Who Painted the Moon Black?

Sunday 19 June 2011: 4 years 9 months on … Advantage ED

Father’s Day 2011!

This has arguably been the saddest weekend of my entire life.

Over the last two years, I have written a great deal about the wonderful days spent at St Francis Bay. Yesterday morning, we were headed there again for the weekend.

After the recent rains, the world was green and clean. Coming over the rise just before the descent into the Gamtoos River valley one gets to see Jefferys Bay in the distance, and because it is so clear today, beyond the Bay of J is the beauty of Paradise Beach, Aston Bay, St Francis Bay and, at the farthermost point, the peninsula of Cape St Francis. What a splendid sight on this magnificent warm winter’s day!

In the car there was silence. Behind us, you could hear the hum of the wheels of the Venter trailer that we were towing. It was empty because the purpose of the trip was to collect the last of our belongings from our house in St Francis.

Our holiday house has become the latest casualty of my illness.

Like a thief in the night, the CBD has slowly been taking away from me. First it was the use of my left hand. Then it took my job and my ability to work, to earn an income and to make a contribution to society.

Slowly it has taken not only my physical and mental abilities, but also my independence, my self-worth and my self-esteem.

It reminds me of the total lunar eclipse that we had witnessed on Wednesday night. On a clear dark cloudless night, we had slowly seen the fullness of the bright moon disappear as the shadow of the earth moved across the face of the moon. After about an hour it became totally black!

(On a “lighter” note, someone said the moon was being switched off for three hours in response to the national load-shedding call by ESKOM to save power! Another comment was that VODACOM had paid millions to turn the moon red as a part of its recent advertising campaign to advise the public that it had changed its corporate colour from blue to red!)

Be that as it may, it was the longest total lunar eclipse seen in the last one hundred years. At the slowest of paces, the darkness crept across the moon until eventually there was a total blackout.

It is just like my CBD – at the slowest of paces, it is stealthily and silently taking more and more.

And now, it has started taking our possessions.

As the disease has progressed, it has become increasingly difficult for me to keep maintaining two homes – from a practical operational point of view but also from a financial perspective. And so, on the Easter weekend at the end of April we decided to put the house up for sale.

I don’t think any of us were prepared for what happened next. Bearing in mind the economic situation right now, and the fact that almost every second house in St Francis is “For Sale”, we did not know what to expect.

But early on Wednesday morning, Freedom Day, we had two prospective buyers view the house, and by lunch time the second viewer had made an offer to buy, which we accepted!

Tears rolled freely then. The paperwork was signed, but it would take a while for the transfer to go through, so the reality of the decision didn’t really hit home.

Not until this weekend. As the transfer is imminent, we needed to move. Suddenly, reality set in.

The weather was perfect. Those warm, windless picture-perfect days in St Francis when the reflection of the houses in the canals results in one not knowing which the top is and which the bottom is of the photos that you have taken! It made our decision to sell and the packing-up process so much more difficult to accept.

I have kept blaming myself. I have let down my family because I did not adequately prepare for an eventuality such as the CBD. I had always hoped that the boys would have continued with the traditions of No 6.

We have so many happy memories from our years of visiting here:  from the first red and black blow-up boat with the plastic oars, through Rusk with its 15HP Johnson engine to Rolls with the 125HP Mercury; from the paddling through the ski-ing and wake-boarding, from the canals through the river to the sea, from the skottels through the braais, from the fishing through the tanning and beach walks, from the empty house in winter through the “House (and garage) Full” at Christmas and New Year!

As a family, we have been so privileged by the experience and have been even more privileged to have been able to share it with so many of our family, friends and neighbours. They are too many to mention here (I will include my nephew-in-law Sebastian, only because he asked me to), but hopefully most have signed the Visitors’ Book that we have kept over the years.

In amongst the packing, it was a special treat on Saturday evening, and we really value the kindness, when our neighbours supplied a pork “skottel – braai” dinner to celebrate the “Last Supper” at No 6.  Mike and Jenny Rishworth (from No 4) and Brett and Jenny Parker from across the canal arranged the evening and joined us (and Pera’s brother Paul and his wife Debbie). Thanks so much for the evening, but even more, thanks for your friendship and the many happy memories. We know you will keep an eye on No 6 for us.

I did not sleep much on Saturday night. There were too many thoughts going through my diseased mind and too many tears sliding over my cheeks. Sunday, Father’s Day, was not much better. Seeing the boys walking around taking their last pictures and posting them as their profiles on Facebook , made it even more difficult for me.

I had never imagined that one could become so attached to a place and to a house, and that it would be so difficult to say goodbye to a memory and a thousand dreams.

I had also never imagined that we would have accumulated so much over the years. So much so, that we will need to go back again to collect the rest (maybe just an excuse for one really last visit to No 6 later in the week!)

To all our immediate neighbours, the Macs, the Fishers, the Kemps, the Fouches, the Nortjes, and to the numerous others who crossed our path, our grateful thanks are extended  for so many good times and for being part of the tapestry of our St Francis Bay experience. We eagerly anticipate being your “day visitors” in the future!   

To the new owners, Mike and his family, we sincerely hope that you will treasure it and enjoy it as much as we have, and that you, too, will continue to hoard happy memories at No 6 (and maybe not so much junk as we have!)

And to ourselves, we need to remember that the moon did not stay black forever. After the darkness, it turned to the most beautiful red and then slowly returned to its normal bright shining self (and maybe even looked just a tad brighter after the darkness than before!)

We, too, must now look forward to the next exciting era in our lives that begins today.