Two years Dad…

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Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair that time has erased your presence from my mind. When days go by and I didn’t stop to think of you. Memories that seem so distant, moving into a space that’s hard to reach.

I have a playlist of songs that holds special meaning to me. A few belong to you. They are impossible to sing for every line is laced with emotion. So what if I cry in traffic, for a brief moment the world has stopped turning and I’m with you again, remembering your goodness, wishing for another chance to say I love you.

They say time heals all wounds, I think it makes it easier to forget how much it still hurts.

“And I can’t breathe without you, but I have to” 😦

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Happy Birthday Sweetheart …

A week ago I had a medical procedure on my knees. I was pensive heading into surgery, unsure of the outcome, fearful of the effects of anaesthetic, battling to stay positive. Normally I turn to my faith in times of despair, but at that time I relied heavily on you to get me through.

True to your nature, you never let me down. You were there to wipe tears, reassured that it would be okay and you’d be waiting when it was all done. You walked beside me as they wheeled me into theatre, kissed me tenderly and whispered you loved me so so much.

I don’t recall much of what happened next, falling into an induced slumber. Coming to, I was wheeled to my room and caught a glimpse of your smiling face, asking how I was feeling. You sat with me through my mumblings of how very tired and nauseous I felt. You held my hand, spoke of things weighing on your mind, as I drifted in and out of sleep.

Later when I was discharged, you helped to dress me, carried the bag, walking beside the wheelchair, ran to find the car, ushered me in, escorting me safely home and into bed. Rushing to the chemist to fill out the prescription, ensuring I had something to eat before the meds, making certain I was comfortable.

Its times like these that I am eternally grateful to have someone like you share this journey called life. Because it’s not all about the joys that come our way, but the challenging times and the uncertainty of the unknown; that one clings to love and family to carry you through.

And you, my dearest make this world a better place to live in. Cementing the belief that there are still kind-hearted souls whose greatest desire is to see others happy. Epitomising what a role-model should be to our daughters, to mirror you and search these qualities in others. I couldn’t have asked for a better husband and partner to share forever with.

On this precious day we celebrate you and everything you are, the sacrifices you make, the time and effort you unselfishly bestow, your unconditional love, the sweetness of your soul and the vast difference you make in our lives.

Have a blessed birthday Sweetheart. We love you always and forever ❤

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Happy Birthday Handsome ❤

Seven years of sobriety…

Many people have the perception that alcoholics are bums living on the street, drinking alcohol from a paper bag, begging for money at robots, aimlessly walking around with no purpose. This is so far off the mark…

Alcoholics thrive in families, working environments, social gatherings, homes, isolated or otherwise. They are normal people; there is nothing bad about them except an obsessive nature to have a drink or thinking of consuming more alcohol. They were once social drinkers; could have fun without getting drunk but due to having perfected the art of drinking, they excelled to a level of compulsive and addictive drinking.

Family genes play a substantial role in addiction. Many vow never to drink like their alcoholic mom or dad, yet they are unable to prevent it from happening as they believe they have it under control or can stop at any point. Willpower does not exist in addiction, it may work for other people, but it certainly doesn’t work for those with addictive personalities and obsessive disorders.

I learnt this the hard way through my own drinking. I wished to be one of those ladies who nursed a glass of wine the entire evening, chatting and looking chic. Sadly, I passed that stage a long time ago, having progressed to a master’s degree in drinking. I would consume the entire bottle and calculate how to get the next. Brendan Behan said, “One drink is too many and a thousand not enough,” is how I summed my addiction.

Alcoholics can go for days without drinking. This was me. I was a binge drinker. I waited the entire week for Friday to roll around for the party to start. Once lit, I continued until Sunday morning when my body was soaked in alcohol, too sick to get out of bed. I sustained many blackouts, unable to piece together the events of the weekend, too afraid to ask others to fill in the blanks for fear of the worse. Shame and remorse, my constant companions. I promised God countless times that if He could just get me through the pain and discomfort, that I’d stop drinking. But these were empty promises because when the weekend arrived, I was cracking open a bottle; and the cycle commenced.

Heavy drinkers know they have a problem, people convey it to them, yet they deny they are alcoholics. I knew my drinking was out of control, yet couldn’t contain it through sheer willpower, cutting back or wishing it away. I tried everything possible to get rid of the addiction, but nothing worked. I researched the AA, called them anonymously, wanting to find out how they managed to keep members sober. The lady replied, “Meetings and living life one day at a time,” and still I wasn’t close to the answer.

They say the most courageous act for an alcoholic is to own up to their addiction. As much as I couldn’t fathom that I was an alcoholic, I couldn’t deny I had a severe drinking problem. I built up the courage to go to my first AA meeting, fearful of what to expect, unsure if I would survive one. Yet the group was friendly, warm and put me at ease. They said “keep coming back” at the end of the meeting and though I had no intention of returning, I found myself going back and haven’t stopped attending meetings.

