Friday, 27 July 2012

My Mom - The Bride

My Mom - The Bride
27 July 2012

It would appear as if my Mom is the perpetual bride.  Well, maybe that’s a bit unfair.  She’s actually only done the whole wedding thing three times.  But to be honest, each and every occasion has been truly unique.  And sadly, of her three weddings, I’ve only been to one.  In fact, the very first one to be precise, which is quite unusual.  To be fair, I was still in utero, so I’m not sure how much that counts, but still, I feel so lucky to have shared the special day with her and my dad.  And I think that my mom and I looked quite good.  Very obligingly I curled myself up really small that day and barely made a visible bump.  Obviously, my memory of that day is quite hazy, but by all accounts it was magnificent.

My folks were 18 and 19 and thrilled to bits to be getting married.  It had all come about rather quickly.  I’m assuming that they had not really anticipated a baby, but were delighted at having an excuse to get married.  They had been dating since my mom was 15.  My mom found out on her 18th birthday that she was pregnant and then had to urgently get hold of my dad, who had just been drafted to the army and was busy doing his basic training in Kimberley.  My grandparents offered to adopt “the baby”, but my parents declined the offer, declaring undying love to each other and a wish to be wed.  A wedding was arranged post haste and my dad was lucky enough to get a weekend pass from the army for his wedding.  Apparently there was much bantering about his crew cut hairstyle and all of my dad’s male friends did an impromptu “uit-tree” and lots of parade-ground-style marching at the wedding.  Those were the days of compulsory conscription and all the guys were doing military service at the time.  My folks dashed off to the Holiday-Inn in Bellville for a one night honeymoon, before my Dad had to catch the 9h00 train back to Kimberley for the rest of his basic training. 

My mom was studying to be a teacher at the Wellington Teacher’s College and got sent a lovely letter, asking her to please leave the College as she was pregnant and presumably bringing ill-repute to their formidable establishment.  My mom gracefully removed herself, had her baby and promptly started College again, this time in Stellenbosch, when I was just 10 days old.  Apparently I also started sleeping through the night when I was 10 days old (a suspicious co-incidence).  To this day my mom says that she’s not actually sure if I really did sleep through or if she was just too tired from being in College, studying, running a home and looking after me.  My mom often regales me with a funny story of when I was still a baby.  She says I woke up one night and she was absolutely shattered and just so exhausted.  She remembers stumbling out of bed to get both me and a bottle and then simply melted back into bed with me in her arms, falling fast asleep again within seconds.  Apparently my dad woke her up a short while later because I was crying in her arms.  She had stuck the bottle in my ear and it was dripping all over the bed.  My Dad gently nudged her awake and told her that that ear was full already, perhaps she should try the other one.

I simply love the photo’s of their wedding.  My folks just look so ridiculously young.  To quote my mom, within a very short while, they were kids with a kid and I was the best toy they ever had.  My grandparents were fantastically supportive.  My folks lived in a little flatlet in their house and my grandmother helped to look after me during the day while my mom was in College.  Money was in very short supply, but somehow as one does, they seemed to get by.  My mom and dad were truly happily married for 26 years before my Dad died from Cancer.  As was the norm with everything they did, my folks were ridiculously young when my Dad died and my mom was left a widow.  My dad was 46, my mom 44, I was 26 and Luke nearly a year old.

I had been so scared that my mom would be left alone and grow old on her own after my Dad died.  I truly did not want that for her and for the longest time after my Dad died, it felt as if all of us were stuck in a moggy fog – unable to escape.  But then in stepped a remarkable man, Rob Nagel.  Now would you know, that Rob and my Dad had been best friends?  How odd is that.  Rob claims that he fell in love with my mom the very first time he saw her (it’s so sweet – he still remembers what she wore that first day he saw her and how she wore her hair).  But what was he to do?  She was married to Frank – his very best friend.  My mom and Rob obviously remained friends after my dad’s death and kept in contact.  As time passed, they somehow got to have more contact and apparently one day, he phoned her up out of the blue and said “Maggie, I’m in love with you.  It’s been 3 years since Frankie died and I’ve waited long enough.”.   From what I gather, he put the phone down on that little bombshell and let my mom stew on that for a while.  So she stewed and stewed and about 3 minutes after he had phoned her, she phoned him back and the rest is history as they say.  They “went” out for a while, as in boyfriend and girlfriend, but eventually Rob said that it simply felt silly to say that Maggie was his girlfriend and they got engaged.  As is the by now familiar pattern with my mom, they did not take long to get it together and as both of them had already been married before, and neither wanted a big hoopla, they dashed off to the furthest (yes, furthest, not the nearest) Department of Home Affairs, with strict instructions to the passle of Lombards, just waiting in the wings to have a proper wedding.  They wanted to do this solo.  Just the two of them wearing jeans, black t-shirts, their Wayfearer Ray-Bans and slops.   Well, to be honest, we were all quite miffed.  So we decided that we didn’t need them after all and had our own little celebration at Cloetenberg.  Never mind the fact that there was no bride or groom, we had a fantastic wedding celebration in their absence.  Luckily Rob’s friend, Ou-Jan, paid no attention to them, joined them after the fact and took some lovely pics and boy don’t they just look sooo cute!  Simply love it!  So at the age of 29, I gained a step-dad whom I absolutely adore and love very, very much.  Interestingly enough, I also gained a  6 year old step-sister, called Katarina, who now lives with my folks.  Daya (Rob), is an awesome guy.  My mom reckons he had a long term plan with her.  He was always going to get her and never took his eye off the end game.  I truly love Daya and he is a fabulous grandfather to my kids.  Luke was too little to remember my dad when he died and Amber and Cole weren’t even born yet.  Daya is fun and funny and I both like and love him lots and am so grateful for the love and kindness he gives to my mom.  And to be honest, my Mom is quite a hectic package deal.  Daya did not just gain a wife – he gained a tribe of Lombards.  Never mind that, he proudly boasts that he is the only guy he knows that has a mother-in-law, an ex-mother-in-law as well as a step-mother-in-law.  Even my Dad’s mom loves and accepts him.

