Category Archives: Love Story

Post 61. Our honeymoon

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The end of our wedding video shows us holding hands, romantically walking into the sunset.  That is NOT how it happened.

A room was booked for our first night at a pretty B & B called Mount Grace.  It was getting late and it was going to take a few hours to get there.   We waved goodbye to everyone and got into our new second hand VW Golf.   It wouldn’t start.  Tony tried again and again, but no joy.   I piled into Wilf and Val’s car with the cake, gifts and other members of the family while Tony and the guys tried to get it going.

When we realised it wasn’t going start, Rig said we could use his car.  I met Tony back at Rig and Sue’s and off we went on honeymoon.  At last.

Mount Grace: Let’s just say, we didn’t see the light of day.

I had tele-booked a few places in and around the Kruger National Park.   The only thing we had to go by were the brochures sent to us in the mail.  Our plan was to make our way around White River and Nelspruit in North Eastern Natal.

After a night and a day at Mount Grace, we drove to our next destination.  It sounded and looked amazing in the brochure.  It was a difficult place to find and arriving in the dark didn’t help.  There was no-one at the gate when we got there, so I stayed in the car while Tony went to find the guard.  He showed us to our room by the light of his torch and we unpacked the car.  It was pitch dark.   There was one dim light bulb in the room and that was enough for us to see what we needed to see.  It was a tiny, dingy room with just enough room for small double bed.  It was smoky and smelt like burnt porridge.  We picked up our stuff and put it back in the car.  The guard found the owner and we managed to get our money back.  We took off into the darkness and found a place for our second night.

It was an adventurous, wonderful week.  I had my first birthday as a married woman and was spoilt rotten.  The highlight was our 3 days in the Kruger.

Tony had been among some wild people but never among wild animals.  We drove around and found a mother elephant with her calf.  The road we were on separated them from each other.  We drove between them and Tony decided he wanted another, closer look.  He got into reverse and went quite close to the baby.  Mummy didn’t like that.  She started to trumpet and charge us.  In his panic Tony couldn’t get the car out of reverse.  I was shouting and he was grinding the gears.  Somehow we managed to leave her in the dust.

When our three days were up, we drove North.  We hadn’t booked but we were sure we would be able to find a place to stay.    We drove in the direction of Johannesburg and stopped at every motel, hotel and guest house on the way; there was nothing.  Every place was fully booked so we kept on driving, and driving and driving.  Before we knew it we were back at our cottage.  Poor Betty was shocked and horrified when we knocked on the door.  She couldn’t stop apologising for being in our bed while we were still on honeymoon.  We made up a mattress in the lounge and fell dead asleep.  We were exhausted.

We had driven five hours through the night looking for a place to stay.  It was so nice to be in our cottage.  There was no place like our first home.  Even if my mother-in-law was there.

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Post 60. 3 May 1986

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Our day had finally come.  It was the 3 May 1986 and it was a beautiful Johannesburg day.  I got ready at Rig and Sue’s place and Tony was at the cottage with Betty and Peter.

Tony and I

Tony and I

We decided that the sleeves on my dress needed to be changed so Val got to that.  Sue did my hair and make-up, putting up with my comments like “Don’t make it too boofy, not too much make up on my eyes.”   She tried to convince me that I needed to wear nail polish just for one day in my life.   Leigh was wearing a pretty pink cottagey dress and Ryan looked handsome with his braces and bow tie.  We were ready way ahead of time.

Tony and Peter

Tony and Peter

Meanwhile, Tony and Betty were locked out of the cottage.  Peter had the key and there was no way to get hold of him.  Betty had borrowed an iron the night before and it leaked a brown liquid on Tony’s white jacket.  She needed to get into the cottage to dry it with a hair dryer. Tony found a small window at the back and managed to get in.

Sue and I

Sue and I

Then it was Sue’s turn.  She put on her white high waist pants and her purplish blouse.  Her massive shoulder pads just wouldn’t sit right.  From that moment on she was obsessed with them.  She took them out, turned them around, upside down and they were still wrong.  When we walked out of the house, she was still fidgeting.

Dave and Wilf came to pick us up.  They both looked handsome and happy.  Wilf was slightly tearful.

With Wilf and Dave

With Wilf and Dave

The garden looked lovely but that wasn’t my focus.  I just wanted to see Tony.  Dad walked me half way down the aisle and Tony walked to meet us.  They shook hands and I was handed over.  Tony was so calm.  In that moment he was aware of our hugely different backgrounds and so grateful that his wild past had been wiped away.