In addiction one needs to surrender before rehabilitation takes place. I couldn’t admit that I was an alcoholic even when I was sitting in meetings. Only once I was able to take off the mask, learnt to let go of the shame, got down on my knees and asked God to take the obsession of alcohol away, was when the miracle happened. I was able to admit I was an alcoholic for the first time and a mountain lifted off me. No longer was I held captive by alcohol, I felt alive for the first time in my life and there was a glimmer of hope I was going to make it.

AA is not a religious program, but members forge a belief in a power greater than themselves. I was never close to my religion and still don’t feel a connection to it. When I joined the AA, I learnt through fellow members and my sponsor that I needed to put my trust in a Higher Power. I battled with this as I didn’t have a relationship with God. He was only called upon when I was in trouble, so how was I going to befriend Him now? But I had no alternative, only He could quiet the fears and cravings I felt during my first year. The more I asked, the more I received, the more I prayed, the more serenity flowed. I found I was becoming spiritual, that I had a belief that anything was possible because I was staying sober, building confidence and positive changes were transpiring.

A recovered alcoholic prospers in a supportive and loving environment. My husband and children accepted that I needed to attend meetings to maintain sobriety. They afforded me the space to find myself, to make the necessary changes to live a balanced life. They loved me unconditionally and continue to support me every step of the way. My sponsor was instrumental in my recovery. She listened to my fears, freely gave advice, taught me how to place trust in God. I have many AA friends who have turned into an extended family due to the close bond we share. A small circle of friends keep me grounded and make me smile.

One day at a time turned into seven years and I am immensely grateful to have been afforded a second chance to get it right. I no longer live in fear or shame. I’ve blossomed in sobriety, fell in love with exercising, developed an assurance about myself and am passionate about the life I lead. God has become the best friend I always longed for,  opened countless doors, believes in me when I forget to and only wants the best for me.

Impossible doesn’t exist in my vocabulary, for I know I am capable of so much more than I thought possible.

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Family and Friends at my Thanksgiving 🙂

Celebrating 21 years of Marriage…

21 is a significant number. I turned 21 in our first year of marriage. Zhané was born on the 21st. Today Neil and I celebrate 21 years of marriage…

Let me take you back to a time when I was still single, living on my own in a flat in Cape Town. I started my first job at the age of 18, was whisked away to perform parliamentary duty in South Africa’s first democratic government in 1994. I virtually had no friends or family around. During those long lonely days I envisioned the type of partner I wanted to spend forever with. He was beautiful, kind-hearted, a stickler for fairness, a balanced individual and most importantly, a music lover. I dreamed of meeting him, called upon the universe countless times for him to emerge so we could fall into a sea of love.

Despite all my wishing and hoping it took roughly a year and a half for Neil to appear. Of all places in the same hometown as my family, a few houses away from where I’d stayed. I’d seen him before when I was in high school, but he was seeing another and was unavailable. This time around he was single and was friends with my sister.

I’d returned to Cape Town after a short stint in Pretoria, unable to get him off my mind. I begged my sister for his number. She was hesitant, she felt he was a ‘player’ and didn’t want me to get hurt. I, of course would hear nothing of it – I had a strong sense he was the one I was waiting for and had to risk it.

I called him at work, said I was a secret admirer and wanted to get to know him better. He seemed rather taken aback not knowing who I was, but played along. He said to call in the evening when he had more time to talk, so I did. That call was the beginning of our love story. We chatted for hours, sharing likes, views, general outlook on life. What snagged me was he’s vast knowledge of music, especially artists I listened to, Karen White, Michael Bolton, Anita Baker… he spoke my language.

He had no idea I was living in Cape Town, he thought I was a girl from Pretoria and I went along with it. It was exhilarating playing someone else, being led by my heart. We continued to converse over the phone for a few nights, although he was becoming anxious to meet. I kept on making excuses, saying it wasn’t the right time. It seemed too hard to come clean that we lived in different provinces and the chances of us getting together were slim.

I didn’t realise that Neil had somehow figured who I was, where I stayed and I was the one being played! Since everything was out in the open, I gave him my number to call that evening and he promised he would. But he didn’t call, I waited and waited at the phone and it never rang. I was angry, thoughts were racing in my mind he’d disliked what I’d done and didn’t want anything to do with me. Were the feelings I developed misguided, were all those talks we shared in vain? I cried myself to sleep. I called in sick to work the next day, the air of disappointment stifling me, my heart crying in pain.

I had to fly to Pretoria for work purposes over the weekend and knew I’d spot him and didn’t know to survive that. He saw me standing outside my Mom’s house on the Saturday, glanced at me but didn’t wave or stop. Disheartened by what could have been drove me slightly insane.

