Twenty minutes… a week… changes a lifetime

24 06 2012

The last post showed uncertainty, the unknown. This blog is not more positive but we have received some clarity about a few immediate life changes. 

I knew that my trip to South Africa would be challenging.  Looking after my mom’s every need, helping with things at their home and helping with examination marking would not leave much time for mischief.  The week turned out to be far more challenging than we could ever have dreamed.

Mom came home from hospital on the day I arrived in their area (Thursday).  The pain was expected and nasty, but because Mom had been through this 6 years ago the unknown factor was not so terrifying. 

A back fusion operation entails a lot of help from the family / supporters. The patient may not sit at all for 6 weeks:  lying flat and standing are the only positions allowed.  When getting up a brace must be worn.  This is not designed for comfort and aesthetics!  It generally requires help from a few people too.  Things we so easily take for granted: a shower, washed hair, walking downstairs to boil a kettle… all become almost impossible after this kind of operation. 

Seeing Mom in pain, her frustration at being dependent on others and the irritation at her own inability at this time was so difficult to witness, but we all know “This too shall pass” and the benefit of a successful operation several months from now make this all worth it.

We have enjoyed some special family time: WhatsApp chats, gathering around the bed to chat, seeing small improvements and crowding into the bedroom to eat a family lunch… these moments will hold special value in our memory.  What we have going for us is an amazing family where eat one has given help and care and supported each other.  What a huge blessing to have!

Simple tasks become group occasions.  I can’t remember when last Mom made shampoo horns!  But we all got a good laugh from some chores.

On Saturday morning I went to support my niece at her school’s go cart races.  It was just a short time out, where I was designated family photographer to give “Goggo” (as B calls her grandma) some feedback.

My runaround car had a dead battery, so I took our new “Golden Girl” to the school, nearby to the house and I knew I could not be away for long.

As I walked back down to the car I saw 2 strange people sitting in our car.  I looked twice, and then realised it WAS our car, there were 2 strange men inside and the engine was running.  Within seconds the synapses exploded into action.  I would not be able to stand by and wave as thieves rode off with my husband’s hard work, effort and his dream car.

I opened the back door, screamed loudly “GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!”.  The thief in the back seat grinned at me and they quickly ducked out the car, into the getaway bmw parked next to our car.  I saw the registration number, called for help from the security guard and stood in shock at what had just happened.

While I stood stunned on the sidewalk, Deon phoned from Tanzania.  He had just looked for our personal money stash in his bag and he realised that the few thousand dollars we had kept aside had been taken. (there were no safes in his hotels, and we cannot get a local bank account yet.)   My brother helped me to get to the police station to make a statement.  As we were making our way I received a message: my mother-in-law had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia. 

Twenty minutes which shook our day.

These few events would require several hours of effort: fixing a hot-wired car and sorting out panel beating (the thieves had dented the bonnet to break into the car), concerns over my MIL, working out how to get money in Tanzania for what we needed…

As the week went on the bad news continued to pour in:  Deon’s work situation is not working out as planned/ hoped and he has lost his job in Tanz.  He has been accused of racism, stolen from in other ways, has struggled to make our house there half-way livable and still keep his head about him.

The news of his mother seemed to get worse and worse as the week progressed:

Mom’s lung had collapsed in hospital.  Xrays revealed some unpleasant marks on the lungs. Further tests were required.  More spots were observed in another organ.  Biopsies have been done, we are awaiting results. 

After making my parents sick of my fussing and care over them, they almost chased me out to spend some time with Ma, my MIL.  We have had some amazing time to chat, laugh, share and to show love to each other.  Again, the immense privilege of being in a loving family has warmed my heart and gives us courage to go on.

There are many aspects we do not yet know: exactly what Ma’s diagnosis and prognosis will be, what our work situation in SA (or wherever) will be, how we will process the impact of SA’s crime situation in our lives, and what the next while holds.

There are, however, a few conclusions I have reached that affirm heart-knowledge:

*  God’s faithfulness and help will never ever cease.  He is a “bulwark never failing”, allows us to go through challenges knowing His care and walks through fires with us.

* We cannot trust in “uncertain riches but [only] in the living God” (1 Tim6:17)

* Family is precious, precious, precious.

* Trying to go through challenges with thousands of km between husband and wife is awful.

* We have to find things to laugh at when days are unpleasant.

* Life is completely unpredictable.

* We will be staying in South Africa for some time to be near family.

* Assurance of salvation makes the thought of death so manageable!  Ma’s thoughts are those of longing and anticipation, not dread and anxiety.


My computer is staying in SA while I am going to Tanzania to pack up and come back to SA and I am not sure if I will do another blog in that time.  I will catch up when we are back in SA.




One response

24 06 2012

This is truly awful. I can hardly believe you have been hit with so many things in such a short time. I hope that even by the time you read this comment better things have happened, and things start to turn around.

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