In The Departure Lounge: Are We Ready for Take Off?

Her favourites roses and a pretty tea cup

She lies on the bed, frail and small, o so small! Hair grey with snowy white patches, eyes closed, seemingly not aware that we entered the room. Then she opens her eyes and smiles, happy to see us but not really connecting with us.

Where has she gone? my once active, hardworking, always in control of situations mother?

It is heartbreaking to see her like this, but she seems to be content, already in another dimension of life where I can’t join her. She eats and drinks very little, sleeps a lot, but mostly just lies with her eyes closed. She has been diagnosed with cancer in an advanced stage, after my father passed away two months ago. She has probably been sick for a long time but didn’t allow anyone to know before she hadn’t fullfilled her self assigned task of caring for my father.

“Let go and let her be” this is the advice given to us by a caring doctor whose insight and compassion gave me a whole new perspective.

“Respect her choices” was the next piece of advice. If she doesn’t want treatment, it is her choice. If she doesn’t want to eat let her be. She explained old people often do not want to eat and even if we force them to, the body is unable to process the food and will not absorb the nutrients, therefore do not force her to eat.

“Remember we are body, soul and spirit. Maybe she is already in the spiritual realm and communing with God if she doesn’t talk to you. Respect her silence.”

“Keep her as comfortable as possible” There are many ways to treat the symptoms, but don’t sedate her so much that she is not aware of her surroundings we were told.

The long and the short of all this is, we are not allowed to force our choices and wishes on her. If she makes a choice not to fight her illness because she wants to die and be with her loved ones who went ahead of her so be it.

Now I have to make peace with the situation and allow her to choose and let God determine the time for her to go. She can be with us for any amount of time that He chooses, as we know He is the one who holds life and death in his hands.

In the meantime, I will join my mother as much as possible as she waits in the departure lounge  for the call to board and take off to heaven and I will try to make this time as meaningful as possible for us all.

After all we all are in the departure lounge of this life.

Am I ready to depart I ask myself? Are you?

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Fly Away Peter, Fly Away Paul !

Two little dicky birds sitting on a wall,

One named Peter, one named Paul,

Fly away Peter, fly away Paul,

Come back Peter, come back Paul!

This nursery rhyme, chanted many times when I was a child, now describes my mixed feelings as I reach that long awaited and secretly feared day when the last two of my three children leave home.With them being twins, the two of them graduate at the same time and will start their lives as young adults soon. While on the one hand I encourage them to go and conquer the world out there, on the other hand I want to still keep them safe and within easy reachable distance!

How do I let go of :

Twenty eight years of always being needed, always being the glue that kept their lives together, always picking up the pieces, be it pieces of broken toys, dirty laundry or pieces of broken hearts.

Twenty eight years of being a mother, caregiver, counsellor, friend and even at times the big bad enemy.

Twenty eight years of joy at seeing firsts in their lives, from the first smile, word, steps and the first day at school to the last.

Twenty eight years of worry when they had high fevers and childhood illnesses, friend and boy or girlfriend problems, study woes and late nights out when I did not know if they were safe.

Twenty eight years that flew away like Peter and Paul as if in an instant, never to be repeated again!

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Ahead of me now lie either empty sad years, or years full of new and exciting experiences. The choice is mine to make.

So here is my choice:

I look forward to maybe not another twenty eight but maybe if I am so blessed,

Fifteen years of cultivating new and old friendships with other people in the same life phase as me.

Fifteen years of learning new skills, practising new hobbies and interests.

Fifteen years of companionship with my husband, spending time together, traveling, going out without worrying about children at home, reading quietly together or even just sitting together without talking.

Fifteen years of enjoying seeing my children build and live their lives, knowing that I have given them the best that I was able to.

Fifteen years of maybe seeing grandchildren grow up without being the primary responsible person.

In short life does not end when Peter and Paul flies away, it just changes and I can and must adjust to the change in as positive a way as I can.