Then on Sunday evening while watching Carte Blanche, the doorbell rang. My sister answered it, saying it was for me. Not in the mood for company but wondering who it could be, I walked into the front garden. I was taken aback to see Neil. He was breath-taking in real life, warm hazel eyes reflected by the light, a smile as bright as the sun and I lost a few heartbeats.

I forgot why I was angry, enamoured that he had finally found his way to me. I desperately wanted to be alone with him, there was so much to say, yet it was the end of the weekend and we didn’t know how to confront what had happened between us. Nervously I glanced at him, talking about trivial things, yet my head was bursting with thoughts, butterflies threatening to escape.

I struck up the courage and asked if we could go out the next night to talk things through. He agreed and said he’d fetch me after work. I couldn’t sleep that night – I dreamt of him, of all the things I wanted to say, feelings I couldn’t contain, an overwhelming love that couldn’t be denied.

I changed five times that night, finally settling on a skirt, jersey and boots to combat the July weather. Neil arrived in a just showered look, a heady fragrance of cologne curling around me as I was escorted to a baby blue Toyota. It felt surreal to be alone with him, something I’ve craved for so long. Our destination, a restaurant called Lady Chatterley’s.

It was an upmarket establishment, quiet and cosy, soft music setting the tone for romance. I felt like a princess sitting beside him, the flame of the candle dancing seductively at our table. Drinks were ordered and a main meal decided upon. Just when we were getting comfortable in each other’s company, a woman appeared, greeted Neil warmly with a peck on the cheek. I knew who she was… she lived a street away from us and seemed to have some connection to him. The uncertainty of whether they were more than friends entered my mind and I thought the worst.

Our dinner arrived and I’d lost my appetite. Neil enquired whether I was okay… and it all came out! Why didn’t he call when he said he would, how could he have left me hanging without some form of explanation? Was he involved with this woman and if so why did he bother to go out with me?

He said that he’d taken my number and written it on a piece of paper. When he left for home he looked for it but couldn’t find it. He felt bad that he hadn’t called and knew I’d be upset. He was glad I’d come to Pretoria but couldn’t strike the nerve to come sooner to explain. As for the woman, they were just friends. He searched my eyes, confessing sincerely, “You don’t know how much you mean to me,” and I melted.

We wrapped up dinner and headed for a movie. I insisted on paying, much to his surprise. We watched “Blank Man” starring the Wayan Brothers. I don’t recall a thing about it, all I thought was how close I was sitting to him. He appeared bored with the movie. My hand grazed his and he intertwined his fingers between mine. The heat of our touch firing every nerve-ending. I gazed at him in the dark movie house and that’s when it happened, our first kiss – languid, enticing, exploring the depths of our infatuation.

Stepping out of the cinema hand in hand, our relationship had evolved to the next level. I knew I was deeply in love with Neil and could sense the feeling was mutual. He drove us to a park in our hometown where we made out until the wee hours of the morning. We didn’t want to return home, the thought of being separated from someone you’ve waited your entire life for, seemed daunting.

Neil and I met every day in my short stay in Pretoria. The more we got to know each other, it became apparent how compatible we were. He even predicted on one of our dates that “he’d marry me,” something that sounded wonderful to imagine, but in reality didn’t fit my plans of attaining the career I dreamed of.

Having to return to Cape Town tore my heart. We were so new in our relationship, couldn’t bare being apart, yet alone provinces away. But we had no choice, we had to accept our circumstances, counting down the days when we could be together again.

A plan was initiated for Neil to fly to Cape Town for a weekend. I was bubbling with excitement as it was the first time he’d be visiting, sharing my flat. I spring-cleaned, even went so far as to prepare a home-cooked meal. Sadly, I burnt the steak, the potatoes were hard and the mushroom sauce watery! I was running out of time as the lift to the airport arrived and I was frazzled.

Neil looked dashing as ever waiting for me. He gave me the biggest smile and folded me in a warm hug. Cape Town seemed to glow when he arrived. I showed him around the parliamentary village I lived in, making our way to my humble abode consisting of one bedroom, bathroom and a tiny kitchen. He was impressed, especially with the candlelit dinner I had ready for us. He ate the overcooked steak, didn’t let on how awful it was, rather complimenting me on it! After dinner, we slow danced to the sounds of Karen White. We spent the night together… excelling all my expectations, bringing us closer, sealing our love.

The weekend was unforgettable. We shared it with mutual friends, clubbing, driving along the peninsula, taking long walks on the beach. We wanted it to last forever, yet couldn’t stop the hands of time before he had to return to Pretoria. I was left distraught, reliving the blissful moments spent together.

Our courtship ran for three months when I fell pregnant with Zhané in Pretoria. Neil didn’t disappear when he heard the news; in fact he didn’t leave my side. I may not have been ready for motherhood, for the responsibility it held, not to mention how we were going to break the news to our families. But he encouraged me every step of the way, said a child was a blessing, that he was ready for marriage and had faith that God would provide. He was wise beyond 25, owned a heart of a saint and I was blessed to have found a gold mine.

