Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Celebrating a Diamond Wedding Anniversary

Celebrating a Diamond Wedding Anniversary
8 July 2013

Being married is darn hard work.  You have to actively and consciously be considerate of somebody else every single day of your life.  Being mindful of their wishes, needs and desires.  Having love left over in your heart for them after all of that, is rather an amazing miracle.  And possibly requires a mind-set of sorts.

Still my incredible grandparents have managed to achieve just that.  Just a short while ago, we celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary.  Or as my Ouma Helene liked to call it, their DWA (Diamond Wedding Anniversary).

And largely thanks to that very same Ouma Helene, my family has a remarkably well developed sense of occasion.  We're given to celebration rather often.  Though in actual fact that could also be partly due to the large number of people in the family, giving much cause for celebration with their every achievement.  Still sometimes we celebrate just being us and being together.  No outside impetus needed, like an engagement, birth, milestone birthday, career achievement, etc.  Though we quite obviously give those the due pomp and ceremony they deserve too.  Occasionally, we just rejoice in how good it is to be us and to be together.  And I clearly remember celebrating my grandparents' GWA (Ouma Helene with her acronyms again - Golden Wedding Anniversary) just ten years ago, with many family e-mails going back and forth as planning for the event was stepped up a notch.  And the heading and subject of every single mail for weeks on end was, "The GWA".  It was thus with a wonderful sense and feeling of deja vu, that of late we'd been inundated with many family mails, all with the heading, "The DWA".  Hey, at least we're consistent.

The day dawned beautifully with magnificent weather.  And by late morning, Cloetenberg, the home of my grandparents, was a flurry of activity.  Tables and chairs were set out, the coffee and tea things all ready for the influx of guests.  Soups all made for the evening’s meal too.  And a general air of excitement permeating it all.  Palpable in fact.

What an incredible privilege and remarkable achievement to celebrate dedicating your life to one person only.  In today’s times, this is rather unusual.  Couples don’t stay together half as often any more.  Giving up is easy.  Still my grandparents were clearly made of sterner stuff, and managed to traverse many an obstacle in their sixty years together.  And how richly they’ve been rewarded for their efforts.  What a legacy they are leaving.  They have a very large and loving family, who enjoy each other’s company lots.  Many families can sadly not say the same.  There is no animosity and ill feelings between family members.  If people have beef with each other (which almost never happens), they immediately talk about it and resolve the issue.  Moving forward once more, with no continual harping on that which has passed.  We all genuinely like each other and enjoy spending as much time together as possible.  We go away together often, and as mentioned before, have random get-togethers, purely for the fun of it.

I was completely and utterly blown away by the amount of guests at the DWA.  Apart from the immediate family, my grandparents had cousins there, some of the original wedding guests, and many of their friends.  Friends from many moons ago, and friends from just a few moons ago too.  How amazing that they are so richly blessed with people that care about them.  Especially at their age.  Many people become reclusive, lonesome and solitary as they get older.  Their worlds get smaller.  But not my grandparents.  As ever, they still have an active social life.  They belong to intellectual groups where they get stimulated, head committees, and actively search for continual enlightenment.  Hence their large circle of friends, and acquaintances too.  They inspire people to reach further, do more and dream bigger.  And their party was a testament to this spirit.

It was a glorious celebration.  And Cloetenberg shone line the jewel that she is.  People were happy, festive and joyful.  Sharing an occasion like this with two unique and special people is truly a privilege for all those who attended.

The speeches were fantastic.  Paying tribute to their awesome achievement.  Their strength of spirit.  Their never-give-up attitude to life.  Their dedication to each other, their family and all that they tackle in life.

I salute them for all that they stand for.  And thank them for the amazing example they have set for three generations of Lombards, following in their wake – their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren too.

And given their indomitable spirits, I very much look forward to future e-mails, in about ten years’ time – all with the heading, “The PWA”.  I’m pretty sure their Platinum Anniversary will be equally unique.

Viva Oupa and Ouma!  Viva!

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Our much beloved Cloetenberg

(Don't tell anyone, but Maggie used a watering can to fill the urn)

The Lombard Five with Oupa and Ouma

Hamming it up for the camera - every "kid" donning a pair of reading glasses - they've clearly all got short arms

Cloetenberg from the road

Guests mingling

Beautiful garden - kids on the swing, and Buddy-gal lying in the sun

Most magnificent garden!