Then I know Peter and Paul will come back to visit their hopefully still interesting and positive mother and father.

After all as Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 states, there is a time for everything, so I will embrace the time I find myself in.

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

 

The King Returns: Who is the King?

Early one morning in November, my husband called out excitedly:

“He is back did you hear him?” 

I didn’t even have to ask who he was talking about, as I also heard the cry heralding the return of the Woodlands Kingfisher!

Every year in the first two weeks of November we hear the sound of this beautiful brightly plumed bird! He announces his return from his travels with a cry  beginning with one sharp, loud, high note, followed by a repetition of trills which gradually descend, finally fading away.  The male arrives first and keeps on calling untill the female joins him. With this sound he also proclaims that our garden is his breeding territory and he the king  for the next few months.

Image credit : Woodlands Kingfisher http://www.treknature.com/gallery/Africa/South_Africa/photo273171.htm

First step after his return is the territorial battle! The battle usually takes place between the Woodlands Kingfisher, the Indian Mynahs and the Crowned Plover Even our dogs are informed in no uncertain terms that he is the king now. He is fearless and attacks the other birds by swooping down on them with his big orange red beak open and ready for attack. Once his dominance is established and the female has arrived , nesting starts. Interestingly enough they nest in the same place every year. They found an opening in the fascia boards and nest in our roof. Some people will react with horror at this as it does cause a mess and lots of noise when the young ones hatch, but we love having our king as a guest!

Mating ritual

Image credit: http://birdsoftheworldonline.com/woodland-kingfisher-halcyon-senegalensis

For the past 10 years we have had the pleasure of welcoming these royal blue birds back in our garden in November, enabling us to watch them breed and even watch the little ones learn to fly. We see them leave each April but know that they will be back in a few months.

The Woodlands Kingfisher, contrary to his name does not fish for its food, but rather catches insects by swooping down on them from a perch high up in  a tree.

Image credit: http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/birds/dacelonidae/halcyon_senegalensis.htm

During the dry winter season it migrates up to  North Africa usually leaving in April and returning to the  bushveld area north of Pretoria in November.When my daughter sees the Woodlands Kingfisher in Tanzania, she usually lets me know and we fondly imagine that it is the same bird who left our property and is passing through theirs.

Maybe we can send a message with him next year?

The L List Living:Paradise Found!

Day five Dar es Salaam : 3 November 2012

Imagine bumping along a small dusty road seemingly on the way to nowhere. Suddenly, a gate and  a red clad Masaai complete with a vicious looking knife appears to open it. He takes off at a trot beckoning us to follow him through the bush. The path opens and there it is, a big yellow and blue house sitting on the edge of a cliff with breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean.

The house known as The Bean due to its shape, is situated on the farm Ras Kiroko and boasts its own stretch of unspoilt beach. After unpacking, we walk to the beach down a steep winding footpath through dense bush, past a sign proclaiming Danger Python Crossing! The path suddenly opens spilling us unto the deserted beach.

The house is well equipped and relies solely on solar and windpower for all its electricity needs. The windows have only mosquito mesh to let in the fresh sea  breeze.

We spent a few days here relaxing, swimming, walking along the beach,gathering beautiful shells and enjoying the company of our family.

This weekend was the last of our stay in Tanzania. We will however be back next year to explore more of this country.

Truly a paradise found! 

Walking Update 11: Coffee Bay

Image credit : Coffee Bay

About a month has passed since my previous walking update and I need to resume my excersize programme and start walking again. Just a reminder, as to the reason for these  posts.I find excercising extremely boring, therefore I decided to walk along the beautiful Wild Coast In South Africa in my imagination. After putting up a map of the area on the wall, I started walking at Gonubie, East London and have now reached Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast. Wednesdays are walking update days to keep me going and accountable!

When we were on our travels in Tanzania, I was thrilled and amazed to realize that my walking has had good results. We had to walk quite a bit and even climb a very steep path from the beach house The Bean down to the beach and back up again. I could manage the steep path without having to rest, unlike on our previous holiday when I could not walk up a steep hill without being totally out of breath.

