An eventful life 1963 – 2002
Dyslexia (word blindness) I have lived with this disease all my life. Although I can put my thoughts into words there are millions who will never be able to. For those people I have heart felt sympathy.
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THIS IS NOT CHARITY THIS IS PAYMENT FOR THE WORK OF A GREAT IMAGINATION.
Although I don’t know the reasons or the medical jargon I know what this disease can do to the lives of those who suffer from it. In my family I was the first to be diagnosed with the illness back in the early1970’s.
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At that time it was viewed with horror by most of the people in my family had it not been for the love, care & determination on the part of my mother & grand mother I don’ think I would have risen above it. For this I am eternally grateful, even today the people who are diagnosed with Dyslexia are more or less written off as useless and of no real value as human beans.
In doing this I believe that society have done the sufferers a great disservice. People with Dyslexia have feelings just as any other person more importantly each one of them has ambitions which the rest of society through ignorance and fear have cast aside or trodden on.
The story of my life which is related below will I hope give the reader a better understanding of the challenges that dyslexics face every day of there life�s. I should have been born on the 28th day of October 1963. My arrival in this world was some what delayed. The reasons for this appear to have been my own fault. During the labor process I managed to entangle myself in the umbilical cord. So I was born at 01h15 in the morning of the 29 Thursday Of the same month after nearly dieing due to lack of oxygen to the brain.
The results of this were at first not immediately obvious but would become apparent as the years passed one of the effects was to cause me great heart ache in later life. Due to the lack of oxygen certain neural pathways in my brain were damaged as a result I would be slow to learn to read &write among other skills my coordination was not all that good.
The 1960’s there is not much that I remember about the 60’s only later in life would I come to hear about the persons & events that shaped the world in that decade. What I do remember were the smells. The smells of old leather in the cars that were around my Papa was still driving around in a 1947 Plymouth. That car was like a treasure house to me. When we went on outings my grand mother would mount a child’s toy staring wheel on the cubby hole door.
I would sit on her lap and drive the car from my side, later when money began to be a problem my Papa bought V.W betel. My grand parents owned a big house in Yeoville an up market piece of property back then.
(Later much later I would learn that due to my Papa�s gambling habits the sheriff would come and help himself to the family�s furnisher to pay off Papa�s gambling debits.) It was in this house that I would be doted on and received some marvelous presents. I remember that I was given a pedal car that was a replica of a Volkswagen variant with lights and hooter; I also received one year for my birth day a wooden steam engine of about the same size as the pedal cart from these two gifts I would derive years of pleasure and fun. The moon landing it was 1969 A voice that had travel millions of miles across the void of space straightened and faded then clearly over the static of space we heard one of the astronauts say ” One step for man one giant step for mankind “How I remember those words I stood with my father on the veranda looking up at the moon hoping for a glimpse of the men on the moon I was only five it was okay to dream. When I speak of this event my wife looks at me as if I have lost my mind. No doubt the first moon landing seems like a small thing today but at the end of the sixties it was a major event which played an important part in the development of mankind thinking.
We now began to think on a scale that we had never before thought possible if man could reach the stars we could reach the planets. On the first of June 1970 my Papa passed away after a short illness. We the children were not immediately told. Later we would be told, losing our Papa at the tender age of six was not easy for me. We had shared many experiences together. I believe that my grand father was very fond of me we had a nickname for him we never called him grand father or �Oupa� as is the custom in South Africa. We called our grand father Papa as we had been taught by our parents. With him dying changes began to occur my grand mother moved from Mayfair to live with her mother and sisters in the big house in Florida. To this day I remember with fondness the week ends spent in the house in Mayfair those days remind me of what life must have been for children a hundred years earlier in a Victorian era. My family has always been some what old fashioned.
SCHOOL LIFE DURING THE 1970’S
My first teacher in grade one was a Miss Bosch. This is ironic because my Wife was a Bosch before she married me. From what I remember from my first day at school Finger painting took in a great part of the afternoon. Eventually we were told to put our names on our master pieces. I made a large letter N through the painting as it was the only letter I knew. It was the first letter of my fathers name so it must mean some thing I thought. One day as I climbed of the bus on the corner of main road and7th street New lands I was accosted by a rather large boy in shorts who asked me ” If I was English or Afrikaans to which I replied that I was English where upon he drew out one of those knives that we children were so fond of with a ivory handle in the shape of a bucks head and he stabbed me in the arm shouting that My grand father had killed his grand father in the Boer war. Mrs. Ling Pow, the Chinese shop keeper hurriedly applied a vicious blow to the louts head and chased him off. There after she applied due attention to my damage arm. As I watched bemused and befuddled by this attack on my person. It was not a very serious wound but it was a wound that had great physiological effects on me as a person. I developed a hate for the Afrikaans people because of this unprovoked attack. It would take many years before I could look at an Afrikaner without hatred in my heart. I had not been doing well in my school work, I still could not read and counting was out of the question. So it was arranged near to the end of the school year that I would be taken to the specialists to be tested. I was hooked up to some type of machine that involved the placing of some small devices to the top and sides of my head. The chair in which I was seated was similar to a dentist’s chair. These devices were attached by means of a liquid been mixed into my hair an oily substance or a gel. The results were printed out on paper the way polygraph tests are done. The doctors pondered over the results. Then turning to my mother said” Mrs. Wood the results show that your son is under developed in mental age and should receive special care. The look of shock and anger that passed over her face said enough. The doctor quickly said.” I am of course not saying that he is retarded in any scents of the word. He is behind in mental age. The algorithms point in that direction. He should be placed in the school that cares for children with learning disabilities. In time he will be taught how to read and he will eventually catch up but he will never achieve a very high standard of intelligence. My mother said �What are the options? To which he replied later �He will be taught a trade and placed in sheltered employment. Unfortunately that is all we can promise.