Kevin

I have been thinking of you so much lately Kev. The thought of “the anniversary of your death” rolling around in a few weeks fills me with absolute dread. Its a funny thing: I usually balk at people taking it upon themselves to commemorate awful occurrences; constantly bringing up all the old hurt and feelings of grief. But then again, the healing process is a very personal one, and who am I do judge another person’s methods of closure?

I am still spinning at the realisation that just under a year ago I became an only child. The how and the why don’t really matter. What matters, is that at the end you were loved, Kev. A piece of me died along with you that day. The piece that is made up of the careless days we wasted away together, drinking half-litre cokes and eating salt and vinegar chips while playing endless hours of “Asteroids” at the Greek cafe on the corner of our street. Chewing chappies till our jaws ached, and blowing enormous bubbles. Sitting around talking absolute rubbish and laughing till we cried. The thousands of memories that defined our lives as siblings, as best friends growing up. I still cannot believe that you are actually gone, I still hope that my phone will ping with some nonsense message or joke from you. I still check your Facebook page to see if you’ve posted any new rubbish. How sad: life for you just stopped, while everything around us just carries on.

You left an impact on so many people’s lives. Saying goodbye was so hard, and it will still seem unreal for a long time to come. Maybe even forever. I could not even properly mourn the death of our father just 11 days after you died, siblings are supposed to rummage through the deceased’s stuff and reminisce about their childhood aren’t they? I cannot bring myself to go thru any of dad’s stuff, even now, almost a year down the line. It’s still too hard.

So, this post is my way of commemorating the most awful of anniversaries. The anniversary that I can’t (and don’t really want to) comprehend. (Even though I don’t really buy into the whole “commemorating bad events” thing.)

These are the words that I spoke at your memorial:

KEVIN ROBERT JONAS 24 April 1970 – 18 March 2018

Kevin was my first friend. The lucky recipient of a brand new baby to play with at the ripe age of three and a half. I am told that it was love at first sight, and that he took his roll of big brother very seriously. He used to love helping mom with “his baby” and apparently took great delight in covering me with way too much baby powder.

And I simply adored him from the moment I laid eyes on him.

One of my Earliest memories of Kevin, is when as young children we still shared a room, and every night he told me another installment of the “one day while I was swinging on the lights” stories, which usually started off by crashing through the bedroom window and embarking on some  fantastical journey. He would take us on wild, hilarious adventures in our imaginations. Our stories were usually cut short when dad came in to tell us to be quiet based on the laughter coming from our bedroom.

We formed part of the “26 Bruce street” gang, in the block of flats that we grew up in, where we were constantly playing in the courtyard downstairs, or in the street, riding bikes, roller skating and generally raising havoc. There were close to 20 of us, kids of similar ages, and the noise that emanated from us could rival a nightclub. Kevin and I  did everything together. We used to walk to the Hillbrow swimming pool on hot days, and explore the storm water drains in the Pieter Roos park on cold ones. We would play tennis on the pavement, and throw paper planes out of our parents’ bedroom window onto the street below.

We always had each other’s back.

Kevin loved to play practical jokes as a kid. I would often come into my bedroom to find my Barbie dolls stripped naked and placed in provocative positions. Or have a peanut butter laden piece of bread slammed into my face as he exited the kitchen. One of his more revolting pastimes, was called “catch the egg”, which involved screaming “catch the egg” while hurtling an egg towards my bedroom door. It never ended with me actually catching the actual egg, and I was always left to clean up the mess. And let’s not forget every teenage girls nightmare, coming home to a lounge filled with teenage boys watching some dodgy German porn that Kevin had acquired by picking the lock of my dad’s video cabinet.

Kevin was very creative, and he expressed this in both sketches and writing. He also used to love building cities out of grey plasticine, and painstakingly constructed tiny buildings, houses and motorways out of small strips of clay. They really were quite something to behold. The fact that he would then declare war on these cities and destroy them with little bombs made out of lion matches and sulphur purchased from the chemist is besides the point. Another of his favorite pastimes was making small tokoloshes out of latex, a glass bottle and a cloth “cloak” and scaring the bejesus out of our long suffering housekeeper.

