Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Dorothy Rathbone

Margaret Dorothy Rathbone

Margaret Dorothy Rathbone (born Mortinson, formerly van Vliet) was my father's sister. They were close when they were young and this closeness extended to adulthood when my father married my mother and Dorothy married my mother's brother, Beric. 

The family were devastated when Beric died in his late 20's-  their daughter Jenny was only 2 years old and Dorothy was expecting Beric Jnr.

Some years later, Dorothy met up with and married Derek Rathbone, a childhood friend.  Derek was also a very close friend of my father. My father lived with Derek's family for some years when he was a young man. He used to tell us stories of life with the Rathbone family and how they treated him as one of their own. Derek had two children, Patrick and Jennifer, from his first marriage. Dorothy and Derek went on to have a further three children, Norman, Aileen and Colleen. Sadly Norman died in an accident.

The closeness between my dad and his sister continued, right up until his death.  Dorothy gave a moving eulogy at my dad's memorial service and I believe that, had my dad survived Dorothy, his eulogy would have been just as moving.  He loved his sister dearly and he would have been devastated by her death.

Aunty Dorothy was a very special lady. My memories of her are a house filled with children and laughter (she had beautiful laughing eyes, happily inherited by her daughters). She loved her family, music and art. Incidentally, when I was learning shorthand typing I was amazed by her secretarial skills and I still have a Pitman's Shorthand dictionary which she gave me.

Our family have suffered the loss of many of our "older" generation over the past few years.  My father, my mother, Uncle David (my mother's brother), Uncle Derek (Dorothy's much loved husband), Aunty Dorothy and, on Christmas Day, my mother's sister, Joan also died.

As the generation of our family who were born in the 1920's and 30's pass on so we, who were born in 1940's, 50's and 60's, are becoming the "older" generation. When I look at the calibre of those who came before us I can only hope that we have enough strength of character, talent and kindness to inspire our children just as we have been inspired. Striving to be good enough to honour our parents and grandparents in this way will be our greatest tribute to their memory.

The following are the moving eulogies given by Aunty Dorothy's family at her Memorial Service which show the deep impact she had on their lives. 

From Colleen

Today, I want to share with you a message that I believe has been sent to us by our guardian angels in the form of numbers.
In the 6 weeks that Mom spent in ICU, Aileen, Jen, Beric and I started noticing a repetition of specific numbers, that at first seemed coincidental, but in hindsight, we believe that these numbers were actually a spiritual message for us.
When Mom was being prepared for surgery in the surgical ward, her bed number was 11.  When she came out of surgery, her bed number in the ICU ward was also number 11.
Mom developed post surgery complications and after 3-4 weeks, the decision was made to move her to another hospital.  Her bed number here at ICU was number 1.
After approximately another 3 weeks at this hospital and a valiant attempt from Mom to stay in this world, God came to receive Mom into his arms at 10:55 (Five to Eleven) on the 18th of November.
If you take the numbers 10:55 and numerically add them: (10 = 1+0 = 1) + (55 = 5+5 = 10) = 11.
If you take the date 18/11 and numerically add them: (18 = 1+8 = 9) + (11 = 1 + 1 = 2) = 11.
The numbers that were presented to us were the numbers 11 and 1.
The number 11 in numerology represents a spiritual messenger.  When referring to angels, it represents spiritual awakening and enlightenment.
In the Bible, the number 11 is often referenced, but the most relevant is that it is the last chapter of the Bible and the 11th of the New Testament – The book of Revelations.
The number 11 also represents fulfilment and balance.
Therefore the message to be received from number 11 is that Mom had lived her life to the full and that she’d had her share of ups and downs (balance) and that God was ready to receive her and that he was sending his angels, preparing her path for spiritual awakening and enlightenment.
Her book of life on earth had reached its last chapter.

Message from Angelo
I would like to tell you about my Granny and why I loved her so much.
Whenever I stayed over at Granny and Grandpa, they always made it fun.
They would sometimes take me to the movies and always bought me take-aways if I asked for it.
If it was a Sunday, I would go with them to church and Granny and I would share sweets.
They would always have a present for me when I visited and made me feel special.

The craziest present Granny ever gave me was one Christmas.  I thought it was a small ball, but when I unwrapped the present, she had given me a mango.  Mangoes were one of Granny’s favourite fruits.  Granny also loved ice-cream.
Granny taught me how to play chopstix on the piano and always encouraged me to draw or paint.
She was a young looking Granny.  Her hair was always smart.
Granny was always happy and loved making jokes.  She was friends with everybody.
I will miss Granny the most, for all the fun I used to have with her.