With Betty and Wilf and Val

With Betty and Wilf and Val

In my excitement I took Tony’s hand and walked ahead of him.   Everyone laughed at my eagerness.  I slowed down and we made our way to the little stage covered in a vine.

Rig preached a long sermon from behind a bush.  All we could think of was our honeymoon.  We couldn’t wait for it all to be over.

We said our vows and Tony got out his guitar to sing the song we had written.  It was a new one and he wasn’t sure of it.  He stuck the words on his guitar and started to sing.  Right in the middle, his jacket got hooked up and covered the piece of paper.  He couldn’t see the lyrics, but carried on regardless.  Only I knew the parts he was making up.

Tony singing

Tony singing

COLOURS:

See the silent picture

Painted in my eyes

Feelings expressed in colours

Flowing from a deep palette set in my heart

Framed in laughter a touch of pain

Blends of beauty,

Brilliant skies

Colours, colours flowing from my heart

What causes this rainbow to flow

Out of my eyes into your heart?

The colours rise with ease,

Filling every part of me with warmth and love.

It’s your love that draws this rainbow

Out of me into you

Joining our lives in a perfect blend

Created only for eyes

Painted with love.

We were pronounced husband and wife and whisked off for what seemed like hours of photo taking.  By the time we got back, most of the snacks had gone and some of the ladies were frantically making more sandwiches.

Post 59. A car and a cottage

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Our wedding day was approaching fast.  We had been engaged for more than a year; 6 months officially.  We decided to have a garden wedding in Johannesburg.  One conversation with Val feeling very strongly that I should wear a veil, made me grateful that I wasn’t having it in Durban.

We put all the money we had into buying a white second hand VW Golf for R 2,500.  We thought we were the bee’s knees.  It was light on petrol and it was going to take us on honeymoon.

We also found an amazing fully furnished little garden cottage on a big property in Sandton.  It was covered in a jasmine vine and so pretty.  Tony moved in a week before the wedding.  The landlady Mrs Foreshaw was lovely but not to be messed with.  One night Tony heard a noise behind the house.  Noises in the night in South Africa were never a good thing.  He opened our back kitchen door and saw Mrs Foreshaw.  She was wearing a long white nightie and her wispy, gray, waist length hair was all over the place. She was holding a rifle and more than ready to shoot.  He assured her that everything was ok and she went back to bed.

We were sad that Tony’s siblings couldn’t come but so happy that Betty was going to be there.  She came a week before the wedding and stayed in the cottage with Tony.  Everyone loved her and she was overwhelmed with the love she was shown. She also felt a bit left out of the joy that everyone seemed to have.  It was that week that she gave up her struggle and put her life into the safe hands of Jesus. *

About 150 people were coming; friends from Rolleston Place, Waverly, work, YFC and family.  Sue was going to be my maid of honour and Pete was Tony’s best man.  Rig was going to marry us and Cathie had practised a dance to a Keith Green song.

When we were in Cape Town on holiday, Tony and I had talked about the colours in the sky and water.  We started imagining the colours that were in heaven.  Shades and tones we could never see on earth.  I wrote some words and he put a melody to it.  He decided he would sing it to me on our wedding day.

I struggled to find a wedding dress I really liked.  They were all so big and fluffy.  I eventually found one in a Garden dress boutique and I loved it.

It was happening.  I was going to get married to the man of my dreams.  Not perfect, but perfect for me.   I was going to be with my best friend forever.

I was 25 *, due to turn 26 in three days.   I couldn’t have timed it more perfectly if I had tried.

 

*See Betty in Post 42- Meanwhile in the Pacific Ocean

*See post 50- Triple Yes.

Post 58. Are there lots of flies in India?

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I couldn’t wait to see Tony after work.  We spent every possible moment together and it was so difficult to say goodnight at the end of the day. While I loved all his letters I much preferred having him.   We talked a lot about all kinds of things, but there was one subject we always came back to; India.

I didn’t know much about it.  We had prayed for many missionaries working there and seen their slide shows and heard their stories.  It all sounded very interesting and exciting.  The ship was on its way to India but my time was up.  I felt slightly disappointed.  I thought it would have been an “easy” way to see the country without actually living there.  To somehow get a glimpse of what it may be like without really getting involved.

