This is baby me with my mother and pet budgie Coobie - Knorhoek, Sir Lowries Pass, 1973.
Mum had just turned 24 in January, 5 days before I was born.
She had met my father while working at the Cape Times, where as an outside rep, he used to sit at a desk close to hers in the same office. Mum would take messages for him when he was out. She remembers thinking he was very posh in her view at the time and he made his attraction for her quite obvious. My older sister was born when mum was 20 and as a single mother, she was just making ends meet, living in a small flat in Wynberg. She developed a serious eye infection and was booked off work for a month with her eyes bandaged up, making caring for my older sister, a toddler at the time ridiculously challenging. It was just after my sister had fallen carrying a glass, severing the artery in her hand, that he had called...to find out how she was.
Mum needed help, and he offered it. He moved in and one thing led to another as it does, from the divan to her bed. It was with overwhelming relief, that she agreed to move into his flat in Moullie Point. He arranged a new cheap Toyota for her and made sure the bills were paid. Comforted and safe, cared for and adored. She knew that the deep care she felt for him was not love. It's just that living with a man was not quite the done thing in those days and the enticing sense of security with the continual nagging from her caustic mother lulled her into aggreeing to marry.
He never did admit to being thirty years older than she was, or to having 2 girls both older than she was. Until much later. But she felt comfortable and safe so she stayed with him. They married on 11 March 1972 and I was born on 29 January 1973. They had moved to Knorhoek in Sir Lowries Pass and I was born in the same room as my sister had been at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Pinelands. My mother was wearing a green paisley printed cotton top when I was born, which I keep to this day. From the first minute he saw me, Mum says Dad was besotted.
But she just wasn't in love with him and he started being distrustful and suffocating her independance. Not a great idea with a freedom-loving Aquarian. I think about how he must have felt. She was beautiful and young, a free spirit with so much pain still unprocessed, and yet so strong. How he must have cherished the idea of having her. He would have known she didn't love him, growing angry and jealous imagining losing her to another's arms. Claustrophobic love stifled the care she felt for him and suburbia closed in.
A holiday in Plett offered space and clarity. Visiting her brother on his farm, she felt a sense of place, family and support and so she began to contemplate her escape.
My mum insisted they move to Plett and a flat in a block called Dolphins Court became our new home. Dad commuted to Cape Town. The bird flew the coop, Plett the perfect playground for freedom and flaunting it. She grew strong enough and he pushed her to the edge. Apparently went she told me they were getting divorced and she asked me if I knew what that meant, I said quite confidently that yes I did - it was the same as wors. I was 5 when they divorced.
At the time of the divorce, we lived on a smallholding called Holt Hill. My mother, my sister, my new baby sister and the gardner Cornelius. I remember such good times with our cousins who lived at Cloud Nine further up the road. What heaven for young children. We ran wild through fields and forest. Picking fruit off the peach tree and eating peas from their pods. Building forts in the pine forests and make-believe towns from sticks and clay. Swimming in the muddy dams and riding Tanglefoot the horse. Molly and Folly the donkeys and Polly and Jasper, the labradors. Collecting pansy shells on the beach in the morning light. Peanut butter and jam sandwiches and secret tins of condensed milk. Giggles and tears and sun and sadness.
Here I am at 5, on a swing on our farm, Holt Hill.
As I sit here thinking about this, I consider how different my mother's memories are to mine.
How oblivious and yet aware we are as children, so forgiving and innocent. How honest and new. What do we remember? What memories do we hide away?
Cammy remembers the wonderful memories most.