Forgotten memories within a chair

**One of our first stories, which is special to us.** We are back tomorrow.

In the last little period I have been thinking about a specific chair we currently use for our son and what it represents. As I thought about it I realized it represents history, family, love, joy, sadness, creativeness, learning and even in a way, tragedy. The chair I am talking about is this one.


Admiring his chair

An unassuming baby feeding chair. In modern times many would say, leave it alone, danger, it does not conform to modern standards. Something for the attic or corner in the house. We say, get your bum in son and be part of its story.

The Tragedy

In the late 1800’s a horrible fatal accident took place, where a young mother was thrown from a horse and cart with a 3 month old baby boy. The mother died but the baby fell in a bush and was saved. The father gave this boy 3 names, of which 3rd was one of the mother’s. This boy was my father’s granddad. My father inherited his names. So, before the chair became part of our history, it nearly had another.


My dad, born in 1934, was the first, I know of, who used the chair, as it is said granddad bought it while grandma was pregnant.

Frikkie en Engela

My dad with his sister and yes “the chair“.

Oupa,Pa en Engela Prince Albert

Granddad, father and sister before they moved.

The chair was used to raise 3 children, it moved with the family from a remote country district to the city, near 800km, due to lack of work. Here the 3rd child was born, and it was stored for later.

About 20 years later my sister was born and out came ‘our chair‘ again to do service in silence to another group of 3 babies, of which I was the youngest.

We spent wonderful times in the chair, similar, I guess, to my father and his siblings. How do I know, mom told me.

In 2013, our son was born and as the first boy with our family name, I inherited the chair and soon after I received it, his bum was in the spot where so many people already sat and had fun, tantrums, food orgies, and whatever else.


Boeta’s first sitting.

Still too young at the time, it was just for a picture pose, and my intention was always to use the second part of the chair’s magic at about the age we are now (12 months).

DSC_0045 DSC_0031 DSC_0036Yes, it has a party trick, it can be used as a desk for play and eat in later stages, so when we learn and play we use it and he loves walking and pushing it around.

Why the story?

In relation to this chair, an unassuming chair, if I put my hand on its base, I touch 80 years of history, if I put my ear against it I can imagine countless dinners, hysterical laughter, tapping of toys against it, burps and the many other things that go with putting a baby in such a chair. This is not just an ordinary chair, it is a vital part of our family.

With us another chair was introduced for feeding. The question is if it will stand the 80 year test, being modern, time will tell.

DSC_0074Finally, I would like to say that with chairs same as people, we need to look at them carefully, they might be old, have scratches or bruises, from time spent in service, but they can play such vital roles in our lives as one kind of support or another. They hold stories full of riches and color.

What stories would these chairs have by now?

Taken round 1930’s, maybe earlier.

Ouma en Pa

My dad with his mom on another chair.

With this post I would like to congratulate “our chair” on a job well done in raising the children so far and wish “it” the best for the future, may it be a long one! It holds forgotten memories of lives past and present, a reminder of each of our childhoods.


Dad and sons on celebrating another child in the family!

Being Dad.

Over the past weeks the reality of life has become a vivid and unrelenting truth. We usually try to ignore certain facts, trusting that tomorrow, when we wake up, everything will be the same with regards to our family. We have had to confront the truth that one day, you wake and you cannot call or talk to a loved one, twice already.

Being a fairly new dad, I have been thinking about this and what mine meant to me. As time marches on, one tends to reflect more on past times, I think this is just natural.

12-DSC_0118One of my earliest memories was going to church with my dad. I was always fascinated with his hands and while the church was going on, I would play with his hands. This was before I went to school. It is apt to remember this, because religion has always been a core part of his life, to this day.

My dad always made time for his children, after he came home from work, he had tea with mom, and then we went to the beach to play or swim. I loved sport and played rugby, so we spent time catching a high ball or learning how to pass properly. Many times we just played various beach games.

We never had excess growing up, but we never needed anything as well. He used his bonus (13th check) every year to pay for our holiday as a family. This was important to them as parents and we were lucky to have spent many years together having fun as a family of 5.

I think one of the biggest influences he had on me, was love for nature. We share a love for the Karoo, animals, birding and the beauty of nature in general. As I got older, we spend many hours walking around on farms, in nature parks or just sitting quietly, taking it in. He has always been an avid bonsai collector and I will always remember him snipping away, lovingly caring for his trees.

01-DSC_008902-DSC_0090 04-DSC_0093 05-DSC_0094 06-DSC_0095 07-DSC_0096 08-DSC_0097 03-DSC_0092He believed in us, unconditionally, he was always there when we needed him. He instilled in us the core values we needed to become functional productive people, but he showed us what it meant to be a parent and in my case a father and much-loved dad and granddad.

