of a pair of hairdressing scissors on her forearm and took it as an indication, quite correctly as it turned out, that she takes her craft seriously.
Whenever one relocates, it takes a while to find and adjust to new doctors, dentists etc but eventually one does. With a critical exception, I have not yet found a hairdresser in the Midlands to match the lovely Claire. On the rare occasions that I’m ever in Durban, I make a beeline for her (as do Kiera and Alex) and beg her to “do something” with my hair, and she always does. But I so seldom visit Durban now that most of the time my hair looks a mess. (The sore shoulder also makes blowdrying quite a mission.) So I finally plucked up the courage to cut it all off and since I was going to Cape Town, not Durban, I put my head in the hands of the tattooed lass. She did a good job and I’m happy to have a zero fuss hairstyle but the search for a hairdresser a bit closer to home is still on.
My hair, however, was not reason I went to Cape Town. Alex invited me to go with him to a High Tea Festival in Kirstenbosch Gardens and what mother could refuse such an invitation? The event itself was a total shambles; it was not at all what had been advertised and the organisation was abysmal. We waited so long for the tea and food to be served (eventually it was the guests who started to hand out the measly refreshments) that Alex bought us a bottle of wine, a most suitable substitute for tea, and we proceeded to make the best of a disappointing situation. A woman sitting opposite us mentioned to Alex that she had two daughters. “One is a bit of a problem” she said, but she could vouch for the other’s good character and asked if she could give Alex the reputable daughter’s number. I thought that was quite sweet!
I hate being so far away from my children. And on my way home I became aware for the first time that all I have now are short glimpses into their lives. We visit their world, for 4 days or 4 weeks, and that’s as much as we get. We’re getting old without them and they’re getting older without us. It was never meant to be this way. Or maybe it was.