So back to the walking monster I go!

The Walking Monster

In my previous walking update I found myself in the vicinity of the Dwesa and Cweba game reserves. Between these two places and Coffee Bay lies a long deserted stretch of beach, so I decided to skip this area and resume walking at Coffee Bay.

I will report on my progress again next week.

The L List Living : Ferry Fever

Later on day four, Dar es Salaam : 2 November 2012

My husband and I leave the Fishmarket  clutching our prize tuna in a plastic bag  and hurries along the long queue of cars, busses, Bjajs, motorcycles and pedestrians untill we reach our daughter’s car. Relieved we  get into the airconditioned interior as the air outside is heavy with humidity and heat lies like a blanket  over the city. The cars move slowly ahead and then we can see the entrance to the ferry . Here the cars are directed into four lanes with an extra lane for bjajs and motorcycles. To me it seems chaotically busy, but according to my daughter it is not busy yet as we are early enough to  miss the peak traffic.

At the gate we pay for the car and three passengers. All passengers have to disembark from their cars and enter the ferry on foot to prevent overloading. Along the queue of cars people are selling their wares ranging from small packets of peanuts and sweets, ice cream and  fruit and the ever present luke warm soft drinks.We buy a few packets of peanuts from two small boys ( about 7 years of age )  and eventually give their peanuts back telling them to keep the money.This causes great joy and big smiles all round!

At last we reach the front and can enter the ferry. We find a spot in the middle of the throng of cars and wait for the crossing to start. My husband explores the ferry on foot while my daughter and I wait patiently in the car. The crossing takes about five  minutes but the whole excercise can  take up to three hours.

The ferry is a necessity as the sea forms a deep channel  here between the north and south sides of the city and is the only way for people living on one side and working on the other to reach their destination. This deep channel is the  entrance to the harbour and allows access to the big container ships.

To understand the layout of the ferry crossing better click here: Ferry crossing

The ferry seen from the approach road

The L List Living: A Fishy Story

Day four in Dar es Salaam : 2 November 2012

It is Friday and we are going to Ras Kiroko on South Beach for the weekend. But first we have to stop at the Kivukoni Fishmarket on the way to the ferry as we want to buy tuna for a braai tonight.

My daughter confidently navigates her little Toyota Rav through the midday throngs of people already streaming to the ferry for the crossing over the harbour entrance to  Kigamboni. Many of the local people live on the southern side of the harbour and make the ferry crossing twice everyday.

As there is already a long queue of vehicles waiting to board the ferry, she drops us at the entrance to the Fishmarket  with  instructions to buy a fresh tuna, while she joins the waiting the queue .

Do not pay more than 35 000 tz tshillings ( about R170.00 ) for about 5kgs and please make sure the fish is fresh, check the eyes, it must not be milky and the flesh must be firm” , she instructs us .

I am amazed at how she has matured and adapted to this to me still strange environment !

My husband and I enter the Fishmarket and are immediately surrounded by people calling the by now familiar : Karibo”  

Our senses are overwhelmed by fishy smells and a babble of voices, all wanting to sell their fish.We move deeper into the Fishmarket and choose one well spoken man to be our spokesperson. I explain what we want and soon two enormous tuna are slapped down on the concrete slab in front of me. Mustering all my acting abilities, I confidently pretend to examine the fish looking at the eyes and prodding the flesh as instructed. I make a choice blindly and my husband handles the price negotiations.

The enormous tuna, look no milky eyes!

While the tuna is being cleaned and fillited I wander deeper into the market and encounter more people. Some selling their wares,others just sitting and talking and some even sleeping stretched out on the concrete slabs which no doubt housed fresh fish not too long ago!

A few hours later we ate thick juicy tuna steaks, marinated in soy sauce and garlic and fried on a wood  fire with the sound of the ocean in the background.