Falling in love is easy… staying in love is beautiful

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Falling in love is easy... staying in love is beautiful

I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than seeing a timeless love.. a couple who still enjoy each others habits and quirks. A man who looks at his wife’s lines as perfect imperfections and her aches as human. I think the word ‘love’ has been tossed into commercialized obscurity and all but destroyed… images like this keep it alive for me.

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My possessions are my reminders…

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Whilst living in London, I was broke and struggling for almost 5 months. During that time I would live off 50p breakfasts, soups and instant noodles. Many people go through this and I don’t count myself as ‘the hard done by’ but, you learn to appreciate the small stuff. One afternoon, during my routine scrounge at the 1pound store, I came across a lamp. It was horrid really, but it matched my room, so I sacrificed two breakfasts to buy it. It lasted three months before it broke. I was more upset by this than losing my ipod, because it stood for something more than a lamp.

On telling my gran this story, she looked around her living room and simply said; “I would never give any of this away.”

For the next hour she told me the stories behind all her various pieces of furniture.

The coffee table in the middle of the lounge

My gran explained that my mother, uncle and both aunts used to stand on top of it and perform shows for my grandparents. “Just like you did.” I actually remember performing with my sister and cousins on that table, it was our stage, our platform. It was also our cure for boredom when it rained during our visits to gran over Christmas. If you look underneath there is still children’s scrawl from both generations. “I would never give this away.”

The piano

My gran claims she never played well, but my grandfather loved to hear her play. My grandfather was a mechanic and made a humble living. He had caught wind that the neighbors were looking to sell their piano and his mind was set. One afternoon, he walked in with a handful of cash (his bonus) threw it up in the air triumphantly and announced: “Here is your piano!” He bought it that same day. “I would never give this away.”

The pull-out desk

My grandfathers favourite piece, picked up in their early days of marriage, for next to nothing at a second-hand store. He made good use of it and my gran now writes her sermons on it too. It’s incredible to think that such a beautiful piece of furniture, with so many memories, was picked up for a couple rands.

The magazine rack

My great-grandfather was a minister, he was well respected for his work but not his carpentry skills. The only thing he ever made stills stands close to my gran and holds her crossword puzzles.

The side table

Colonel Fewing, a retired colonel from the Indian army, gave my gran her side table as a wedding present. She was unaware, that on their incredibly small pension, that the table was actually from their own home.

I could go on and on… her apartment isn’t full of furniture, but treasures. I can’t blame the mass producer of furniture anymore then I can blame a fast food chain for obesity. I blame myself in a sense that I don’t always treasure what I am given and instead of treasuring the precious, I hunt for the shiny and new. I don’t expect myself to change and only stick to second hand stores, but I hope I at least have a damn good story attached to my IKEA purchases.

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Falling in love 50 years ago…

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“When I first saw you I fell in love and you smiled because you knew.” William Shakespeare

December 1952 

 

My great-gran worked in a store and came across countless people, but two weeks before Christmas in 1952, she came across a young man, who’s voice and smile stayed in her heart. That evening, she told her daughter quite simply that she had found the man her daughter was to marry. Obviously, my grandmother paid no mind and went about her life as usual and soon forgot about her mothers prediction.

April 1953

My grandmother was a 19 year old nurse working at Addington Hospital in Durban, South Africa. She has always had a laugh that comes from her heart; jovial and contagious. During her rounds one evening, on a day like any other, she came across the chart of a new patient labelled: C.R Williams. Raising her eyes to meet her patient… she fell in love. 

During his time in hospital, Mr Williams was teased shamelessly as his temperature checks lasted for 10 suspicious minutes, about 9 minutes longer than anyone else in the ward. On the day he was to be discharged, he summoned the courage to ask his beautiful carer on a date. As it was tradition, he accompanied her home to ask permission from her parents. My great-grandfather had previously passed away, so Mr Williams entered the home and proceeded to introduce himself to my great-grandmother. She agreed to the date, but her ambiguous and stunned expression suggested otherwise. As my future grandfather left, my grandmother asked her mother if her strange demeanor meant she did not approve. She apologised and explained that her shock was due to the fact that he was the young man, the man who she had already chosen for her, who had come into her shop that previous December… 

My grandmother once admitted to my grandfather that it was love at first sight for her. He wore an amused expression and admitted that he loved her before he met her; as he lay in his hospital bed waiting for his nurse, he had heard a laugh… and that was it. 

My grandparents were married within the year and stayed married until my grandfather left us in 1995. Sitting with my grandmother as she retold her story, her eyes still shone and her smile was beautiful.

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Now & Then…Learning from the Wise & Beautiful

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I have never really cared about where I’ve come from, my heritage. Honestly, I think I speak for my entire generation. I have been too busy worrying about myself and my current family issues and personal problems to add my ancestors as well. I have a green passport that says South African, what more do you want from me?

I am a certified gypsy, living in 4 countries by the age of 24. Being away from your grandparents is the same as not having them in your lives at all, their knowledge of technology and emailing is minimal. In short, I didn’t put in the effort. Coming home this time around, I decided to make up for lost time and meet with my Gran once a week. I have loved every minute of it. The other day, over our traditional Wimpy coffees, we started discussing our first jobs we ever had. It became clear, that with 56 years between us, our experiences were so incomparable that I started looking into other common events too. The more I heard, the more I craved to write and share these incredible changes.

In terms of our first paid jobs, I was serving drunk holiday-makers at the local pub and my gran was already a trained nurse. I took money and disturbing drunk stories away from my first job… my Gran cared for the dying and wounded. I learnt how to pursued drunk men to hand over their keys and tip generously whilst my gran learnt how to support young children through their fatal illnesses. Times and circumstances change, but I am positive I never walked away with the emotional depth and compassion my gran learnt in her early years as a nurse. The humiliation came when we discussed what we did with our first pay checks – my money went straight back into the bar whilst my gran selflessly gave half of her salary to her mother each month.

This blog brought me and my gran closer, I have since studied our family history as far back as the 1860’s. For those interested, I am part Norwegian, American, English and a dash of South African. I can only hope this inspires others who are still fortunate enough to have their grandparents around, to learn from the wise and beautifulImage

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