On the 13th of December 1995, on a hot summer’s afternoon, in a pink and lilac sari, I said “I do” to Neil in a small wedding at my Mom’s house.  It was one of the happiest moments I’ve lived, the commencement of a commitment to love, honour and cherish each other for the rest of our lives.

As Neil forecasted, God took care of us. He was transferred to Cape Town where we settled to married life in my flat. He was a wonderful partner – kind, caring, sharing all the household responsibilities, never voicing a complaint. When Zhané came along, he got up in the middle of the night to change and feed her despite having to go to work in the morning. Since we had no support structure in Cape Town, we had to learn to depend on ourselves even when things became tough.

When Lakeisha came along, we were better established to welcome her into the world. Through it all, Neil was the foundation of our home, guiding and protecting us. He was an incredible father, treating the girls like princesses, affording unlimited patience and an ocean of love. They looked up to him and still hold the most respect for him.

Like many married couples we went through highs and immense lows. I was battling my own demons and fell into the clutches of alcohol addiction. Not only did Neil step in and take care of the girls, he had to take care of me too. Not once did he berate me for not being a good mother and wife, instead loved me even more. When I eventually reached my rock-bottom and sort help through a support group, he continued to hold my hand, wiped away tears, listened to my fears, believed in me when I didn’t.

Our story isn’t a fairy tale. We aren’t a perfect couple. We curse, argue, feel like throttling each other when we don’t agree. But through it all, we find middle ground to sort our differences. We’ve never given up on each other, never stopped believing in our love, never stopped building a better relationship to armour us against the stresses of life.

I can’t discredit the hand of God in bringing us together. He steered me to Neil, knew he was the one destined to walk this path with me. God provided when we had a child on the way, gave us the strength to raise two children on our own, aided us when we moved into our first home, through the turmoil of addiction, into the light of changing our lifestyle through spirituality and exercise.

Each year we’re blessed together I reminisce how far we’ve come, how much we’ve conquered, the depths of our love, the beauty of our marriage. We go out of way to make it extraordinary, to celebrate in style, renewing our commitment to one another. May our story continue to be written in paragraphs of hope, pages of memories, chapters of love, reaching a promise of reuniting on the other side ❤

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Sweetheart, you will always be my forever <

The Queen of my Heart…

My Mom is my Queen. She is the first person I want to call when I have news to share. She is the one I want to vent to when things don’t go my way. She brought me into this world, held me in her loving arms, sang sweet lullabies and vowed to protect me for the rest of her days.

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My beautiful Mom ❤

Every fond memory I have has my Mom in it. From my first day of school, wedding day, first flat, the birth of my daughters and countless celebrations 🙂 She encapsulates all the joyous moments of my life for they wouldn’t have been special without her presence, her touch and the magic she weaves.

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We are so different, my Mom and I. She is a great talker, utterly kind, forever helping, cooking up a storm, taking care of the young ones, with a welcoming smile and always adorned in a colourful sari. To be in her company is a treat for you know you’re gonna be spoilt with great company and definitely too much to eat!

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My Mom and Sister ❤

The past year has not been easy on my Mom, having lost my Dad. Even through her darkest days she never let on how tough it was. She continued my Dad’s work, taking on the stresses, never complaining or feeling sorry for herself. She remained determined, strong, loving, caring and upheld my Dad’s name and his memory burns bright wherever she goes.

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My parents ❤

Today I celebrate my Mom. She is my inspiration – she is everything I wish to be and more. All the I love you’s in the world can never be enough to say how much she means to me, the irreplaceable role she plays in my life and the wonderful memories we share. I promise to always be there for her, to ease her worries and take care of her troubles the way she’s done for me.

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I cherish and adore my phenomenal Mom and wish her the happiest Mother’s Day. She is and always will be the Queen of my Heart ❤

A year without my Dad…

The 19th of March was never a day consequence, it wasn’t a loved one’s birthday, it isn’t a public holiday, it held no special importance and yet it’s become a day forever ingrained in my life. It’s the day my Dad left this world and joined his creator.

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My beloved Dad ❤

My Dad was a colourful character. He had a flair for fashion and you’d always find him dressed in his finest. He had a wicked sense of humour, teasing my Mom incessantly from morning till night. They had a rock-solid marriage spanning 50 years. When my Dad spoke of my Mom it was always with a twinkle in his beautiful brown eyes. A striking characteristic he possessed was a heart of pure goodness. He loved making us happy, went to great lengths to please us, even running errands for all he knew. I recall him being very strict when I was growing up, but as the years took its toll, he mellowed and his grandchildren got to see another side – a calmer, kinder, loving grandparent.