From Jennifer Rathbone.
Dot was my stepmother, and from when we first met she was welcoming and inclusive - as she was throughout her life.
When I was around we were “Big Jenny" and “Little Jenny” (The boys escaped being “Big P” and “Little B”).

 (This is before Norman, Aileen and Colleen came into our lives).
Dot had a keen sense of fun, and seemed to know what we ruffians enjoyed -
whether it was in letting us turn the lounge into a battle-field - or theatre - or climb trees to crucify them with bubble-gum, or she’d drive her Volksie, with us crouching in the very back, to the park, for a winter picnic of Russians and chips.
It couldn’t have been easy but she managed us so well, and never said   “Wait till your father gets home”
(At least, not when I was around!)
Dot enjoyed making mischief and sharing a joke.
She loved music and was passionate about painting and her love of vivid colours showed in her fabulously flamboyant dress sense.
Curious about people and life, she was courageous, supportive and encouraging.
She had an impressive faith which she shared with kindness, and always had time for an inspiring prayer.
We will miss Dot so much, but thank her for all she has left us, in so many delightful memories.
May she have continued joy and fun and freedom in her new world.
Thank you for sharing your life with us Dot.

Young Dorothy



from Jen, Aileen & Beric

"As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." The fruits of the spirit are:

Self control.

Mom, you had these in abundance!

Ours was the most amazing, beautiful, fun-loving mom, whom we loved and cherished. She will will on in our hearts and in the hearts of everyone who know her, forever.

From Farryn

My dearest Gran

I am going to miss you so much. It was difficult to watch you suffering in the end but as soon as you passed, I saw you dancing with Grandpa in heaven. I will always remember you by your sense of humour,  your smile and your compassion.

I will always strive to be like you, to dance often, to be creative and to be an inspiration to others around you.  I love you Gran.

Derek and Dorothy

From Brinique

On Wednesday last week, God welcomed an extraordinary angel into heaven, my grandmother.

After weeks of suffering, we sadly said goodbye to an amazing women, who brought joy to so many throughout her 83 years on earth.

A wife, sister, mother, step-mother, grandmother, step-grandmother, friend and devoted and loving Christian. My grandmother selflessly gave of herself, all the way up to her final weeks.

I've had the blessing of knowing her for 31 years, carrying countless memories of family gatherings Christmas' and birthdays which fill my heart with happiness even during this difficult time.

Over the past few days I thought a lot about my grandmother and the impact she had on my life and the lives of those she touched and came into contact with everyday. After serious reflection, I've noted down 3 lessons that I hope to carry with me throughout the rest of my life in her honour.

1. Family first - there was not a day that went by that my granny didn't put her family and extended family first. She showed each of us unconditional love, kindness and compassion;

2. You have to laugh - my granny sure could tell an awesome joke and she could find humour in every situation, no matter how serious or sad;

and, most importantly,

3. Trust in God - 3 valuable verses she showed me and tips on how to trust in God.

3.1.  Don't depend on you - Proverbs 3.5. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

3.2.  Put God first in your life - Proverbs 3 (9-10) "Honour the Lord with your wealth with the first fruits of all your crops, then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine."

3.3.  Lastly, listen to the Holy Spirit - (John 14.26) "But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

I know if she were here she would say, with a big smile, "I'll see you in heaven".



Sunday, January 3, 2016

Peter and Amber

Peter and Amber

In the late 1960's my father, Peter Mortinson, was running his own swimming pool company in, what was then, the Transvaal (now Gauteng).  It was a stressful time and he need a distraction from the demands of business.This was when Amber came into our lives.

She was a beautiful German Shepherd and my mother agreed to Amber becoming part of our family on condition she was properly trained. So my father and Amber joined an obedience school.

Amber proved to be a credit to her breed and learnt quickly. My dad buried handkerchiefs and cloths, carrying his scent, in the depths of chairs and obscure places. They were quickly discovered by Amber when my dad gave her an instruction to "seek". My father's close bond with Amber paid off - she did well at dog shows and, when my father was not at work, he was with Amber.

