It’s been 2 years since our Angle Maker passed away. We miss her every single day. This is our Angle Maker.

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The worst news of the year hit us on the last day of 2008. Lynette Robb, the Angel Maker, passed away today. I… Can’t… Write. Not now. Maybe another day…

Lynette Robb, the Angel Maker…

I don’t know where to start with this. I’ll just start by telling you how I feel.

A piece of my soul is missing. That is how it feels. This big empty space inside. Because I couldn’t be there with Lynette on this dark day in December. And I can’t be there with her family on this last day of 2008. My family.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I was a real mommy’s boy. I loved my mother more than you can think. I lived for only her for most of my younger life. And then she left me to go to a better place. I was happy for her. She had a tough time down here on our little earth.

But I was blessed again. I had another mother. Lynette Robb…

It’s easy to say that you have another mother. But I mean it. Really mean it. She wasn’t a substitute for my first mother. No. She was my mother. She is my mother. Because she made me feel like I was her son.

If I am tired I wanted to go to her house. When I was sad I wanted to go to her house. When I was happy I wanted to go to her house. When I wanted to be me I wanted to go to her house. I always just wanted to be at her house. With my mom and my family called the Robbs.

She made the baggage of life feel like a feather. She made you feel like the world was there for your taking. She made you feel like you can love more than what you ever thought you could. She just made you feel alive…

Just being at her house made me feel as if the dirt of life was washing away. You knew you were in the presence of something greater than yourself when you were with her. A greater love.

But how do I tell you about Lynette?

Lynette Robb made me a better person. Her mere presence in my life made me a better person. Makes me a better person…

You want to know the meaning of Ubuntu? I am because we are? You want to see that and feel that? Then you go to Lynette. She is Ubuntu. She is Ubuntu.

She made all of us better people than what we deserved to be. You should have met her. I wish everyone could just have met her for one second. Just hung out with her for a little while. To know how it feels to be touched by an angel. If there was ever an angel on earth it was Lynette. It is Lynette. She is gone. But she will never be gone. Never be forgotten. Never… It is impossible to not remember her. Memories of her will never fade. They grow like the seed of love she planted inside all of us. You can’t ever forget that. Not once you have been touched by an angel. Not for us. Not now and not ever. She is Lynetter Robb. Our mother and our pillar of life. Our foundation angel.

She didn’t preach. She didn’t teach. She didn’t have some power you could see. She didn’t talk about these great lessons in life. No. She didn’t. But she taught me more than any teacher could. Without knowing. Just through love. The funny thing is that for Lynette the world was never about Lynette. It was always about us. Lynette giving to us. Food. Love. You name it. She always just gave. Never wanted anything back. But what she got back was us. With love. And everything we could give her.

It is just who she was. Just her presence. The way she was. She was all that without ever wanting or trying to be all that. Because she is Lynette Robb.

Have you ever seen a moth just going towards the light without thinking? That was us around Lynette. Even now. It is us. We can’t help it. We just go there. It’s a force of goodness and love that pulls us to her. It still does because her presence will never go away. She is inside all of us that knew her and loved her. Who know her and love her. We know that just being around her makes us better people. Even now…

And there were always people around her. At her house. In her life. Because we can’t stay away. We lived for her love and her life. Her light to shine on us.

Her house. With her in it. That is where I want to be. I know that when I am in South Africa I can recharge my batteries of life at her place.

…There are no words…

She was a gift God gave us. As if God placed her on earth with the plan to let us see who we can be. What we can become. If only we loved more. Lynette Robb is the love that God shows us.

I always heard nothing but love from her mouth. What she tells me she will tell anyone else. In their face. And if she doesn’t agree with someone… She will let them know. But that person will still know love.

Oh. You don’t mess with Lynette and her family. Her wider family. Me and my wife and my daughters included. We were… No. We are family. You touch any of them or speak badly about any of us… You do not know Lynette Robb. She will do everything to protect us. Anything. Because of her love. Unconditional love. Just natural love.

There are a million things I want to tell you about Lynette. My mother. But how don’t know how. There are no words to describe Lynette.

I wish I could be with her right now. Me and my wife and my kids. That is where we should be. With our other family. With Lynette and Derek and our sisters and the kids. And now? Now with my sisters and Derek. I miss them today more than anything. I just want to tell them I love them. That I will always love them. Because they are my family. We share a mother and a love. And what she gave us will never break the bond we have.

I want to sit on her stoep at the back and just rest my soul for a little while. Just laugh and joke about the langnekkie. Watch a game with Uncle Derek. Share a joke with the girls. Maybe take a swim in the pool with the kids. I can hear her laughing right now. I can hear her say “Foksies“. I can see her sit on her chair outside that afdak. Lynette sitting somewhere laughing. But always keeping an eye out for everyone around her. Making sure we are okay. Making sure we know we are loved. I wish I could be there now. And just feel her presence and see her smile.

Take your happiest feeling and bottle that. Because that is how Lynette made us feel.

…Lynette Robb…

She made angels. That is what she did. She took us and turned us into these angels. And she let us fly off and do what we had to do in this world. But we always went back to her. Because we were not strong enough. We needed her to recharge our lives. We need her to recharge our lives…

To remind us of the good in this world. To remind us that we can make this world a little bit better. To remind us that tomorrow there will be even more love. Even in the darkness of today.

She made angels. That was Lynette Robb.

No… She makes angels. That is Lynette Robb.

I love her. Not because I have to. But because she is Lynette Robb. My mother. My Angel Maker.

I will live my life to make her proud. I will make angels for her. I will need help. I am not strong like her. But we can make angels for Lynette.