Music was always a backdrop to Kevin’s life. He looked like something straight out of a Duran Duran video in the early 80s, including the peroxided coif and mullet. His teenage bedroom was wallpapered with Iron Maiden posters; wherever you looked, Eddie stared back at you with a macabre smile. Kevin taught me to love Metallica,  Megadeth, Queensryche, Rammstein and Van Halen, among others. In the later years, out of school and able to grow his hair past his shoulders,  he was the quintessential metal head.  He wore ripped jeans and a black trench coat and thought he was super cool. But he actually loved any music. Okay, not Kylie Minogue or anything but you get the drift. My father used to make video tapes for us with music videos recorded from TV programs such as “pop shop” and “hot hits”, and they were Kevin’s most precious possessions.

Kevin once created a fictional rock band, called “Trouble in the chains” and even created a gold record for the band by spraying an old LP with gold lacquer. It hung on his bedroom wall for many years. He even wrote a collection of songs for the album.

Kevin adored poetry, both reading it and writing  it. He wrote thousands of limericks. He had a particular love for the macabre romanticism of Edgar Allen Poe. One of his favourite pieces was “The Raven”.

When Kevin learned to drive, he acquired my mom’s old beige golf, and used to drive it like a bat out of hell down Louis Botha avenue, with some or other thrash metal blaring out of the radio as a standard. He taught me to drive in that old jalopy, and made me inch up hills in reverse gear to help me learn clutch control. Years later, when we both worked for Edcon, we went hurtling along Rivonia road in separate company cars and we ended up having a bumper bashing. We both got out the car and said “are you okay?” at the same time and then burst out laughing. If I remember correctly we were on our way to meet Nathan for a drink, so we promptly got back in our cars and carried on. And then blamed Nathan for the accident. It was, um, interesting explaining the damage of two company vehicles to our managers on Monday morning.

After Kevin moved to Cape Town, he would often come and stay with me in my townhouse in Sunninghill, and my house would  acquire what my housemate and I referred to as a “Kevin smell” which was pretty much garlic and beer, given his love of garlic smothered food and black label.

Kevin loved animals, and he was responsible for bringing home both our first cat and dog. The white cat he named “Kitty”, was a gift from a girlfriend at the time, and then later he got the German Shepherd he named “Tequila”, who became my dog when he moved to Cape Town. He loved his huskies Neo and Kira, and often sent me selfies of him and his “fluffies”.

Kev loved his friends. He loved to socialize. And his friends loved him for his bizarre sense of humor, his morbid jokes and his inappropriate comments. Kevin didn’t really sugar coat his opinions, and as a result often got involved in many heated debates. So many of his childhood friends, that he has kept in touch with, in some cases for over 40 years, have reached out to me to express their sadness at his passing. If Kev was your friend, he was a friend for life.

He loved horror movies. The more blood and gore the better. Once again illustrating his warped sense of humor. But then again, and he’s probably going to be furious at me for saying this, he also loved Mary Poppins.

Kerin, you were the apple of his eye. He loved you with all his heart, and I know he will always be with you.

Watching my own children grow up reminds me so much of the wonderful bond that Kevin and I had growing up and I’m going to miss him like crazy.

I will leave you with these words from “the Raven”

 

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—

“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!

    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”

            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

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Five

A long overdue post …

newborn

3 Days old

They say that in the newborn phase, the first six weeks or so fly past while you merrily wallow in the punch-drunk baby love haze.  That is also clearly true when one turns five! Happy 5th (and six weeks) birthday Carrie-bear!

6 Weeks Old

6 Weeks Old

Baby girl,

Now you are five! A full hand, a whole school-week, five little monkeys jumping on the bed!

It’s crazy how fast the time has gone, and to quote a line from one of my favourite songs: “The future disappears into memory, With only a moment between.” Tragically, the mind starts to file away the little memories, the fleeting moments, like the newborn smell, or the sound of that delicious first laugh, but thankfully, we make new memories every day. And every now and then, prompted by a familiar smell or sound, a first moment surfaces from the archives of my mind, and I am graced with memories of sweet little you. You have become a big girl, almost overnight, with hardly a trace of your babyhood left in your face or body.