� One thing I knew about my mother was that you never challenged her in this way. My mother is the sort of person who if you tell her she cannot do some thing well go and do exactly that. Just to prove you wrong. But a chose had to be. It is amazing how adults talk over the heads of children almost as if they think the child is incapable of a serious thought. Would you like to go to a special school that will help you learn to read Timmy? My mother asked. Yes mommy I replied hearing the word for the first time she was offering me a way out of the predicament that had made my young life hell. If you have never been teased about been unable to read been called stupid and a host of other names that children think of to hurt there contemporizes. You will never understand that what she had just said was like a life line to a drowning man. The following year on the first day of school I moved in to the house. My grand mother lived with my great grand mother and my two widowed great aunts. The house belonged to my great aunt Dawn. In this house my education was to begin in more then one way. In that house no. 40 Park lane Florida I was to experience many of the events that would shape and influence my life. I would learn the importance of history the value of good morals fair play honesty, Geography. It was 1972 the time the Watergate scandal was drawing to a close. There were a number of reports on radio of the incident and I remember a broad cast on the English service of radio South Africa announcing at 3 o’clock one afternoon that Richard Nixon was stepping down and that Gerry Ford would be taking over as president of the U.S.A. Soon I was engrossed in the study of history after reading the story of “Die Yonge Thomas” a V.O.C ship wrecked in the Cape round 1714 or there about, On my next birth day my grand mother bought me a model of the “Bounty” which I had to build up it was from here that my love of the old sailing ships began. Through sheer determination & hard work and a few innovative ideas my grandmother & mother began teaching me to use my mind. Reading became easier. With in a year I was reading any thing I could lay my hands on. During the long afternoons the radio became my friend I was to learn a lot from the radio in fact. RADIO South Africa English service became my educator I learned far more from listening to the radio then I learned at school. My family have always prided themselves on been artistic and I soon found myself drawing listen to classical music speaking to my grand mother her sisters and of course my great grandmother I was soon to develop an understanding of music which few if any young people have today. Music I learned to love classical music from my grandmother. It was she who first introduced me to the music of Mozart, Beethoven& Bach. As she was an ardent listener to the English service broadcasts I suppose that it would have been natural to learn to love the music. In classical music I found that I found means of expressing my feelings Beethoven�s brooding music for example at many times during my teenage years matched my own. For a lift in spirits I would listen to one or other piece by Mozart. The Radio in effect became my closes friend from the Radio I learned about classical Literature (Nania, The house of Seven Gables, Robert Louis Stevenson�s Kidnapped , Tolkens Lord of the Rings , the Hobbit, Poe�s Raven, Conan Doyle�s famous detective and his cohort Watson became alive to me.) to me the streets of 19th century London were alive I could picture every street corner, every tradesman, every villain that lurked in every dark corner of the local alehouse became real in my imagination, But this was not the only time or place that came alive to me I sailed the Spanish main with the pirate General Henry Morgan . I was with Lieutenant Edwards when he dueled I was with Blackbeard in the Carolinas. I was present in the court of the Sun King Louse of France; I was with Drake when he defeated the Spanish Amada. I was with the crew of the Bounty when they Mutinied against captain Bligh, I was as the all the famous battles that the English fought against Scotland All these people and places in their time became real to me through radio. Like I said before the pictures on the Radio are much better that the pictures on the radio and the reason for this is because the radio releases the imagination.
When we were young time used to take so long to pass I used to mark the passing of time by Christmas. Christmas time in our home was a wonderful time a magical time. On Christmas Eve we would travel to Park lane Florida to spend the evening eating the traditional Christmas fair. My great grandmother would be sitting on the enclosed veranda. As far as I know the only time in the year I ever remembered her doing this. It was done so she could receive her guests. A very English old lady or rather a Scottish lady as her ancestors had come from Mussel berg in the Lothian�s in 1803. It was expected that we would behave with decorum and indeed we did. My mother tells me that I was her favorite great grand child I, for one, never saw any indication of it though. Fake snow under the tree. Presents rocking horses bicycles and a host of other presents where always there for us as we were the first of the grand children & great grand children others would follow later but that would be when we had outgrown toys. When I look at my three children I some times whish that my grand mother had lived to see them but this was not to be. At one stage in the 1970’s there were five generations of our family present in the house at Park lane & that was a mementos day for all of us My great grand mothers family had come from Mussel berg in the Lothian�s in the early 1800’s her great grand father Alexander Aitchison was a successful merchant who married in the early 1820s to an Irish girl called Ann Hay of Dublin. There children had gone in to the merchant trade in South Africa with indifferent success. At various times there two sons had help minor government posts such as post master of Pietermaritzburg Natal among other things. Beatrice may Aichison my great grand mother or big granny as we called her was born in the late 1880’s By the1930’s she had born five or six children &) buried her husband. It was left to her in an age when women were not readily accepted in a working society to provide for her family which she apparently did quite well from all the evidence I saw in my young life. Once I had safely been installed in the big house in Florida life settled into amore normal paten. My grand mother was fond of musicals so at an early age I was exposed to music from movies like ” My Fair Lady” Brigadoon” and a variety of Gilbert & Sullivan I fell in love with Julie Andrews voice.