Lynette. I know where you are. I am closing my eyes and I can feel your hand on mine. I needed that. I am holding it. You will always be with us. Always. You made us better people. And I will take your love and make it grow. Make more angels. I hope you are proud of me when you look down sitting there with God. He is a lucky God. He will have you on His side. It will make Him even stronger. Like you made us stronger. You made us angels. I will make angels for you.

I love you. We all do. We are your angels. You made this world a better place. And me a better man. It would have been enough just knowing you. But you showed me love. I am your son. I love you. And I will make angels for you.

Lynette Robb. Angel Maker.

I know, most people have read this one already. And you know me and my girls… They are my life.  But they also remind me of The Little Girl In The Blue House… Is there someone missing her? Someone talking to her each day? Is she waiting for someone? Is she okay?

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The Little Girl In The Blue House

I always walk the same way to the train station. I take the shortest route. I have too. Way too early to walk one meter further than I have to. Or one minute longer than what is needed. There is another route. Slightly longer. But all the time in the world if it is so bloody early in the morning. My normal route is an easy walk. Turn right, then a quick left and straight down to the station. A quick and easy 20 minute stroll.  And who said I don’t get enough exercise… But today I had to go the slightly longer route. Turn left, turn right and down the slightly longer walk to the station. Not by much. Just about 5 minutes added. But sometimes the longer route brings more than just a longer walk. And this morning I got more than I wanted. Another reason why I never like walking that route. A reminder. A memory.

My oldest daughter always does the “left turn” walk. Her friend from across the street walks with her to the bus stop. They pick up another friend along the way and off they go. But not this morning. The girl from across the road didn’t feel too well so she couldn’t walk with my daughter. Dad duties called. I am the backup. So off we went. On our left turn. 

We were joking as we walked. Doing our “home boy” walk down the street. Me doing funny walks and funny voices to show her how I was going to embarrass her in front of her friend who has never met me. Doing my typical dad stuff. We got to the house. I gave her a hug and a kiss and watched her walk to meet her friend. And off I went. Taking my right turn down the road. The slightly longer road.

I put my iPod on and was listening to A Fine Frenzy when I walked past the blue house. And it brought back memories of the little girl who lived there. The little girl in the blue house.

She was the first friend my oldest daughter made at her new school when we moved here. They were in the same class. Hung out together. I saw her often. At the school. Or at the park. Or just in the streets when we were walking. But she was always there when we took my daughter to school. Running to great her friend. She was scrawny just like my daughter. But she was a little bit too thin. A little bit too pale.

In summer she always had just a t-shirt on. And in winter. A very worn and tatty thin little jacket. And trust me. It gets damn cold over here in Boston in winter. I remember seeing her with her arms folded to try and keep some heat in that little body of hers. You could see she was cold. But that was all she had for winter.

Her mother was always well dresses. With the latest fashion. Clothes and accessories she bought at the mall. She looked well looked after. And warm. Not like her little girl. But we didn’t see her at school often. Or anywhere for that matter. She didn’t walk with her little girl that often.

And they stayed just down the road from the school. It looked like a pretty house from the outside. That blue house where the girl stayed.

I often took my girls to the park at the school. And we’ll see her there often. On her own. On the swings. And she’ll be so happy to see my daughters. She was always so good to my little one. Running up to her and giving her a hug and a kiss and playing with her. She was a nice little girl. That little girl from the blue house.

My daughter always told us about her friend. And how she shared her snacks at school with her because she never had snacks. So my wife put in a few extra snacks for two. Never mentioned it to the little girl. Didn’t want her to feel odd. My daughter just shared because that is how she is. It was her friend. No questions.

And one day she told us that the girl was so exited about going to visit her dad in Arkansas. Her parents were divorced. And she lived with her mother and boyfriend in the blue house. The boyfriend had a nice BMW convertible. Nice car. Pretty new. They obviously had some money. Just not always for the little girl. But she was excited. She was going to visit her dad.

And then we saw her during the holiday. When she was meant to be at her dad. It was the first time I really saw her sad. The smile wasn’t there. She spoke to my daughter in a low sad voice and I didn’t want to ask too many questions. Didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable. I just wanted her to be a little girl. Playing with her friend. And having fun the way 10-year old girls are meant to have fun. So I let them talk and watched as they started playing and giggling. And the smile started coming back. She was with her friend.

The odd thing was that apart from that day I always saw her smile. A big old child smile. I never heard her complain. Not in front of me in any case. She always looked happy. But you could see that there was something missing. You just had to look carefully.

I always hug and kiss my girls. No matter where we are. When we drop them off at school. When I say goodbye in the morning. When they go to sleep at night. Or just because we feel like a hug and a kiss. Which is often. No matter where we are. And this little girl saw this. Saw how I hugged my girls. And she wanted one too.

I used to see her looking at me and my daughter when we hug. And then one day she came up to me when I took my girl to her school and asked for a hug. She was a little bit shy about asking. But I just gave my girl a hug and she looked at me with her tatty top with the long sleeves and peeked at me. “Can I get a hug please?” “Of course!” I said. I gave her a big old hug. And she hugged back. Hugging maybe a little longer and harder than what I expected. Almost as if she didn’t get a lot of hugs and would like to get hugs more often. She was only ten.

And that was how it was. Whenever she saw me she would come running up to me and give me a hug. And I’ll hug her back. And I’ll give her a smile and ask how she was doing. It became a standard thing. I never really thought much about it. I knew she wanted a hug and I gave her one. We can do with more hugs in this world. And I didn’t think that she got too many hugs elsewhere in any case.