The first Indian I ever met was our childhood vegetable man, “Sammy”.   He was nice.*   As we got older we shopped in Grey Street.  It was affectionately called “CoolieTown.”   It was where we bought our Levi jeans and stole bangles.  We felt ok because we knew we were being ripped off every time we went there.

When we were small,  dad would stop at an Indian sweet shop on his way home from work, to buy bright pink cakey things covered in coconut.  It was one of the highlights of our week.

Wilf got a job at the Sugar Experimental Station in Mount Edgecombe, right in the sugar cane fields of “Indian country”.   He made friends with Tommy and his family.  One invitation for a meal at their house turned into many.  Before we knew it Peter, about 10 years old,  was sleeping at their house during the holidays.  His days were spent half naked, swimming in a small dam, fishing and eating lots of curry.  He came home a few skin tones darker, with a huge smile on his face and smelling like fish masala.

Indians were nice.  They were generous, hospitable and friendly.  Even in those apartheid years when we couldn’t be neighbours, they didn’t seem too affected by it.

I knew India wasn’t going to be like the peaceful sugar cane fields of Natal.  I knew all families weren’t like Tommy’s.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  But there was so much I didn’t know.

I asked Tony some questions.

“Are there lots of flies?”

“No, not that I can remember.”

“Where will we live?”

“I’m not sure.  We’ll have to see when we get there.”

“Oh, ok.”

* See Post 21 for more on “Sammy”

Post 57. Cry Freedom.

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Tony got a job at Legends Restaurant in Rosebank.   He had advertised himself as, “Willing to do anything; cook, wash dishes, sing, dance on the tables,” The owner liked that.  His wife was due to have a baby so he gave Tony the day manager shift.  It was perfect.  He could work all day and spend the evenings with his new fiancé.

It took him a while to work out the bus route.  It sounded so easy but he kept missing the bus.  In his desperation he climbed onto the “blacks only” bus not realising that he had.  There were lots of smiles of appreciation from the passengers.   They weren’t used to seeing white people on their bus.

South   Africa wasn’t doing so well.  We were at the peak of our dark apartheid years.  The townships were erupting.  People were being necklaced* and schools were being burnt down.  Prisons were bursting at the seams, mostly with political prisoners.  The ANC had been operating underground for years and their struggle was fierce.  Nelson Mandela seemed to be our only hope.

Tony went in and out of  Alexandra Township  for 6 months sharing his story in the schools.   One day he was in our little blue VW beetle, making his way through Alex.  He almost drove right into a burning barricade and an angry mob.  He pulled the handbrake, spun around and took off in the opposite direction.   We were still living right on the border of the township and the gun shots got more frequent and one night, a brick came through our window.

Our black brothers and sisters way out numbered us white people, but we ruled.  They lived in their townships and weren’t allowed to live in ours.  We lived apart in every way; separate schools, churches, buses, movies, shops, parks and park benches.   Everything about it was wrong and we felt the need to make things right.

Malcolm Du Plessis brought his musician friends with him to Waverly.  A band called Friends First was formed to encourage reconciliation of the races.  Nic Paton, Steve McEwan, Joe Arthur, Victor Masondo, Lloyd Martin,Vuvu and others sang and danced out the message all over South Africa.  Some of their songs were banned from the radio but they kept going.   They put a documentary together called, “Another friend in another city,” encouraging whites and blacks to make friends with each other.  It was a demonstration of reconciliation and the love of God across the massive racial divide. It was sent to 10   Downing Street and Reagan’s cabinet.  Their response was, “You have given us more hope for South Africa than any of your politicians.”  Those were radical days.

Some of our young men refused to fight the racist war that was being fought on our borders.  They became known as conscientious objectors.  They were given menial tasks and their lives were made miserable for being unwilling to fight.

“Prophets” were predicting a blood bath, but we lived and demonstrated as best as we could the “new” South Africa.

Even in our darkest and most dangerous time, we held onto the hope that South Africans could be healed.

Post 56. Love and an empty tank.

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After our time in Durban, Wilf and Val drove us back to Johannesburg.  We drove into Rig and Sue’s drive way, happy to be back.  As Val got out of the car, Nelson, their huge Newfoundland, walked up to her, cocked his leg, and wee’d all over her, from her waist down.  She felt so welcomed.

A week later, Cathie, Barry Poppleton, Tony and I decided to drive down to Cape Town for Christmas.   It was a long 16 hour drive and the guys took turns at the wheel.  There was plenty of time to talk and we had fun trying to keep the drivers awake along the dead straight, nothing-in-sight roads.