16 JUNE 1976
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On the afternoon of June 16 1976 I arrived home from school. After I had changed out of my school uniform I had taken a walk to meet my brother Peter who was returning from school. I had crossed the savannah and had passed the drive-in and was walking down the tree lined gravel road the smell of pine needles strong in the air. I saw my brother walking towards me from a long way off in the company of Tyrone Rennie. When we met Peter said �There is fighting in Soweto the students are throwing stones he had heard from somebody on the train on the way home. Of course we did not know why they were fighting we were children politically unenlightened. After all politics was a game for grown ups and we didn’t take an interest. I t was only much later that we discovered what the riots were all about. We did not know then that children of the same age as us were been killed in the name of the law. Hurriedly we made our way home to listen to Springbok radio to try and find out what was happening. Radio was our only means back then of entertainment & new. Television was still in its infancy in South Africa. We would have to wait until 6o’clock in the evening before we would see for the first time images of what were happening in the vast location. Even then the images were screened as to protect us from what was really going on. Many years later I saw again an image of a police man telling an interviewer what was going on. Furthermore he detailed what the security forces were doing to protect the law abiding citizens of the country.
WAR AMONG CHILDREN
We used to live in a magical world when we were children. Across the way from us lived the Van Der Westhuizens. Sometimes they were our allies sometimes they were not. We waged war on the brothers Mac Alpine who lived a few streets away from us in the next valley. We made bows & arrows from poplar saplings they were our basic weapon that we always depended on. Of course we had great fun shooting arrows at each other our homes with there pre-cast walls became castles in our wars. We also occasionally used khaki bush (a type of weed) as bows when poplars were scares. They were frightening weapons these bows & arrows of khaki bush. They tended to break easily but they had a frightening velocity and a khaki bush arrow could & did shatter quit often on impact causing sever splintering. We found some window frames once that we turned into swords beating them flat with 5 pound hammers and the bucklers were made of wire wonderful days of childhood. I am some what suppressed though that no one was ever seriously hurt by these deadly missiles that we used against each other. Boys will be boys.
1973 As long as I could remember every Easter we would visit Irene just outside Pretoria. The head quarters of the Full Gospel church of God in South Africa was located. Near to the home of the Boer war general & later prime minister of South Africa general Jan Smuts. Next door was some or other institute for cattle farming. A week before Easter Friday we would arrive pitch our tent and have supper we always seemed to arrive one the Friday night after sun set. Soon we would have our supper and go to sleep our family was fond of camping. The following morning we would be woken by the sound of the loud speakers. The voices of the Fisher folk a popular band of the time waking us up with songs like �this is the day that the lord has made”. It always seemed to put us in the right frame of mind. This particular week-end was a turning point in my life. I was seriously upset about been there. My parents believed in a good strong Christian upbringing for there children even though my grand mother was against it. She always calmed that she was a member of the Church of England and that our parents� religion would adversely affect us. The Sunday before the first visit of the year to Irene had not been a pleasant one for me. Our parents expected us to attend both services morning & evening. I had refused to go to the evening service. The result of this refusal was the cause of a major confrontation with my parents. In the end I was more or less forced to go to church that night. One of the things that had crossed my mind on that evening was �Who is this Jesus who keeps on butting in on my life? Forcing me to go to church and worship him. Even if I did not feel like it.� I had the wrong idea completely. Jesus never forced me to do any thing it was a matter of my parents obeying the word of the Lord as they had been commanded many years later I would come to the full understanding of exactly what they were trying to do. On the Sunday of the first week end we had packet the small Toyota in preparation for our return to Roodepoort. All that remained now was to attend the final service of the week end of course other members of the church would be spending the whole week there but we had school and our father had to return to work. We would return the following Friday for the Easter celebrations. We entered the conference centre a large building & one which was three quartets full already not wanting to appear to childish at the age of 10 I was allowed to sit a few rows away from my parents but still under there supervision. Pastor George Dillman of Durban brought the message the effect on me was profound I believe his text was the parable of the lost son the prodigal son It was the first time that I had really listened to a ministers word I believe it was his passionate presentation that first caught my attention. At the end of the service he made an invitation for those who wanted to give over there lives to the Lord. I was one of the first to rise and walk to the front of the vast room filled with thousands of worshipers. I have always prided my self on not been the type of person who is easily duped nether am I easily persuaded to change my mind one of the attending pastors soon joined me and lead me in the sinners prayer. This was the first major turning point in my life for various reasons. The main reason was that the Lord had seen the commitment I had made to him in my simple way because of this I would be subject to some major miracles which would make mea better person. From that day I noticed that changes were starting to take place in my mind I now though with much more clarity. I learned more easily there was a new joy in my life I had met Jesus on a personal level and he was changing me. Although I still had a long way too go, God was busy restoring my mind my thoughts now were no longer of suicide but of a bright and happy life which lay a head of me. My parents of course were delighted that I had come to salvation. It would take a year before I was baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost. A year of agonizing growth for me. The day that the king, Elvis Presley died. I had never been a fan of rock & roll. As far as I was concerned Elvis was every thing that represented evil in this world. I much preferred to stay in the world of Charles the first & Louis the sun king. All childhood dreams must come to an end forcing the dreamer into there own time eventually. As I recall it was a Monday. I had come home from school walking up Caledon Street. I saw my brother’s Peter and Graham coming towards me. When they reached me I could tell that they had some thing important to say. Peter Blurted out Elvis is dead. Both of