You love to sing the A,B,C song, so here is an alphabetical list of things for your fifth birthday:

A – Apples: You love to eat apples, and will often help yourself to one out of the bottom of the fridge. You don’t like them cut up into pieces, but you do require the stalk to be removed!

B – Bears and bunnies: Your collection of bears and bunnies could rival the local Hamleys! Your bed is literally covered in fluffy creatures. Your favourites include Cuddle-bear (which was actually your first bear ever), Curly-bear, Bon-bon, Bunny, Big-bunny and Claire-bear, to name a few. You take turns to cuddle with each bear and / or bunny every night, and make sure that no-one ever gets left out.

C – Caris: You already know how to write your name, and take great pride in showing me your latest artworks with your name written in the corner. You also like to tell me, whenever you see a “C”, that C is for Caris, and Chloe (Your best friend).

D – Dance: You love to dance! This year you started Hip-hop classes for the first time, and it was definitely love at first sight. You love to wiggle and twirl, preferably in a full circle skirt!

dance

Dancing Queen

E – Elephant: You made a beautiful picture of elephant at school, with big grey floppy ears and you were apparently the only child in the class that made a crinkly trunk, clever girl!

F – Flowers: You love to pick flowers, especially the pink camellia’s in the drive-way.

G – Gary: You love your Daddy very much! One of your favourite games to play is The Teacher Game, in which Daddy gets to be a student, and you call him GARY! in a bossy tone.

H – Holiday: You absolutely loved our holiday in Mauritius this year, and tried everything from archery, to tennis, to the trapeze. You even participated in the mini-club show (twice) and performed like a superstar!

Mini Club Show

Mini Club Show


Archery

Archery

I – Ice-cream: Your love of ice-cream continues, especially chocolate in a pink cone.

J – Jekyll and Hyde: Ok, you do have a few Jekyll and Hyde moments, where you go from perfectly happy to absolutely miserable in the blink of an eye, but I guess mood-swings go hand-in-hand with being 5. Thankfully the happier moods are more frequent…

K – Kitty Cat: You love to pretend to be a kitten, and crawl around on all fours meowing and rubbing your head on us! K is also for Kokino, the Greek word for red, your favourite word. We were playing with some flash cards the other day, and the red card came up to which you said “Kokino!” followed by lots of giggles.

L – Love: We love you more than all the stars in the sky!

M – Make-up: You love to do make-up. Time-hop delivered a classic this morning from 3 years ago, not much has changed since then. I have, however, bought you your own set of brushes since you gave my Mac blusher brush a little haircut with some nail-scissors at round about the same time.

Make-up

Make-up

N – Naughty: Yes, you can be somewhat naughty, but its always of the mischievous kind, and never malicious. Some days you test my patience with your strong will, but you always manage to make me laugh and smile.

O – Oranges: You love oranges, orange juice and other orange foods such as carrots.

P – Puppy: You love our puppy Saxon, and he listens to you so nicely, mainly because you always have a stash of Beenos in your pocket!

Puppy

Puppy

Q – Quiet: Quiet is not a word that we would use to describe you. You love to horse around with Alex, the louder the better!

R – Rainin’ : You have this peculiar habit of clipping the ends of words that end in “ing”, so “it’s raining today” becomes “it’s rainin’ today”. We have no idea where you got this from.

S – Sing: You love to sing, especially songs that you have made up by yourself. Maybe you will be a famous song-writer one day. I know that whatever it is you choose to do, you will be great!

T – Temper: my mother often tells me that I had a terrible temper as a child, well, I guess the apple never fell far from the tree in this respect. But as you get older, you are learning to keep it in check! (Sometimes)

U – Upside down: You love to be upside down at the moment, and often climb the tree in the driveway to show me how you hang from your knees. In Mauritius recently, you were brave enough to try the trapeze (until you decided, after the 3rd try, that it was too high, but you were happy to do it indoors a little closer to the ground).

upside down

V – Very Cute: That you are my girlie, don’t ever change.

