Wednesday, 8 January 2014

My brother - Albert


 My brother - Albert
7 January 2013

On the 7th of January 1977, I got an early birthday present – a baby brother.  Truth be told, my gift left much to be desired.

However, at the same time, I was super excited.  I was a tomboy at heart, and was delighted at the gift of a brother, particularly, as I would now permanently have a friend on hand to play cars, as well as Cowboys and Indians with.  Not to even mention Hide-and-Seek.

Huge was my surprise, when he just flopped about a lot.  Not even saying a word.  Not much of a friend in the beginning.  Inconveniently rather demanding of our mother.

And on the 10th of January, during my 4th birthday party, my dad brought my mom and my brother home from the hospital.  In hindsight, with the gift of adulthood, I am blown away by my mom’s amazing ability, to still organise a party for me.  Despite knowing the fact that she might miss it.  Despite not knowing exactly when my brother would be born.  As I think, that just like me, he was also due on New Year’s day.  He at least had the grace to only make my folks wait a week to meet him.  Whereas I had decided to go the full hog, and only put in an appearance on the 10th  of January.  Though chances are that back in those days, due dates were a bit hazy, without the modern benefit of scans, etc.  Who knows exactly when we were actually due.

Still it was exceptionally thoughtful of my mom, who most likely with the help of both of my grannies, gave me a birthday party.  They understood, that it was important for me to still have my little shine, and not feel completely usurped by the latest addition to the family.  And to this day, I still remember a few things about my 4th birthday party – the arrival of the most longed for little brother, the joy of having my mom home again, being surrounded by family and friends, and the violent green “Haas Daas” cake that my Ouma Cathy had made for me.  I didn’t know that desiccated coconut could be that colour and still be edible.  It was wonderful.

We’ve always been a close family.  And luckily Albert and I have always gotten along well.  We share a special bond – born partly from sharing the same childhood and surviving the same wacky family and upbringing.  He was the kindest, most gentle, shy little boy in the whole world, and he had a soft and small heart.  With an incredible sweetness to him, that still lingers to this day.  And when I close my eyes, I can still see that little boy, with his skinny little legs and the freckles liberally sprinkled across his nose.  He was relatively quiet, and an introvert, who was exceptionally perceptive.  Despite his shyness, he had a way of standing on the periphery of the world, observing things from the side lines.  Absorbing it all.  He had a fantastic sense of humour.  Still to this day.  And then the teenage years hit, and he came out of his shell.  And turned into the family clown.

We grew up in a musical home.  A noisy home, where there was always music playing – either live or on the stereo.  In addition, our home was nicknamed, “Grand Central Station” – family and friends continually popping in, as there was an open door policy in play.  It was not uncommon for the door bell to ring at 11pm at night.  And a whole troop of people to come traipsing in.    

My folks had a ridiculously early start to family life.  Being mere kids themselves, when they started their family.  Both of them were also the eldest kids in the homes they grew up in.  And so therefore, their siblings were younger than them.  None of their friends had kids – as they too were kids.  And thus we were always exposed to a lot of adults – albeit mostly young ones.  There simply were no other kids of our age for us to play with.  And the benefit of this, was that we grew up, being used to conversing with adults.  To listening and not interrupting.  Of hearing wonderful things, as one tends to do, when you’re small and you listen to adults.  And of us three siblings, having each other as friends.  And having to make do with one another for company.

All of us, soaked all of this up, and it has been formative, in the adults we have become.  And in the parents that we are to our kids.

Initially, I was the musically talented kid in the family.  Playing the piano, for years and years and years.  Until one fine day, when Albert, aged thirteen picked up a guitar.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  My folks had been encouraging of us, in all that we did. Equipping us, as best they could.  And supporting us all the way.  Giving us the tools needed.

Albert took to the guitar, like a natural.  Because, quite obviously, he was.  And I have the very fondest memories, of sitting with him on his bed in his bedroom, and listening to him playing.  Singing along.

The basic truth is this – when I was four, my folks gave me a little brother.  And I’ve been grateful for him ever since.  He’s an awesome, amazing, incredible guy.  I am so blessed to call him a friend and a confidant.  He’s humble, kind, extremely funny, talented, caring, interesting, unique and special.  He’s a wonderful dad, a phenomenal friend, a thoughtful son and a fantastic brother.

For thirty seven years, I’ve had his back.  And he’s had mine.

Happy Birthday Dude!  Love you lots!

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Albert - about seven years old, playing dress-up with our Dad's old army gear

Going biking with our uncle Dan - up the Kleinbaai driveway

A sombre looking Albert and Katrine watching TV

Belly laughing one Kleinbaai holiday.  I was fourteen and in dire need of some serious dental work.  Suffering the effects of a bad perm.  Katrine was about seven.  And Albert was about ten.

Albert the cutie - love the little freckles

Early family photo - here my Dad is suffering the after effects of a bad perm...

Albert's christening day - with our Ouma Cathy - my dad's mom

Some of Albert's school photos through the years - too cute!

Pensive Albert - a very common pose

Christmas dinner many, many, many years ago

1 comment:

  1. What a precious story, Helene.
    Albert has always(well mostly) been a real sweetie!