Posts Tagged ‘ Family ’

For our Grandpa

Following the recent passing of my father, Danie Fourie, his grandchildren wrote beautiful tributes to honour their beloved Grandpa, which I felt were well worth sharing…

From Keenan

The first memory I have of my Grandpa is fishing at the beach. He would wake Caitlin and me up early in the morning with coffee, and then we would get dressed and go to the beach.  I would hardly ever fish though, because I was too young and too impatient to wait for the fish to come to me. But we would walk along the beach and he would introduce me to all his friends and I was just happy to be with my Grandpa.

When I was older he gave me a lot of fishing gear, and I loved it. My friend and I went fishing and I was so proud to show him all the fishing equipment I got from my Grandpa.

If Grandpa wasn’t fishing then he was in his garage busy making something or fixing something. He had a real talent for carpentry. He showed me all his tools, and how each one worked. And even though I never had the same interest that he did, he never forced me to be like him.

Grandpa had a very good heart, and was a very friendly person, always making friends with people on the way down in the lift. He was always offering to make curry for friends, or make something in his garage for them.

He was well liked at the flat where they lived. When other children who lived there found out that Oom Danie was my Grandpa, they got excited, and said, “Wow, is that your Grandpa!”

We always knew where Grandpa was because he would always make a lot of noise. From stirring the coffee cups in such a way that we knew he was making coffee again, to singing wherever he went.

He wasn’t a fighter, he was a lover. For those he loved, he would do anything, and he loved a lot of people.

The last memory I have of my Grandpa is reading Psalm 23 to him while he was lying in hospital. That memory is one I will always remember. Only God can make the passing of a loved one a special occasion. It didn’t matter how different we were, how similar we were, or the age difference, we shared the same God. Being able to share Psalm 23 with my Grandpa is extremely special, and I thank God that I was able to do that.

My Grandpa will be missed, but I have peace, knowing that God is alive. God is still with me, and Grandpa is with God.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

From Jenna-Lee

You’re gone now, gone but not forgotten. And I can’t say this to your face but I know you hear…

I know we are all feeling a little bit sad,

That we’ve lost our Grandpa, our friend and our Dad

Together we have cried an ocean of tears

As we feel so empty and hold many fears.

But Grandpa would want us to know he’s in a good place

And that he’s watching us all with a smile on his face.

As we have made him so proud, as proud as can be

That he has raised such a beautiful and special family.

Thinking back now I really must say

I feel lucky and privileged to have known Grandpa to this day.

For in my life you have played a special part,

The memories I will treasure and keep close to my heart.

For me, I’m glad my little baby he got to meet

And for all of us, be grateful, his life is now complete.

For each one of us he has loved and cared

As a family, be thankful for the good times we shared.

Although he has gone we will always be together

And his spirit will live on in each one of us forever.

When you look to the sky, look for the brightest star

As that will be Grandpa, looking down on us from afar.

And now I’d like to thank the good Lord above

For blessing us with our Grandpa, his kindness and love.

Dear God, if it’s not too much fuss

Take extra-special care of our Grandpa, as he’s very dear to us

Grandpa, if you’re listening, say a prayer for us every day,

Be sure to protect us and guide us on our way.

We know when God called you, you had to go, but we want you to know

Grandpa, we love and miss you so.

Love always, your Little Princess.

From Caitlin

Daniel Fourie meant different things to different people. He was a husband, a father, a brother, an uncle and even a dear friend, but to me he was simply known as Grandpa. And I have been truly blessed to be his granddaughter.

My Grandpa had special nicknames for all his grandkids and my special nickname was Tinkerbell. I will never forget the way he said “Tinkerbell” when he saw me coming towards him; there was a ring in his voice and a smile on face that left no doubt in your mind that, at least for that moment, you were the centre of his world. No matter which grandchild you were Grandpa had the uncanny ability to make you feel like you were the most important kid in his life.

He had a special relationship with all his grandkids and I will always treasure the relationship I had with my Grandpa. Together we shared a love for singing, and whenever he saw me, even in his very old age he would always say “Sing for me, Tinkerbell” and he would join in later and together we would sing for ages.

My Grandpa and I loved the beach and he would take me there every day and he would show me all the little sea creatures, point out all the different shells and keep them in his pocket so that I could take them home.

My Grandpa always had patience and unconditional love for us. He once showed me a bucket of fish he had just caught. When he wasn’t looking I took the bucket of fish, along with all his hard work and threw them back into the ocean. When he saw that all his fish were free he just looked at me, smiled and said: “Only my Tinkerbell would think about saving the fish.” And he took my hand and we walked back home.

