46, 47, 48 …

I had to ask Old Spouse how old I am. It’s a bit distressing to find I’ve spent all of this year thinking I am only 46, when I am – in fact – 47. The reason I wanted to know is because it would have been my parents’ 48th wedding anniversary today. Yes, I know … I was a January baby. Don’t bother doing the math. It wasn’t exactly a shotgun marriage; they had planned it, but had to speed things up a bit.
In my memories they’re always young and slightly apart from us, the children. Oh, they were present for us, good parents, but I think of them as an insular unit. There were us, and there was them.
She’d not had a boyfriend before him; he’d had one girlfriend and had her name roughly tattooed on his wrist. This tattoo made my mom cross, for years and years, and she bought my dad a big watch to cover it.
It’s hopeless … I will be retrospective today. I may as well wallow in it …
1. I am eleven years old. I walk home from the bus stop to find my Nan sitting in the lounge with my mom. This is unusual for a week-day. My mom tells me “Oupa died this morning” and I laugh hysterically, or so I think, and then I am sitting on the floor crying and can’t stop.
2. Uncle Arch has visited and given us those sweets that look like large apricots. I am eight, my brother is four. I gobble my sweets and he hoards his. Later I cannot resist temptation and take a bite of one of his; he sees me and stabs me on the side of my face with a toy screwdriver. I still have the scar.
3. My bath is being run. I pick up my mother’s petticoat from the stool in the bathroom and wear it like a boob-tube dress and pose in front of the mirror, pretending I am Twiggy.
4. Standard Four (Grade 6): Anneline Kriel has brought home the Miss World title and will be making a parade through Bloemfontein one night. It is a school night, so we aren’t going. We have our baths and supper, and then my mom says ‘Get in the car’ and off we go, in our pyjamas. The next day at school, popular Paula Nunes asks everyone ‘Did you see baby-Cindy in her pyjamas last night?’ and everyone laughs for days.
5. Also Standard Four: My mom tells us to stay inside and not come out under any circumstances. Then she sits on the stoep, smoking and waiting until my dad gets home from work, she walks to his car. We hear the strangest sound, a groaning; like a severely wounded animal. She has told him that his best friend has died in a parachute malfunction. It is the first time I hear a grown man cry.
6. Uncle Billy and my dad are laughing in the kitchen and I go to see what it’s all about. My dad says ‘close your eyes and open your mouth’ and I taste the most heavenly thing in the world. I open my eyes and he pulls a red monster from a pot on the stove. ‘Want some more?’ and I scream in terror. My first encounter with crayfish.
7. My mom is helping me with my homework at the kitchen table. A neighbour bursts in through the door with my baby sister (four years old) in her arms; bleeding, broken little body. Two boys were racing on their bicycles and one lost control and ramped onto the sidewalk where she was playing and dragged her along under his bike for a few meters. Those nights that she slept at the hospital were the first time my mother was away from me for such a long period of time.
8. It is a Sunday night in summer, I must be six or younger because my sister isn’t in the picture yet. It is hot and my mom says we are allowed to eat rubbish food and break the rules. We have waffles with ice cream and hundreds-and-thousands sprinkles, and Cream Soda. We eat outside and then lie on the lawn. My dad lies propped on one elbow and leans over to kiss my mom. I get embarrassed and start doing cartwheels to get them to stop.
9. We’re fourteen, my friend Zelda and I. It is a Friday afternoon and we’re getting ready for a party that night. I’m lying on the floor of her bedroom, reading James Mitchener’s The Drifters. I roll onto my side to reach for a glass of Coke and I burn my arm on the curling iron which has been turned on in readiness for us to try and replicate Purdy’s hairstyle. Another scar.
10. It is my sixteenth birthday, and my father’s 37th. It is a very important day; since I was born on his 21st, my dad has vowed that he will take me ‘wining and dining’ when I turn 16. We are going to the President Hotel and I have a white Broderie Anglaise dress, made for me after a photograph of Barbara Barnard in an Errol Arendz creation in Fair Lady magazine. I feel like a princess.

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63 thoughts on “46, 47, 48 …

  1. Some years do seem to be transitions and everything comes flooding back. I wonder why.

    Tomorrow is another day with new memories to build, not just for us but for our kids too.

    Blessings dear Cindy, forty-seven years young.

  2. Great to visualize you in those occasions that gave rise to a variety of emotion. The difference in years, in countries, in cultures…they do not affect one incredibly powerful fact. We shared girl-hood! I love you, Cin.

  3. What wonderful memories Cin!!
    I remember that Fair Lady and that dress so well – I wanted one just like that and my mom said I was too short! Pfft!!! 🙂

  4. That is a nice rainbow collection of memories. Quite a realistic reflection of life in the good and the bad/sad. You have so many stories to tel 🙂

  5. You are too funny…I have a similar probelem with age except I think I am older than I am. I have said that I’m fortyeight for the past three years when in fact I won’t turn fortyeight until this July!

  6. We live umpteen thousand days and nights growing up, yet certain events stick in our minds as though they were in some way ultra meaningful. Apparently, they were exactly that. Stepping stones, memories that became substantive, a part of who we are. Thank you for sharing your memories. Blessings to you, Cindy…

  7. age: a sensitive issue; I’ve been the same AGE FOR THE LAST FEW YEARS —- AND i’M NOT SHIFTING FOR ANOTHER TWO 🙂

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