At least two catastrophes define my “shakeouts”. Together they are to blame for wreaking the havoc that makes them so traumatic. The two are: relationship disappointments and material loss.
Our lives are characterised by the people we have around us daily — family and friends — and the folks we interact with in the course of our work life. I met my ex-wife while I was still studying. She and her identical twin sister were cashiers at a friend’s supermarket. I first dated the sister — twice — before finally settling on my ex-wife. Their father insisted I make up my mind after causing chaos in his household.
The family immigrated from Scotland to South Africa. They arrived lock-stock-and-barrel when the twins were only toddlers. In those days, the South African apartheid government brought in skilled artisans from overseas to help develop and transform the country. Their family arrived on the ship and travelled up to Swakopmund in South West Africa — Namibia. After spending a few years in the mines, they travelled back to South Africa. They finally settled in the South of Johannesburg. The family household consisted of the mother’s Parents, the father’s mother, the Parents, the eldest daughter, the twins and their little brother.
Our relationship grew over the next few years — although rocky at times. Still, our relationship had grown to us speaking of marriage. After a year or so, and as if from nowhere, the parents announce they are moving back to Scotland. The announcement additionally bellowed that none of the daughters will stay behind in South Africa.
I was shattered.
They took her with them on one condition: She had a six-month return ticket. “We” felt more comfortable with that. I went over to visit shortly after they arrived in Scotland. We had a glorious time with the family. We travelled the country and frequented the local pubs and eateries in the quaint little holiday town. After the vacation, we said our goodbyes knowing we’d be together within a few months. I came back and continued my studies while working part-time at my friend’s bakery.
As the date of her return came closer, our weekly calls continued. I programmed my engineering calculator to count down the seconds until she arrived at Jan Smuts Airport — OR Tambo. As the hours and minutes ticked down, my excitement to see her again grew. I called the airport to find out her arrival time. They informed me that no one with that name was on the flight. I called the Parents in Scotland to find out where she was. They decided not to send her.
The Big Shakeout that ensued will prove to define our relationship over decades, even repeating itself. As my father often wisely quipped:
“As jy nie wil hoor nie, dan moet jy voel!”
“If you don’t want to listen (learn), then you must feel (pain)!”
Have an awesome Heritage Day tomorrow and please be generous! 😄
As always, thanks for reading 🙏
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