My Grandpa taught me what true love meant when he, without fail, would wake me and my granny up with coffee every morning and before going to bed bring the entire family vanilla milkshakes and come and tuck me in; he had a special way of tucking me in. My grandpa and I loved to bake, from cookies to Chelsea buns to different kinds of breads. He would give me the credit when the end product tasted good, but we all knew that he did most of the work and I was there more for moral support.

My Grandpa was very good at making things and he loved making things for his grandchildren. He made me my very own personal oven, a dollhouse with furniture and cot for all my extra dolls.

All my friends admired my Grandpa. I was so proud that he was my Grandpa and I was his Tinkerbell and that will never change. Even though he is no longer with us I know that he is finally at peace and I will never forget all the memories I shared with my Grandpa and the life lessons that he taught me. I will always carry with me.

Love you always,

Tinkerbell

From Chad

Grandpa, you are my soldier and idol. I love you to the moon and back, and always will do.

Your Chaddy boy

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‘Daniel, a man greatly beloved’

DadMy father was not an educated man. Forced to leave school at the age of 16, he joined the then South African Railways and Harbours, where he worked until his medical retirement during his early 50s. My father never wrote his matric exam, nor did he ever obtain a degree or diploma.

But none of this ever mattered to me. As far as I was concerned my father was the best daddy in the whole word. As a little girl there was no safer place than in my daddy’s arms, nothing broken he could not fix, no problem he could not solve.

My father’s life was, and still is, a classroom for me. Not in matters of philosophy, science, or maths. No, the lessons I learned from him were far more meaningful and indeed, precious.

The first lesson my father taught me was God’s Word. As a tiny baby, the moment I began to talk he taught me scripture, beginning with his favourite passage, Psalm 23. To this day, it is one of the first passages I turn to for comfort during times of trial.

My father strongly believed in rightly dividing the word of truth. “Rather err on the side of conservatism,” he would say, “than distort the truth for the sake of liberal appeasement.” He taught me to never be afraid to take a stand for righteousness, especially where the Church was concerned.

My father taught me about generosity. He gave all the time, to almost everyone he came in contact with, simply because he loved to do so. An avid rock-and-surf fisherman for many years, his favourite fish to catch was shad. He would bring it home, clean it, cook it according to his own recipe, and then proceed to share it with as many people as he could find. The kitchen freezer was almost always packed with fish my father had previously caught and he would give it away whenever anyone came to visit, or when he went to visit someone. He did the same with practically everything he cooked and baked, and he cooked and baked often; it was another of his favourite things to do.

My father taught me about compassion. He could not bear to see a woman or a child hurting. During one of his many stays in hospital, I visited him, and took along his favourite snack at the time – two Chelsea buns and a coke – as a special treat. At the next visiting hour I noticed that the food was gone and asked if he had enjoyed it.

“No,” he responded. “I gave it to that little boy in the bed in the corner of the ward. His family live too far away to come visit him. Please, go and see if he’s okay.”

Another time a man knocked at the door of my parents’ home. When my father opened the door the man asked if there was any bread to spare because he was hungry. My father told him to return in an hour and then proceeded to cook the man a hot meal.

My father taught me about service – to God and others. He served the Lord’s Church in many ways from the time he and my mother became Christians in 1956, the year they were married. As a member of Queen Mary Avenue Church of Christ in Durban, he taught the teenaged boys, while my mother taught the girls.

While my brother and I were still very young, he was transferred to Kimberley, where there was no Church. This did not deter my father. He led a worship service for the four us every Sunday. From this I learned the importance of attending Church, even when there were no other saints to fellowship with. After our family moved to Pretoria in 1969, we placed membership with this congregation, where my father was often asked to lead the singing. He loved to sing, especially songs of praise to God. He sang them when he was happy, and when he wasn’t in a good mood, which wasn’t often, he whistled them. So many hymns we sing every Sunday remind me of my father, because he either led them or they were one of his many favourites.

My father loved to work with his hands. He could take a piece of wood or metal and lovingly fashion it into something beautiful and functional. When the congregation purchased the property in Ashlea Gardens, my father helped to build the building. As a child, I remember spending many a Saturday here while my parents, along with other members, worked on the site. I watched this building grow from its foundations to what it is today. The floor tiles my father laid in the passages and classrooms are still there. Years later, he installed little boxes behind the pews to hold the notes for our Loveliners ministry.