them looked pale & shocked one of there idols had fallen. Death had come home to roost again how death affects us all differently. To this day when the death of some one we know is mentioned Peter makes a flippant remark and hurry’s on with more pleasant matters heat tempts to deny death in every form Graham stars moodily and says nothing I on the other hand accept death & continue with life knowing that it is but a natural passage and it comes to us all at some or other stage. The �vlei� was another part of our magical kingdom a stream ran through it. Every so often the course would change causing the landscape to change. At the head of the �vlei� was the clay pits here we gathered a fine dark brown clay that we used to make masks from and pottery. Further down there was an area which was covered by a poplar forest in all its various stages of growth. It was here where we got our raw materials for our bows & arrows. There was also an abundance of Willow trees where we build our tree houses and war camps. My great grand mother passed away on the morning of 7December 1977 quite ruining Graham�s Birthday a week later she was buried from the Catholic Church Florida Park. My great grand mother was a very unusual woman. After my great grand father died in 1934 she had to take over the responsibility of her large family. My great grand father had been the mine captain of Crown mines. It is said that he could quiet long passages of scripture word for word. I have since found out that my great grand mother bought a large house in 9th Avenue, Mayfair here she opened her doors to lodgers two of these lodgers would later become part of our extended family uncle Eric who married my aunty Dawn my Grand mothers younger sister he was a German prisoner of war. Uncle Charlie was a pole who was also a prisoner of war both as I have said became members of our family. Mayfair was an old area with many old houses. In the 1950’s my grand parents bought a house in thirteenth Avenue and “Big Granny� moved in to look after my mother who was a young girl my mother attended the Catholic convent until the age of nine. What I remember of Mayfair is that it could have fitted into “a Victorian city with out two much difficulty. The coal stove was still very much in use. The fact that I can remember the smell of coal fires burning. Points to how little home life had actually changed in seventy years. Mayfair had two soccer fields when we as small boys used to spend the week end without grand parents we would often attended matches at one or the other of those soccer fields. No 6 Clifton Street is one of those houses which stand out in my memory as it was at this house one Saturday morning we would eat a large breakfast of bacon and eggs as small children we were not allowed to drink coffee or tea in our parents home only when we turned ten would it be allowed. So on these week end visits coffee and tea would be a special treat. My Papa�s favorite was Simba cheese & onion chips with a glass of beer. in the evenings we would sing along while my grandfather would play Adel wise and other popular song’s of there era My teachers at Marlandia special school The teacher who had the most influence on my life I would say was Mr. Trollop the building & band master for it was he who first taught me the basics of music. The teacher who inspired me to learn more on history was Mr. De Wet tall astute and thoughtful. It was from his lips that I first heard of the 1820 settlers, The Boer wars, the Dutch East India Company and its doings at the Cape of Good Hope. In the mid 1970’s We moved to a new house in the Roodeport district in the suburb of Wilro park we were one of the first houses that was occupied or build and we could see for miles across the vast African Savannah. It was to become our playground much of what we know of bush craft today came from our childhood in that area. Here we learned how to follow spoor we also learned to appreciate nature, the bird life and the sort we learned to distinguish various minerals by sight through keen observation. Many years later I would read that most of the sons of the 1820 British settlers would grow up doing more or less the same things that we did in the veldt David was a year older then me he was not your normal run of the mill teenager. He was from a large family of brothers. Over the years, we would get to be good friends. Our friendship would eventually fizzle out because of his marriage. We met David through Peter who was at school with David�s younger brother Quinton. Peter attended the Horizon view primary school at one stage science kit would be on sale at the school. We could not afford one so we did without Quinton and Peter were quite good friends so Peter did his science at there house. David was in the back ground then so we didn’t have much to do with him about two years later David turned up at church one Sunday. I would say our friendship started then over the years we would attend church youth camps together spend many nights at his house playing snooker until the early hours of the morning. When David got his first car we would visit many places together. The mainstay of our friendship was church and our love for the Lord. David had spent time in Kimberley with youth with a mission there he had learned to play the guitar. He was talented at rhymes & verse. He was good with manipulating verse. He had a rather strange cents of humor but our whole family would grow to love him often he would visit my grand mother with us and in turn we would visit his extended family. His grandmother was very old but very sweet. When we me a school friend of David’ I and my brother found this friend to be unfriendly surly and cruel. This friendship also put strain on our friendship as Denis Mitchell’s interests were geared towards drugs & alcohol some thing we at that stage found distasteful and of poor moral character in short we found that we did not really have the same interests. At this stage we began to drift apart. In the early 1980’s Denis was killed in a motor bike accident near the old tram crossing between New lands & Brixton by that time though our friendship was already in a some what advanced state of breaking up but we rushed to comfort him in this time of need. As I look back I can in truth say David played a major role in our development as teenagers Yes there were times when we hardly spoke because we were interested in different things. One of the things that forced us apart was a young woman by the name of Beverley Friend. She was going out with David on one of the first occasions, that we met she unfortunately became obsessed with me she wrote me long love letters in which she stated that if I did not go out with her she would take a over dose of pills because she could not live with out me. (Today I believe that if she was confronted with this she would find herself very embarrassed but I find it embarrassing talking about it) At first I resisted but after a time I began to feel guilty because I did not want her to end her life over me I also found myself in the embarrassing positing of stealing David’s girl friend I believe that this was a mistake and a bad judgment I made as a result of these events it would eventually destroy more then just our friendship with David. One of the things about my life that I have not yet spoken is the incredible loneliness that I felt as a young teenager and later as a young adult. In each of us is the desire to be loved. This is part of our character and is some thing that we cannot control. Once we reach adolescents our hormones start up and for the next few years play havoc without emotional state. In my case I think I was about twelve when I first became aware that there was some thing different about girls. Coming from a family of brothers where sex was a taboo subject it was difficult to adjust and to understand these feelings that suddenly filled our minds. For example I longed for the company of the opposite sex not for any physical reason but to have a friend that one could talk too been of a shy nature it was not easy. I only ever had one girl friend and that more or less due to the events I have already related. Because this relationship had been forced on me I was reluctant to talk to Beverley as I did not completely trust her she had violated the bond between boys and as such was viewed with suspicion. Further more I was mature at the time thus putting feeling into words was difficult. In fact one could say I was looking for a life partner and this was not going to be easy it would take many years before I met my wife. When I did I instinctively knew that she was the one since then I have never had any problem discussing how I feel because I know that I can trust my Winnie Yes some times she laughs at what I say but she has stood by me through thick and thin loyally. Because of my poor school attendants it was decided to send me to a refractory school 30 kilometers outside of Rustenberg Transvaal. The events that are recorded below are still somewhat painful to me. I had been there but one week before I was to experience for the first and the only time in my life six of the best. The capital punishment which was applied was done with malice and with the express intention of scaring me for life. In this the brutes who applied themselves to the job at hand failed. I believe that the modern banishment of capital punishment from our schools is wrong and time will tell just how badly the younger generations will suffer the consequences of this liberal crap and society will be the poor for it. Although the crime I committed was reasonable minor the out come of the beating I received from the master at the school were not. I tried to hide the marks from my parents on a home visit the following week-end but it was soon discovered and this sent my father in to a rage which had long lasting effects. At the end of the term my father removed me from the school & I was returned to Marlandia to complete my final two years at school. During my time at the school outside Rustenburg there were a few incidents which I well remember we were allowed two hours of television a night usually the news I well remember the announcement that the Pope had died, the appointment of John Paul the first, His death, the election of John Paul the second, The death of state President Dedericks, and of course the momentous occasion when gold price rose to the unprecedented and unheard of price of $350 per ounce.
MY GUARDIAN ANGEL
On the morning 5 September 1981 I was asleep in the guard tent at Klipdrift medical training center about 30 kilometers outside Potcheftsoom. I was very tired the previous day had been a long and tiring one. So I had retired early at 03h45 I had a dream which I found to be so real that I awoke to find a strange been leaning over me. Although he seemed menacing I felt no fear. I knew instantly that he was angel. I could not make out his features clearly. He appeared to be in the uniform of an �Ou man� (veteran solder) Timmy phone home & warn them that there is trouble and pray he said for the safety of your family. For a moment my head was still groggy from sleep. I did not realize what he was saying when after a few moments I turned to ask him to repeat himself I was suppressed to find that he was no longer there. At 07h30I phoned home & informed my mother of what had happened she told me I must be imagining things. Every thing was fine she said. I could not shake the felling that some thing was wrong. I continued to pray for the rest of the day and into the following at 22h00 on the night of 6 September 1981 I once again phoned home the first thing my mother said to me was why did you phone 24 hours before the accident she burst into tears leaving my Father to explain what had happened. Apparently my youngest brother Graham had taken my old racing bike and had gone to school; with it as it had no brakes he took a great risk at the last turn he was going to fast and failed to negotiate the turn the traffic warden seen this stretched out her arms in an attempt to catch him this I believe that this is one of the reasons that he is alive today further more I believe that angles were on stand by to save his life as God has a plan for his life. Even if this is still not apparent to him, this appearance of my garden angle was the first time that he would appear to me warning me of events which lay a head I don’t believe that he appeared just to inform me of the event as on each occasion he instructed me pray. On the morning of 6 January 1983 shortly before parade I found that my family had arrived at M.B.D this was very unusual as I usually slipped home on the nights that I was not doing guard duty. My father entered the base I went to him and asked him what was wrong he told me to go and see my mother I walked a cross the road and asked my mother who was sitting in the orange Passat “Mommy what’s wrong to which she said Granny has died in the night Janie was with her when it happened “. Immediately I replied this is a lie how could Granny be died she was getting better last time I say her. Gently my mother repeated Timmy Granny is died don’t be so upset her suffering is over. About a week earlier I had visited my granny in hospital and she had seemed some what better. I had not wanted to believe that she was dying. The day before she died she had been transferred to the garden city clinic from mill park hospital. It was important to me that she recover from her battle with cancer. What I did not realize at the time was that she was tired out by her fight with the demise. My grandfather had died thirteen years earlier. As there was no one else to make the funeral arrangements fell on my mother. Later that morning at home my grand mother�s sisters arrived I was still reeling from the shock of granny�s passing so suddenly. Now here were her sister come to help with the arrangements. I could not believe that any one could be some canary about ones own sister, And I became quite upset leaving the house in tears and running into the field the first ant heap I came across I demolished in a fit of angry tears afterward I applied my frustration to a Protea bush kicking the life out of it “If granny could not live nether would the ants or the Protea’s I reasoned. Sobbing I sank to the ground after a few minuets my father came up to me and spoke to me about how my granny had loved me and how she had suffered during the last year of her life saying that maybe the pain had become to great to bear and that is why she had given up the fight against cancer. These simple words calmed me together we walked back to the house. At the funereal we the three grandsons and my father and two nephews carried the coffin. It was the first time that we had to perform this unpleasant duty.