Then my brother's asthma took a turn for the worse. The doctor gave my parents what he termed a last resort potential cure for the disease which had plagued my brother all of his young life. He recommended that they leave the Johannesburg mine dumps and move to the sub tropical climate of KwaZulu-Natal.

Of course, my father's concern for my brother overshadowed everything else. As the property market was in a slump, my parents rented out their house. They found a flat in Amanzimtoti to rent but this meant that Amber could not go with them.

My father was devastated at having to part with Amber but, of course, the health of his son came first. Fortunately, due to the progress she had made in her obedience training and her potential as a trophy winner, her breeder said she would happily give Amber a home.

So Amber stayed and my family moved to KwaZulu-Natal.

My father longed for his dog and continued to attend dog shows as a spectator. As he watched dogs in the obedience section being put through their paces he would think of Amber and what they could have accomplished together.

Eventually my parents moved further down the coast to a smallholding near Port Shepstone which, ironically, would have been a perfect place for Amber to live. My brother's health improved in leaps and bounds which made the upheaval to Kwazulu-Natal so very worth while. The only downside was the loss of Amber.

Some months later, on a beautiful winter's day, my parents attended yet another dog show. This was a championship show which meant that dogs from all over the country participated in their quest to move up towards championship status.

As my parents looked around the show grounds admiring the dogs, they both voiced their thoughts that now may be the right time to get another dog. But, in the back of my father's mind, he knew that even an eager new puppy could not replace Amber.

A whimper and a whine behind my father forced him to turn around - he was nearly bowled over by Amber followed by her new owner. They had travelled to KwaZulu-Natal from Johannesburg to participate in the show. Amber had been in the show ring under her owner's command when she lifted her head and started sniffing the air. Suddenly she had broken free and, in an uncharacteristic disregard for her handler's instructions, she followed the beloved scent, until she found my father.

Their reunion was blissful. Fortunately, when my parents told Amber's new owner that they now lived on a smallholding, she handed Amber's leash over to my father and gave him his dog back!

My parents were overjoyed to return to their home in Port Shepstone with Amber happily sitting on the back seat of their station wagon.

My father and Amber took up where they left off. Any flickering in their devotion was rekindled when they started their training lessons again. It was back to the rigorous heeling and sitting and staying and jumping and so on. Surprisingly Amber would still obey my father's command to "stay" in spite of their separation. He gave the instruction and then turned his back on her and disappeared out of sight. She would patiently wait for his return some ten minutes later before being released from the command with his generous praises.

But it was a lonely life for this man and his dog when they trained daily on the Port Shepstone Borough Grounds. My father built jumps for Amber to clear and threw dumbbells for her to retrieve. They missed the camaraderie of the obedience school they attended up country as the South Coast did not have a dog club which they could join.

My father noticed that there was a family who had started watching his daily training session. He never spoke to them but, one afternoon, they brought their dog with them to the Borough grounds. Something they had never done before. Anyone who loves a dog knows that there is no better ice breaker. One of the family members walked over to my father and asked if he may walk alongside him with his own dog. He wanted to copy my father and hoped that his dog could be taught to what Amber did!

Of course, my father said yes and the two men strode across the field, their dogs at their side. While Amber walked at the appropriate pace and distance from my father, the other dog strained at his lead, sort of bouncing alongside his owner. Sometimes the dog was several paces ahead and sometimes he lagged behind, dragging his nose on the ground, the unfamiliar smells were too much for his curiosity to bear.

It wasn't long before my father was asked if his new training companion could bring a friend along and so the training sessions grew. Because all things change as they grow bigger, my father could no longer keep his place next to the trainees - he had to take up a position facing them, so as he could teach them how to handle their dogs. Dogs usually learn quickly - it's training the owners that takes the time.
After several weeks, the obvious suggestion came forward - "Why don't you start a dog club?". My father had lots of encouragement and support and, in 1973, the Hibiscus Kennel Club was formed. An inaugural meeting was held at the old Royal Hotel in Port Shepstone and generous donations of R10.00 and R15.00 started the kitty. The money was used to print membership cards. It was decided that an annual membership fee of R10.00 per family would be charged so as the Club could fund jumps and other equipment.

The Club's first local show was held at the Umtentweni Sports Grounds on Sunday the 28 July 1974 and the attendance was remarkable - 150 dogs were entered for both obedience and breed. There were over 1200 specators on the grounds which were garlanded with coloured bunting. People showed up from all over KwaZulu-Natal. Some of the South Coast locals wanted to rush home and fetch their own dogs when they saw the carnival atmosphere.

