Tuesday 10 May 2011: 4 years 8 months on … ADVANTAGE CBD
I have made much about my and our family travels over the years. Before I got married, I was fortunate to travel extensively overseas. Thereafter, it happened less frequently because of logistics and cost. However, as the boys grew up, besides holidays, we also spent a lot of time following them around the country as they became involved in various school activities.
We have been to all four of the old South African provinces to watch school sport and listen to the orchestra – Pretoria, Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Bloemfontein and Cape Town. In the Eastern Cape, over the years, we have frequently visited Queenstown, King Williams Town, East London, Graaff-Reinet, George, Knysna, Grahamstown, Uitenhage and Despatch!
Our travels with the boys have been some of the best memories that I have – besides the sport and the performances, our discussions in the car, the scenery, the history and geography – even the mathematics sometimes – have made all those trips very worthwhile.
We have visited old friends and made new friends around the country, gone sight-seeing, attended shows – Phantom of the Opera in Cape Town (together with the Thomsons, Stapletons and Scholtz’s) comes to mind, gone shopping and seen the country.
I have written a number of blogs about these trips, notably “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and “I was so Glad that I had come”!
“Heaven is a place on Earth” describes our trip to Stellenbosch round about this time last year (2010) for the annual derby day against Paul Roos Gymnasium (incidentally where I did my practical teaching as a student at Stellenbosch University).
The previous year (2009) we had visited Wynberg in Cape Town in May. I had not started writing blogs yet so I have no record of that trip. However, despite my short-term memory leaving me in the lurch, my long-term memory remains almost intact.
I had attempted to organize a bus trip for parents to Cape Town for that long weekend. We were due to stop over in Rawsonville at a University friend, Stanley Louw’s wine farm, stay at the Newlands Sun Hotel, take in a show, ABBA, at the Artscape Theatre on the Friday night and a Super 14 Rugby match at Newlands on the Saturday (and, of course, watch our sons play against Wynberg.) However, it was just at the time of the economic crunch taking its toll on our South African pockets, and I had to cancel the plans at the last moment because of insufficient numbers.
So we drove instead. We stayed over, as usual with the Kapps in Knysna, and then stayed with the Reelers in Pinelands. After the rugby Saturday, we watched the Stormers play at Newlands, and then discovered a delightful pizza place in Rondebosch. On Sunday, on the way home, we stopped over for lunch at the Rod and Reel in Plettenberg Bay!
Two years before that, May 2007, I had just been diagnosed with CBD in the January and had to make a return visit to Tygerberg Hospital at the time of the Wynberg encounter. I flew down to Cape Town, saw the doctor and very little of the rugby, as I recall spending the Saturday afternoon assisting Dylan Collins (Head Boy 2006) who had eaten a suspect hamburger and was not feeling too well!
Despite the bus trip to Wynberg being cancelled and my illness taking its toll, I had organised two very successful train trips for parents to Grey Bloemfontein in August 2007 and again in August 2009. I called it the Grey-V Train, One and Two!
In 2007 we were almost 250 parents who filled the train. We left Port Elizabeth station 4 hours late (due to a train accident at Addo) – after having emptied the picnic baskets at a party on platform 5! – and encountered the coldest night of the year and snow in the Karoo and the Free State. We arrived late in Bloemfontein and some parents (including us) did not even get to see our sons play!
However, the memories and the stories of that trip will remain legendary. So much so, that when 2009 came round, the demand for another train was there. Unfortunately, due to a number of factors, notably the SA Railways not being able to guarantee a train, it was a last-minute rush and we did not have as many passengers as the previous trip. This time we only arrived an hour late and managed to keep warm on the train (but the Heavens opened in Bloem and it poured with rain!)
And so, all these trips have very special memories and I could highlight many over the past 27 years since I became associated with Grey, first as a teacher and then as a parent.
Last weekend, it was time for the Wynberg trip again. With Sean out of school and Phillip not playing rugby temporarily this term, there was really no reason to go to Cape Town, except to make an excuse to go! And I don’t really have to look too far to find such an excuse to go home to the Western Cape!
Besides Grey rugby, the Stormers were also playing the Crusaders at Newlands, so we looked at all our options! But, much as we tried, nothing worked – I doubted my ability to sit in the car for eight hours, Sean was writing a test, there were no flights available, the Newlands seats were sold out, the price of petrol has just increased YET again, I didn’t want to drive in the dark, etc … so, in the end, we made the difficult, but sensible, decision to stay at home.
So we were at home on Sunday afternoon when we got the news of the tragic death of grade 8 pupil, Stefan Ehlers, and his mother, Theresa, in an accident on the way back from Cape Town when their car hit a kudu near Willowmore. The father, Rian, was admitted to hospital but escaped serious injury and was discharged Monday. Our sincerest condolences go to their family at this sad time.
My condolences also go to the family of Robin Small, an ex-colleague of mine at Grey who also passed away this week after having battled cancer for some time. His memorial service took place at Grey yesterday.
We cannot predict the future
We cannot change the past
We have just the present moment
We must treat it as our last
This week, hundreds of Old Greys will converge on Port Elizabeth for their annual reunion. Since last year’s gathering, we have lost a number of our family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues. We remember all of them for having enriched our lives along the way.
So my message to you is, if you are having doubts about attending this weekend (or, for that matter, doing whatever you have been putting off or have been uncertain about), make the decision now to join in the reminiscing and the fun. Live for the moment.
We have just the present moment – We must treat it as our last.