( I always try not to use real names in my blog, but for this entry, I must. It pays homage to a Grand Old Dame, one who will live on in the hearts of many people. I cannot write from a perspective of knowing many of the other family members, so the fact that I reference only a few is simply because they are who I know.)
There are legends, and then there are legends. I’m not talking about people like dead presidents, imaginary superheroes that stop the world imploding, or people that started some kind of revolution that brought about a type of good in the world.
I’m talking about regular people that have more life experience than many of us could ever hope to have. One such person is Sylvia Palmer aka Shelagh-Rose’s Granny. I also called her Granny. Aunty Sylvia always sounded wrong to me. She passed away in the early hours of this morning at the ripe old age of 100 years, 8 months and 12 days. How many people to you know are even close to that age?
Shelagh-Rose and I have been friends for thirty-one years already, and through it all, Granny had always been there, guiding her. The bond they had was a close one; something incredibly special and in today’s day and age, extremely hard to find.
What never struck me growing up, is that my maternal side of the family knew the Palmers, so my friendship with Shelagh-Rose is more deep-rooted than I knew. I like to think destined.
My Aunty Cathy would often regale the tale of how she, my cousin, Lorna, Douglas (Shelagh-Rose’s uncle), and their friend David took a bike ride down Park Side West. David was in the saddle, Douglas on the carrier, Lorna (Cathy’s niece, my cousin, Douglas’s girlfriend) on his shoulders and Cathy on the handlebars. Yes – four children on one bicycle. It sounds like a circus act! As if that’s not enough to give any one a mild panic attack, the bike had no brakes! David scuffed his shoes to try and stop the bike, which shot across the Marsh/Church Street intersection, finally losing momentum at the dry cleaners close to The Point. I wondered this morning when I heard the news of Granny’s final breath if she every knew of this specific adventure.
The Bean told me a story about how her interactions with both Sylvia and her husband, Ray. They had a shop in town called Palmers. Every day Mrs. Gogerty (who was The Bean’s senior at the Scheltema offices) would send her to Palmers to buy a packet of biscuits for the office and Granny would write it up – back in the day when people were still honest enough to buy on the book.
There are many stories that I’ve heard from Elizabeth about her mother. All of them depict Granny to be a woman of incredible poise, wisdom, and everlasting love for her late husband. The two were married for only ten days before Ray was called up to train for combat in the Second World War. All through it Granny never doubted that The Love of Her Life, her Beloved Ray would one day return to her.
During the war, just before his return home, his platoon drew straws to be flown home, or sent by ship. Ray drew the short straw, which meant a longer journey home, but a journey home indeed. His fellow brothers in arms weren’t so fortunate; their plane was shot down and there were no survivors.
I was in primary (elementary) school when tragedy struck Granny. She was attacked in her home and sexually assaulted by a young criminal. Despite the horror what no woman ever hopes will ever befall her, Granny survived, exuded more grace, and was resolute in her decision to stay in her home of countless years. Elizabeth had a wedding photo taken on the steps of that very house, and years later so did Shelagh-Rose.
Granny lived on her own until the age of ninety-seven, when a nasty fall resulted in her hurting her hip. Strong as an ox she lay in agony for a few days before finally calling Elizabeth for help. As expected, she needed a hip replacement and the shock of major surgery began to take its toll.
Granny got dementia. There were days when her mind was still sharp, and there were others when she didn’t know her own children. She adamantly fought with Shelagh-Rose one day for having a child, but not being married. This while Schalk, Shelagh-Rose’s husband, was in the room with them.
She knew I cared deeply for a friend that works on the cruise ships and kept asking me if we’d got married. I eventually told her we had, that it was the most beautiful wedding and that he was set to be away for a year. She never asked again. I don’t know if she forgot about my phantom nuptials, or if my answer satisfied her enough not to ask again. Either way, I appreciated that until I gave her an answer, she always asked.
One afternoon while she was still staying on the farm with Elizabeth, before her move to the ACVV home where she was well looked after, she told me a story about a woman in the district who would come to fetch her to take her to town to have her hair done. She also told me about the nurse who would visit. Both these people turned out to be Elizabeth. Some much change in such a short time was tough on Granny.
During her stay at the farm, Granny had a need to unpack and repack her cupboards every day. Try as she might, Elizabeth couldn’t convince her mom to stop doing it. Maybe in Granny’s addled mind it brought order, although to Elizabeth it brought some chaos. As short as Granny was, she also always managed to get stuff off the high shelves, but she had to get Schalk to put things back. These things seemed silly and frustrating at the time, but now they won’t ever happen again.
Even though I never visited the home where Granny spent the last few years of her life, and even though I’m not family, I feel incredible gratitude to the staff. From what I’ve heard from Elizabeth and Shelagh-Rose, they cared for Granny with compassion and patience – two characteristics that are often difficult to maintain when working with anyone, particularly an elderly person who for so long was independent, and towards the end was almost as fragile as a newborn baby.
I was privileged to be at Granny’s centenary birthday celebrations last October. I got the job of capturing the moments, not that I’m much good with the camera, but Elizabeth and Shelagh-Rose seemed pleased with the results, so all’s well that ends well. It was a momentous occasion, with Granny as the guest of honour (completely unaware of the celebration). All her family and friends that could be there, were in attendance, including her brother, Robert, who himself is in his seventies. Granny was lucid that day – something which I think her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren were happy about. For many, including myself, that is how I will remember her.