W – Wings: You love to draw creatures with wings, such as butterflies, and usually with a number of cats nearby. W is also for Wedding. Your cousin Stacey got married recently, and it was one of the highlights of your year. You absolutely loved dressing up in a puffy dress and having your hair and make-up done. You loved it so much that you have been planning your own wedding ever since! And you will be marrying Daddy of course.

Wedding

Wedding

X – ‘x’s: There are always lots of ‘x’s for kisses in your drawings too. I recently taught you how to do a European kiss, one on each cheek, which you think is absolutely hilarious.

Y – Yam: You’ve never actually tried a yam, but I am sure you would if I knew where to buy one. You have always had adventurous tastes, and are willing to eat most things, even tomatoes, much to your brother’s disgust.

Z – ZZZs: You love to fake sleep, especially in the car, and when I ask you if you are sleeping you respond with plenty of giggles. You really do love to laugh!

My Big girl, don’t ever change, we love you just the way you are. XXX

Me and my girl

Me and my girl

Seven

My big boy!

I will admit to having a little cry on the way to work after I dropped you at school this morning, my mind still boggling at how my baby boy is already seven! Still euphoric after a great party, you were excitedly greeted by the friends that joined us yesterday to celebrate. We invited a small group of special friends to the bird gardens, and it was such a pleasure seeing you have such an awesome time. You and your friends ran around freely, enjoying the birds and other creatures on display, pure joy emanating from your hearts and your faces! Half the time I didn’t even know where you were, testament to the fact that you are a big boy now, and don’t need us to watch you all the time.

2 alex

The change in you in the year between turning six and turning seven has been huge. You have grown taller and more solid, and your face has lost all remnants of toddlerhood! You have become so responsible, more assertive, and happier in your own skin. You are still, however, a bit of a day-dreamer, disappearing into your own little world every now and then, oblivious to the goings-on around you. You have learnt to read and do sums, and can finally tie your shoe laces by yourself.

3 alex

You are a gentle and kind child, and always care about other people’s feelings. We are so proud of you my boy. Your reading and writing is excellent, and you love to read aloud to your sister (especially “Cuddle Bear”.) I love receiving little letters from you that say things like “I love you mom, you are the best mom”. And you even write love letters to the dogs…

4 letter

You love animals, and enjoy telling us facts about various creatures such as the birds in your birdie book, and the reptiles that you love so much. Your favourite thing at school is “show and tell” day, where you get to talk about all the things that you love (mainly various animals)! You love to swim, and can literally spend hours in the pool, immersed in your own imagination as you dive under the cool water. You love our new puppy, Saxon, and I just know that the two of you will be life-long friends.

5. alex and bird

It’s so bittersweet watching you grow up my boy; becoming your mom has changed me so profoundly. I cannot imagine not having you near me. If I compare your first day of grade one to today, I cannot believe it’s the same child. The thought of you not needing me as much frightens the life out of me as I witness your growing independence.

1 us

I am so blessed to be your mom, and I love you more than all the stars in the sky.

Stay as sweet as you are, my big boy, you will always be my baby.

 

 

Ten years

My love,

Ten years ago, when we both had fewer wrinkles and less responsibility, I read a poem to you on our wedding day. It speaks of love’s fragility and of allowing oneself to be vulnerable to another. It speaks of allowing oneself to trust another completely, of unconditional love.

anniversary

{Photos taken on our first weekend away together, almost 13 years ago}

Today, ten years later, nothing has changed in the way that I love you. Our love only gets stronger, and our bond only gets tighter. I thank you for the good times, and even the bad times as they help us strengthen the ties that bind us. Thank you for my children (my biological and acquired-by-marriage ones) who all bring me immense joy and love.

But most of all, thank you for just being you. For being my best friend and for loving me, unconditionally, no matter what.

