Sunday, May 27, 2018

Mark Kirkland van Vliet

Mark Kirkland van Vliet 1956 - 2017

My cousin Mark was born on the 23 April 1956 in Johannesburg. He was the son of Albertus Johannes van Vliet (Bertie, my mother’s brother) and Valerie Grace Taylor. His brother, Grant, was born in 1958.

When Bertie died, Mark was 6 years old and his mother was unable to take care of the boys without help and so they went to live at the St George's Boys Home where Mark eventually became Head Boy.

He matriculated from Dawnview High School in 1973. Mark served in the South African Airforce in 1974 and continued to attend camps until 1986.

In 1975 he was employed by the then known as the South African Permanent Building Society until 1992 After Mark left the Building Society, he worked privately, doing various woodworking projects, welding, plumbing, electrical and mechanical work.

Mark's love of vintage cars and cars in general, was encouraged by Brian Broadfoot, his stepfather, who played a positive roll in Mark and Grant's lives. Mark was an avid reader and an expert at crossword puzzles.

Mark moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town, where he stayed for many years. On a visit to his brother Grant, who lives on the South Coast, of KwaZulu-Natal and to whom he remained close throughout his life, Mark sadly passed away on the 2 September 2017.

He leaves four sons:

Donovan Mark van Vliet (born 1977)
Ryan Jason van Vliet (born 1980)
Gareth van Vliet (born 1984); and
Zane Thomas van Vliet (1987).

Rest In Peace, cousin Mark.

Grant, Valerie and Mark

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one. 

Khalil Gibran

The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living. 

Marcus Tullius Cicero

(please contact me if you believe there to be any errors or misrepresentations of facts in this post)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Tributes : Jewel Rose Moores

"To my dear Aunt Jewel it has been one of the pleasures of my life to have been named after you, and I will carry it to the end of my days.
My Aunt was the most gentle, caring, and loving person anyone could have known and will be greatly missed by all. I had many fun and loving times spent with her and will miss her.
Aunt Jewel go and rest high on that mountain, your work on earth is done
Go to heaven now and be with your Mother, Father, your brothers and sisters.
Your namesake. Jewel Perrin"

"Jewel was a proper lady, she was always polite and cared about her family. She lived a good life, travelled all over and was the oldest of the Van Vliet offspring from my mother's side.


She's now with her two sisters and three brothers. God rest her soul, she is now at peace"


Red Stidworthy, Jewel Moores' youngest brother


"I think of Aunty Jewel and I think of gardens, healthy eating, travelling and Canada. Always dressed to perfection, hair done and a twinkle in her eye when she tells you a story.

But most of all I will remember her for the part she played in Granny Berice and Grandpa Peter's life at the home.

Rest in peace Aunty Jewel you had a full life and will always be remembered with fondness."

Steve, Daleen, Nantes and Gilmore





Monday, November 13, 2017

A Family Affair - Factor V Leiden

The story below was written by my niece Lynn Breet (born Mortinson) and posted on FaceBook on the 19 November 2016. Lynn is the daughter of my brother, Steve.

Lynn's story has a happy ending. She gave birth to her beautiful son Brandon in December 2016.

The Breet Family - Kobus, Lynn and Brandon

"I promised myself I would share my story and the time has come.  It's not easy to put this out there but if sharing could help just one person then here it goes. This is my fertility journey, my disclaimer is to please excuse me if I have gotten some medical terms incorrect, this is based on my understanding…

Married life started off wonderfully, within 2 months of discarding the pill we got the famous 2 stripes. We were pregnant! We were not one of “those” couples who struggle to fall pregnant, we were lucky… or so we thought.

Fast forward to first ultrasound scan at 9 weeks… no heartbeat, no developed fetus, just an empty gestational sack echoing our heartache. Baby hasn’t developed! Why? Could be a bad egg, could be a bad connection, could be Mother Nature’s way of destroying a bad cell before it was too late… Suddenly I was confronted with a choice, do a scrape (commonly known as a D&C) or take some pills and let it happen naturally. I opted to have the D&C to get this over with so we could try again as soon as possible. Fast forward to a year later, we still hadn’t fallen pregnant again, why? We weren’t one of “those” couples who struggle to fall pregnant… were we?

My cycle hadn’t returned to normal since the scrape so maybe something was wrong… I changed doctors who had me on hormone pills to try to regulate me which didn’t work. Eventually he went in to have a look and he diagnosed me with Asherman’s syndrome… Asher what? What is that? It is an uncommon condition that develops after a scrape whereby the uterus over compensates the healing process and starts producing scar tissue. My uterus was riddled with scar tissue. I was devastated and felt as though all hope was lost. A perfectly normal womb now destroyed? No, not destroyed, damaged but fixable.

We were referred to a Doctor from Vitalab in Johannesburg who deals with this kind of thing. From the very first visit we were put at ease, this doc was unlike any other doctor I’d ever been to. He was knowledgeable, took his time to explain everything to us and treated us with kindness and respect. He completed the operation and restored my uterus to all its former glory, we were over the moon. Back to trying again and along with that comes the monthly emotional cycles.