On the walls at the party, there were photos of Granny’s life – from the age of knee-high to a grasshopper, to her wedding, and so on. When she saw her wedding photo, she cried. Oh how, she missed her Beloved Ray. It was such a poignant moment. How many of us ever find love, especially a true, everlasting love that not even death can overcome?
Sylvia Palmer, you’ve run a great race. You’ve been a beacon of hope, a shining light, and a pillar of strength to those around you. The wait is over… you are now with Your Beloved Ray. We mourn your departure, but we celebrate your incredible life. Rest in Peace – you’ve earned it!
Today is day 20 of the lockdown. Like the featured image of this post, it feels as though time moves at a snail’s pace of late. I have slowed down. As I sit typing this post, I can hear the waves crashing in the distance, and the occasional cheep of a wagtail. The local hotel’s resident ducks are also meandering around the neighbourhood by the sounds of things. All these sounds have just been drowned out by an aircraft that is audibly flying very low.Continue reading
I got my new passport on Monday! Judging by the photo, I look like the Godmother of a Mafia family. Seriously, the camera adds way more than 5lbs. Especially to my chin! If I was green, I could pass for a Raxacoricofallapatorian Slitheen. If you don’t know what that is, you need to find The Doctor, and soon!Continue reading
As the lighthouse high on Cape St. Blaize winks and watches Mossel Bay was the opening line of my primary school’s anthem. Today I finally got to see that view for myself.Continue reading
So, remember the list of goals I made last week? Well, I have ticked off at least one – the renewal application of my passport. I sat at Home Affairs for a while yesterday as they were offline, but once they were back on, the process was dealt with quickly. In seven to fourteen days I will have my new passport, so should a trip come across my path, I can grab it with both hands.Continue reading
I’ve been seeing daily ads in my Facebook newsfeed for a place called Sekelbos Restaurant, so decided to take The Bean there yesterday for a light bite. Sekelbos, as explained to us by our polite waitress (whose name I didn’t get) is a type of wood that is said to burn for ages, but never to ash.Continue reading
I took my folks and a follower-friend to a new place that opened its doors during the week called Salt & Copper, based just outside Hartenbos, Mossel Bay.
We were met at the door by the hostess, Samantha, who gave us menus, and said she’d get our waiter. We perused the menus for about 10 minutes. The food options look delicious, with dishes available for both the carnivorous human, as well as the herbivorous ones. The dessert options sound sinfully good too.
There is a extensive wine list, featuring wines for all tastes from local wineries, as well as a great gin selection. There are also gin and wine tastings available as well as pairings for both. Prices are in line with what you would expect to pay at a mid-level to up-market restaurant.
Sadly, the service left us wanting – we tried to get someone’s attention three times to no avail. Eventually our waiter came along and apologized, stating that it was his first day. There were more than enough staff on the floor (many of them behind the counter), but it is clear that some are still very unsure of themselves, and while I understand that teething problems are to be expected, I’ve lived in Mossel Bay long enough to know that bad service is not going to go down well with the often-impatient holiday makers that will be flooding in from up North later this month.
On the positive side:
The quips on the menu: “Unsupervised children will be sold to the circus…” got a chuckle out of me, as did “Champaign ice cubes” because Champaign is a city in the US State of Illonois. Champagne is what I think they meant to say. Proofreading is important, particularly when you’re presenting such a chic, swanky image.
The building itself has an industrial feel about it, but is very stylishly decorated, with various seating options, lovely glassware and striking copper items against dark, charcoal-like walls. It’s hip and trendy.
What’s also great to see is a spekboom (called an Elephant Bush, or in some instances a Pork Bush) in English on each table. It is referred to in many circles as a miracle plant and it is waterwise too, an added bonus given the water restrictions in our area.
We didn’t stay long, having only hot beverages as we had a reservation for lunch elsewhere.
** Menu, Wine, Gin and Hot Beverages Images from Salt and Copper’s webpage **
The tea was served in delightful glass teapots, but there were no teaspoons on the saucers. The only one that received a teaspoon with her drink was the cappuccino-drinker in our group. These small details need to enjoy more attention.
The cappuccino had by my follower-friend was very tasty. My beetroot latte was deliciously hot, but a little too spicy (in comparison with those I’ve enjoyed at establishments in Wilderness and Knysna) for my personal taste. I love the cup in which it was served.
There are play amenities outside to keep kids busy – one for 0-4 years, and another for bigger kids. There is also a large chessboard for those enthusiasts wanting to exercise their strategic brains into a good ol’ checkmate.
I do hope that things will improve, because its close proximity to home and variety of food and drink make it the ideal place to support. Honestly though, if I’m going to pay between R125 and R155 for a main meal, I do expect good service as well and unfortunately, our short experience yesterday left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.
With that said, I am a believer in second chances, so will visit once the Silly Season is over (but it will have to be on a weekend, given the odd operating hours:
Sun-Thurs 08:00 – 17:00
Fri-Sat 08:00 – 22:00
In the Season it will undoubtedly be profitable to trade during these hours, given the setting, but what about the locals who work (both in and out of season) who would like to have an enjoyable dinner during the week?
My suggestion is that the business hours be revisited – possibly open later during the week (my suggestion would be round 10:00 and shut shop at 20:30).
That’s my R91.00 worth, with a star rating of 2 ½ out of 5.