Granny had a little Fiat motor car, and worked half day for the S.C.C.S.A. more commonly called The Sports Car Club of South Africa, as an accountant. Every afternoon just after we had arrived back from school, we would hear Granny’s little car hurtling up Westmeath sounding like a Singer sewing machine. Granny, you see, only used fist and fourth gear in her car, so you could identify her driving from some way off. She would bustle into the kitchen via the back door, we never seemed to use the main entrance to the house, rush through the kitchen, right into the passage, up the corridor into her room and emerge about fifteen minutes later in her house coat and slippers.
She would then attend to our lunch, gone were the days where Hubby was able to feed us. Lunch consisted of sandwiches, a glass of milk and a fruit. That was her idea of a balanced lunch for growing children, then we were shooed outdoors where we were expected to play quietly, another of her ways, children should of course be seen and not heard, or if heard, quietly and outside.
Granny would then spend the rest of the afternoon baking, she would turn out the most delicious chocolate cakes, Swiss-rolls, meringues and all sorts of biscuits and crunchy snacks, so that even though we were given what she considered a healthy lunch, we were spoilt with all sorts of home made sweets and cakes. The fact that we were so active climbing the peach and plum trees, as well as running almost non stop, playing games such as cowboys and crooks as well as cops and robbers (Karen always being the bad guy) is the reason that we never became obese.
The only thing that we used to fight about in those far of times was who got to lick the batter bowl, and who got the icing bowl. Looking back, those years were very similar to what we would later see on American television shows of the ideal family. The world’s idea of the nuclear family, the father out making the bacon (in our case laying the bacon) and mother keeping home like a good wife (in our case mother working and keeping office for father for free), “Granny will be replacing mother for the next couple of years as the good housewife”. These and other worries had not as yet registered into our sweet but selfish childish minds, so we played, ate, laughed and occasionally cried with the total abandon of the truly innocent. How all that was to change in a few years.
I think it was that year that it snowed in Johannesburg, but I might have my years a little mixed up, but no matter, the recollection of a four year old or younger does not remember dates that well, but as I remember it, it was the first winter snow for many a year. Father was unusually home that particular day, we kids were bundled up in jerseys and jackets and for the only time that I can remember we played as a family. We threw snowballs, built snowmen, in my father’s case a snow-woman, anatomically correct in all details. Somewhere in the boxes of photographs that were stored in my mother’s flat, before her untimely death, there is a picture of that perfect day.
We tumbled in the snow and behaved all four of us, as innocent children. It was never to happen again, but what a wonderful day that was. It was bedlam with my Mother snapping pictures with her small Kodak instamatic, dad chasing us kids with a giant snowball, and Tina trying to get involved in this brief but poignant moment of family madness and fun.
Granny cooked a roast, and we had hot mulled wine for the first time in our young lives. I must point out at this time that we very seldom had alcohol in our house as my father very seldom imbibed of either the grape or of malt. For all his faults, alcohol was not one of them. He is the only man that I have ever known that has requested a glass of milk in a bar. Only later in life was he partial to a small whisky to help thin his blood. I remember going to bed that night feeling loved and cared for, my heart swelling with the pride that I felt for my wonderful father, so big, strong and wise, an unbreakable anchor in my young life. He would be the rock that I would be able to build my young life on. How wrong can one be?
Hugs and much more,