I GO AWOL
If there ever was one person who hated the army it was me. When I was still at school the principal would arrange shortly before the end of the year that all the forms for identity books and that sort of thing was done this would ensure that we would automatically be registered for compulsory military service. No I am no chicken but I believe that a person should be given the opportunity to choose for themselves thus on the occasion for me to register I was absent for a week on purpose. However the long arm of the law eventually caught up with me thus I was one of the few people who’s army number began with the same year number as that they enter military service. After my grand mothers death my family decided to go on a holiday to the eastern cape as I was living at home at the time and returning every day to Pretoria without a pass it was a bit risky but rather at home with your family then in unfamiliar surroundings.
On the 25th of April 1992 Winnie & I were married at the Full Gospel church central Port Elizabeth. The Minster who married us was pastor Roux. The reception was held at Winnie parents home. Graham & Nikki had come down for the wedding Simone� was one of the flower girls Winnie’s school friend Charmiane Dekker was the bride�s maid. The best man was Michel Porter. On the afternoon of the 10th of November we left home to take Winnie to the hospital the cesarean section was scheduled to take place on the following day. Jody stayed home on the following day so that he would be able to hear if he had a niece or a nephew. Sarah was born on the morning of 11 November 1992 at about09h15 at the Stanford clinic. She was delivered by Dr P.Loubsher. How Jody died. During the last few months of Jody’s life, the family who was living in one house Cecil had sold the house in Seaview and his family had moved in at his parent�s house. There was a certain amount of tension in the air as there normally is when so many people live together. On the 27th of September1997 I had come home from work at about seven in the evening. At about seven thirty Winnie and I had gone to the shop. We were walking alone enjoying the pleasant spring evening when I had an unearthly feeling that one of the young men in the family was in or was going to be in trouble I told Winnie of this feeling she was quite worried as was I as I believed that it had some thing to do with Graham. I explained to Winnie that I had, previously experienced similar feelings but after a day they would be forgotten or the danger would-be over. The Following night at about midnight as I was falling asleep I suddenly remembered the strange experience of the previous evening. As nothing had happened I dismissed it and fell asleep not knowing that in the morning I would awake to events which would change our lives. On the morning of 29 September I was woken by Winnie telling me my feeling had been correct. Jody had been knocked down on the way to school and his leg had been broken. She had just returned from waking Cecil & Rayne who were now pulling out of the drive way Winnie�s mother woke and instantly knew that Jody was seriously hurt although we tried to calm her she refused to believe us telling us that her child had brain damage she was very upset telling us not to lie. She knew the truth without been told further more she already knew more then we did. On the 14th of October Cecil left for America. We had not always seen eye to eye and it would be a long time before we spoke to each other in civil terms. The aftermath of Jody passing away had tremendous effects on his brothers and Winnie. The effects on our two children were the ones that caused us the most concern Rebecca became very withdrawn Sarah began to give of an air of not really caring to hid the hurt she felt over Jody’s death Sarah & Jody had been very good friends despite the years that separated them. The girls were Jody’s little sisters in a way and he would do a lot of nappy changing & cleaning after them. The bond between Winnie& Jody was a strong one. The month before the accident Winnie had gone with Jody to his Matric (Final schooling year) farewell. How this came about, Jody had invited a friend of his to go to the farewell and she had agreed. Two Days before the fair well Jasmine had told him if he did not provide a dress of a thousand rand that she wanted then she would not be prepared to go with him so in the last stages Winnie had gone with to the farewell as Jody’s date. No one at the party knew that she was his sister she looked beautiful & Jody looked very handsome this is apparent in the photographs it was only at the remembrance service held on the Friday after Jody died that the school and his friends found out that Winnie was his sister
An eventful life part two
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Having previously left off with the death of Jody I take up this narrative it was an early October Saturday when we buried Jody in the Forest Hill cemetery. It was a large funeral and there were family member from all over the country as well as a number of his school friends present. Later that afternoon We Winnie her mother and brother Cecil went up to thee grave yard to put a large amount of flowers on the grave little did we know that in six weeks time we would be opening that grave again to receive the remains of Boetie Jody�s father. He had been ailing for some time he had been in and out of hospital over a period of time
It was a Thursday afternoon when I was asked to phone the provincial hospital to ask how he was I spoke to the doctor who told me that they had made him as comfortable as possible but it was only a matter of time he had prostrate cancer.
On the following Sunday Ethel Boetie�s wife visited him and returned and told us he had �Had a stroke �she was very upset. On Monday morning Winnie and her mother took the girls for the vaccinations at the local clinic and I was home alone when the phone rang. A sister from the hospital was phoning to tell us that Boetie had passed away some time in the morning. I went across to the clinic as I entered the door Ethel said I know what you have come to tell me and she burst in to tears it is a sad thing to see the spouse of the departed who has spent years together suddenly deprived of the one who has been a constant companion.
The funeral was not as big as Jody�s it took place the following Friday life continued with changing circumstances I was working at a hotel in the center of town where witness from the witness protection program lived they were a bunch of rouges very tough and some of them criminal in there own right it was in general not a happy time in my life but one goes on and tries to be a good provider for ones family.
Christmas that year we all spent together with the exception of Cecil and his family who had left for America on the 14th of October. The following year I was asked by the owner of the hotel in central to go down to his farm near Grahamstown and do some research on the history of the place which dated back about two hundred years I collected the information in Grahamstown and spent the week end at the Assegai bush lodge going through old land deeds and various old documents. We that is the family and I returned the following Monday and got back to our weekly grind at the security company.
In 1998/9 Ethel went to visit Cecil in the USA and for six months we lived and missed her the children most of all. She returned in April and we all walked up to the airport to meet her she had lost a lot of weight while in America she brought a lot of gifts for the children which they really loved at about this time I first became interested in computers I had started a new job and wanted to write a book about my hero George III king of Britain (I am sure that American readers will know him as the cause of the revolutionary war) but in general he was a good but misunderstood leader.