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Beautiful memories with my Dad ❤

When my Dad fell ill, he suffered immensely. He spent nineteen days in hospital in the intensive care unit. During that harrowing period I watched his health deteriorate, his organs slowly fail and him finally conceding he wouldn’t return home. I was powerless – constantly praying for a miracle but knowing deep down he was tired of suffering and couldn’t fight anymore. When my Dad passed, I wasn’t there, I’d returned to Cape Town three days prior for work purposes. Once the call came to say he had a few hours left, I knew I wouldn’t make it on time. This is the biggest regret I carry, not being at his side during his final hours.

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My Dad’s one year prayer

I recall the funeral as if it was yesterday. The neat temple hall with white plastic chairs lined up. My Dad’s treasured Ganesha statue decorated in marigolds standing tall at the altar marking the spot where he would lay. My Mom sitting forlornly comforted by my aunts. My sisters huddled together anticipating the moment my Dad would arrive, my brothers chatting to the priest on the proceedings. As my Dad was wheeled in it seemed as if he was taking a nap, looking dapper in a pink shirt and pin stripe suite. A hush fell as quiet cries from my Mom and siblings peppered the room. Customary tamil songs filled the hall and a sea of family members approached paying their last respects. Two hours flew by, the priest chanted a prayer and the family offered their final blessings to my Dad. When the time arrived for him to be taken away to be cremated, it finally sunk in that I would never see him again and I was broken.

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Shree Ayyappaa Kshetram temple in Pretoria

I returned home to Cape Town soon after the funeral wanting to feel the comfort of my home, wishing to resume my life. Unfortunately, that was not to be. The world was moving swiftly along while I was trapped in a whirlpool of emotions. Grief is exhausting – it has a way of consuming your existence for months on end. I couldn’t write, didn’t feel like reading, running didn’t bring me joy and all I wanted to do was stay in isolation.

 

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An offering to Lord Ganesha

During this time I reached out to my family. I knew the pain I felt, my Mom felt a thousand times over and I wanted to support her as much as I can. I booked tickets for her, my sister and brother to spend the Easter holidays in Cape Town. It was a blessing having my family around, exploring the city and just enjoying each other’s company. Most importantly we spoke about my Dad, keeping his memory alive and together we helped each other gain strength.

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Apies River, Pretoria

Months passed and the regret I carried waned. I realised I had done everything I could to be with my Dad, that I was not meant to witness his final moments, that I had said goodbye to him many times and voiced my love at every opporunity. I had to forgive myself, let go of the bondage, and once I did, acceptance came.

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My family ❤

My Dad has become a driving force in my life. He has reached the status of my Higher Power. When I pray and meditate, they spring to mind. I’ve asked for their guidance, I’ve cried when I felt the world was ganging up on me and I truly believe they’ve worked in unison to pull me to the other side – wiser and stronger.

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A one year ceremony was held in remembrance of my Dad on 7 February 2016. I was not keen to return to Pretoria, I didn’t want to relive the memories I had of my Dad and his passing. My Mom was adamant that she wanted me there and I abided. My fear was unfounded – I needed to go back, needed to be with my family, needed to honour my Dad’s memory. My Mother went all out and arranged a beautiful ceremony. The prayer marked the moment when my Dad’s soul is set free to rest in peace. I was fortunate to visit the location where his ashes was scattered, the breath-taking Shree Ayyappaa Kshetram temple in Erasmia, Pretoria. The prayer blessings and a lit clay pot was released into the Apies river by the priest and I bid my Dad a teary farewell. I was glad I’d returned home, the experience was spiritually uplifting and brought closure, especially for my Mom.

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My Queen, my Mom ❤

I’ve stayed in contact with my Mom as I always do and I’m in awe of her never-ending strength, courage and positivity. There has never been a time when I’ve seen her down or even reveal how tough life is without my Dad; she just soldiers on day after day. I have immense love and respect for this matriarch of our family; she continues to inspire me with her unconditional love and kindness.

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My Sisters ❤

My sister and I are very close. She’s the one my Dad called when he needed to be rushed to hospital. She’s the one who was there in so many ways, the one who drove and sat at his bedside during every hospital visit. She collected me numerous times from the airport without complaint, taking me to see my Dad, keeping me updated on his condition. She was the one he chose to express his final wishes, the one who was present till the very end. She took my Dad’s passing hard, understandably so, but in the same vein she was highly trusted and few receive such a blessing from a parent.

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A year on and the 19th of March 2016 was marred with another loss in our family. My beloved uncle passed away on the 18th and his funeral was taken on the 19th of March in Pretoria. It was a tough day for my family having to relive the death of my Dad and saying farewell to a beautiful soul. My heart bled for them. I spent the day remembering my Dad, sympathizing with my cousin, praying and meditating. I patiently waited until 10h45pm, the exact time my Dad passed and with tears streaming, I expressed my undying love.

