Rob Stear

(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnon
8 years 1 month ill …
Physical: Deuce / Mental: ED

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Last weekend Pera and I spent with Dickie and Colleen Ogilvie on Doorndraai somewhere in the midst of the Karoo.

In their passage hangs a photo frame with photographs taken of various friends when we all lived in Port Elizabeth. I collated the pics and gave it to them at their farewell party when they left PE.

There is a photo of Rob Stear at David and Debbie Capel’s farewell party at the Thomsons. David was the professional cricket coach at Grey and they were returning to Britain.

The dress was semi-formal – formal from the waist up and casual from the waist down.

We spoke about those “good ole days” when we were just kids ourselves!

We spoke about our good friend Rob Stear – the life and soul of every party.

“Never fear because Stear was here!”

October being cancer awareness month and the Oglvie/Watermeyer homes being familiar with the fight against cancer, we spoke about cancer, hospices and fundraising.

We discussed Rob’s recent battle with cancer.

I said that when we returned to PE I needed to visit Rob.

The visit never took place!

None of us anticipated that Rob would pass away the very next day.

He had a name for everyone and I was Edgar. When we met at Old Grey Club, he would paraphrase the previous week’s radio interview that Edgar had concluded with Lance du Plessis.

He would talk to the ceiling, telling it what “kak” they played on the radio nowadays! It was always just loud enough for me to hear about his complaints. He never admitted to listening to one of our discussions!

Thanks Rob for listening! I know you got something from our talks! In the grand scheme of things, I was supposed to go before you … but then we just never know, do we?

I hope you have that dinner table prepared for our next function – maybe formal this time, but knowing you, it may just be completely casual?

Oh yes, but then I quess I don’t have to remind you, don’t forget the beers!

RIP Rob Roy Stear

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Mourning Has Broken

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 16 December 2013: 7 years 3 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

 

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Tata Madiba, Nelson Mandela, the Father of our New Democratic Nation, was buried yesterday in Qunu in our (and his) home Province of the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

It brings to an end the official ten days of national mourning since his death last Thursday evening 5 December 2013.

Much has been said and written, and for many of us, I guess, it has been a time of great introspection.

During this time there have also been other events that we have attended and which have provided food for thought.

Last Friday morning (6 December) I attended Christopher Ross’s funeral in St Francis Bay. I had taught brothers David and Chris in the late eighties and Chris had passed away the previous week at age 40 after suffering an aneurism.

David has asked me to say a few words at the memorial service. However, because I am finding it increasingly difficult to see and walk, I declined the offer. David has asked me to say something of the “good old times”!

It got me thinking of how we can’t live in the “good old times” – the past is gone. We can’t live in the future either – it is not guaranteed. We only have the present to live in, and we have to make the most of that moment and every moment we have.

Madiba surely taught us that, too. After spending so much of his life in jail, it is just unbelievable how much he achieved in and made of the 14 years he had between being released in 1990 and finally retiring from public life in 2004, when he famously told reporters that, if needs, “Don’t call me. I’ll call you!” (I sometimes feel that the time is fast coming when I shall have to use that quote myself.)

Anyway, we did raconteur and reminisce at Legends Pub at the Wake after the memorial service. So much so, that we only got home after four and had to postpone our trip to Graaff-Reinet which was scheduled to commence at 14h00!

We decided to leave on Saturday morning instead, and thank goodness we did! I woke up to water running down through the ceiling and cupboards – a water valve had burst in the roof! So, our departure was delayed until the plumbers had sorted that out, and then, delayed yet again, as the garden services (on whom I had been waiting for the last two weeks) suddenly arrived to mow the lawns.

Who said life is easy and runs smoothly? Certainly not Nelson Mandela!

But he taught us that too – that one can rise above the difficulties and stumbling blocks that life places in our way. He taught us to forgive those who have wronged us – that’s the one with which I still have enormous problems – and I still don’t know how he managed to forgive those of us who had a hand in putting him into captivity!