My first computer was an old XT which my brother Graham had managed to get hold of some where. Graham was always into computers and he knows just about every thing there is to know about these dammed machines. Any way he got this old xt and I started writing a novel a fictional history of the Assegai bush lodge it was most probably one of the worst stories ever written any way about six months later I got a old 286 computer and continued to write one day the computer would not work power supply was gone so I cast about and build up my first 386 and continued due to some idiocy on my part the novel on Assegai bush or parts of it were lost.
Enough already about computer back to the real world I have always believed it is not the politicians nor the leaders or artist or any other person whose words are remembered by history it is the writers of the time in which the momentous events happen who�s words are remembered and most often quoted case in point our best reference to the 17th century are the diaries of Samuel Peppys the great diarist who I have previously commented on in my Journal space journal.
Now back in 1994 South Africa got its first democratic government and I had a nervous break down one morning as I was driving away from one of the hospitals in Port Elizabeth a group of black guys ran up to the side of the pick up I was driving pulled out a gun and fired a shot through the open window. The bullet whizzed past my face and exited the vehicle through the drives window I put my foot flat on the accelerator and drove like a madman to get away. A few weeks late the elections were held and Nelson Mandela was elected. In the mean time I continued to do security work one Sunday morning my brother in law who had been out drinking most of the night arrived home and switched on the T.V And began watching a religious broadcast.
If there is one thing I hate it is drunk people feeling sorry for themselves and wanting make right in a drunken state so I switched the T.V. off big mistake with in a matter of seconds I was under physical attack by the whole of my wife�s family with all the goings on some one bit me in the arm and some one else hit me over the head with a frying pan. Next thing I knew I was on the way to the hospital to see the doctor for the bit and to get pills to calm me down. This was not what I had planed for the day but I spent most of the day at the hospital waiting to see the doctor. The next day was worse because I was angry and I wanted to kill my brother in law and I must admit that my guardian angle must have been working over time preventing me from getting to him I was armed and dangerous but I tended to stay around the out side of the hospital where my wife and father were there waiting for the doctor to declare me mentally incompetent.
Any way I let my guard down for a moment and approached the door of the hospital to speak to my wife the next thing I knew there was about six security and police on top of me trying to pin me down and take away the weapons I had on me. Knowing some karate it was a messy affair with bodies flying all over the place.
It was quite a fight with a couple of people needing hospitalization well they attacked me and they deserved every thing they got. Any way eventually I was subdued handcuffs and thrown in the back of the police van while the police went in to the hospital to get medical attention I remember the drive to the asylum very painful the police had deliberately put the hand cuffs on tight to hurt me because they were angry at been hurt.
I was confined to a padded cell and a doctor came to take notes and interview me I took an instant dislike to this doctor he had an air of arrogance about him which I did not like. So there I was locked up in a padded cell alone in the dark Once they came in and gave me an injection and I tried to sleep I must have slept for about twenty hours because the next thing I knew it was Tuesday morning and I was been let out of the cell and admitted to the general ward with about 50 inmates. At the time the hospital was undergoing renovations and all the beds had been removed from the ward so every body was sleeping on blankets on the ground I will not mention how bad the food was it has always amazed me how the government departments get the first grade foods and how easily and how quickly the cooks manage to turn good wholesome food can be turned in to a ghastly mess it is a common phenomenon in hospitals the army and just about every government department I know of. They put me on medication and it was like wearing a mental straight jacket, it felt like they had locked my brain away in a room in my mind and taken away the key I was like a low IQ idiot later I would learn from other the best way to get a sense of normality was to walk it of and to stay as active as possible doing push ups and sit ups and things like that. I also discovered that once you are locked up in the mental hospital you can say just about any thing and no one will really take any notice it is I think on of the best places to lock up you political opponents because then they are able to express there views and still be ignored.
Any way I decided to play along and be the model of normality doing what I was told and making no waves not mentioning that I was planning to get my own back on those people who had planed and carried out there plan to lock me up.
After about six weeks I was finally allowed into the open ward with a little bit of freedom allowed to walk around in the garden and things like that. I was visited by my wife and parents on a daily basis and this I think saved my sanity. If it were not for the visits I would really have gone round the bend I was still having problems with my medication I was battling to stay alert and get through the day at times I felt as if I was very sick with side effects one day when the doctor came into the ward I asked to see him privately I then explained my problem and he agreed to have my blood work checked in the mean time I would have to put up with the medication been administered rigidly. That was a Thursday afternoon on the following morning I was told before breakfast the ward sisters would take blood samples so bright and early at 7 A.M. I went down to have my blood taken at first I was fine they took a sample but on the second vial I began to feel very weak I started to sweat and I managed to moan some thing before I passed out when I came to the doctor was there and the head of the department. They were as white as a sheet immediately after this the medication was reduced while we waited for the results of the blood work. When the results came back the doctor realized that I was on to much medication and adjusted it accordingly Yes I had been violent when I had been admitted but with a good reason I had been violently assaulted and I was not allowed to defend myself, but once the moment of anger had passed I had calmed down and become reasonable. It was at this time that I was diagnosed with O.P.D (Organic personality disorder) however I think that this is just a term they use to describe any behavior that they cannot explain. I have been on medication ever since having a few side effects but in general I am a normal maladjusted man with views and opinions on various things and I am happy with who I am it was also at this time that I started to write and I found a freedom which was previously missing from my life before the elections of 1994 it would have been an unheard of thing for me to put down on paper feeling or views on any subject my first piece of writing was a short story of my experiences in the hospital and my breakdown however I took poetic license and turned the ward wardens in to wear wolfs and the nurses into vampires I showed it to a fellow inmate of the open ward and after he had read half way through it he was rolling on the floor with laughter at the way things were described the story became so popular that even the nurses and the ward wardens read it. Unfortunately I don�t have a copy of this first story but it was a great hit maybe one day in some obscure trunk of memories the story will be found and retold.