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Dad, your passing has forever changed me. I didn’t realise how losing a loved one could cut like a knife. I wish I’d had more time to spend with you, that I could have erased your pain, that your health and life could have been prolonged. I miss you so much, more and more with the passing of time. You’ve taught me the valuable lesson to show those I adore how much they mean to me at every encounter, to always do good and do everything in my power take care of my family. Your memory burns bright, you will never be forgotten and one sweet day we will reunite ❤

 

 

A birthday wish to my Sweetheart…

When your birthday rolls around, I am reminded how absolutely blessed I am to share another year with you. 365 days of looking forward to waking up in your arms, to be on the receiving end of that gorgeous smile, to crystalize our hopes and dreams for the future, to seal it with a warm hug and share a delicious smooch (and I melt) 🙂

20 years on and I am still so in awe of you. I’ve never seen you grumpy, moody or bitter, as a matter of fact it’s hard to tell whether you have bad days for you’re always Neil – the easy-going, happy, smiling, kind-hearted, friendly, great-listener, dazzling guy I fell for all those years ago 🙂

Your greatest quality has to be your role as a one in a million Dad. From the moment we received news I was pregnant with Zhané, you stepped up to the plate and grabbed hold of the reins our life was headed. Even though I may not have been ready for motherhood, you assured me all would be fine and we’d raise our child together. And true to your word, we did – without the support of extended family in Cape Town, you helped raise our beautiful daughter, never complaining for midnight feeds, changing nappies or rocking her to sleep. Even with Lakeisha’s arrival, you doted on her with the same unconditional love, care and kindness. Every day I get to witness a super-dad in action – your never-ending patience to shuttle the girls around without a moan, your joyful attendance of school meetings, a genuine concern for their school commitments and an unwavering support of the aspirations they pursue. Our children have blossomed into fine young ladies because of your goodness and serene presence in their lives.

The beauty of our relationship is that I married my best friend. The one who instinctively knows when I’ve had a bad day just by the drop in my voice or a glimpse of my face. You always know exactly what to say to allay my fears, to soothe my soul and guide me along the path of reason. You go out of your way to please me, whether it’s shouldering household chores, cooking up a storm, accompanying me to gym or running beside me. You are my biggest motivator, supporter and caretaker in every venture I dive into and I wouldn’t have succeeded without your positivity and endless love. I live in a safe and steady world because you exude peace, harmony and happiness.

Your birthday is the most precious day of them all. It’s the perfect time to thank you for everything you do, to say it doesn’t go unnoticed and I treasure the sweet soul you are. Today and every moment of this magnificent life we share together, I endeavour to shower you with love, never take you for granted, go to the ends of the earth to please you, ensure you reach your dreams and treat you like the King of our Kingdom 🙂

I adore you Sweetheart, always and forever ❤

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We renewed our vows…

On 13 December 2015 Neil and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary! I’ve been toying with the idea of renewing my vows for a while and even shared it with my family, who for the most part thought it was a joke, considering we already married.

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20 years ago Neil and I didn’t have the elaborate wedding; in fact it was small and intimate with only family and friends. I was never one of those girls who dreamt of a fairy tale wedding, all I longed for was finding my prince charming and I found him in Neil. When we tied the knot we were only too eager to carve out a life for ourselves and rear our children.

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I’m incredibly blessed to have an amazing husband. He has been the foundation of my happiness from the moment our paths crossed, loves me unconditionally and supports me in every venture I undertake. When I reminisce on the love we share, one thing crosses my mind over and over – that I would marry him in a heartbeat again. And that was my wish for our 20th anniversary – to take the plunge (again)!

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I relayed the idea to my creative friend, Candice Sonnenberg just over a month before the anniversary and she thought it was idyllic and was eager to assist. My heart was set on a beach wedding, with just our girls, Candice and her husband and Esmeralda and hers to officiate our vows. Once I got the buy in from them, I found the nerve to discuss my plans with Neil.

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Needless to say Neil wasn’t impressed! He is a very practical guy and in his mind, we’ve already married and couldn’t understand what the purpose of a vow renewal would serve in our marriage. He is also an extremely private person and does not like to be the centre of attention. Even though I explained till I was purple in the face that it would be a few people, he was not happy with my plans.

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Doubt started creeping in and I had to go back to the drawing board and consider the reasons why I wanted this vow renewal in the first place. Pondering over our anniversaries I couldn’t recall many of them as they’d become mediocre as the years rolled by. An anniversary should be a commemoration of times shared together, an appreciation of struggles your partnership faced and celebrated in an intimate and spectacular manner. But in reality, with the busy lives we lead, most married couples just head out for a quick supper and the day is easily forgotten. I didn’t want that to happen on our 20th anniversary – I wanted it to stand out as an unforgettable day, one that would stay with us for a long time to come.

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I gave Neil some space and then stated my case. I could sense he still wasn’t completely convinced, but his resolve was cracking and I took it as a small victory to continue my plans:). I booked hotel rooms for the girls and us at the Cape Milner in Tamboerskloof on the special day. We scouted around for beaches that wouldn’t be full of tourists, a tall order considering it was December, finally settling on Noordhoek, an isolated, open and quiet beach – perfect for a vow renewal:).

