“If tomorrow never comes”

In the dulcet tones of Ronan Keating.

Have you had a good long look at the concept of “what if tomorrow never comes” – will those that are nearest and dearest to you know “how much you love them”? With the latest onslaught of in-law issues – my FIL’s pneumonia and my MIL’s now officially diagnosed Alzheimer’s (big surprise – not!) there was a delegation at their house on Saturday night. My SIL has come haring out from New Zealand, my BIL was down from White River and us of course (being only 5 minutes up the road). Our phone has been going non-stop with the other two overseas siblings – questions, answers, “advice”, and instruction … ad nauseum!

They are normally not a close family (no humungous reason that I’m aware of) and the most poignant part of Saturday night was this sudden outpouring of care and concern because of the current situation. In a way, if blame were being apportioned, my in-laws would have to shoulder a large chunk thereof. As parents, the most uncaring and unconcerned people I’ve come across in a long time – you know the kind where “I’m the parent, you’re the child so you owe me”. It has, as expected, bitten them hard with most visits (from all the children) being a duty thing and not a genuine desire. You could argue and say that any concern is good concern whatever the spark is. I would argue that and say envisage a scenario where there was no long term illness and they both passed without warning (for example a car accident) – would DH’s siblings have been overwhelmed with the what if scenario and I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve? Guilt, in my opinion, is the most destructive of emotions – if you’re distant that’s ok if you’ve made your peace with it but if you’re distant because you can’t be bothered then you’ve taken the lid of Pandora’s box and be prepared to deal with the consequences.

The point of this rambling is this – tell your spouse, tell your children, tell your family, tell your friends (if it’s the way you feel) that you love them / care for them / wish them only well. Tell them today – it may feel a little weird, they’re may think you’re a little off but let their most recent memory of you be positive. If you’re having a fight and you don’t want any more verbal exchange, tell them electronically! DH and I are very close with my parents who are both in their late 70’s/early 80’s and chatting to a friend of mine the other day about loss and that sort of thing she remarked on how devastating it would be for me when my parents pass away. She was, I think, somewhat taken aback when my answer was contradictory. Obviously I’ll be sad but I’m so very grateful to have had a steadfast, reliable, nurturing relationship with people who tell me they love me every time we communicate.

“If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say?  And why are you waiting? ” ~Stephen Levine

PS. A quick confession – trolling through my blog looking for something else I came across a very similar post that I wrote in April last year – identical title, different circumstances and slightly different content :O Deja vu of epic proportions – so apologies to anyone who may have thought – hey, she’s already done that!

My “best” thinking …………

is done in the shower. For yours truly no zen retreat or mountain hideaway, the humble shower is the wellspring of tumultuous inspiration. The only problem with this liquid enviroment is that there is never any functional writing material at hand to preserve these fleeting nuances.

That said, one thought that did linger long enough to be grasped between thumb and forefinger is that of the concept “how important is it to be friends with your husband?”

Perhaps its an age thing or even more mundanely the time of year but I find myself in flux, in a constant state of review and observation. As always my frame of reference is my own marriage and my opinions are in no way intended to be judgemental. DH and I are so very alike and yet in the ultimate cliche’ so very different. There are days when I’d like to figuratively crown him, days when he vexes me so much that I question my mental capacity when we tied the knot (Rita Rudner always makes me chuckle …….. “I love being married – its so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life”)  and I’m sure the same applies to him. Yet despite the run of the mill ups and downs we have a genuine affinity for each other.

I firmly believe that the importance of being friends in a marriage cannot be over emphasised and would perhaps even go as far as saying it should be the number one priority. When the sweet and frothy has turned wishy washy and the horizontal mambo has turned into a soft shoe shuffle, what’s the next step if you dont like each other. To clarify, a million miles from the “soul mate” horse twaddle which goes hand in hand with the pink and pretty.

I’m aiming for plain and simple:- 

Do you want to spend time together and do you like to spend time together?

7 Life Lessons

  1. My mantra is *be upfront, honest and true to yourself* – there are, sadly, circumstances which hinder the process. For financial and employment reasons, there are occasions where one has to zip it and shut it.
  2. Pick a queue in the supermarket and stick to it! The “10 items only “will get a trolley with discount coupons.
  3. If an item says “dry clean” only, believe it. This came courtesy of, I think, of a Fair Lady magazine advert some years ago and has saved me numerous washing woes.
  4. Trust your instincts, if it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t.
  5. Relationships require work – anybody who tells you any different is either single or divorced.
  6. “I’ll never do it again – give me a second chance” – he will, run! This lesson thankfully not through personal experience but as a witness to other devastating relationships, both physically and mentally.
  7. Be the number one priority in your life, take care of your soul and you will be a better spouse and parent.

Do something for yourself

or in this case, I’m doing for me. So the prequel is, I’m on holiday (DH is self-employed so the concept of being on holiday doesn’t seem to quite compute) but instead of packing and trekking we are embarking on our first s.a.h.h. or “stay at home holiday.”

It was, as dawn broke yesterday on my first day off, that I had a thought (cue the theme to “War of the Worlds”). For seven days, every day, it’s going at some point (however briefly) to be about me. Oooh self-centered and egotistical you might think or she must be a doormat by profession – thankfully negative on both counts (in my opinion that is). Its just that don’t you find yourself always doing for others? Which is not necessarily a bad thing I know, but there are just some days ………..

Anyway enough philosophising and meaningless drivel. For me, on day 1, I went shopping (momentous I know but work with me). It was all in aid of this dratted wedding in December and in the norm clothing shopping fills me with as much glee as polishing the silverware. Yet, being out and about on a week day by myself engendered just the tiniest hint of hedonistic self indulgence and to boot I came away with two basic pieces for my Out of Africa sojourn.

An afternoon nap enveloped in gentle sunshine inspired movie night. A filmophile’s feast of Lord of the Rings (all three books) until the wee hours. DH did pop in occasionally – he has a liking for the epic fight scenes.

Super Rugby Saturday broke with a lyrical sunrise – so African in it’s intensity and colour palette. I’m having a very uncharacteristic get up at sparrows week for whatever obscure reason. While DH was chasing little white dimpled balls in his dreams I crept downstairs, vaguely reminiscent of the odious Argus Filch, to argue vociferously with the television through two scintilating games of world cup rugby and madly tweet my conclusions.

For all those naysayers who are thinking hen-pecked husband – fear not, post match trip to the local DIY shop for various steel, wood, nails and bolts bits to monkey proof our two bird feeders. We have a troop of vervets that live in the valley and take immense pleasure in crashing through the garden, like a herd of marula-soaked elephants, tipping up the feeders to gorge on their scattered contents. DH spent the afternoon reinforcing and I supplied the conveyor belt with drinks and snacks. The war continues.

In truth I fear, much like the Maginot Line, the mantra of “doing for me” will be a finite project but opportunity looms large.

The secret to a happy marriage – Observations from the Wildside

Respect – plain and simple.

Respect for your partner’s needs, both mentally and physically. Not necessarily blind acceptance or even concurrence but respect.

The grass roots belief that another human being has the right to an opinion (even if diagonally opposite from yours), the right to feel and think and express their thoughts and that they have equal validity as yours.

This even keel outlook also provides one with the tools to realise that when this fundamental and integral ingredient is missing – change is paramount.

I harbour no illusions of being the consumate wife or having an idyllic marriage but we have been together for more than two decades and it is the exponential proliferation of “bad” marriages of late that has prompted me to ascend my soap box – yet again!

Of clouded observations and in your face opinion

I am not, by nature, one to ponder the passing of time. Yet of late I find myself a little more reflective, perhaps even ponderous in my musings. The cliched “watershed moment”, “midlife crisis” etc are not pertinent  – it is instead merely a cold, hard realisation of being in my 40’s. Physically sound, well perhaps other than a distince lack of extendable arms which seems to point towards a quirky pair of specs before 2012 (something purple and fabulous – the specs that is).

The maelstrom of my daily existence is ever more often regulated by a moment of blinding clarity. This morning, in the midst of a vexing “numbers” problem it was – I am at peace with myself, truly! The more youthful angst of trying to impress, of being your outer shell and not your inner soul, of being the bouquet garni and not the stock have been relegated to a dusty corner (yes dusty – would you ever!)