Here’s to being together forever. I love you my darling, forever and always.

somewhere i have never travelled – e.e. cummings

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond

any experience, your eyes have their silence:

in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,

or which i cannot touch because they are too near

 

your slightest look easily will unclose me

though i have closed myself as fingers,

you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens

(touching skilfully, mysteriously)her first rose

 

or if your wish be to close me, i and

my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,

as when the heart of this flower imagines

the snow carefully everywhere descending;

 

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals

the power of your intense fragility: whose texture

compels me with the color of its countries,

rendering death and forever with each breathing 

(i do not know what it is about you that closes

and opens; only something in me understands

the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)

nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

Nine Years …

The Garden – RUSH (Clockwork Angels)

In this one of many possible worlds, all for the best, or some bizarre test?
It is what it is – and whatever
Time is still the infinite jest

The arrow files when you dream, the hours tick away – the cells tick away
The Watchmaker keeps to his schemes
The hours tick away – they tick away

The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect
So hard to earn, so easily burned

In the fullness of time
A garden to nurture and protect

In the rise and the set of the sun
‘Til the stars go spinning – spinning ’round the night
It is what it is – and forever
Each moment a memory in flight
The arrow flies while you breathe, the hours tick away – the cells tick away
The Watchmaker has time up his sleeve
The hours tick away – they tick away

The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect
The way you live, the gifts that you give
In the fullness of time
It’s the only return that you expect

The future disappears into memory
With only a moment between
Forever dwells in that moment
Hope is what remains to be seen

[Lee, Lifeson, Peart]

I have been listening to a lot of RUSH lately. It is one of the many gems that Gary introduced me to during our early days almost twelve years ago. It reminds me of a time of stolen glances, secret lunches and flirting via SMS and email. It seems like a lifetime ago, yet the memories are as clear as if it were yesterday. It also reminds me that our mutual love of music is what bound us in those early days, how we would waste away hours listening to CDs or watching live concerts on DVD.

As a girl, I did not day-dream of a fairy tale wedding: I’m just not wired that way. I probably fit more into the tomboy category, having spent most of my life in jeans rather than dresses, being boys’ “best friend” rather than “girl-friend” and being more in love with books and rock music than I was with hair and makeup. I was not one of those girls who sat around day dreaming about walking down the aisle in a meringue dress with rose petals strewn at my feet, on my way to marry my Prince Charming. I was even told by more than one person at my own wedding that they were fully expecting to see me walk down that aisle in jeans and a t-shirt.

But I did however wear a pretty white dress, and there were indeed rose petals strewn at my feet. And I did marry my Prince Charming (in full hair and make-up. Mine, not his!).

Thinking back over the last nine years that we have been married, our relationship has never felt like hard work. Sure, there have been tough times, but we have always stayed best friends, and we have always remained in love with each other. We think the same way, we are always on the same page and, in general, it is always easy.

We went to a 60th birthday celebration a little while ago, and the overall theme of the host’s speech really resonated with me. He spoke of how the worth of one’s life is measured by the love and respect both from and to the people that surrounds them. And judging from the speeches that his friends and children made, there was love and respect in great supply all round. Which is perhaps why The Garden by RUSH is my favourite song at the moment. To quote a line from the CD booklet: “I have come to realize that the gathering of love and respect – from others and for myself – has been the real quest of my life. “Now we must tend our garden””

So what does all of this have to do with our ninth wedding anniversary you may be wondering? Well, when I think of Gary, I think of someone who is my friend, lover and soul-mate, but I also think of someone who is loved and respected by everyone around him. He cultivates good relationships with everyone: family, friends and work colleagues. If his life were to be measured by the love and respect that surrounds him, it would be deemed a very rich life indeed.

And it is my absolute privilege that he chose me to love.

I love you Gary, and I always will. Happy anniversary my love, I cannot think of anyone else I would rather wile away my time with. . . May we forever tend to and nurture our garden.

{Toadbury Hall, 27 February 2004}

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Four…

This time, four years ago, I was running around getting myself organised for the arrival of my baby boy. I had bought most of Woolies’ and Pick ‘n Pay’s online stock so that I wouldn’t need to leave the house for a few months while I tended to my new little bundle. I was storming around the house, cleaning and tidying everything in sight, and making sure that the tiny clothes and blankets were washed and ironed and ready to wrap up and protect my little tiny one. I had a manicure, pedicure, blow-dry and wax booked for the following morning. I was day-dreaming about spending two more child-free days, relaxing and having me-time.