So when I was finally released from the asylum I was very fragile but on the road to recovery I got myself a job doing security and resigned myself to doing it for the rest of my life I had a family to support and I had to put aside my personal likes and dislikes I had to consider my family first so life continued I did not stop writing I wrote very spare moment I got short stories I think I was practicing for the day I got some thing worth publishing. I guess I am still doing that right now with this journal. Mind you if a movie director or producer was to stumble on to JS they would find more then enough material for a hundred movies.
Okay on with the retelling of the story of my life back in 1999 everybody was worried about YK2 well all these elaborate plans were made and lets be frank and say it was for nothing the day came and went and all was fine and the people who started the YK2 rumor were very happy after all they had made a financial killing on the YK2 scare.
On New years day 2000 I was doing a bit of extra duty at the Holiday Inn I as a rule don�t work on Christmas day but I am not against working on new years day it is a secular holiday and it is nice to make a little extra cash At the end of the shift I got my bike and rode the 2 kilometers home arriving in time for a nice new years day meal so the arrival for me personally was a bit of a let down no big bang no end of the world no end of civilization as we know it moment that was to come about a year and nine months later. With the bombing of the World Trade center in New York now because I have recounted the wired dream I had about the event and I have previously written about it I am not going to recount it here all I will say is if you want to know about the WTC dream go and read an entry called �A strange dream�.
On the afternoon of 9 September 2001 I had just returned from fetching my children from school when we walked in to the house we switched on the T.V. and were surprised to see CNN on all the channels this was unusual for us because in South Africa the CNN feed was only on after 12 am midnight until 06H00�s in the morning.
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The cameras were set up on the world trade center and the first building had already been hit by the first plane, my daughter Sarah and I watched in horror as the second plane appeared on the horizon and gracefully turned and hit the second building Sarah said �Daddy is the end of the world?� I watched to shocked to say any thing for a moment then I said to her Sarah don�t worry things will get better.�
So for us the world changed at 03h15 South African local time on the 9th of September 2001 and I think from that day forward it changed for a vast mass of humanity living in the western world.
Watching television through the next twelve hours was bad. We watched as America mourned and reeled in shock at the abnormity of the crime committed against her. The question one my mind was how long is it going to take before America strikes back for nearly a month this question remained unanswered until one Sunday night I heard over a small portable radio that America had started bombing Afghanistan.
But on that September night we watched our television and saw the reactions of the Arab world rejoicing at the death of innocent people I saw the joy on the faces of some black South Africans at what had happened in there way they were very glad it had happened and it was at that time I lost any respect I might have had for those two groups altogether, In my belief system there is no place for rejoicing when innocents are killed.
Since 1983 my father had been diagnosed with heart problems and diabetes and it was heart breaking to witness the suffering of this man that I loved very deeply during 2001 he grew steadily worse needing insulin injections several times a day this hurt me deeply because he was a Christian and he loved the Lord he had faith that the Lord would not forsake him and he would pray for his family every night his faith could and did move mountains on various occasions this man with a grade school education would face up to highly educated people and defend his sons when they got into a spot of trouble and things would work out alright. A man of faith honesty and integrity.
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I remember once in 1984 we had an argument and I let rip I said to him you never answer my questions you ignore me you hate me why you always have time for your other sons but me you hate why what have I done to you ? I will never forget the words that he said to me at that moment �Timmy you ask question and I don�t know what to say because I don�t know the answers� this was a turning point in my life because up to that point I had not understood my father now I understood that he did not operate or care about a persons intelligence he cared about the persons heart and what he could do to understand and love you a simple philosophy but a powerful one if only more people were like him the world would be a better place.
Any way his health was deteriorating and he was becoming quite scared of things that had not previously frightened him an old warrior who has fought many battles in need of rest, in early 2002 he and my mother went to Johannesburg about 1500 kilometers away for a holiday at my brother Peter�s home.
During his stay there he became quite ill and need to be seen by a doctor about a month later they returned to Port Elizabeth it was the last long trip my father would make. When he got back he refused to drive and said he no longer could his nerves had given in. We watched as he was taken to hospital with pneumonia
He also began showing signs of Parkinson�s disease this was very bad to watch and I for one felt very helpless watching this slow deterioration of a humble man of faith On Sunday the 24th of August 2002 I was phoned by my brother Peter and told that my father had taken a turn for the worse and I needed to get to the old age home when I arrived with our pastor I found the medical personnel already there putting my father on a stretcher he had had a stroke and was unable to talk I spent the next ten hours holding my fathers hand and I watched as the light came back into his eyes but One could feel that he was loosing the battle there were a hundred and forty six people ahead of him waiting to see the doctor at just after ten in the evening he saw the doctor and was admitted to a ward at no time was any special care given or provided I said good night to my father in the ward and he replied he wanted me to love my girls these were the last words he said to me the next day at about 1h15 P.M. my brother Peter once more phoned me and told me that my father had died of a massive heart attack about 15 minutes earlier at the hospital.
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