Today marks the beginning of a little bit of a break for me and my family.
We are off to the farm.
It isn’t our farm. It is sort of a family farm, but not in the way you would think. Zuko has many memories there. Her grandfather worked its land. Her mother grew up there, hidden amongst the mountains.
Zuko tells me how, as a little girl, she would go there for school holidays, how she would help her grandmother fetch vegetables from the garden for supper and how she would venture on her own into the mountains to fetch the farm’s ancient horse to wildly ride as only a child can ride.
Today it is a place of memories, old and new. Zuko’s mom and three sisters who now own the land desperately hang on to it, as if they will forget if the land is lost and whenever we get to spend time there, the stories are close and surface easily as if the air of this place is some sort of tonic. Zuko too allows us to see some of her childhood, riding her grandfather’s big white grandfather horse and perhaps we are making new memories with our children and their great aunts and their cousins whom they see once a year for this Christmas ritual.
We pitch our tents in the shade of thorny trees where a vegetable garden used to be, for the old farmhouse has become too small to house all the offspring of three generations.
We swim in the old farm dam, which is happy for our company, as the bustle of life it knew in the 40’s and 50’s had long since trickled down to this annual herding together to remember and refresh. We go for long walks and have long talks. There is no electricity and no TV, not even mobile phone reception in this hidden retreat. At night we light the fire. Talk. Laugh. Eat. During the day we find a cool spot below a tree which a great grandmother planted. We talk some more. We read. We play. We laugh.
And somewhere during our rythmic visit to the farm I cry, somewhere where I can not be seen. For although I am with my Zuko, my ‘karnallie’, ‘pippa’ and ‘soffie’ and although I would not want to be in any other place, but by their side, in all the family celebrations I am reminded of another family who are celebrating their own collective Christmas.
A family of which I am no longer a part, if I ever was.
I know it is better this way.
It is free-er.
It is at a safe distance from destrutive words and relentless unacceptability and smothering manipulation and guilt and dissapointment, yet I cry over something I never had.
And then my Zuko finds me.
She always finds me.
And I breathe.
And my laugh is restored, for I cannot change the past. I cannot go back generations and heal the hurt which reached to me and my sibblings through grandparents and parents, but I can live now, loving and accepting without any conditionality. I can touch my Zuko and our children. I can hold them and tell them that they are exquisite. I can not shout at them, for being children, not destroy their being on account of them being who they were born to be: creative dreamers who see this life with optimistic eyes and touch it with loving hands. Not beat them for some useless item which was sacrificed to enable a fantastical fantasy. I can build them. Connect with them. Listen to them & respond to them, not as innocent beings who are yet to discover the realities of life, but as magnificent innocent beings who have come here to teach and show another way.
The photograph is not of the farm. It was taken earlier this year on the Wild Coast on our trip to Morgan Bay and Wave Crest. We were about to cross the great Kei River by pontoon. We were excited about driving onto the huge flat floating boats and being taken accross to the other side. It was low tide. A little to the left of us a herder was leading cows through the river, walking waist deep in front of them, the cows trustingly following this single man. A little to our right another story played out. A driver who thought he knew the river decided he will not wait for the pontoon to take him across, and ventured through the river accross what seemed like sand banks. He progressed some way, his four wheel drive vehicle spewing sand desperately calling across the water & then his progress suddenly halted, his vehicle forever stuck in the sands of the great Kei River only to be loosed by the rising tide and washed away to sea as nightfall sets in.
As we were taken across, standing next to our Landy, enjoying the beautiful scenery, watching the herder lead his cattle I realized that there is no shame in getting a little bit of help.
It is okay.
No – it is good.
And so I am grateful for my Zuko coming alongside me, on days when my heart remembers what it never had. When my children show me this world as I’ve never seen it and when friends find something hidden inside of me which they perceive to be precious.
I’m grateful for a short moment in time in which we may remember even if those memories are mine only through the sharing.
And I’m grateful for new memories as we truly connect and share and build and encourage each other.
I know not where this life will lead.
This life stripped of almost everything which would have been familiar had I followed the path on which I was directed by the angry dissapointed crack of wips.
I hope it will take us to places of beauty unforseen.
I hope it will bring us to memories empty of desperate pain, vibrant with color and laughter and intimacy.
I hope it will take my ‘karnallie’ and ‘pippa’ and ‘soffie’ into a future now in which they will not need the medicine of tears, but will be able to freely administer their healing touch of unconditional love and acceptance.
And I hope for you that you will find the pontoon which can carry you accross the Great River Kei.
And that you will take it to the other side.
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