And then one day she was just gone. Just gone. Her mother packed their bags in the middle of the night and just disappeared. Gone. Not even a goodbye. Not even a last hug. Just gone with her tatty little top. We never knew what happened to her. How she is doing or how she is feeling. Is she with her dad? Is she okay? Is she happy? Is she being a kid? Did she get a warmer jacket? Is she still smiling those big old smiles of hers? Is she getting any hugs? Or is she still playing alone in the park?

Time passed and memories started fading. We’ll mention her every now and again and just wonder.

And then we started looking at buying a house. And one of the houses that was on the market was the blue house. The blue house where the little girl stayed. So off we went to look at the house. Thinking that maybe we can buy it and make it our little house. Until we opened the front door and walked in.

My wife and myself just looked at each other when we walked in. I knew what she was thinking. It was my thoughts to.

The house stank. It was dirty. So dirty. Everything was a mess. Stuff lying on the floor everywhere. Clothes. Plates. Old food. Ashtrays overflowing. Wet spots. I have never, ever seen anything like this anywhere. And I have been to some places… It has been like this for a long, long time. Our shoes got stuck on the sticky dirt that was on the floors. All the rooms were in a mess. You couldn’t even see what color the walls or carpets were. It was brown. From dirt and cigarette smoke. I felt nauseous. Sick. The ex-boyfriend was lying in bed downstairs watching something on a big screen television. On his huge water bed. With plates and empty bottles and cigarettes lying all around him. A pig in a pigsty.

We went up the stairs to look at the real bedrooms. And we walked into the room that would have been that little girls room. It was a mess. Just a mess. No place for a little girl. Any little girl. Dirty. Filthy. Disgusting. You could see little things she must have tried to do to make it a little girl’s room. A little picture here and there. A ripped out poster. A wonky little table where she must have tried to study. Some girlie jewelery lying on the floor amongst the dirt that she must have forgotten to pack in the haste. But it was covered in a floor that ran skew. Holes in the floors and roof. And cold. And this was in winter. No heating. This was the room of the little girl with the big smile.

My wife and myself just looked at each other. We knew what each of us were thinking. We just wanted to get out. Just wanted to forget that we ever came. That we ever knew that little girl. And that she lived there. Her little room in the blue house.

We sat in the car and just stared at nothing for a while. And then she said it. “She lived in that house.” That’s all that needed to be said. We knew. The little girl in the blue house.

And walking past that house this morning reminded me of her. That little girl in the blue house. Made me think. Again. How did she do it? How did she manage? How did she remain a little girl in that house? How long can she be that girl with the big old kid smile? How long before she falls through the cracks? Is she strong enough? Where will she find the love she needs? The hugs she deserves? How is the little girl from the blue house doing?

The little girl from the blue house. I hope you remember me. I hope you remember those hugs. I just wish I hugged you a little harder and a little longer.

fartlady

I got a talking-to from the lovely suffering wife… Yes, I know… It happens often…

Who said parenting was easy? My wife will respond by rolling her eyes and say, “A parent? You’re a bloody buddy to play with not a parent!” I’ll just be nodding my head with my eyes staring at the floor and my tail between my legs. And peeping to see where the girls are to get them to pull my finger once my “discipline session” is over.

Anyway…

I got the talking-to because the teacher had issues with my poetry teachings…

Apparently, not everyone at school appreciates good poetry. The missus got called in by my youngest daughter’s teacher for “potty talk”. Bah! It’s not potty talk! It’s poetry! Don’t they know anything cultural around here?

Let’s go back to my “poetry teaching” sessions with my 5-year old daughter…

As you might know by now, I bath my youngest daughter at night and put her to bed. Well, that is a pretty boring job if you stick to the “get-it-over-and-done” style of parenting. And I take my job as a parent very seriously. Very seriously… So up the stairs we go every night and in the bath she gets. Actually we do our “pictures” in the mirror first where we pull different faces – happy (Liverpool won!), sad (got to clean the cat litter) , mad (thinking Bush…), crazy (still thinking Bush…), handsome (my normal facial expression…), pretty (my Angelina look) and any other combination of faces. Only once we’ve done our acting classes in the mirror do I allow her to move into the bath. And Grand Master Teacher Angry (or  Guru African to some) comes out to play… hum… I mean… teach…

I have the curriculum well planned and sorted. We will eventually move on to Shakespeare, but for now I want us to concentrate on getting the basics right. Poetry 101… Nice easy rhymes…

So we did a few of the usual rhymes. You know…

“I’ve got a cat in my hat” and “I’ve got a yummy in my tummy” and “I’ve got a bear in my hair”. Just the usual rhymes. And then we moved on to more difficult pieces of poetry. Of course they also had to show me they take their lessons seriously and come up with their own poetry…

I really can’t help that my daughters are geniuses! It’s not my fault that they take innocent little rhymes and create their own unique take on poetry. Should I not be applauded for teaching my child the finer things in life? Should I not be rewarded for bringing the gift of literacy to my youngest daughter? Should I not be celebrated as a teacher and guru of poetry? Should I not be held up as the parent of all parents? Should I not…

And so on and so on. It ends with me claiming the Nobel Peace Prize for teaching my kids silly rhymes that ultimately and directly resulted in world peace and the end of world hunger and poverty. Oh yes, it also ended the current economic downturn worldwide. Hey, you’ve got to start somewhere. Now, where was I? Oh yes, the lack of appreciation…

So my youngest daughter decided to share her new found poetry gift with the rest of the class. I was so proud. My little girl sharing her passion for literature and fine arts with others. And, of course, for them to stand in awe and admire her poetic abilities. Bow down and sit at the master’s feet please. There’s a good class. Now sit still and listen. And then she let rip with some of her most creative pieces. Her own poetry in her own words…

“I have a drum in my bum.”