Amber made her own special contribution to the swelling Club membership when she produced a litter of 9 puppies - most of whom went to South Coasters who joined the Club.

My father was chairman of the Club for well over a decade and trained dogs and owners alike. He also formed a demonstration team for the purpose of encouraging people to train their dogs to become useful members of their families.

My father died in 2010 but he left a legacy in the Hibiscus Kennel Club which has gone from strength to strength, continuing to foster the bond between man and dog.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sharon's Green Number

Running Comrades

Sharon was married to my brother Stephen. Sadly she died in her early forties which devastated the family. Steve and Sharon's daughter, Lynn Breet, recently wrote an article for publication in the Secunda Marathon Club's magazine about her mother's quest for a Comrades Marathon green number. 
A green number is earned by running 10 Comrades, no mean achievement. I have no doubt that Sharon would have been delighted to know that Lynn is now part of the running world which she loved so much. 
Here is Lynn's story.

What a small world we live in…
Reading the last few newsletters of our wonderful runners and all their amazing comrades achievements inspired me to write about my mom who taught me how running can truly change a person’s life.
My mom was very inactive when she had me (last born – 3rd child). She loved her beers and wine on the weekends and thoroughly enjoyed smoking as well. When I was about 4 years old she gave me a hug and when I ran away after saying “sies mommy you stink of smoke” she vowed to change and get rid of the terrible smoking habit and start leading a healthier lifestyle. My mom was a firm believer that if you are going to get rid of one addiction you need to replace it with another and when a close friend of hers, who was an aerobics instructor, invited her to try out running, she dived right in and joined the “South Coast Striders” in Margate.
Quickly the void of not smoking anymore was filled with the excitement of running different roads and trying out different races. Very soon she had set the goal of running her first Comrades and, in 1989, she did just that. I have very fond memories of when I was young, together with my brothers and dad, supporting my mom at all these races and listening to her talk to my dad about which races she was going to use to qualify for the next Comrades. Running had become her addiction.
But it seems that just running wasn’t quite enough. My dad comes from a swimming background and since we were on the coast my brothers, myself and my dad took part in a lot of swimming activities. My mom didn’t like to be left out but, not quite knowing how to swim, meant she couldn’t join us in these activities so she decided she’d better learn. As a surprise to the family, she started swimming lessons (this was kept a secret and, for many months, she sneaked out of the house early mornings to go to her lessons). It wasn’t until we arrived at the start of Midmar Mile 1992 did she reveal that she was going to swim and with that she put on her goggles, her nose clip and her cap and started the swim.
Soon after 1992 Midmar Mile introduced a “biathlon” category whereby swimmers who had completed the Comrades Marathon were seeded in their own dedicated group. This allowed my mom to be in a group with a lot less swimmers which helped avoid the unintentional kicks in the stomach from other swimmers at the start.
In 1997 my mom completed her 9th Comrades and had the ultimate goal of completing her 10th Comrades and getting her green number. Unfortunately in 1998 she was plagued with numerous injuries and had to endure the heartache of making it up Polly Shortts with the realisation she did not have enough time to complete the last 6km within the 11 hour cut off.
My mom never gave up so the very next year she was back at the starting line. That year was even worse in terms of injuries and my mom barely made it to half way. As a child I’ll never forget the absolute heartache at seeing my mom not being able to realise her dream of a green number.
In 2000 the rules changed and an extra hour was added on “for one year only”. It was my mom’s last hope of getting her number and, in support, my older brother, Dale (who was 20 at the time) joined her on her training runs. He enjoyed it so much that he also decided to run Comrades. My dad, not wanting to be left out, joined in as well and managed to qualify for Comrades, although he decided close to the big event, that he’d be a much better support for my mom on the sidelines than on the actual run.
And so my mom and brother lined up for the start of the 2000 Comrades. My dad and I were there at the start and made our way to the first check point to watch Dale and my mom come past. Things were looking good for both of them. Dale made the halfway check point with ease and my mom just managed to squeeze through halfway in time. My dad and I made our way to the end where we saw my brother come in a few seconds before 11 hours which was his goal.
At this stage we were terribly nervous and had no idea if my mom was still running or if she was struggling. 10 minutes to go and the tears were streaming down my face as there was still no mom in sight! 6 minutes to go and my heart was in my throat. 5 minutes to go and there she was, she had entered the stadium! We watched her run over the finish line in a time of 11:56.  She got her photo taken with Wally Hayward (who was her hero) and was handed her green number. She had done it!
Words cannot express how a runner feels when they achieve their goal, especially something that takes the kind of dedication and time as a Comrades green number. Even though I have never run Comrades (and am not quite sure if I ever will) I am so proud of every runner that gets to the starting line of Comrades, I have seen first-hand the time and dedication, the heartache and pain as well as the ultimate elation and happiness that this kind of achievement can bring.
Unfortunately my mom passed away 5 months after she achieved her ultimate goal in 2000 but her memory definitely lives on. And to prove what a small world we live in, have a look closely at her finishing photo in 1993. There is a familiar face there in Secunda Marathon colours… Who would have known that 22 years later I would be part of the Secunda Marathon Club and would have met Jan who was pictured along with my mom at the finish line in 1993.
A small world indeed...

