Posts Tagged ‘ relationships ’

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

Advertisements

‘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.”

Lessons from my mother

“Mom knows best.” Three words I grew up believing with all my heart.

Until I reached my teens.

Then, for some reason, I stopped believing in those words and began relying on my own instincts to make decisions. I entered my twenties, met my wonderful husband, married him and eventually had a son and daughter of my own.

One day I sat on my daughter’s bed, surveying a collage she had created on her bedroom wall. It consisted mostly of pictures of her and her friends, interspersed with magazine pictures of things she particularly liked. I gazed at it for a long time, not wanting to miss anything. That was when I saw it – a little slip of paper close to the edge, on which a simple sentence was written – “Mom knows best”.

That was several years ago. Today my daughter is approaching twenty, and the piece of paper no longer graces her wall. And I’m okay with that. Because those three words are written on the wall of my heart. I have learned that no matter how hard you try to convince yourself otherwise, Mom really does know best. And it took becoming a mother for me to realise this.

So many times I find myself beginning a sentence with “My mother taught me…”, something I remember promising never to do when I was in my teens. Only now can I see how much I have learned from my mom. Some are in the words she said; most I learned by the way she lives her life. They are simple, yet invaluable life lessons that I live by each day and have tried to instil in my children.

These are the ones that stand out the most:

  • Always go to church on Sundays, especially when you are going through a difficult time. The sermon preached that Sunday morning might just be the one you need to hear.
  • Take your babies to Sunday School and church. The sooner you instil in them the importance of church attendance, the greater the likelihood they will grow up to become faithful Christians.
  • When life gets complicated, prioritise as follows: church, work/school, sport, fun, and everything will fall into place.
  • A man who loves and respects his mother and is kind to animals will make a good husband.
  • When visiting someone else’s home, always say “Thank you for having me” when you leave, no matter whether they have shown you hospitality for a few days or a few hours. It’s just good manners.
  • When guests drop by for a visit at short notice, make sure your bathrooms and kitchen are clean, then the rest of your house will look spotless.
  • Take care of orphans – not only babies and children who have been abandoned or neglected by their parents, but anyone, including adults, who is separated from their family for some reason.
  • Never break a friend’s confidence, even if they don’t ask you not to tell anyone.
  • Dress modestly, especially when you become a mother. You have an example to set.
  • Never skip breakfast. It’s the most important  meal of the day.

Thank you for everything you have taught me, Mom. Truly, you do know best.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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.

Book Review: GROWING UP BLACK IN WHITE by Kevin D Hofmann

As a South African who grew up in the Apartheid era, from the first page of Kevin’s book I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between his description of America’s racial discrimination during the 1960s, and that which existed in my own country prior to April 1994.

Kevin was born in 1967 in Detroit, at a time when racial segregation was the norm in the US. The Ku Klux Klan, for example, was demonstrative in the extreme in expressing its hatred of the black minority. Meanwhile, here in South Africa, our non-white population living under the then government’s Apartheid legislation was dealing with pass book laws, the Group Areas Act and disenfranchisement, among numerous other so-called legal discriminatory practices.

Born to a white mother and a black father, Kevin is adopted by a white Lutheran couple at a time when, as he puts it, “different pigments can’t get along”. Indeed, while most babies are lavished with beautiful gifts to welcome them into a community, Kevin’s reception takes the form of a burning cross planted on his parents’ front lawn.

How Kevin and his family choose to deal with this incident and others which follow makes for insightful reading and gives all parents, especially those who choose to adopt across the colour and culture line, much to think about. As a white parent, while reading Kevin’s story I found myself constantly asking: if he was my child, what would I have done?

Kevin’s book is not about adoption. It’s about racial discrimination. He simply relates the experiences of his transracial upbringing, and the subtle and blatant discrimination he often had to endure, even from members of his own extended adoptive family. He tells his story candidly and objectively, allowing the reader to form his/her own opinions. Towards the end of the book he does touch lightly on the personal emotional issues he deals with as an adoptee, but the primary theme of his story is contained in the book’s title.

For readers who are, or on their way to becoming the adoptive parents of a child of a different race, Kevin’s journey will provide valuable insight on what being part of a transracial family entails – from the most important perspective of all – the child’s. Because when all is said and done, Kevin is no different from any other child – all he wants is to fit in.

