Saturday 16 January 2010

A Love Story

Twenty days after my birth, in cold sleet and sloshy England, my husband was born in the humidifying heat of South Africa. Miles apart. Nevertheless, already hand picked by the Creator of all, by the Lord, Who puts the lonely in families. Years later, because of the forever itching feet of my father, and the complete optimism of my mother, I came face to face with my husband, in a sleepy country town, in the state of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.

We met while we were both in school; Andre was on school holidays, with his mom and together they were staying at a friend's house in my hometown. The local pool and cinema were great highlights of our days. The minute I met him, I knew I loved him. I didn't even know him, but I knew.

We endured being apart during school, as he lived and attended school in another town. We endured being apart during my Technical College and his apprenticeship years. We endured being apart during the first half of his National Service in the South African Defence Force. And then - four months after the completion of his compulsory army service ~ we married. Childhood sweethearts, now joined as one.

The early days of marriage were filled with joy and excitement. We started off with a piece of carpet on the floor (which we used as our bed), a couple of blankets and one pillow. We slept fully dressed in winter, as two flimsy blankets aren't enough to keep the freezing damp air at bay. Friends and family donated furniture and accessories, and before long, we were piecing together our first nest. We would feast on rice with onion gravy, followed by coffee and Ouma's rusks. Now and again, we would treat ourselves to a chocolate bar and a trip to the two Rand drive- in, where we would park the Yamaha 175 and lie under the stars, enjoying every minute of being together. There's much to be said in building up a home together. Building it together. Not marrying into a fully furnished, pantry well-stocked, efficiently heated home, bur rather, doing it Hard Time.
Before long, and just after my husband had left for a stint in the army, I discovered that I was carrying a new life. Emma was born with large, dark eyes and little hair - blonde fluff, as we called it. We weren't in hospital long; we wanted to be home. The three of us were together just three weeks before Andre had to leave for a three month 'border duty' camp. Each day, I would write to Emma's daddy. Each day, Emma would sleep in her pram next to me, while I wrote and told him of every little insignificant thing that we lived through. And then, as the letters were completed, we would post them, hoping that there would be a return letter for us in the mail. Letters from my husband were few and far between. Those that we did receive were censored by army officials.

A year after the National Service my husband qualified as a fitter and turner. This meant more in the pay-packet and a chance to go forward in life. We were able to buy good food and lots of it. We were able to buy a new bed. We were able to buy many items that we had waited so long for. Despite our house developing into the cosy home we had long desired, it wasn't enough. My feet were itching, just as my father's had years ago. My husband's feet caught the same fever.

"It's the land of milk and honey, Helen...." my father would tell me, referring to the country in which we now live - Australia. "Things are going to get worse here. You'll have no regrets. We'll follow you soon. I promise."

Three years later, we had packed up our home and were waiting at my parent's home for the day that great Silver bird would take us to a foreign land. My parents and brothers promised me that they would only say a 'quick' goodbye. They lied. The day of our departure dragged on. I felt as if my heart was about to jump out of my throat. I ached all over; physically and emotionally. My mam slipped a book of verses by Helen Steiner Rice under my arm, as she squeezed me and implored me to "...go now, Helen" I read this on the flight, as the tears streamed down my face.

Time is a great healer. It's true.

My father was true to his word and joined us six months later.  We have lived close by each other ever since.

With two more little Aussies, Sarah and Samuel our family is complete and the Love Story continues through generations.


300 North Jackson said...

What a wonderful story. I think a tear fell into my coffee :)

Ken Devine said...

Yes Helen, we do share similar experiences...especially about early days of marriage. I agree, there's a lot to be said for saving for things and doing without if money is tight.

I enjoyed reading about how you ended up in Australia.

Vera said...

Lester, my Hubs, was also in National Service in Africa. In the police. I was in the UK. Like you, miles away. When his service was done, he left South Africa, leaving his parents and brothers behind. He came to the UK, staying with his uncle in London. He enrolled in the Open University, studying Science. I was in north Kent. I enrolled in the Open University, studying Science. The Universe then continued it's efforts to bring us together when we chose the same week to attend Reading University. Sitting in the lecture hall, turning round, and it was if I had been shot in the stomach such was the impact of that first sighting. Then we began. That was 12 years ago. The Universe then did another lurch and we became shipped out to France, where we are setting up a home from scratch. Like you, I feel blessed that this has happened, that from different countries we were connected. I think that God is a tremendous mover and shaker when it is right for two people to be together!
Lovely blog, and got me into a better humour as was having a bit of a gruff day.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

What a beautiful love story!

Doing without, and making do, can bind hearts together. We learn as we live. We appreciate so much more when we have had to do without.

Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

matron said...

I loved reading your love story,it was wonderful.
I met john when I was 16years old,he was staying with his aunt who lived next door.Like you,I knew I was going to marry him even though I was so young.We have now been married 45years,have 2 daughters ,2sons and 7 grandchildren,I agree that God knew what he was doing when he paired some of us up together.
May you both have many,many more happy years together.

Queen "B" said...

Aloha Helen, I feel very honored to read about your journey in life. That is what got me blogging, I wanted to journal for my family history.It was to hard to start from the beginning, so I just started from where I was and then it all has taken a life of it's own since.I love the fact that blogging allows me to share me my perspective about my journey. I happen to have family journals from 6 generations back. I'm sure they had no idea that I would be reading about them and their lives, I'm so glad I have these precious writings. I know your posterity will love you by knowing you through your written memoirs...:)keep sharing. it's lovely
Aloha from across the sea


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