…and the clincher…

“I have art in my fart.”

The simple beauty of it. She makes me so proud. “Sniff.”

But noooooo… Apparently that isn’t good enough for Ms Snotty Nose teacher. Not appropriate language for a little girl. WTF? Does she not appreciate the beauty of poetry? Does she not recognize the modern version of a young Shakespeare? Damn teachers…

The curse of a genius…

Anyway, I couldn’t believe that the teacher didn’t give her a special prize for that one. Or at least push her one class ahead. Advance learning or something. Heck, I say let her teach the class literature! My little genius.

But maybe the teacher just didn’t understand her true ability. Because one of her pieces of genius poetry was in two languages… You hear me? Two languages! Bilingual baby!

“I’ve got a football in my poepol.”

Genius! Genius, I tell you!

I didn’t teach her any of this. Nada. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. She did it all on her own. Like I said, she makes me so proud. Damn teacher…

Oh, the meaning of poepol?

Hum… well… I… it’s a… the meaning is… but… No, I mean “butt”. Backside, arse, behind… You get my drift…

She mixed her languages all on her own and created this piece of beautiful poetry just for her dad. Like I said, she makes me real proud – “sniff.”

But ooooh nooooo, the teacher doesn’t recognize this piece of genius. Everyone is a critic. But maybe it was just a big misunderstanding. Because I also tell my girls to never lie. Not even in poetry.

If only the teacher asked her if she really had a drum in her bum…

My little girl would have kept a beat that will make her dad proud and her mother cry.

And maybe then the teacher would have realized that my little girl really told the truth when she said, “I have art in my fart”…

 _fartpropellant3

I don’t know where to start with this. I’ll just start by telling you how I feel.

A piece of my soul is missing. That is how it feels. This big empty space inside. Because I can’t be there with Lynette and her family. My family.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I was a real mommy’s boy. I loved my mother more than you can think. I lived for only her for most of my younger life. And then she left me to go to a better place. I was happy for her. She had a tough time down here on our little earth.

But I was blessed again. I had another mother. Lynette Robb…

It’s easy to say that you have another mother. But I mean it. Really mean it. She wasn’t a substitute for my first mother. No. She was my mother. She is my mother. Because she makes me feel like I am her son.

If I am tired I want to go to her house. When I am sad I want to go to her house. When I am happy I want to go to her house. When I want to be me I want to go to her house. I always just wanted to be at her house.

She makes the baggage of life feel like a feather. She makes you feel like the world is there for your taking. She makes you feel like you can love more than what you ever thought you could. She just makes you feel alive…

Just being at her house makes me feel as if the dirt of life is washing away. You know you are in the presence of something greater than yourself when you are with her. A greater love.

But how do I tell you about Lynette?

Lynette Robb made me a better person. Her mere presence in my life made me a better person.

You want to know the meaning of Ubuntu? I am because we are? You want to see that and feel that? Then you go to Lynette. She is Ubuntu. She is Ubuntu.

She makes all of us better people than what we deserve to be. You should meet her. I wish everyone could just meet her for one second. If there was ever an angel on earth it was Lynette. It is Lynette.

She doesn’t preach. She doesn’t teach. She doesn’t have some power you can see. She doesn’t talk about these great lessons in life. No. She doesn’t. But she taught me more than any teacher could. Without knowing. Just through love. The funny thing is that for Lynette the world is never about Lynette. It is always about us. Lynette giving to us. Food. Love. You name it. She always just gave. Never wanted anything back. But what she got back was us. With love.

It is just who she is. Just her presence. The way she is. She is all that without ever wanting or trying to be all that. Because she is Lynette Robb.

Have you ever seen a moth just going towards the light without thinking? That is us around Lynette. We can’t help it. We just go there. It’s a force of goodness and love that pulls us to her. We know that just being around her can make us better people.

And there are always people around her. At her house. In her life. Because we can’t stay away. We lived for her love and her life. Her light to shine on us.

Her house. With her in it. That is where I want to be. I know that when I am in South Africa I can recharge my batteries of life at her place.

…There are no words…

She was a gift God gave us. As if God placed her on earth with the plan to let us see who we can be. What we can become. If only we loved more. Lynette Robb is the love that God shows us.

I always heard nothing but love from her mouth. What she tells me she will tell anyone else. In their face. And if she doesn’t agree with someone… She will let them know. But that person will still know love.

Oh. You don’t mess with Lynette and her family. Her wider family. Me and my wife and my daughters included. We were… No. We are family. You touch any of them or speak badly about any of us… You do not know Lynette Robb. She will do everything to protect us. Anything. Because of her love. Unconditional love.

There are a million things I want to tell you about Lynette. My mother. But how don’t know how. There are no words to describe Lynette.

I wish I could be there with her right now. Me and my wife and my kids. That is where we should be. With our other family. With Lynette and Derek and our sisters and the kids.

I want to sit on her stoep at the back and just rest my soul for a little while. Just laugh and joke about the langnekkie. Watch a game with Uncle Derek. Share a joke with the girls. Maybe take a swim in the pool with the kids. I can hear her laughing right now. I can hear her say “Foksies“. I can see her sit on her chair outside that afdak. But always keeping an eye out for Lynette sitting somewhere laughing. Just her presence.

Take your happiest feeling and bottle that. Because that is how Lynette makes us feel.

…Lynette Robb…

She makes angels. That is what she does. She takes us and turns us into these angels. And she lets us fly off and do what we have to do in this world. But we always go back to her. Because we are not strong enough. We need her to recharge our lives. To remind us of the good in this world. To remind us that we can make this world a little bit better. To remind us that tomorrow there will be even more love.

