“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” – Philip Pullman.
My grandmother is a wonderful and amazing woman. She does incredibly sweet things for me such as coming to my flat after I have had a birthday party to help me clean up the sangria induced chaos that I created…… (and by ‘help’, I actually mean doing pretty much everything whilst I lay on my bed, whining and feeling sorry for myself because I chose to crawl into bed when the birdies came out!) We also have fierce debates about politics, life and the world and this is one of the things I enjoy and treasure the most.
Often I take these things for granted. The numerous cups of tea she makes me when I am writing my thesis, the fact that she sits and reads through my work and helps me edit it, the “love you” whatsapp messages she sends me weekly (Yes, she is 87 and has both Facebook and Whatsapp #techobabe), the fact that she often drives to my flat to visit me and bring me lovely things, the incredible way she looks after my doggy and gives him a midnight treat before he sleeps every evening…. and the list really does go on.
It was one night last year, when we stayed up late into the night talking during our weekly sleepover and wine night, that I realised how lucky I am to have her in my life and to be able to hear her stories. That evening and in the months that followed I heard old and new stories alike. I found out so many interesting things about her and my Oupa that I never knew, like the fact that they owned a chicken farm and started a glossy magazine together.
I also discovered that she basically “brought the beehive to Cape Town in the 1960’s”, organised numerous fashion shows and was asked by the English fashion designer Hardy Amies to be a runway model. He was the official dressmaker of Queen Elizabeth the Second noggal, so this was a pretty big deal. She eventually turned him down because she had met my Grandpops and was very much in love. In those days you couldn’t whatsapp your love a sexy selfie or have a skype convo, so hopping on a plane and flying across the ocean was a pretty big deal and long distance love, a little hard to navigate.
She also had an admirer who would fly cherries to her every week and I also heard about a little romance on a cruise ship, but that’s strictly confidential 😉
My favourite story is about how my grandparents met and how they eventually started dating:
They met through a mutual friend that my grandmother had known for years. One day said mutual friend and my gran were scheduled to go for a drink and along came one of his friends – The dashing and fabulous, Mr Theo Marais.
The trio drove to drinks (somewhere in Sea Point, if I remember correctly) in my grans car and from the get go, I think she had quite the crush on him. This was later confirmed to her, when upon their departure from drinks she handed her car keys not to her long-time friend, but to this random dude that she’d just met. “That’s a bit odd”, she pondered, but didn’t think too much of it. After drinks they all said their goodbyes and she quietly thought to herself, “well he’s quite a dishy fellow. I do hope he calls.”
However, as many of us have experienced, Mr Dishy decided not to contact her for weeks.
Resigning herself to the fact that he probably wasn’t that interested, my grandmother being the strong and independent lady that she is, carried on with life.
Nevertheless, a few weeks later she received a call from Mr Dishy out of the blue and he finally asked her out (about bloody time, you might think as I am sure she did too!). Turns out, he’d totally fancied her all along too and was dying to take her on a date, but decided that he couldn’t possibly ask a girl out who already had a car, when he didn’t have one himself. So, after meeting her, he worked his butt off to buy a car so that he could take his dream girl out in style! The rest was history…. and thank goodness, because otherwise I would not be alive and could not write this most riveting blog post.
Now that’s romance and a lesson to us all. If the person you want to date/are dating isn’t going to put that kind of effort in and work towards that metaphorical car, then really darls, there are plenty more fish in the sea. All of us deserve this kind of exceptional love!
Stories connect us to each other. They offer us so much insight, understanding and compassion. If your grandparents, parents, older relatives or friends are still around, do yourselves a favour and sit them down and listen to their stories. You will learn such wonderful things and these memories should live on always through us, so that we can one day share them too. Stories are magical and important and make us who we are. They create our unique place in this crazy old world and I think we should all take the time to learn and listen to the stories of those we love. We should also share our own stories with them, so that we can always hold on to a little part of who they are and they can hold on to us too. In the end, as Margaret Atwood says, “we’ll all become stories.”