Anyone who has been unsuccessful in trying to conceive will relate to the monthly emotional cycles (or not – this is my personal roller coaster I went on)… It starts with the ovulation time when hope is at its highest, THIS might be the month. You monitor the ovulation, you do what needs to be done, you get so excited and then you wait. The two week wait is a mixed feeling of nervousness, excitement and utter fear… and then it happens, you are a day late!! Hope levels increase sky high, you pee on a stick, it is negative, and you think “maybe it was too soon”. A day goes by, you start your period. You sit on that toilet seat and cry. You get angry, you want to scream, you feel defeated, disappointed, hurt. And all hope is lost… until 2 weeks later when you ovulate again and you think… THIS might be the month! It wasn’t. For 12 months it wasn’t our month, we tried artificial insemination which didn’t work so we eventually returned to the only Doctor we really trusted (Vitalab). After much deliberation I eventually decided to have a laparoscopy and to check for Endometriosis.

Endometriosis doesn’t run in my family. I didn’t know much about it but as I had the Asherman’s syndrome previously there is a risk (if I was prone to Endometriosis) that it could be active. So I had the operation and the doctor found stage 2 endometriosis which he was able to remove successfully. It took some time to recover from that operation but within a few weeks I was back to myself again. Now it may seem that this is the part where we finally conceived and had a happy ending… not quite true. We did conceive but we still had another hurdle to cross before we could cash in on our happy ending.

Within 3 months after the operation we conceived. After 3 years we got the 2 stripes again, finally! We were so happy we couldn’t contain it, we let family and close friends know. Things were finally going our way... or so we thought… fast forward to the first scan... no heartbeat, no developed fetus, just an empty gestational sack echoing our heartache.. AGAIN!!! How could this happen?!?! Anger, disappointment, utter disbelief and a very real feeling of “this is a sign”, I am not meant to be a mother, this just wasn’t meant to be. Because of my previous experience my doctor prescribed the medication to “expel” the remains. It was a very tearful ordeal but it was over within a week. At the next visit he did a check to see if everything had expelled and it hadn’t. We were forced to face the fact that a portion of the tiny placenta had remained behind and I had to have another operation to remove it. Operation number 5.

The doctor expertly removed the remains and ensured no scar tissue development. Once that was complete our journey started to work out exactly WHY this happened. He asked me a series of questions, one of them being “is there any blood clotting in your family”. The question hit a nerve and I tried to be as composed as possible as I answered “my mom died from deep vein thrombosis after a Hysterectomy”. Through the tears streaming down my face I could see a light go on, he immediately sent me for tests which confirmed it… I had Factor V Leiden, Heterozygous which is a blood clotting disorder. The heterozygous means I am more prone to developing blood clots in new veins that develop in my body, particularly during pregnancy. This explains the recurrent miscarriage; the fetus is effectively starving as the blood supply is cut off from blood clots developing in the new veins from the placenta… So what can I do?

Doc says this is easily manageable with medication during pregnancy. So he sent us off back to our normal life and asked us to let him know as soon as we are pregnant again. He didn’t have to wait long as within 2 months we were smiling down at another 2 stripes. Smiling but refusing to get excited. The doctor put me on the medication which is an injection per day of Clexane for the duration of my pregnancy, an injection into the stomach… Not fun but manageable.

Fast forward to the first scan at 7 weeks… Anxious doesn’t begin to explain it, we were so nervous and particularly trying not to get hopeful as we know what a hard fall it is. I didn’t want to look but couldn’t tear my eyes away, I was terrified of seeing this black empty space again… the scan appeared, it looked different this time, there was a baby in there. A BABY!!

And then we heard it, this perfectly normal little baby heartbeat. After 3 and a half years, after 5 operations, after 2 miscarriages, we finally had a heartbeat. I’m now 34 weeks and our routine scans have confirmed everything is progressing as normal. It’s a boy and we’ll be meeting our little man next month. To date I've had 205 injections but I'm not complaining.

I am not quite sure what the moral of this story is; it is not easy putting this all out there. Many women go through miscarriage and fertility challenges and never say a word about it. By doing this I hope I can ease someone’s pain or give them the strength they need to go see a specialist who knows what he is doing and to one day maybe be able to tell their story!!"

Jewel Perrin (born Kruger, daughter of my mother's sister Joan (born Van Vliet))

Thank you Lynn for your very informative history, just some info to let you know that our family also has factor v Leiden this stems from the van Vliet family. A professor in Vancouver Canada traced it to the Netherlands where my mom and your gran's ancestors come from, about 20 yearss ago my mom mentioned this to your gran to let everyone know and maybe have the test done, if your mom had it and your gran's family had it too. Thanks to God for this miracle . I am very happy for you and your husband. Oh and by the way my mom had a pulmonary embolism and at 60 I had a heart attack all because of the factor V

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