She makes angels. That is Lynette Robb.

I love her. Not because I have to. But because she is Lynette Robb. My mother. My angel maker.

I will live my life to make her proud. I will make angels for her. I will need help. I am not strong like her. But we can make angels for Lynette.

Lynette. Close your eyes and feel my hand on yours. I am holding it. You will always be with us. Always. You made us better people. And I will take your love and make it grow. Make more angels. I hope you are proud of me when you look down sitting there with God. He is a lucky God. He will have you on His side. It will make Him even stronger. Like you made us stronger. You made us angels. I will make angels for you.

I love you. We all do. We are your angels. You made this world a better place. And me a better man. It would have been enough just knowing you. But you showed me love. I am your son. I love you. And I will make angels for you.

Lynette Robb. Angel maker.

Today was the birthday of my youngest daughter. She turned the Big Five. Yes 5. So I took the day off. To spend with the girls. But let me tell you a bit about me as a dad before I tell you about today.

My permanently suffering wife always tells people that we had kids so I can have friends to play with. Someone at my level. Someone to grow up with. And then she rolls her eyes and laughs. My friends just nod their heads knowingly.

I am a joker. I know. I am just not the “tough dad”. I can’t discipline them at all. I wish I could (not really), but I just can’t. My oldest daughter (11) even jokes about it. She’ll say something like “Yeah, and what are you going to do about it?” But not in a nasty way. In a joking fun way with lots of laughter. They listen to me. Sometimes. They know that dad is fun and a joker. And we’ll have fun as long as we are nice to each other and listen to each other. Respect and love each other. Continue to be a family.

I even joke about being becoming an “all tough new dad” and frown – and flip up one eyebrow. And then we burst out laughing. Cue my oldest daughter with a snap of her finger, “Like that’s ever going to happen”. Being strict just doesn’t flow in my blood. I always joke with them. And we always tell jokes – even the youngest one. We go to the park. I read for them at night. We dance to silly songs. Dress up. Pull faces. Wrestle and flip them over. Wise crack – always. Fart and burp – and then say “Good one” before mom tells us to say “Excuse me please.” Tickle. Run riot. Eat funny in restaurants. Dive into the pool fully clothed. Just havoc whatever we do and wherever we go – one rule: HAVE FUN. Wave at people we don’t know. Giggle at everything. Love and hugs 24/7. And lots of laughter. In general, just drive my poor wife crazy. All she can do is shake her head and laugh. She married a crazy one. But I think she likes it. I bloody well hope so. I am NEVER going to let her go.

But I also work. I get up at 6 and leave before they are awake. Sometimes my youngest will be awake and give me a hug and a kiss and say, “I love you dad”. But they are generally asleep when I leave. And I get back at around 7:30 – just in time for us to sit together and eat. And then I bath my youngest one and read her a story. And they are off to sleep. “I love you my angel” – my last words to them in the evening and the first in the morning.

We still have fun, but we have less time. And I don’t see everything they do. I miss the dance classes. And the summer camps. And the trips to the shops. And the hanging out at the house. And the school trips. And the…

And we wait for the weekends. Or “mom and dad days” as my youngest calls it. That’s when chaos hits the house. That’s when we go wild. And when my poor wife suffers the most. The three kids and a suffering mama.

So today was a special day in more ways than one. Dad was home in the middle of the week. We had fun. We got up and sang “Happy Birthday” and opened presents. We had breakfast and went to say a quick hello to the teacher across the road. Family phoned in from South Africa. Off to swimming to see the girls in their swimming classes – it was the first time I came to watch. Back home for a lunch together. Played some Wii and other games with the new toys. Off to the party across the road with all her friends – and more presents to open. Played outside with the friends for while and then back home. It was a great, great day. A full day. They had a blast. And they did loads. She had fun. And so did her sister.

And then we got together to sit and have dinner together. It was a favourite of hers – mash, sausage, butternut and chicken in crumbs. And we joked a bit more and pulled faces at the table and ate funny. Mom gave up and just put her face in her hands and laughed – this is when we know she is the matriarch looking after her den. And we looked at the girls and asked, “So what was the best part of the day for you?”

And they both said, “When dad came to watch us swim”.

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Hey, April is almost over. But the madness not. Let’s look at the weak as it happened.

1. Dude, I just smoked the house

Those bloody Aussies. They are taking us all for a ride. No wait. More like a riiiideeee, dude. And sometimes just taking the piss. But good for them. See, they are always trying to find new ways to pull a fast one – those damn Aussies. Give them half a chance… And now they are using the “green” debate out there to create new “eco-friendly” ways of living their lives. I always knew they were a bunch of pot smoking Irish convicts entrepreneurs. But the latest one take the cake. Or should I say “brownie” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). The Aussies are now claiming that they are building “green” houses by using hemp. Yep. That’s pretty green hey. I think it is because they first have to dry out the leaves. What better way than build a house of dope leaves and leave it to the Australian sun to dry it out nicely. And when it is nice and dry? “Sorry officer, I have no idea how the fire started. The house just went off in flames…” Dude. What a plan, maaan. That’s dope man. And I mean it. But they didn’t stop there. The other question they faced? What to do with all that… hum… pee that comes from drinking too much XXXX. Just recycle it brother. Yes. Recycled water. I guess they can use that when they burn the house. Or burn the house when they drink the water. I would. Just to get the taste out my mouth. I think the Aussies are taking the piss.