No, LDAs are not exempt from adoption issues

I am often asked whether, as a late discovery adoptee, I experience any of the issues other adoptees – who always have known about their adoption – have to contend with while growing up.

The short answer is yes.

As a child I felt surrounded by people who I believed didn’t like me – from aunts, uncles and cousins, to friends at school. Although I excelled academically and at some sports, I never felt good at what I did, or that my achievements were good enough to ensure approval, which I was constantly trying to earn.

I was extremely afraid of rejection, and would unconsciously go about sabotaging relationships with my friends and family. I reasoned: “I know you are going to leave me eventually, so I will push you away so that I don’t get hurt.”

When the person did eventually leave because I had pushed them away one time too many, my response would be: “See, I knew you would leave.” I was completely unaware that it was me who was causing the very thing I was most afraid of.

Closely related to my fears of rejection were issues of distrust – especially of the feminine. I could never understand why I always felt more comfortable around men than women. I have always had more male friends than female. One of my closest friends at high school, and at the university I studied, was a boy.

When I applied for my first job I was asked whether I got on better with men or women. Immediately I answered men. The interviewer asked why. “I don’t know,” I replied. “I just don’t trust women. They have a hidden agenda.” But I could not explain what this hidden agenda was.

When my husband and I started dating he noted that I always seemed to be “hanging out with the guys”.

“They’re just my friends,” I responded. “I have more male friends than female. I don’t know why, I simply prefer it that way.”

I have since learned that because of the rejection/abandonment experienced at birth, adoptees often view women as abandoners – people who cannot be trusted. Generally, we feel unaccepted by girls or women or uncomfortable around them. While adoptees may have one best friend of the same sex as themselves, for most of us the rest of our friends tend to be boys or men.

Then there is that little matter of control. I am a control freak. I have always been one. I can even be manipulative if I want to, owing to my insatiable need to be in control at all times. To not be in control leaves me feeling extremely anxious, and the less in control I feel the more anxious I become, until eventually I feel completely overwhelmed. Then I break down, have a good cry on my husband’s ever-present shoulder, and feel better.

Low self-esteem, coupled with guilt is another issue I have had to contend with all my life. Thankfully, I now believe I know the root of all this emotional baggage.

One of the first books I read after finding out about my adoption was Nancy Verrier’s The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child.

From the first chapter, it was as if Nancy had written her book about me. I could relate to almost every aspect she addressed. All the emotional issues I experienced before knowing about my adoption and could not explain, suddenly made perfect sense.

Nancy is a registered clinical psychologist and the mother of an adoptive daughter. In her book, she explains how, no matter how much love she gave her daughter, the child continued to push her away and act out. In an effort to understand her daughter, Nancy wrote her doctoral thesis on adoptees. Her research culminated in the identification of what she calls the primal wound.

According to Nancy, this wound is formed immediately after birth when a baby is not placed in the arms of their birth mother, but given to a complete stranger. After having gone through the trauma of birth, all the baby wants is to the comfort of the woman in whose womb they have spent the last nine months.

Research shows that during this time they have come to know the woman who carried them so well that they can even identify her by smell. Thus when they are placed in the arms of a stranger, they experience no sense of safety, wellbeing and comfort, but rather intense abandonment. What’s more – they are expected to bond with this strange person, but how is that possible when they are yearning for their birth mother?

These intense emotions of abandonment, rejection, neglect and betrayal create an emotional wound so primal, Nancy says, that it is indelibly etched on the child’s sub-conscious memory. These fears never leave the child.

Consequently, most adoptees, regardless of when they learn of their adoption, grow up with issues of rejection, trust, intimacy and loyalty, together with guilt and shame, power and control and identity.

I firmly believe that it doesn’t matter at what age you find out about your adoption – the emotional impact of being separated from your birth-mother begins on the day of separation and is profoundly and permanently life-changing.

My belief is based on my personal experience and confirmed by Nancy Verrier’s research.

Thanks to my Christian faith, however, and a wonderful support system, I have been able to confront and deal with these issues. I have experienced considerable healing, but I have also come to accept that I am a work-in-progress, and will always be on a lifelong journey of healing.

%d bloggers like this: