Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Secret is Revealed

I can finally tell you what I have been busy with day and night.

As you know my very awesome Daughter Carmen turned 21 on Sunday.

I tossed and turned wracking my wee brain for an idea for a present.

Remember the nineties politically correct statements?

Well to put it in good terms we are currently financially disabled.

Buying Carmen anything worth well was not a possibility.

So I thinked and thinked and thinked.

Then it came to me.

My Larmy (her pet name) is very sentimental.

 I decided to write her a book.  Only problem is I only came up with the idea 2 weeks before her birthday.

First thing I did was scan like a maniac which took about 3 days.

Then I started  to panic because I realised there was so much to be told and I was sure I would not get it done in time.

I started with her family history and my Mom was wonderful she faxed me nine pages telling about her Grandparents and her parents and lastly herself.

As you know my dear husband has been rather grumpy (given up smoking) but getting better.  I wondered if I should ask him to write something for Carmen but then thought better of it because he does not really like to write and I thought he might feel pressurised.  Typical silliness he spent the entire two weeks waiting for me to ask him.  A few hours before the book was finished he finally burst and asked me,

"Why are you not asking me to write anything for Carmen? Don't you think she is important to me? Or am I not important to her?" I quickly reassured him and let him dictate the letter to me.

In true Vivian absent minded fashion I only remembered to ask half the contributors for a contribution 2 days before deadline.  Everybody that I did this to that could not manage the deadline my apologies and I will add you to the book.

Some photos from her book

                                                            Carmen with her Granny
Carmen with my cousins
Carmen and Raewyn

Carmen with me

Carmen, Raewyn, Jess and I

Part of what my Mom wrote for Carmen it tells about my Grandfather's struggles as a farmer (My Mom's family is Afrikaans in Afrikaans we refer to Grandmother as Ouma and Grandfather as Oupa)
He (this is in my lifetime) went to farm on my Ouma Aggies farm at Laersdrift. I think I showed you where the farm was when you were living there with us)  He had no car or tractor, only a bicycle for transport and 4 mules to pull the plough.  Because he had little money, the older farmers advised him to plant buckwheat  because it never fails and he can make money to do something else the following year.    Grandpa planted his buck wheat and watched it grow.  No sooner was the buckwheat read to harvest than that night a huge hailstorm came up.  ALL Oupas buckwheat was flattened and he lost everything.  He could not go on farming and had to find a job. 
He was also a land surveyor and went to work for water affairs.  They built dams at the time of this farming disaster Oupa worked and we lived at Roosenekal, but not on the farm yet.  When I was 16 Oupa surveyed the area around the farm, saw the farm and fell in love with it and bought the farm.   He went farming again and Ouma Skattie was a teacher.  She lived in the school  hostel in Roosenekal with uncle Ebie and Aunty Tiens who was a baby at the time.  They went home for weekends because even then the road was to bad to travel on daily.   By that time Oupa had an old car, that broke most of the time.  We often walked up the mountain to the farm.  

Oupa decided to start cattle farming.  He bought 30 jersey cows and a bull from the landbank.  (Remember he still had no money)  We lived on Oumas teaching salary.  Well, it rained more than ever that year and springs shot up all over the farm.  Because of the wet the cows got stuck in the mud .  One after the other died.  Eventually Oupa had only 1 cow left and the bull  He was fortunately a very optimistic kind of a person and persevered with his 1 cow and bull.
Unfortunately the bull jumped over a fence and damaged his reproductive organs so no calves.  As Oupa was an optimist he said Ok we can still work it we can borrow the neighbours bull to make calves.  Before we could do that the last cow fell and got stuck in the mud.  Oupa now had no animals and a huge loan from the landbank to pay back .
 He went back to work for water affairs again and never had the chance to farm again, although the farm stayed in the family.  In later years Ouma used her pension money from teaching and they bought a shop at Roosenekal.  It was quite successful and they eventually sold up.  They lived on the farm for a few years until they were too old then they moved to Middelburg where Oupa died. 

My Oupa in a photo with my brother, we all loved him very much he was such a good kind man.

PS: Carmen loves her book.  (109 pages) 


  1. Ah. I read that with misty eyes. Such a good man by the sound of it and such incredibly bad luck. Yet he came through it deeply loved :)

  2. Jayn between my Mom, My Aunt, Penny and I we all thought that we were his favourite turns out he had none he just made us believe that because he loved us all so much.  He had this deep roaring belly laugh and he loved to tell stories and often could not carry on because he would be laughing too much.  He may not have been a good farmer but he was the best father and grand father.

  3. Wonderful gift, even better tribute. My mother and sisters-in-law did something similar for my daughter/me for a baby shower gift, and I wept like a child for a good 10 minutes. There I was seven months pregnant, big as a house, sitting in front of all my guests, sobbing uncontrollably. My daughter wants to read this book almost every night - nothing thrills me more.

  4. That is lovely Sosha, my daughter was reading her's in a coffee shop for the first time and she says people thought she was crazy because she was laughing and crying.  My daughter's boyfriend sent me an sms thanking me for making the book for Carmen and he said "There were even tears in my eyes"  I called my daughter the next day and told her about her boyfriends sms, she said "Bullshit, he cried like a girl"

  5. What a sweet idea for your daughter.  I'm sure she'll treasure it always.  

  6. THAT'S the best best gift ever!  I wrote a book to my Mom after I grduated from college and she cherishes it!  I know not quite the same thing but what an awesome cherishable idea!

  7. She is very very happy with it.  We are only having her party on the 28th April, so I am printing her book for her for then.

  8. That is so thoughtful Jennie, I am ashamed to say that at that age I was not as thoughtful to have done anything similar for my Mommy.