My father was happiest when he was serving others. There was no task too menial he would not do, and no time too inconvenient, even if it was the middle of the night. He never failed to respond to a call for help, no matter where or when it came, or from whom.

He was always there for his family, through good times and bad. To my mother he was more than a provider and protector; he was a soul mate. “She is my better half,” he liked to say.

To his grandchildren he was a loving Grandpa who spoiled them with toys lovingly made with his own hands, took them to the beach, played games with them, gave them treats, and even tucked them into bed at night. When he heard of Keenan’s recent engagement to Janine, his immediate response was: “I have become a Grandpa again, overnight.”

During my father’s long illness I received many messages of support from friends, family and brethren in Christ. I could not but help notice the common threat that featured prominently among them all. “I remember when your father did this for me…”; “I remember when your father helped me with that…”; I remember when your father gave me…”.

Even those who only knew him for a short time spoke of his gentleness, compassion and kindness.

These are the godly principles my father taught me. This is the legacy he has left for his family. For this reason, Dad, Grandpa, we are proud to be known as your children, grandchildren and great-grandchild, and we shall strive to carry your legacy forward in our own lives.

I shall miss, so much, Dad, your fish and chips, Chelsea buns and last calls for coffee, but the knowledge that you no longer have to bear the excruciating pain you suffered for so many years fills me with joy, and the certainty that I shall be reunited with you again, in a little while, gives me perfect peace.

You epitomised Matthew 25 – you fed those who were hungry and thirsty, took in strangers, gave to those in need, visited the sick and in trouble. You practised “true religion”, as stated in the book of James, because you took care of widows and orphans. As Paul urged the Galatians to do, you never “became weary in doing good… to all people”.  You did all these things for no other reason than you loved to do it.

Because you did so many things for others out of love, you were loved by many in return. For this reason, I can confidently echo the words of Christ when He spoke to your biblical namesake: “O Daniel, a man greatly beloved.”

Switched at birth – to know or not to know?

I was deeply moved by the following story, recently published on parent24.com. While I am an avid proponent of a child’s right to know their biological roots, I can’t help wondering whether this is one instance where it would have been better for the parties involved not to know…

Switched at birth

Moms faced with terrible decision after babies switched at birth.
twin babies

Image: via Shutterstock

Two SA moms only found out after 18 months that their babies had been switched at birth, leaving them with an agonising decision- swap the babies they loved for the ones they gave birth to, or simply carry on as if nothing had happened, according to mamamia.com.au.

For many parents, the choice would be easy- who wants to bring up another mom’s child? But for Sandy Dawkins and Megs Clinton Parker, the 18 months of intense bonding with each other’s babies made them each choose to keep the ‘wrong’ baby.

How did it happen?

23 years ago, both moms gave birth in the same hospital – Sandy, a struggling single mom, and Megs, a wealthier and more secure mom were handed each other’s babies. A paternity test 18 months later showed that Greg wasn’t Meg’s son…

That was when the two moms were faced with the decision which has haunted them. In a Channel9 interview, in response to the question “should you have swapped the boys back, as you look back?” Sandy replies: “In retrospect, yes. Because in time to avoid them getting hurt – in time to avoid a lot of people getting hurt. We’ve actually – I personally feel we’ve done a lot more damage.”

The damage took years to appear: At first, the two moms spent lots of time together, the boys growing up as friends. It was only as a teen that Robyn began to notice that he was losing out, as he was living with Sandy, the less financially independent of the moms.

She was left “with no son at all”

Wealthier Megs realised that her biological son was struggling along, and, when he was 15, invited him to come and live with her. This meant that both sons now lived with her, and Sandy was left with no son at all.

The decision made so many years previously had effectively left Sandy childless – she now has no contact with either one of the boys, who are now 23.

Dad tells son (11) he’s adopted

An adoptive dad (who wishes to remain anonymous) reveals how telling his son the truth about his adoption has changed their family dynamics for the better…

I have two adopted children: my daughter, now 18, was adopted at the age of ten, and I adopted my son, now 11, when he was just three years old.

My daughter knew her biological father and had some contact with him before I adopted her, but they never really enjoyed a close relationship. After I adopted my daughter, she decided to break contact with her biological father altogether, even though I never discouraged their relationship. I wanted to make sure that she knew she could have contact with him if she wanted to.

My son did not know he was adopted until recently, when we decided he was old enough to know the truth. I was extremely reluctant to tell him about his adoption at first because he and I had a very difficult relationship, and I had also heard about so many adoptees who found out late in life about their adoption and the pain this caused.

