Val was never one to sit still. She was happiest when she was doing nice things for people. She was a member of the Montclair Methodist Woman’s Auxiliary and visited a senior citizen’s home once a week. She practised her hairdressing and toenail cutting skills on them. It was the highlight of her week. She was a good friend who listened and laughed easily.
A year after dad died, Val joined the Senior Citizen’s BINGO and Bridge club. It helped her to get over Wilf’s death and filled in the loneliness gap. It was at this club that she met Albert. He had recently lost his wife to illness. They hit it off and within a few months, we got the news that they were planning to get married.
I couldn’t imagine having another dad and it was weird that my mother was going to have another husband. It was always Wilf and Val. Now it was going to be Al and Val.
Tony and I weren’t able to make the wedding. Rig and Sue had “checked him out” and found him to be a nice guy who really loved our mom. They said she looked really happy too. He was a carpenter and had converted his garage into a carpentry shop. He owned a small house up the road in an area called Montclair.
When Mom called to tell me she had to sell 28 Rolleston Place*, I cried. I loved that house and that neighbourhood. I wanted my grandkids to sleep in my old room with me. I wanted to show them how to go down into the drainpipes and under the road.* I wanted them to play rounders in the park with my friend’s grandchildren. I felt SO sentimental about it. It was ridiculous. I wanted to keep it in our family forever. That place was full of memories. OUR memories. Some other family was going to move in. For them it would just be an empty new house.
BUT, it wasn’t my decision to make; it was mom’s. It was her life. She had to move on and make it a good one. Besides, I only visited once every couple of years. It was also very unlikely that my grandkids would ever be there with me. Even if they were, by the time they were the right age to climb into drainpipes, I would be sixty something and probably not in any condition to go underground with them. I had to give it up.
Val got married to Al and moved into his place. We met him once, about four months into their marriage. Val was overly protective of his weak heart and our kids had to tiptoe through the house, but he was a lovely man. I hadn’t seen my mom so happy in years. Her and dad had become used to each other. She had lost her sparkle. Al put it back into her eyes. It was all very sweet. She had someone to take care of and Al was as happy as Larry.
A few months later, we got a call to tell us Al had been hospitalised. His condition was critical. They were having a barbeque in their garden and Al lit a mosquito coil. He suddenly had a coughing fit and breathed the smoke into his lungs. He contracted a form of Hepatitis, which poisoned his system. Al died two months later.
Val was devastated. I felt awful I couldn’t be with her in her grief. She stayed in Al’s house for a few months then moved into a small granny cottage in Pietermaritzburg. Peter and Char and their daughters, Kendall and Kelsey, lived just up the road.
Their marriage was short but it was happy; they were happier than they had been in years. They were determined to not let this one get old and stale. They were going to do things differently. They were going to keep the romance alive, have fun together, not take each other for granted, speak kind words and make sure they never went to bed angry.
For eleven months, that is just what they did.
PS reader : I would so love you to read some of my childhood stories. They will help you to understand my ridiculous emotional attachment to our house and our neighbourhood. You will have a good laugh too. Go to Archives in the right column: February/March 2013