Now when is the third time my mom got married you might ask?  Well, this is the story.  The quick background, is that my mom is a hippie and a groupie.  No seriously, I’m not kidding.  As in growing own vegetables, the whole toot (I’m not saying she doesn’t buy any, but she can seriously eat from her garden).  She’s also into the whole live music thing.  In fact all of her husbands have been musicians.  My brother is also a musician as is my brother-in-law, various uncles, cousins, etc.  And my mom happens to be the manager for one of the bands, namely The Blues Broers.  And two of the starring musicians in The Blues Broers, are …..Daya and my brother, Albert Frost.  A long standing festival on the musical calendar every year is “Up the Creek” and my musical family are pretty much an institution at “Up the Creek”.  In fact at the first “Up the Creek” festival after my Dad died (believe it or not, he was the drummer for the Blues Broers – prrrdish!), they had a minute’s noise for him in remembrance.  Which was very, very apt.  A minute’s silence would so not have been his bag.  So one of the organisers of the festival, called my Mom up (he’s an old festival friend), because apparently at the previous year’s festival a couple got married and wouldn’t it be fun if my Mom and Rob got remarried again at the festival that year.   My mom stewed on this for about 3 seconds and said “Oh, what fun!  Let’s do it!”.  This was on the Thursday evening and the “wedding” would be on the Saturday afternoon.  I got a rush excited phone call from my Mom that Thursday night telling me all about it.  She was so chuffed, because she had just recently bought a white dress that would be perfect.  I was really bummed that I could not be there for the wedding, but quickly put my thinking cap on and did a bit of planning and mad dashing about. 

Firstly, I phoned my friend, Gill and asked her if she would do a sign for me (she does the whole signage thing).  The Blues Broers do a fabulous song called “I’d rather be sad, than happily married”.  So I asked Gill to do a sign like that for me, but we tweaked it a bit, making it more personal and applicable.  Next, I went to China Town and got my mom a white parasol (something new – check).  She was going to float down the river on a boat to her waiting groom.  Bear in mind that the festival is always over a scorching hot weekend, and most of the festival go-ers spend hours floating about in and on the Breede River, on anything from inflated tyres, to air mattresses, to lilo’s, etc.  And what would a bride be without a white parasol after all?  Dashed to the fabric shop and got some blue ribbon for her to wrap around the handle of the parasol (something blue – check!).  Went to my Ouma Helene and explained my plans to her and asked her for some jewellery for my mom to borrow (something borrowed – check, as well as something old - check).  I arranged a lift through for my parcel of goodies and apparently big was my Mom’s surprise on the morning of the wedding when she got all the gear.  She loved the goodies I’d sent and Gill’s sign was a huge hit.  From what I’ve heard, the wedding was the talk of the festival.  In fact they even made the papers.  Loads of photo’s were taken and don’t they just look sooo sweet! 

Only my Mom, hey?  She is simply the best and truly unique.  I did have a very cunning plot though.  About 2 000 people attend “Up the Creek” every year.  Now, by my estimation, if every person there just gave R100 as a “wedding gift” to my Mom and Daya, my Mom and I could have gone on a lovely Honeymoon to visit my sister in the UK.  I mean neither of her other weddings or honeymoons had been conventional, so why should this one be? 

Wedding 3 - February 2012

Wedding 2 - 13 September 2002

Wedding 1 - 27 May 1972


  1. Helene!! You really got me!! How sweet of you, my awesome and special gal! You are full of surprises, incredibly thoughtful and very sneaky too.
    Going to keep you!

  2. What a special story. X

  3. Your mom has suggested I read this blog. We are just heading out to the Rocky Mountains camping but once I have more time, possibly in winter, I so look forward to reading your writing, Helene! I have so enjoyed being your mom's far away facebook friend and come to love all of you through her. So till then...all the best...from Debbie, Alberta, Canada.

  4. Nikki Beyer Koen1 August 2012 at 09:01

    Loved reading that , how special !

  5. Wow, what a nice story, I am so happy that I was at the 3rd wedding at Up The Creek.

  6. I agree with your Mom - she's gonna have to keep you. So 'n bek kort jêm!

  7. Helene, I am so loving reading your blogs!! Ya gotta keep going girl!! So inspiring!