For now – self-belief, serenity and harmony are the building blocks of the future and I honestly don’t give a rodents nether regions about the rest.

“I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses” – Gloria Gaynor



that pie in the sky, lofty, gilt-edged “gift” that all consumers vaguely hope to receive from those in the industry. Being a woman and thus often thrown ass-over-tip into the consumer cauldron I am forced to recklessly remove the lid off Pandora’s box and question why service levels are so appalling on every level in society where there’s a supplier and an end-user?

From supermarkets to medical aids, having your vehicle serviced to purchasing a cellphone – the customer is no longer king, in fact being the serf’s factotum is probably closer to the truth. Can you see Nero putting up with this drivel? Would he have settled for a vaguely fresh bunch of grapes instead of a vineyard? And Cleopatra, well Cleo would have had the perpetrators fed to the crocodiles!

After slaving away in my own work-pod for multiple hours, a lack of interest is guaranteed to engender thoughts of mayhem that are not easily suppressed. What price “Good evening and Thank You” – a word to the wise, having a vocal discussion with your colleague about your love life, errant spouse or medical ailment while I am valiantly trying to part with some of my pennies into your ever voracious cash register will make me take my business elsewhere.

Industrial powerhouses should bear witness to the fact that people will (or should if they have any illusions of making a difference) vote with their feet and with the ever expanding generation of twitter, skype, e-mail and all other electronic communication the word will spread like some contagion (now I am cognisant of the fact that it all sounds like a rallying cry for political reform, unintended – I’m just \”gatvol\”.

The best advice I ever had

from Bob Thaves, the creator of  http://frankandernest.com/ – “Remember Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels”.Loubbotin’s – I can dream

It has “inspired” me in a funny old way to believe that women are capable of greatness in any sphere, no matter the odds and obstacle course crafted by old school business thinking.

Perambulating to the office this morning, it led me to ponder other bits of sage advice and “life lessons” that I have garnered over the years. Mum said – if the label says dry-clean only, believe it (she was right, it took me a while to get it). My dad taught me to dance/love music and that knowing and loving sport if you’re a girl is quite acceptable and will probably help with boys (right again) 😉 . As a couple they taught me that I deserve the very best that life has to offer and that settling for less is really a waste of time.  Heartbreak taught me to trust my inner voice. Relationships taught me that even “nice” people can be really mean at times – it’s up to you how you deal with the problem and how much you’re prepared to put up with. I’ve learned to lock away the sadness and not let it rule my existence. 

Age taught me that being comfortable with yourself is paramount –

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect . It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” – Anon

That said, age has also slapped me around the head with the fact that I can still be afraid (even at my 40plus years) and there will be times when being alone in the dark is quite a scary thing. I’ve learnt that having a backbone and an opinion is a good thing and that glass ceilings are there to be broken through. I’ve learnt the fabulosness of true friendship and how rare it is.

Perhaps the most useful nugget that I’ve gleaned is not 18 carat in nature but the fact that just because I do things differently doesn’t make my way better or worse, it just makes me who I am. 

Marriage 101

So we were chatting, as you do, about the weekend and such like banalities when a friend (maybe an acquaintance is a better word) asked me about why I had described the weekend just past as a “bonding” weekend. After all, she said, after twenty years with the same man how much more bonding do you need to do? 

Without further ado, I donned my “advice” hat and attempted to justify (why we do that I don’t know, I should just have told her to go outside and play but anyway). DH and I have been together two decades (ouch 😉 ) and are both extremely busy people. I suppose you could say work orientated which is fine (it works for us anyway), he has a big family, I have a teeny but tight clan on my side. Our jobs both involve dealing with people and their nonsense and our weekends usually involve “people” as well. I can’t begin to explain how beneficial a bonding weekend is for us as a couple. It involves no cellphones (unless a parental emergency), talking, catching up, lots of eating together (a rarity in my house), watching movies together or going to shows etc together. A braai for two on the patio with candles and champagne and great food has become an integral part of the ritual.

We have more respect for each other, more empathy for each other and fight a lot less (I reckon anybody who says they don’t disagree with their spouse occasionally is talking horse twaddle) and that in a nutshell is why such a long married couple still does bonding.