Anyway, we eventually arrived at Tandjiesview in the district Graaff-Reinet at 14h00, in time for lunch and in time to celebrate Helen Harris’s 50th birthday with the other 80-odd friends and family who gathered there on Saturday evening. Some 35 of us also stayed over on the farm, and we got to share the mountain cottage with Dickie and Colleen Ogilvie.

We woke up to the most spectacular view of the Camdeboo Plains and Tandjiesberg; however, we ourselves certainly didn’t look as good as that view!

And the party continued into Sunday, and we and some of the stragglers only left on Monday afternoon! We went on to Aberdeen for a quick afternoon tea with John and Jean Watermeyer and then to Doorndraai, in the Vlaktes between Aberdeen and Willowmore, for the next three days with Colleen and Dickie.

Doorndraai was the first Karoo farm that I had the privilege of visiting. More and more I’m starting to think that it will also be my last visit.

It rained and rained, and we ate and ate …

And we watched the memorial service for Madiba, and we watched and we watched! I learned so much that I didn’t know before! So many lessons to be learnt from one unbelievable person. So many people around the world whose lives he touched.

Many of us talk the talk, some just walk the walk, but very few – like Madiba – walk the talk.

As human beings, irrespective of race, colour or creed, we have so many things that we have in common and so many things that we have learned along the way – our CULTURE – that makes us so different from each other.

We all celebrate life and death, birthdays and funerals, marriages and “coming of age” parties, friends and family, music and religion, but we do it in such different ways. If only we dedicated more time to learn from each other and to appreciate each other’s cultures.

This afternoon, I have started reading Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom. With my impaired concentration ability and my sight problems, this is going to be a long read to finish!

In the meantime, since coming back from the farm, we attended a “European” style 50th birthday party of Rocco  at St George’s Park on Friday and Xolani’s African style wedding in Walmer Township on Sunday.

Celebrations, worlds apart, in our part of this earth which fate has ordained us to share with each other. We have always so easily shared the air, with Nelson’s intervention we learned to share the water, but when it comes to sharing the land, things are not so easy. History will tell us what happens in this regard in the post mourning era!

My status this week on Facebook read:

The World, aloofly and often somewhat judgmentally and disparagingly, simply calls it Africa.

We call it our Home.

This week, from Qunu in our Eastern Cape Veld, we shared our Home with the World – thanks to Tata Madiba.

He transformed our South African Home and made us part of the World.

We are privileged to have lived in his time and shared in his world.

We are obligated to learn from him and to continue his legacy!

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God bless Africa!)

ED is in cEDerberg

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 9 April 2013: 6 years 7 months on …

Physical: Advantage Ed / Mental: Advantage ED

On Good Friday, at 6am, we headed off westwards along the N2 – destination the Swartruggens and the Cederberg in the Western Cape.

The original plan was to go from Ladismith through the Seweweekspoort Pass to the N1 at Laingsburg.

But the weather changed the plans (which included a breakfast at Hartenbos with the Engelbrechts, friends from Stellenbosch student days) and eventually we did Swellendam, Bonnievale, Montagu, Koo Valley, N1, Touws River and finally the gravel road to Kagga Kamma (Place of water) Game Reserve – arriving there at 18h00!

Friday night, in our cottage for the next week, became an early night with no hot water!

Saturday morning was an early morning to watch the Kings on TV at the bar – the only TV at the resort. Furthermore, there was no TV, no cell phone reception, no wireless, no Facebook, and even the electricity went off for a while later in the week!

We were here to relax and that we did!

A 4km hike through the bush and over the boulders left me with a swollen, sore, sprained ankle on my good foot! So no more walks for me! You just can’t win!

Pera managed another 8km walk later in the week and not even the heavy rain deterred her. Sean and I got worried and drove out to find her – which we only managed on the second rescue mission attempt.