I guess one will never know for sure when it’s the perfect time to tell someone that he/she is adopted; my wife and I made our decision based on our son’s emotional maturity level and readiness to hear this sensitive information. We asked a close friend, who is a preacher and counselor, to facilitate the process for us, as we knew our son would need access to someone he could trust when this life-changing information was revealed to him.

We approached the process as a family, and included my adopted daughter to support our son and be there for him should he have any questions or concerns. Although it was difficult at first, we believe that we can build a better family structure without having to pretend that we are something we are not.

My wife and I both suspected that Nathan (name changed) knew I was not his biological father, but I don’t think he understood his adoption and the complexity of the situation. When the facilitator revealed the information to him, he was not surprised, but became very emotional. That he was not surprised confirmed that he suspected the truth, but the complexity of the situation made him emotional.

As we spoke, the facilitator continually checked that Nathan understood what we were trying to tell him by asking him for feedback and examples. One comment Nathan made was that he knew I loved him, because of what we do and share together and that if I didn’t love him as my child, I would not have to do what I was doing for him then.

As a psychologist, I appreciated the facilitator’s effort to continually “check-in” with Nathan during the session to ensure he was okay and reassure him of the love our family’s and my, as his adoptive father, love for him. Nathan cried a lot while we talked, not because of his adoption, but because his mother was very emotional and he was the focus of attention in a serious matter.

This session firstly made me feel that I can be a father without having to pretend that I’m someone I’m not: I could be Nathan’s adoptive father and no longer pretend to be his biological father. Some may wonder why this is so important, and it’s difficult to explain, but it was important for me as I don’t have any biological children. Although I wanted to, I have come to accept that I will never have any. Pretending that Nathan was my biological child constantly reminded me of the fact that I do not have biological children and that I was living a lie.

Also, pretending to be someone I wasn’t caused me to push the children away, as indirectly and subconsciously I blamed them for my not having biological children. However, by telling and living the truth of being their adoptive father, I can make peace with not having biological children and be the real father to my children that God intended me to be.

For Nathan, not much has changed; he does not blame anyone or feel unloved. His standing in our family remains the same and he still regards me as his only father. He has not asked about his biological father and we don’t think he will for a while yet, but we believe that when he does, he will be ready to understand more about this complex situation. For now, he knows that he is adopted, and that this doesn’t change our love for him – he is our son, regardless of who his biological father is.

Should he want more clarity and information on his biological father later in life, we will support his decision, as we did with our daughter. We will never prevent our children from contacting with their biological fathers if they choose to do so.

Unexpectedly, telling Nathan about his adoption has positively changed my relationship with my daughter. We communicate better, trust each other more and talk about things we never could before. I believe that although my daughter knew about her adoption, she also never realised how much she gained by having a “real” father who cares for and loves her, and how much having a father and mother who love each other has changed her life for the better.

What was discussed with Nathan was not a surprise to her, as she already knew about it, but I believe that what her and her brother’s adoption has meant to them has helped to change her previously negative and antagonistic attitude and behaviour.

For my wife, the biological mother of our children, this session has helped her to realise what I was going through as a “secret” adoptive father. Her relationship with Nathan has also changed for the better – previously she always tried to protect him from the truth, to the extent of becoming over-protective, which hampered Nathan’s emotional growth as he was overly dependent on his mother.

I firmly believe that the truth has set us all free from pretending and living a lie. Now we are free to be who we really are and to build on a family unit regardless of the past. Finally, we can start building a family based on truth and trust. Because it’s not the blood in your veins, but the love in your heart that makes you a family.

God is always, always in control

On the 25th anniversary of our wedding day, I wrote a letter to my love

How do I love you? Let me count the ways.

I first began to love you when I heard you pray as a new babe in Christ. Although you were not well-acquainted with public praying then, I was deeply touched by the sincerity of your words and the humility with which you expressed them.

As I came to know you better, I was increasingly drawn to your gentle nature and quiet spirit, and I began to love you more. I was blessed in that you loved me in return and eventually, 25 years ago today, we vowed to love, honour and obey each other until death us do part.

‘Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you,’ you love to quote from James 4:8. Over the last 25 years, I have watched you strive do this every day, while also teaching it to our children. And I love you.

I have watched as you consistently pursue peace in your interactions with others. And I love you.

I have watched you attain so many accolades – in your studies, at work and on the tennis court – always graciously and with humility. And I love you.