Alex, however, had other plans for me.

At 9.30PM on Sunday the 21st of September 2008, my waters broke, and I was in labour, despite having a planned C-section booked for Tuesday the 23rd. My little guy arrived at 5 to midnight!

I simply cannot imagine my life without Alex in it, and although he has only been around for four short years, I feel like I have known him forever, that he has always been a part of me. This little person has taught me how to really love, and be loved, unconditionally.

I still remember holding him for the first time so clearly. How his eyes gazed into mine, as if he had been reunited with a long lost friend. How good his little damp body felt on my skin, and how his eyes bore into my soul, and how I loved him so deeply from the minute I saw him. It was the most precious moment of my life, but also the scariest. He was mine, and I had to look after him and nurture him, and make sure that no harm ever came to him, for the rest of my life. A momentous task by anyone’s standards… I so clearly remember the feelings of trepidation that something or someone would harm him. Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve! When I look back to that day now, I cannot believe that four years have past, and that my sweet newborn is already a big-boy. (And how much he has grown and learned, and what a great little boy he has become.)

In the past four years, he has made me softer; more tolerant and more patient. I have cried happy tears in celebration of his first milestones: my heart swelled with pride as he took his first steps, as he uttered his first words, and as he said “I love you so much Mommy” for the first time.  I have been heart-broken when he has been sick, hurt or upset. I have been in awe of how quickly he grasps things, and how clever he seems to be! I have laughed till my sides have ached and tears are streaming down my cheeks. I have endured temper tantrums and meltdowns, whilst exercising self restraint and patience as he has pushed me to my limits.

But most of all, I have loved like I have never loved in all my life.

Happy birthday my little guy, I love you more than you will ever know.

<Birthday Ring at School with his swimming dolphin cupcakes>

Eight years …

On the morning of the 27th of February 2004, I woke up in someone else’s bed.  It was early, the sun was barely up, and I had time to reflect on the day that lay before me. In those quiet moments, with nothing but the sound of birds going about their morning routines, I wondered if my life was going to be different somehow, if I was going to be different somehow.  As the light crept in under the curtains, and filled the room with beautiful summer light, I felt peaceful and happy that my life was never going to be the same again. In a good way.

I started to day dream about the day Gary proposed, and how intoxicating it all had been. We went to Walkerson’s for the weekend, for a wintry get-away. It is certainly one of the most beautiful settings, and the rooms have gorgeous open fire-places that pair beautifully with a bottle of red.

We arrived there early on Saturday morning, and went for a walk up the hills in the cool winter air. On our way down, we came upon the small chapel on the property (which is famous for intimate weddings, although it is tiny and probably seats 20, if that!). So Gary suggested that we have a look inside, seeing as the doors were open.

We went in, marvelling at how cute and quaint it was, when we noticed a scroll on the alter, next to a small brass box. Gary picked it up, and removed the ribbon which was wrapped around it, unrolled the paper and began to read. (I remember telling him to put it back, as it was obviously there for a reason.)

 About a verse into the poem on the page, I saw Gary’s eyes had filled with tears, and I realised that he was proposing. And in the small brass box, was the most beautiful diamond ring I had ever set my eyes on.

Of course, I said “YES”! (the framed poem now hangs on our bedroom wall)

When we got back to the room, the hotel staff had prepared a beautiful spread of food and champagne for us to celebrate our engagement. (and later on, when we went up to the restaurant for dinner, everyone wanted to see the ring, and hear if I had said yes!)

It certainly was a magical weekend away, and a magical time in my life.

A sharp knock on the door pulled me back to reality from my day-dreaming state. Tanya (my best friend and bridesmaid) came in with a cup of tea. She was so excited for me, it was my wedding day!

We have been married for eight years today, and I couldn’t be happier, and I am so grateful and happy to have my husband, soul-mate, lover and friend, Gary, in my life.