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At this stage Neil was still apprehensive but he was preoccupied with work and gave me carte blanche – much to my joy. Candice and I were putting the finishing touches to our ideas and as the countdown began, I was bubbling with excitement.

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The 13th of December 2015 commenced on a quiet note as we awoke in each other’s arms, whispering “happy anniversary in unison”. I was ecstatic this day had finally arrived but also felt a tad nervous – as if I was getting married for the first time! We had written our own vows and were going to recite them at the ceremony, something we hadn’t done the first time and I had a few butterflies fluttering around.

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By lunchtime, we’d checked into the hotel and were taken aback by the hospitality we received. I’d mentioned that we were celebrating our anniversary and they spoilt us by adorning our bed with rose petals and created a towelled heart in the shape of two swans. They also laid out a delicious platter of sweet treats, juicy strawberries and whipped cream!

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We chilled for a bit and enjoyed the comfort of the room. Soon the frenzy of getting ready began as Zhane curled my hair. I sought an understated look as we had flower crowns to adorn our heads and bridal bouquets to hold. Since the wedding was being held at the beach, I chose a white goddess dress with gold trimmings, Zhane opted for lace and Lakeisha complimented us in a summery one. Neil looked dashing in a casual white shirt and sandstone skinny.

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All prepped and preened we journeyed to our destination. It was a beautiful sunny day to take in the sights and sounds of the gorgeous mother city, Noordhoek beckoning in the distance. As I embarked out of the car, a gust of wind flung the door open and my wish for a perfect beach day was crushed! My just-styled hair flew wildly, sea sand slapped us and my expectations were sinking as we searched out our wedding party.

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Candice and Esmeralda had already found a cocoon between the rocks that kept the wind at bay. As time was of the essence, Candice photographed us before the sun could set. Our ceremony proceeded promptly at 18h30 with Peter playing the guitar and Esmeralda serenading the “Power of love”. I was overfilled with joy – the intimate setting of our party, the crashing waves, the love of my life and our girls beside us, it is a moment that will stay with me forever.

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Esmeralda began with the solemnisation of our vows as Neil and I clasped hands. Zhane was called upon to say a few words on her first-hand experience of our relationship. Her words were poignant, brought tears to my eyes and I felt incredibly proud to have such a beautiful soul in my world.

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The moment of reckoning came when we had to utter own vows. Neil was first up and although he was uneasy, he bravely conveyed a message that brought tears to my eyes. My turn arrived and drawing in a deep breath, I shared my vows with the man I adored.

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Esmeralda took the reigns and continued with the final leg of the ceremony. Lakeisha was called forward bearing our rings as we expressed our commitment to each other. We were pronounced man and wife and sealed the moment in a kiss and I was floating on happiness.

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We danced to our wedding song “through the years” by Kenny Rogers. As Neil swirled me around, he whispered “thank you my love… I love you,” and I was glad I’d thrown caution to the wind and commemorated our 20th anniversary.

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Our vow renewal will forever be engraved in my heart:).

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Photo’s by Candice Sonnenberg

Our Christmas…

We’ve never been big on Christmas, mainly as we’re not Christian and don’t have extended family close by.

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Our Christmas tree

However, Neil and I always made it special for our children from an early age. We’d set up the Christmas tree in December, sneak out and buy gifts, wrap them in an array of colours, hide them around the house, much to the excitement of the girls. I’d fine tune my menu for weeks, searching high and low for ingredients, ensuring we have a sumptuous meal on the day.

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My beautiful family

If I thought November was crazy, December was hot on its trail! I worked until the 24th and had very little time to get my shopping done, choose gifts, set the menu and spring clean the house, all before the 25th!

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Lunch is served

This Christmas was a laid back affair for us. We awoke late for a change and I prepared a breakfast of french toast with lashings of honey and coffee. We gathered around the Christmas tree as the girls ripped through wrapping to reveal their gifts with smiles all around. Neil spoilt me with an infinity necklace and I was beaming.

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My Sweetheart

With the assistance of the girls I adorned the table and got to work on lunch. The menu consisted of a delicious slow cooked leg of lamb, spanish rice, egg and potato salad, sweet and sour tomato chutney and for dessert – chocolate waffle cups filled with fresh fruit and vanilla ice cream – yummy.

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Neil carving the leg of lamb

We enjoy dressing up for Christmas, although I must admit Lakeisha wasn’t co-operative this time around. It probably has a lot to do with the adolescent stage she’s swimming in and as much as I get annoyed with her tantrums, I take a deep breath and say this too shall pass.

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Zhane and Lakeisha

We sat down to a quiet lunch, just the four of us, savouring the meal, reminiscing over prior Christmas celebrations, amidst laughter and indulging far too much. After the washing up, we settled down to watch movies, something we rarely find time to do as a family.