2. Just bomb Global Warming

Okay, we are now officially… hum… you know… stuffed. Global Warming is going to wipe us out. Or maybe not. It seems as if we might now have two ways to die as Global Warming creeps up as bites us in the more delicate places. We can either fry in the heat or be bombed to smithereens. At least we have a choice now. All thanks to the Royal United Services Institute. And no, that isn’t some think-tank about Prince Charles and his bevy of servants – it’s the “leading forum in the UK for national and international Defence and Security”. Founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington, RUSI is the oldest institute of its kind in the world. Yes, the same guy who gave us those nice rubber boots to walk with in British crap rainy weather also gave us a think-tank to come up with new ways of justifying war. Thanks Duke. Anyway, the RUSI says that Global Warming will get so bad that we will go into wars that will last for centuries and will be worse than the previous two World Wars. So I guess we need more military funding then hey? Nice one – not even Dick could think of a better way to keep Halliburton in the black for a hundred years or more. I do see a little flaw in their argument though. If Global Warming will fry us all – how come we can still be alive to fight wars for a few hundred years? Hum… that’s the thinking part. You concentrated a little bit too much on the tank part buddy. DO YOU HEAR ME SOLDIER! OOH-RAH! (Sorry Marines.) Never mind, at least I will have those Wellington boots when the sea levels start rising.

3. ZZ Top

Yes, it is the battle of the Z’s. Zambia against Zimbabwe. And I am cheering for Zambia. I love Zambia. The most peaceful nation on earth. Never been in a war – internal or external. And you have to know Zambians to know why. The nicest people on earth. And they didn’t even have to build those Aussie “green” houses to be laid back. Okay, also one of the poorest nations on earth. But that didn’t stop them from standing up to the tyrant of the South – Mad Bob Mugabe. You see, China is trying to deliver some weapons to Zimbabwe. Yes, war and instability pays – just Halli and Burton. Back to the South. First the trade unions in South Africa refused to unload the weapons (well done comrades – what we call them back home). And they called Mad Bob out for the coward that he is. You don’t mess with a unionist in South Africa. The Teamsters are as tough as accountants compared to the South African version. If they say the ship won’t be unloaded… then the ship won’t be unloaded. Ever. Even the rats were to scared to make a move on the ship or dare get off the ship. Anyway, Zambia decided to show some political leadership sadly lacking from my own beloved government. President Mwanawasa from Zambia stood up and stood strong. Saying that any weapons delivered to Mad Bob’s puppets can and will undermine any possibility of breaking the violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe. And the Great Chinese ship turned around and headed back home. Head hanging down in shame and tail between their legs. I love Zambia even more. Now. If we can only get Mwanawasa to target a few other warmongers out there. Dick, you beter watch out. You might just piss off anger a Zambian. And as Mad Bob just realized, that ain’t no pretty thing to face.

4. Drive-thru shooting

“You talking to me? You talking to me?” Some of the last words heard at the McDonald’s drive-thru before the shoot-out at the OK Corral Golden Arches. You see, Makyala Hall went for her standard quality dinner at McDonalds and knew that you have to wait to get quality. I mean really, Le McDonald’s isn’t just some fast-food take-out joint. It’s the premier dinner destination in Tulsa. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve been to Tulsa. So Makyala waited patiently for her food at the rathole restaurant that inspired Gordon Ramsay. But after an hour she thought this might be taking a tad longer than what she expected. It is a crappy joint gourmet restaurant, but she ordered drive-thru. And she couldn’t idle her car waiting for her bag of fat handmade burger the whole evening – not with gas prices being the way they are. So she marched up to the manager and told him where to stick his fries where the burgers don’t fit. A super-sized verbal fight broke out and he flipped her faster than those patties. And then good old Madman Thurman showed up. The Cola dude from behind the counter. But he was off duty and stuffed with either beer or Quarter Pounders. In other words – he was drunk with power. I mean, he is the Spongebob of Tulsa. And he was faster on the draw than on the service. And shot the guy in the car behind Makayla when he interrupted their little argument about whether the King can take out Ronald. And all he wanted was some ketchup with his fries. He made it though. Still alive. But just. See the health nuts were right – McDonald’s can kill you.

5. A Bush I can get to like Good Bush, bad Bush

And I am talking about the one on the left. Not the smiling paw-paw in the middle or the smiling papa on the right. They are so not cool. It’s drool, not cool. But Jenna. If you take the two pees peas puh-lease P’s away and she might just look like she is at a Metallica concert. Okay, not a fan of Metallica, but you get my drift. Anyway, it seems as if she might actually think before she decides who to vote for. Now stay with me people. Yes, a Bush that can think before they take an action. Any action. I know, this is revolutionary. Or maybe evolutionary, but it is happening. I actually don’t care who she votes for. I just like the fact that she refused to be put in a little box when asked who she will vote for. Remember, her mother was sitting next to her and just said that she will vote for “the Republican”. And when Larry asked Jenna? She said she wasn’t sure as she hasn’t made up her mind yet – and then followed this up with, “I mean, who isn’t open to learning about the candidates and I’m sure that everybody is like that“. Huh-duh, like half the US isn’t open to learn sweetheart. Okay Larry, you actually got someone to not agree with their mother in public. I hope you feel proud. You should. Great work Jenna. Now, if only I can talk to you about a little war thing going on.

That’s all folks. Have a good one and speak to you later.

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This will the the hardest thing I ever write. Writing about my mother. She was everything my dad wasn’t. That was easy to write about compared to this. Because my dad was an ass. But my mom. She was my mom.