Garden once more

Some familiar Cloete's in the foreground

Glorious winter's day - with guests enjoying the outside area

Cuzzie Roxy and my awesome aunt, Trish

And so the speeches began - Willem (my youngest uncle) takes the floor - I mean chair

Oupa and Ouma listening to their praises

Willem did an awesome job

Next in line was my beautiful aunt, Bettie - reading awesome speeches from her husband, Bert, and my cousins Gareth and Maria - sadly Bettie was the only representative of the Bertolani family, as they are all financial refugee's in Joburg, and don't live in the Cape

Everyone listening avidly

Such a beautiful setting

All listening

Oi vey!  Even I had a go - representing my lazy lout cousins and siblings - twelve grandchildren in all.  I am terrible at doing speeches.  But luckily not too bad at reading them.  Public speaking - blegh!!!  Writing the words is the easy bit - saying them?  Not so much.

But the star of the show by far, was our much beloved Myta.  A consistent companion, mother figure, and the voice of reason for all of us.  She started out with our family as a young fourteen year old and has a common bond with my Ouma Helene as they share the same "geboorte-plaas".  She is mother, friend and confidant to every single one of us, and very much loved.  Fifty seven years later, she is still going strong. 

Myta is the most amazing public speaker and regaled all with her tales, having shared nearly all sixty years of Oupa and Ouma's married lives with them.  She entertained us with the way she recalled the constant searching at home for hearing aids (the dogs have eaten more than one pair already), spectacles and false teeth.  Just the other day, Oupa's teeth went through the washing machine.  I'm assuming they've never been cleaner.....  Mishaps of this nature, happen extremely often.

Myta enthralled the crowd

Spellbound guests

At 82, even Oupa Willem braved the chair to say his little bit - Bettie hovered close by, just in case he toppled over

And Maggie finished it all off beautifully

A wonderful highlight, was a family Skype session, with cousin Adam, all the way from Istanbul

Everyone huddling close to the computer to have a chat with Adam

Night time splendour - candles atop the piano.  Simply love the muted lighting.

The coffee, cake and tea is done.  Most guests have left.  Preparing for the family soup feast for those still remaining.

Let the eating commence

With any celebrated occasion at Cloetenberg, one whole wall is dedicated to photos.  And here are a few beauties from that long ago wedding day.

Chat session around the fire place - so nice and cosy

Kids having a giggle

The carnage after supper - we flattened about seven huge big bowls of soup - delish!  I thought I'd pop, as I simply had to sample all on offer.  Oxtail soup, Red Pepper, Green Pea and Ham, Butternut, Vegetable Barley, etc.  Amazing!

Family champagne toasts after supper

Such special family times

Very, very social

Family photo taken of those still remaining.  Sadly quite a few absentee's.  Family far away, etc.

Such a lovely, happy photo with lots of smiles

Oupa and Ouma with their five kids

Sibling antics

My beautiful cousins, Roxy and Elaine

Opening of the gifts

Ouma had insisted that she didn't want any gifts.  Ridiculous!  And so we advised all who asked, to give chocolates and edible treats.  All with a view on Ouma sharing them with us at Kleinbaai.  It worked a charm!


  1. Such a treat reading this and seeing your stunning pictures of your more than stunning grandparents, Helene. You are indeed lucky to be a member of the Lombard/Retief clan and even luckier to have grown up in gorgeous Cloetenburg. I used to love going there as a young child and later for the dreaded band practices! :)

  2. Was a wonderful occasion......was a chance to see Bettie again at Cloetenburg....my bestest friend from Sub A till early high school......brought back many happy memories of a family...(and now very much extended family).......who's values and beliefs truly reflect the true meaning of family......ps...the oxtail soup was to die for.....best version of oxtail I have ever tasted....and I love my food......very special to celebrate a diamond anniversary of two people who clearly have laid a solid foundation for many. many generations to come...Viva! Mr & Mrs Lombard.......Love to all....Lyn

  3. What a jol AS ALWAYS!! And so delighted that we have Helene to always archive all our lovely events on her blog! So sorry to be in the Cape solo - but it was wonderful to see everyone and old friends too like Lyn. My dear friend Alan Shrive asked me who deserves the medal after 60 years of marriage - and my immediate response was THE KIDS!!!! tee hee!! I am so proud of my parents, and of my entire family. Lucky fishes we are!