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Just me

This Christmas may have been low-key, but it was everything and more I could have wished for. It was quality time spent in the company of my beautiful family who love me unconditionally, who understand when I’m frazzled with too much to do and still support me every step of the way. It was a priceless occasion to show love and appreciation to the ones who light up my life.

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Sending love from the Singhs’

Musical Wonderland

My husband celebrated his birthday on the eleventh of February and apart from the usual fanfare we throw when it comes to celebrations of this nature, he decided to break tradition of going out for supper, opting to attend a concert instead:-)

The concert was a Love, Jazz and Duets show featuring South African artists, Zayn Adams, Nur Abrahams, Salome, Candice Thornton, Don Vino Prins and Jonathan Rubain. The show was held in the Baxter Theatre at the University of Cape Town in a delightfully intimate setting. The foyer of the theatre was buzzing with people, surprising me, considering it was a week-night! Seeking our seats and scanning the sea of faces, the crowd was mature and music-loving.

Show time began with the lights dimming, the only spotlights visible were those illuminating the stage. On either side of the theatre, melodious tones were carried by two musicians floating down the staircase, settling in the limelight. They were Jonathan Rubain playing the base guitar and Don Vino Prins on the saxophone. Following on their trail was renowned artist Nur Abrahams singing “Secret Garden”, flanked by the rest of the line-up.

I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing Nur Abrahams perform before, so I was aware of his singing prowess, however this time around I was utterly astounded by his uncanny ability to mimic original artists’ voices and flavour it with his own velvety tone. He belted out powerful renditions of “Love times Love” and my favourite crooner’s song “My, my, my” with the sexy sounds of the saxophone puffed by Don Vino Prins. He sang a rendition of one of my favourite songs “Elvina” and I was rendered speechless. I truly felt as if I was listening to Beau Williams in the vision of Nur Abrahams! Wow, from these sultry songs, I could already predict we were in for soulful journey down memory lane and I was feeling nostalgic and in my element!

Next up was Jonathan Rubain, an up and coming artist on the base guitar who serenaded the crowd with “This I promise you” a song he performed for his wife on her twenty-first birthday. In all honesty, I could feel the passion streaming through him when he strummed this romantic ballad. Oh my word, goose bumps were electrifying my soul with the delightful sounds embracing my senses.

Candice Thornton strolled in and as I’ve never seen her perform before, I didn’t quite know what to expect. She sang “Close the door” and I was baffled as to how a woman could take on this raunchy Teddy Pendergrass number and claim it her own? I was mesmerized by her smooth chocolate voice and fell under her spell, wanting her sweet and melodious voice to flow into my mind and fill every fibre in my being. Her performance left me  soft, relaxed and in need of more tender loving care.

Alas, this was not to be for prancing onto the stage was Salome purring “Private Dancer”, an alluring rendition of this timeless classic. Salome is a performer of note, her voice is explosive and brimming with sex appeal. Her singing was sensational as she crooned out “For the love of you” and “I know him so well”. I was pretty much bedazzled after her captivating performance.

Out blazed Zayn Adams and the crowd erupted! It was obvious he was the star of the show and the magnetic force behind their attendance. He sang some of his own hugely popular songs like “Give a little love”, “Il Mondo” and “Love is in the air”. Oh my goodness, he sure knows how to infect the crowd with love, romance and wistfulness.

 We were in for a treat when Jonathan Rubain and Don Vino Prins staged a play-off to the delight of the crowd. Don Vino Prins opened with the classic “When I fall in love” and “When a man loves a woman” both beautifully serenaded with his saxophone. Jonathan Rubain played “One hundred ways” and concluded his musical match with “Can’t be with you tonight” and the throng erupted for everybody loves a Judy Boucher classic! No wonder he won:-).

The full ensemble performed a medley of Peaches and Herb songs “Remember”, “Let’s fall in love”, “Let it be me”, “Your mine and we belong together” and not forgetting the famed favourite “Re-united”, the lyrics echoed by music-lovers, clapping joyfully along.

The highlight of the evening, amidst this musical buffet, was a performance by Nur Abrahams and Candice Thornton singing “Finally found someone”. The combination of their talents and unique voices sealed the moment, sending shivers down my musical spine, holding me hypnotized, until I collapsed in a pool of love.

Oh my gosh, this concert set the tone for a week of love leading up to Valentine’s day. It reminded me of musical stalwarts of yesteryear who sang glorious songs in rich voices, conveying immense meaning and heartfelt feelings to lyrics, cocooned with melodies showering your senses, seeping into your soul. And even though these legendary music icons don’t reside on our shores, we are incredibly blessed to have our own brew of South African artists who are talented beyond measure and make us so proud to be part of this country. If you have the chance of seeing any of them live, please support them wholeheartedly:-)