You see, I was her favourite one. Sorry sis, but I was mom’s favourite one. She loved us all. But I was her favourite one. Maybe because I was the youngest. And a bit unplanned. But I was her favourite one. She always dreamed of me as a little boy of about 6. In my khaki outfit and long socks and sandals. I never grew up in her eyes. I always stayed her little baby. Although she always laughed when I still tried to sit on her lap when I was older – much older. But I was her baby. And I was her favourite one. Maybe it was because I lived at home. Always there to be with her. Someone she could look after. Someone she could look after when no one looked after her.

We were very different. My mom and I. She was a proper lady. Never coughed in public. People shouldn’t see the inside of your mouth you see. So she laughed in a funny way as well. Always trying to keep her mouth closed while she laughed. Not me. I tried everything to make her laugh. Stupid things. Because we were so different. I am the “pull-my-finger” type of dad. My mom – she never pulled my finger. Not without having a closed-mouth laugh in any case.

But that only made it more of a challenge. How to gross her out. And boy did I try. Especially during the big Sunday lunch. I’ll mix up all my food and stuffed my face. And then I’ll start talking to her with my mouth full. Really full. She couldn’t look at me. But she laughed with that funny mouth of hers. And she ate so bloody slowly. Three rice grains and a pea and that was it. And she believed in the “chew-your-food-30-times” before she swallowed. And that was always my next chance to get her to laugh. I’ll gulp down my food and get up and announce to the world that it was time to feed my mom. So I’ll sit next to her and feed her. And we laughed. Oh, the tears that ran down her face was just a sight to see. Desert was a special time. Ice-cream and jelly for me (jello in the US). And I’ll make as if I am snorting it up, but meanwhile I was making the noises with my mouth. She was so disgusted in me. But she laughed and laughed. With a hoo-hoo-hoo – she laughed like an owl. And in between the laughs she will say swearwords that will never-ever cross her mouth at any other time. “O donnertjie tog, my kind” (rough translation: “Oh, bloody hell my child”). She couldn’t control her laughter. She might not laugh with an open mouth. But she laughed so easily when I did my tricks. And sometimes. Just sometimes, she would lose all control and have to run to the bathroom to stop herself. Although she didn’t always make it in time. Yes, my mother loved laughing at my silly jokes. And I loved making her laugh. We loved each other. My mother and I.

We had to. We had to make each other laugh. We had to have fun with each other. My mother and I. Because my dad wasn’t much to laugh at behind closed doors. Always the funny man in front of others. But never to my mom. So I made her laugh. And she spoiled me. She spoiled me rotten. That was my mother. She spoiled me rotten.

She made me breakfast every single morning while I stayed at home. Even when I went to university. I stayed at home. In my own little place outside, but at home. Close to my mom. She could see me sleeping from the kitchen. And she got up before me every morning to make my waking up the best part of the day. She’ll make me coffee and come into my room quietly. Yes, quietly. She’ll put my coffee next to my bed on a cup-warmer and talk softly to me to try and wake me up. “Morning my boy. Time to wake up. It is lovely day.” I’ll wake up slowly while she talks to me. And she’ll prop the pillow up for me to sit up in bed and have my cup of coffee. The extra-large mug that said “I Love Mom”. I bought it myself.

She hated me smoking. But she gave me a clean ashtray to have a smoke while I drink my coffee and have a quick chat to her. And she knew how to time her morning routine perfectly as well. Half-way through my smoke she will get up and get breakfast ready. She timed it that she started making my breakfast the minute she saw me get up to shave and shower. I’ll get dressed and walk straight into the kitchen with her perfect timing. As I sat down she gave me the breakfast I wanted every single morning. A slice of toast, some marmite on it and a fried egg – soft in the middle. But still hot as it just came off the pan. A little bit of pepper and salt – thanks mom. Always perfect. Every single morning. And she sat and had her tea while I had my breakfast. We’ll talk about my day and smile at each other. I’ll tell her a funny joke or two to make her laugh. And she’ll tell me to stop it because it is too early for that. And then I’ll get up give her a kiss and she’ll give me my daily 5 Rand (about 80 cents) for the day – enough for a sandwich, coffee, smokes and a beer. And she’ll stand at the door and wave at me while I drive off. Just her and my dog. Ready for her day. My dad will be out playing bowls or visiting his friends. I knew she was just waiting for me to come home and share a cup of tea together (always the Three Trees brand). My mom and me – we had fun. Fun when I was there. But I don’t know what she did while she waited for me to come home. Just her and the dog.

Weekends was the best though. We had a ball then. I would go out surfing a bit and come home ready to take my mom out on a date. Just the two of us. We’ll jump in her car and head for the mall. It’s time for the movies and a bite to eat. We’ll watch whatever I wanted to watch. It was always an action movie for me. She’ll buy us tickets for the latest Harrison Ford or Stallone movie and get ready for some action. She always said she loved it, but I wasn’t always that sure. She used to grab my arm tightly and whisper little swearwords (“O donnertjie tog”) every single time something  happened – just a change of scenery got her jumping. She always expected the worse. But she was all smiles when we got out and headed for the Pizza place – always the same place. Panarotti’s. I’ll have a huge pizza and she’ll have something small – a salad or something. And she’ll stare at me while I ate. And we spoke about the movie and how much fun it was. And we wondered what we will watch or do next weekend. You see, my dad never took her to the movies.