During your years as an Air Force officer, you were also always a gentleman, and still are, and I love you for that. I love you for always carrying a handkerchief in your pocket, and discreetly giving it to me when I cry during a sad movie, when our children bring us joy, or when I’m feeling emotional for no particular reason, as is women’s wont. I love that after 25 years of marriage, you still open the car door for me.

I love you for remaining true to your commitment that our house will serve the Lord, and that our children have been raised in His nurture and admonition. I see your gentleness reflected in them and I love you.

I love you for standing by me during my darkest hours, for being my strength when I was weak, my voice when I couldn’t speak. I love you for holding me up and never letting me fall, giving me wings to make me fly, for always seeing the best in me. I love you for all the joy you have brought to my life.

I love you because you fill my heart with gladness, take away all my sadness. Ease my troubles, that’s what you do.

Some might say it is surprising that our union has lasted a quarter of a century. And we would not disagree. We are well aware of the many differences between us.

You are right-handed; I use my left.
You rely largely on reason; I am emotionally driven.
You prefer a written To Do list; I make mental notes.
You are a huge fan of Roger Federer, while I prefer Shakespeare.
You love to watch a live rugby game. I would rather attend a Josh Groban concert.
You have an introverted personality and find rejuvenation in solitude. I am more of an extrovert who is energised by people.

So if we have so little in common, what then, is the glue that binds us together? As the choir sang at our wedding, shortly after we were pronounced husband and wife – a common bond holding us to the Lord, a common joy in the truth of God’s Word.

We may do things differently, and even disagree from time to time, my love, but on the Lord’s day, when we go together to worship God, all those differences and disagreements fade away. Sitting beside each other in Church, our spirits are in perfect harmony. Our common gift to the Saviour negates all that makes us incompatible and forges the bond between us ever tighter. And each time I fall in love with you anew.

This love divine is yours and mine, like the sun. At the end of the day, we should give thanks and pray to the One.

I began this letter to you with a paraphase of the opening lines of my favourite love poem, and interspersed it with lyrics from songs that have special meaning to us. I shall end it wth a direct quote from the same poem:

I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life;
and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Happy anniversary.

Double vision: an adoptee’s view of family

Every once in a while I stumble across something from a fellow adoptee that sums up exactly how I feel about my adoption, but conveys these emotions so well that I would rather “copy and paste” their thoughts (with permission, of course) than try to echo them with my own sentiments.

Like the following blog by Rebecca Hawkes, adopted daughter and adoptive and biological mother – I think what she says is simply brilliant…

I sometimes wish I knew what it would be like to not be adopted. If you are not adopted, please think about that for a moment. Think about the things that you take for granted. Think about the simple, natural connection between you and the people to whom you are related. Even if your relationship with your family is not 100 per cent positive, there is a quality of your connection to them that you have probably never questioned; they simply ARE your family. They didn’t choose you; you didn’t choose them. You are connected to them by the interwoven threads of shared experience and biology.

For me, as an adopted person, things are not so simple. It occurred to me recently that being adopted is a bit like having Strabismus, or “Wandering Eye,” a condition in which the two eyes don’t quite work together as they should to create a single, unified picture. As a metaphor for the adoption experience, this translates to two separate visions of family. One eye sees the world through the lens of experience and upbringing. This is the “nurture” lens, connected to a definition of family as those people with whom I grew up, who cared for me, and shared the experiences of family life with me. The other eye is the lens of “nature,” or biology. It sees family as those people who share my genetics and genealogy, who are related to me in spite of our lack of shared history.

Some people with Strabismus compensate by favoring one eye over the other, and some adopted people do so as well, metaphorically. There are adoptees who will tell you that their real family is the one that they grew up in. Period. There are even those who express distance from, and disdain for, their biological mothers by referring to the them as “incubators.” On the other end of the spectrum are those who refer to their adoptive parents as “adopters,” rather than parents, rejecting the adoptive definition of family in favor of a strictly biological one. But many of us find ourselves in the middle, struggling to hold two (at times contradictory) definitions of family simultaneously, striving to create a single, unified vision from these two divergent points of reference.

Can I say that my life would have been better if I hadn’t been adopted? Would I be happier or psychologically healthier today? I can’t say that with any certainty at all; who knows where that unknown path would have led. Most of the time I am able to accept, and even celebrate, my life for what it is and to see the duality of adoption as an enrichment rather than a detraction. Usually, I am thankful that I have the love of not just one but two families. But to be honest, I’m not always in that place of acceptance and gratitude. Sometimes I wish that instead of families, I simply had “a family”.

Follow Rebecca’s blog at http://rebecca-hawkes.blogspot.com/

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