Other times, armed with the map, we hit the various 4×4 routes and tried to spot the game – little that there was: a few buck, ostriches, zebra, snakes, birds and thousands of rocks in all formations! The Bushmen (San / Khoi) paintings got us talking … from 6000 years to 600 years old! A past long forgotten …

Phillip is training for the rugby season – so what we walked, he ran, and he ran, and he ran again and all of this at the altitude of Table Mountain!

Sean was the chauffeur and clung to the wheel – from here to there and back and every other trip we made.

That included our Easter Monday trip to Ceres and Tulbagh where we met up with my family Sebastian, Michelle and Hannah. Lunch, for me a lovely snoek pie, was eaten at the old Toll house in the Mitchell’s Pass and dessert (chocolate pancakes) at the historic Church Street in Tulbagh. Buildings from our more recent colonial European history just 400 years ago! Not even the 6,9 Richter scale earthquake on the 29th September 1969 at 22h29 which I remember well from my Std 5 schooldays and which had its epicentre in this area could destroy this history of our country. It woke us up and had us running into the street in The Strand, my hometown – here it killed some 9 people.

Our other road trip was north through the Cederberg via Algeria (where I had camped as a high school scholar) to Clanwilliam where I tried the babotie and we tea’d at the Rooibos factory at the centre of our unigue Rooibos industry. Home from there took us through Citrusdal and its citrus farms, over a steep, curved gravel pass back to Oppi-Berg and the Kagga Kamma.

All trips in and out of Kagga Kamma took us over 15km of rough, corrugated, pot-holed, stony gravel road and over the Katbakkies Pass or Skittery Pass – no barriers and sometimes an incline over close to 45 degrees!

Other passes we traversed during the week were Kogmanskloof,Burgers, Rooihoogte, Die Venster, Gydo, Mitchells, Middleberg, Meiringspoort, Ghwarriepoort, Buyspoort, Perdepoort, Swanepoelspoort, and national roads we used were the N2, N1, N7, N12, N9 and numerous other minor tarred and gravel roads.

At the resort, we braaied, ate at the restaurant (a beef strip salad with balsamic vinegar was my favourite), russled up, with Pera’s help, a number of great recipes (and an exploded boiled egg in the microwave!) There was no shop in this wilderness to buy supplies, so Sean invented a recipe for French toast when the egg supply ran low!

It was great family time and so besides the kitchen and cooking duties, we played board games, chess, read, chatted, drank, laughed, discussed, questioned and gazed at and almost touched the stars in a clear black night sky.

All too soon it came to an end, and so last Friday saw us leaving at 10H00. This time we took the inland Karoo route, travelling from Touws River through Laingsburg and Prince Albert (where we lunched – another try of babotie for me!) and then on through the Swartberg through De Rust and Willowmore to Doorndraai in the Aberdeen District, where we spent the weekend with friends Dickie and Colleen Ogilvie and their daughter Megan. (Dickie and I taught together at Grey in the eighties and he was my bestman when Pera and I got married in 1990.)

Both Sean and Phillip learned to drive here on the farm – tractors, “skadonk” and whatever other bakkies were available. We all have good recollections and happy memories of this place.

We worked out that we had not visited the farm since just before I became ill – seven years ago! So we picked up on the news and the “skinder”, drank the beers and the brandy and ate the lamb and the lard and the “pap” and the potatoes (roasted, of course!)

 A weekend of friendship fit for Kings – we had followed our rugby team on Twitter and they had drawn with the Brumbies on Friday morning, too, so life was sweet!

All good things come to an end, and so Sunday lunch time indicated that it was time to head back to Port Elizabeth and to home, where we arrived at 17H00.

It was a great trip providing us with good family bonding time and an appreciation of the beauty of our country and of life.

The car was heavier – with many memories, and stones collected in the Tanqua Karoo (the driest area of South Africa) and plants from the Great Karoo and the Camdeboo.

We are truly privileged. Life is good!

There is a sign on the wall at the reception area of Kagga Kamma. It reads:

“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.”

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