Monday 24 January 2011: 4 years 4 months on …
My late father had a stroke in 1969 which left him completely paralyzed on his right side and unable to talk (save for 3 or 4 words). At the time, I was in Standard 5, my eldest sister Lyn in High School (Standard 8), my younger sister Ingrid in Primary School (Standard 1) and my youngest sister June, at 4 years old, not yet even in school.
My late mother had her hands full, looking after a disabled husband and raising four children!
After his stroke (and until he passed away in 1976), we never had the luxury of a holiday. Mind you, before his stroke we seldom went away on a holiday either.
There is one holiday, however, that I remember well. Our green Studebaker towed a Gypsy caravan (the silver variety) from The Strand north to Bloemfontein, south to East London and then down the coast, visiting Port Elizabeth, Jeffery’s Bay and Knysna along the way. (It was in Bloemfontein that my Dad left a message for a friend that Herbie Lunnon was in the caravan park, and he almost did not get to see the friend because the message was relayed by the secretary as “Herbie’s linen was in the caravan park”!)
Whenever we traveled, we never stopped at restaurants for meals. In fact, I don’t think that places like the Wimpy, Golden Egg or Steers existed in those days (or maybe we just couldn’t afford to stop there!)
Instead, Mom packed the picnic basket (a large brown cane one with a lid) and inside was the black metal flask with coffee and the drumsticks, hard-boiled eggs, fried sausage, and sandwiches (mostly wrapped in the obligatory silver aluminium foil).
We would stop along the national road at the concrete table with the concrete stools, usually under a few trees that had been planted there for shade, and the concrete bin for the throw-away rubbish. A meal stop would include the obligatory wee stop and the waves to the passers-by.
But before we stopped, we would play all kinds of games in the car to keep us busy and designed to prevent us from fighting. The wireless would either be on the “A” programme (the English SABC programme, as opposed to the “B” programme – Afrikaans) or on Springbok Radio, and one had to constantly keep turning the dial in order to keep the wireless on the programme – often the sound would just fade away into a rowdy static racket!
And in between the stops we would constantly ask “How much further?” or “When will we get to Three Sisters, or Colesberg or Hanover or …?”
Something I learnt from my Dad (Things my Father said!) and which has transferred itself into our own family travels, was his usual reply, “Round the next corner!” or “Over the Hill!”
But our destination was never over that hill or round that corner, to which Dad would reply “I said the NEXT hill!”
And the reason I have been thinking of this is because it reminds me that in Life we never know what lies around the corner or over that hill. And we just don’t know how much further we have to travel.
But we need to stay busy with our radio and our games to keep us from fighting, and we need to have our short-term and long-term goals like our regular stops, our next corner and next hill and our next town to make the journey more exciting.
During these past holidays, we stayed on the St Francis Links for a week or so. Not being a golfer myself, I watched the players pass by on their golf journey.
They start their course and play eighteen holes. Each one comes with its unique built-in challenges and the ever-changing wind and weather patterns. They have to adapt each stroke by assessing the challenge and choosing the correct club, often with the help (for better of for worse!) of their companions, and by playing the stroke with the necessary acumen.
However, the play doesn’t necessarily go (and seldom goes!) according to the plan. Often your ball is lost and your way is lost and frequently a standby plan or improvisation needs to be implemented in order to get you out of the rough.
In my case, as the CBD relentlessly attacks my body, I progress from one hole to the next, and each time a club gets removed from the bag. As I proceed, I have fewer clubs at my disposal to master each succeeding green, and the round becomes more and more challenging. How many more holes I do not know, but the respite of the 19th hole lies somewhere there in the distance.
As I said, I was never a golfer, but I have run the Knysna. And it’s become like running the Knysna.
You don’t know if it’s the half marathon or the full, but you become increasingly tired along the way and I am starting to feel over the hill.
I keep on watching out for that finishing line. How much further?
Is it around the next corner or over the hill? Is there a next one?