Watching her watch television was fun too. We were one of the first people in our street to get a television. And she was gripped. She watched everything. But she loved The Protectors. We had a full house of people coming over each time The Protectors was on. And she got so involved in the story. She believed it was true. And she even believed she could make a difference. I was very, very little, but in one scene I will never forget, Contessa di Contini was being followed by a guy with a knife. And he was slowly but surely creeping up to her – ready to pounce. He was about to stab her when my mom jumped up and shouted – “Agter jou Contessa. Pasop. Hy is agter jou!” (“Behind you, Contessa. Look out. He is behind you!”) Oh we laughed about that one. And we laughed many more times at each Sunday lunch. Especially when I used to shout that in the middle of my dad praying when I spied the dog sitting behind her. Yes. She believed she could make a difference.

But I grew up and eventually had to move out of the house. I only did that when I got married. Oh how my mother hated my wife in the beginning. But she got to love her when my wife became a mother – and my mother saw this beautiful child and knew she was the one for me. But in the beginning she thought that my wife took me away from her. Her little boy. She didn’t want me to get married. She just sat there during the service and stared at my wife. She never smiled. And she phoned me to tell me to come home – the day after I got back from honeymoon. But I grew up. And she had no one to wait for anymore. Just a few visits – maybe once or twice a month. She had no one to spoil anymore. Even the dog had to be put down because of illness and old age.

But we had fun whenever we went to visit her. She’ll make my favourite food – buttermilk pudding, potato salad, braai (barbeque), her special cake, and home-made bread. Oh yes, the home-made bread. I was never allowed to cut the bread. I was going to cut my fingers off you see. I was just a little boy. Her little boy. But I got her laughing her funny laugh with that one as well – a new trick. It involved a knife and some tomato sauce. Needless to say, she was in a panic for a while. Grabbing my hand and putting it under the tap. Until she realized what I did. And then it was all funny laughs again. Yes. We still had fun when we had a chance.

But she wasn’t too healthy. She suffered from many illnesses. Not sickly. But she had many problems – from vertigo to depression. And it was tough for her. With no one at home. Not even the dog. And my dad was always out with his friends or playing bowls. It was tough for her. For someone who always had me around to spoil. Now it was just her and her thoughts. And no one to wait for at night. Just hope for a weekend or two each month.

My sister called me one night from her home. My mom was crying and called out for help. She couldn’t get hold of me. So she phoned my sister. My dad was cheating on her. She didn’t know what to do. I had enough. Enough of him. I raced to their place and got them to sit down and talk to me. I told my dad he was now messing with my life. Messing with my mother. Time to grow up and be a man. Time to take responsibility. She needed him. She needed him to look after her. To be there at night for them to share a meal. Sit together and watch television. I told him to make his choice now. Be a man or walk away. He didn’t walk away. And maybe that was a mistake. Because he said he will look after her. I wasn’t there to look after her. And maybe that wasn’t what she wanted. Maybe she just wanted someone to spoil and someone to wait for at night.

I think my mother died a little bit each day. With a husband who didn’t love her. With a house that was empty. Just her thoughts and herself. It was always about me. Always about what she could do for me. The breakfasts. The movies. The pizzas. The tea. The laughs. It was always about me. And what she could do for me and with me. I was her life. While she had me. And when I left? What was left of her? I don’t know. I loved her. But I don’t know what she wanted from life apart from making me happy and looking after me. Her little boy.

And when I left – what was left? Could my mother have done things differently? I don’t know. I think she was drained of who she was so slowly that she didn’t realize what was happening. Drained by my dad and what he did to her. Drained by her kids who meant everything to her. You see. I was sleeping while she watched me. I was sleeping while she lived her life just for me. I was sleeping when I got the call. It was 3 in the morning.

It was my other sister. She was at my mom’s. She was just visiting. And she was crying and shouting. She didn’t make sense. Something about my mother. Something about my mother. Something happened to my mother. Something about a gun. Something about my mother and a gun. It didn’t make sense. Did someone shoot her? It didn’t make sense. We both hated guns. And then I heard it. Time just stood still. I heard it. But I couldn’t understand the words. I knew the words. Three little words. But it didn’t make sense. And then she said it again. And it hit me and drained me of everything. Time didn’t stop. My heart didn’t stop. It just felt like it. It was my soul that got ripped out.

“Mom shot herself”.

I know I drove there immediately. I was on that road for 30 minutes. But the next thing I remember was standing there looking at my mom. The police wasn’t there yet. And my sister and dad was in the kitchen. The kitchen where I had those breakfasts with my mom. My mom looked so peaceful. Lying down. She always had beautiful skin. And her skin looked beautiful. She had a little funny smile on her face. Just as I remembered. She looked happy. Like she always looked when she saw me.

I sat down next to her and took her hand. “Don’t worry mom. I am here.” I just sat there with her and held her hand. Knowing not to look beyond her face. Not to look at the other side of her head. Whispering to her while crying. Crying because there will be no more breakfasts together. No more movies together. No more tea together. No more funny laughs. No more feeding her. No more snorting ice-cream and jelly. No more waiting for me. My mom was gone. She couldn’t wait any longer.

I slept while my mother died. I slept while my mother lived. I was there for her. And I wasn’t there for her. I never knew what she did during those days when she waited for me. And I don’t know what she did when there was no more evenings to look forward to. I slept while my mother died. But I loved my mom. I loved my mom. I love my mom.

To my wife: I love you more than life. Thank you for being with me and making me a better man. I always want to know what you do while you wait for us. While you wait for the girls to come home from school. While you wait for me to come home from work. I always want to know who you are and what you do. Because I am because of you. Without you I am nothing. I do what I do because the strength my mother gave me and the strength you give me. I love you.

And thank you for being there when my mother died. Thank you for helping me remember my mom the way she wants to be remembered. And not because of that last 5 minutes of madness in her life. Thank you for reminding me that we will never know. That all we can know is that I loved her. And that she loved me. Even when I was sleeping.

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