When I think about who I am as a person today, I do make my own choices and I do things a little different in terms of those choices, but the core, the base, from which I make those life decisions come from them, a reference guide if you will. We were incredibly lucky to have such a strong base as children and we are still learning today, they still provide an example of love to us.

I hope that I can have the same influence on my son, giving him those self-same core values. He has the advantage of still getting to experience some of his granddad’s loves, and we can just hope that it will rub off at this early age, even if he does not remember it.

09-DSC_0104 10-DSC_0114 11-DSC_0115To this day, my dad is still my hero, he is the man I am still striving to be, he is and was my mentor, the person I turned to, when I wanted to talk to someone. My parents were my cheerleaders when I played sport, my shoulder to cry on, the constant light, always there in the background.

I find it tough to put what my dad means to me in words, it seems there is not really words to describe what he means, and maybe this is just, because he is so much more than this to me, he is my dad. I am proud to be a father and just hope I can do him justice in being a dad to my son. It is most important to me.


Mom, Dad and our boy – our little family

As we came to the last stop, where we could allow our son to walk and experience the thick spekboom forests, it was, especially now, looking back, such a great 3 days.8-DSC_0363 7-DSC_0350 I see my wife, the person I have loved deeply for almost half of my life, who has achieved so much, given so much to me and everyone she has met, coaxing our 13 month son through the forest. Showing him all the wonders, his little mind filled with questions, what is this, that and everything else.

1-DSC_0340 3-DSC_0343 5-DSC_0346 4-DSC_0345What a wonderful experience to be the dad in this group of three. This little blessing that joined us after so many years, making everything around him shine, becoming vivid, sharply, no crisply in focus as if it is touched by the beautiful dawn of another day, that freshness that is so nearly touchable before the sun fully brightens the day. We are three, mom, dad and son, but we are also ONE family.

We will be back, soon as we can, to this place where the elephants play in the water, the jackals and nightjars provide the background music of the night, this place where the dung beetle has right of way!


The Core of US…part 1 (Life)

10-2010_07140095On the tip of South Africa is a place called L’ Agulhas, and next to it Struis Bay. L ‘Agulhas point is where the warm currents of Indian and the cold currents of the Atlantic ocean meet. It is also the place we call home in our hearts for many reasons.09-2010_07140072          08-2010_07140071

It is a place that represents love, life, laughter, bliss, intense pain, heartache, loss and all the other human emotions not mentioned. Our story begin approximately 40 years ago, for one of us, in any case, and got richer as time past.


Long before I knew my husband, I went to Struis Bay for the holidays every December and January. My dad hooked up the old caravan on to the 1965 Mercedes, and we started the 3 hour drive to our annual spot. The Merc was an old fin-tail model and I was highly embarrassed that my dad drove such an old car.

I though it was the ugliest car in the world and to this day I have not developed an appreciation for cars of that era.

02-Struisbaaikamp90The trip took us over the Helderberg pass from Cape Town, through the fruit orchards, apples mostly, of the Grabouw region, to a town called Caledon, in the Overberg (Wheat growing region). From here you turn off the main route and drive down to the coast.

07-Heleen&PaWe spend our Christmas and New Year in Struis Bay’s caravan park. I remember the dances on Fridays and Saturdays, the little natural Harbour and the smell of fish being offloaded (Yellowtail in that part the year) and buying it fresh from the boat.

04-Struisbaaikamp9011 05-Struisbaaikamp9016Lazing my days on the beach, the longest in the Southern Hemisphere of 14 kilometers, and how peaceful was the early morning or late afternoon walks on the beach, and yes a few holiday flings too.

03-Struisbaaikamp903My dad always booked our “spot” for the next year, the day when we left. It was always the exact same stand and many of our “neighbors” did the same, resulting in the same people coming back year after year. We always arrived when the caravan park was close to full and left when it was empty. It was always strange to get used to the hustle and bustle and once you get used to it, there was a sense of loss when everyone departed in the first week of the year. We always stayed until the middle of January. I only later (in my teenage years) came to appreciate the wonderful feeling of having the beach to yourself, doing my own thing and being able to be content with my own company.

In 1993, after my dad’01-HeleenPaenMapre97s retirement, and some family discussion, my parents decided to permanently move to Struis Bay and bought a plot and built a small 2 bedroom home on it. They moved to Struis Bay in 1995.

In part 2, Love, we tell the continuing story of our deep relationship with Struis Bay.