We stayed in some student’s accomodation having braais and lots of people around.  When Christmas came, Tony’s chef hat went on.  He decided to do a roast leg of pork.  We didn’t know Cape Town at all, so we drove around for ages trying to find a butcher.  We found ourselves in what felt like an unsafe area.  Tony went into a small butchery and asked for a leg of pork.  He came out, without a leg, looking a bit shaken.  It was a Muslim butcher.  We laughed and drove off quite quickly.  We managed to find our leg somewhere else. He did the whole thing; tooth-picked bits of pineapple and cherries all over it, crackling and apple sauce.  It was delicious.  I was impressed and told him I was marrying him because he could cook.

Gill Coetzee and Shena were also there.  Gill was funny.  If there was anyone I could imagine having tea with the queen, it was Gill.  She reminded me so much of Julie Andrews in the Sound Of Music.  During one of Rigby’s preaches, he had thrown out the question, “What would you do if you had a million rand?”  Gill, who was single at the time, stood up and replied, “I would get someone to marry me for my money.”  We nearly died.

I first met Shena and her identical twin sister Alanna at Mitchell Girls High School.  They were the hippy art teachers who turned the school upside down with their radical faith.  So many girls had came to Jesus through their lives.

Our drive back to Johannesburg was interesting.  We ran out of petrol about 3/4s of the way out of the Karoo Desert.  Tony was driving and I was supposed to be sitting in the passenger seat.  It was too far away so I sat on the little seat right next to him.  It was the middle of the night and there was nowhere to get fuel.   There was no way we wanted to breakdown in the pitch dark. We prayed we would make it.

We talked for hours.  Tony told me his whole story again with other things he felt he needed to tell me.  I listened and asked questions all through the night.  He wanted to tell all and then give me the option to change my mind.  I felt the need to tell him that there was longevity in my family and that I might be around for a very long time.  Did he want to change his mind?  Neither of us did.

Before we knew it we were out of the Karoo and at a petrol station.  We had driven on an empty tank and love and fresh air,  for hours.

Post 55. Let’s wait.

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Wilf and Val were at the station to meet us.  They were so happy.  It was good to be home.  Dad and Tony sat in the lounge chatting about New Zealand and jazz.  Val and I sat in my room and she told me how handsome she thought Tony was.  There was a lot to catch up on.

Tony slept on the front veranda in Papa’s old room.  The heavy lace curtains were still up.  Nothing much had changed.

Val brought him tea and avocado on toast in bed the next morning.  He thought all his Christmases had come at once.  He knew he was onto a good thing and I knew what it meant.  She wanted him to stay; forever.

A few days later, we went off to get a ring.  I had NO idea how much money Tony had for it.  He was so sweet.  “Just get whichever one you want.”   It was so exciting.   We had been engaged for 6 months, and now I was going to have a ring.  After trying many rings,  I found one that I liked.  It was small and dainty with three little diamonds in a row.  He kept checking that I was sure.  I was sure.  I loved it.

When he looked at the price, it was exactly the amount he had saved for my ring.  If it had been even slightly more, it would have been too much.  He was relieved.  What were the chances of that?

I didn’t want a big fuss; just a few neighbours from Rolleston Place and some friends from the Full Gospel Church.  We had it on the back veranda.  There were some eats, some speeches and Tony put the ring on my finger.   It was official.

Dave and Bev loved Tony.  He never said no to food, so Dave said he was a man after his own heart.  Pete was doing his two years of compulsory army training but he got out for a weekend while we were there.   Tony passed the brother-test.  He fitted in perfectly well.

One night we were sitting on the swings in the park.  We had already talked about not sleeping together until we got married.   I had boyfriends who put pressure on me to sleep with them.  There were times when I actually ran away from very close shaves.   I didn’t want to say yes.   I wanted to wait for my husband.  Now, in my fiancés arms, I wanted to say yes but had to say no.  We had made the decision to wait.  It was the hardest thing for us to do.   We were so passionate about each other, we were engaged and we were going to get married in 5 months time; what was the point?

The point was, we weren’t married.  Tony wasn’t my husband and I wasn’t his wife.  We had no right to each other.  We needed to wait just a little while longer.  We knew we weren’t going to regret it.

We laughed about how bad it would have been if we had been together on the Doulos.  We would have been so distracted and would definitely not have been able to stick to the “no more than five minute conversations” or the “no physical contact” rule.

Our long distance relationship had been perfect.  God knew exactly what He was doing.