Sharon's well earned Green Number

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The South African Bush Bash

Gray and Jane said their vows for the 4th time in South Africa on the 20th December 2014 at Highover, near Richmond, KwaZulu-Natal.

They wanted a South African celebration so there was meat on the braai and beer in the fridge when family and friends gathered for the ceremony. It took place outdoors with Graydon's Uncle Steve doing the honours. Birds and the Umkomaas river provided background music, impala and springbok were interested observers.

Gray's dad, Bartel, gave the bride away.  Jane, once again, looked lovely and from the tip of her head to the flip flops on her feet, was the perfect South African Bushveld Bride.

Graydon's friend, Kevin, gave him an African headband which is usually worn by Zulu males during traditional ceremonies, such as weddings, and are handcrafted out of springbok hide. So it provided the ideal finishing touch to his outfit.

Graydon and Janey worked hard before the celebration and prepared some amazing *food to go with the traditional braai.

Afternoon stretched into evening and when the mist rolled in, it did nothing to dampen the atmosphere. The party lasted well into the night and continued the next day with zip lining and white water rafting.

Graydon and Jane's wedding journey has been from New Zealand to Thailand, London to South Africa.  Four continents and four fabulous celebrations!

*(By the way, dishes and menus which have come out of Graydon and Jane's home kitchen have been so successful they have resulted in a beautiful blog which not only tells the story of Jane's dad's miraculous recovery, but also gives recipes and information on clean food and healthy living. Have a look at haleo. ( )

'til next time.

The groom in his Zulu headband
Here comes the bride
Words of wisdom from Uncle Steve
Jane says her vows
Exchanging of rings
Wedding kiss

The happy couple
Smiles all round
Carrying the bride

The bridal couple and their guests

... and the mist rolled in
Mother of the groom with the bridal couple

The Breets
Wayne and Lizelle
Matthew and Nadine
The Mortinsons
Friends and family
Cutting the cake

Monday, July 13, 2015

The London Celebration

When Graydon completed Jane's Brazil World Cup Score Predictor for the first round of games, the 10 minutes it took were well spent. They won £1000 which meant they would have money to celebrate their wedding in London with the close family and friends who live there.

They hired a hall in Tulse Hill Estate for the evening of the 20th September 2014 and worked out that, if they did the catering themselves and bought their own booze, they could put up a pretty good party. The London Celebration ended up costing only £1250.

They decorated with fairy lights, brightly coloured bunting and put animal masks on the table, which made the the hall look very festive.

The help of Lee, their cockney friend from Essex, was enlisted to conduct the ceremony. Jane walked down the isle with Kristina as her bridesmaid. Matt Pike was Gray's bestman.

By doing their own catering, it meant that Jane had to spent a large part of the evening in the kitchen preparing the meal of 3 bean chilli, dal and curried cauliflower salad.

But she still found time to rap her speech, which everyone loved.  The first dance was, untraditionally, a breakdance to Pharrel's "Happy".

As they had a curfew on the use of the hall, they had to do some fast sweeping and tidying before they left the premises. But the evening didn't end there.

The London Celebration turned out to be a fabulous party which finished in the wee hours at a the local pub.

In case you don't know the song, I'll end this post on a "Happy" note. Here's the link:

'til next time and the South Africa leg of their celebrations ............

Jane and Kristina

Making vows

The kiss

All done!

Gray and Jane

Matt the Bestman and Gray


Bride's speech
Groom's speech
Listening to the toasts
A quiet joke