Weppie

Today, I heard that one of the members of my extended family passed away. I hadn’t seen him in over 20 years, but he was the first family member I met from my father’s side of the family, when I touched down in South Africa. Weppie was vibrant and jovial, and had a smile for everyone he met. I couldn’t help but be enchanted from the word go. 

Thank you for touching my life Weppie. I know you will be missed by many. To honour you, I share the story of when we met. This is an excerpt from a larger story of my travels through Africa. The moment warms me even still…

RIP Weppie De Klerk

A sampling of my South African family; Aunt Elsa, Uncle Jock and Weppie

Touchdown

I blinked in the glare of near-forgotten sunshine, as I stared out at a new world. The moisture that escaped my strained eyes had more to do with a need for shade now, rather than sorrow. My home on the other side of the world approached the cold embrace of winter. Here in Africa, the spring rays drove sharp daggers into my tender eyes. Already there was a need for adjustment, for change.

A set of stairs was pushed up to the waiting airplane. This was a novel experience in itself. Back in Canada people exited the parked plane through a long tunnel that wound to the building proper, before rushing pell-mell to arrive first to the luggage carousels.

Not here though.

On this day, a flight attendant called my name before I had a chance to exit the plane.

“Katerina Krreeha, please report to the flight stewardess.”

Several summons went out in both English and Afrikaans before I realized it was me being paged on the intercom. It was my first awkward language lesson, as I had never heard my last name pronounced in anything other than a garbled Canadian version before. I finally raised my hand and the smiling attendant gathered me up. In a daze, I trailed behind the pretty woman who directed me off the plane. Once outside she stopped in front of a burly, goateed man. Not sure what to expect, I stopped too.

“Velcome!” the man fairly shouted as he scooped the carry-on bag from my arm. He wrapped me in a bear hug, before standing back to look at me.

Pure joy and vibrant life sparkled in his eyes. Apparently, he was happy to see me. His job at the airport allowed him to get me off the plane first, so I was pretty pleased to see him too.

“I’m Weppie,” he said. “Your cousin Marianne—your Uncle Jock’s oldest daughter—she is my wife.”

Before I knew it, he had whisked me through security with much laughter and pleasantries to all and sundry. It seemed he knew everyone we passed.

“How is your wife, Willem? Has she forgiven you for your bit of fun at the braai last weekend?” he laughed.

“Good to see you, Jakob! Don’t you give my friend a hard time today. She has come all the way from Canada,” he admonished. “Ja!”

The stories flowed fast and furious. I was the centre of it all and couldn’t help but feel bedazzled.

I desperately tried to keep up with the jovial banter and quick pace. Not easy, but Weppie’s open nature was infectious. With Customs cleared, we gathered my luggage and continued to chat as we walked. Despite my sleep-addled brain, it was impossible not to like him already. I nodded and squinted through bleary eyes, but was happy to be there regardless.

Before my exhausted brain could catch up, we stopped again. This time it was in front of another group of strangers. Their faces seemed somehow familiar though.

“May I have the pleasure to introduce you to your Uncle Jock,” Weppie declared as he introduced his father-in-law with a small bow.

Here was my father’s brother. Beside him stood his wife, Elsa, and beside her my father’s sister, Aunt Linn. They were the closest relatives I had on my father’s side and they were alive and finally in the flesh in front of me.

A crooked smile crept across my face. I was home.

Sick Day

My schedule has switched up a bit recently and I am still working out the timing of things. New clients have come my way, at least for a short-term basis, but other clients I’ve worked with for a while are scaling back a bit. It means rethinking what I need to do when, which is fine, but on the first day of a cold, all I want to do is crawl back into bed.

My inspiration is less than at its peak, but my boss doesn’t pay sick pay. Darn self-employment. I also don’t get vacation pay, so dreaming of summer vacations instead of working doesn’t help either. Sigh

Perhaps I will just take a moment to reflect back on the long weekend instead (I probably gave them my germs, but we can suffer together). This Family Day weekend there were hugs, laughs, and many moments with family. My sister was down with her kids for a visit, and good food, cheese, and drinks were on the menu. We challenged an Escape Room and won with 2 minutes to spare (shocked us with our smarts). Plus, we got in some much-needed nature time, as who could resist the balmy temperatures. All moments to buoy up dull mid-winter souls.

Now if only I could hear the rustle of leaves and squeals of laughter as we slid down mud-slicked hills again instead of my growling laptop. That would be nice. I suspect I have to add a computer to my shopping wish list, along with an air conditioner this year. 

Suddenly, summer vacations just became that much more remote a dream. Time to get back to work. Anyone in need of a Freelance Writer? winter walk

Sick Days

There’s a reason I work from home. It’s not because I don’t like talking to people (because I have been known to talk to grocery store clerks, random people at the gym, and, yes, my cats). It’s not because I prefer working in my PJs (because I DO get dressed every day. I swear!). It’s not even because the pay is better, as the taxman scratches his head when he looks at my income taxes every year and wonders how I do it.

No. The reason why I work from home is so that on days when my children are under the weather, I can be home to take care of them. Hair appointments can wait. Running around can happen another day. Writing still happens when my babies are resting. And I have the comfort of knowing that I am exactly where I need to be for the people who need me most.

Kid #1 down with a case of ick

My Book Affair

Books. I love them. I have a bad habit of getting lost in bookstores, whether they be filled with new or used books. I cannot help but run my fingers across glossy covers. I pick up random books to read the back covers on dust jackets. Seeing a favourite author’s name makes me smile. Finding a new favourite author excites me even more.

So when I was asked to help volunteer at my children’s Scholastic Book Sale, what do you think my answer was? Yes, of course! You want me to help children pick out books? Awesome! I get to straighten crisp novels and arrange flashy picture books? Bring it! You are going to give me a $5 discount on purchases? That equals another book on my bedside table or one for the kids. Woohoo! Bring on literacy.

My problem is always how to limit my purchases. There are only so many books one family can read together, right? NAH! Christmas is coming. Guess what everyone is getting under the tree this year? Maybe a few new books to read? You betcha!

Bring on family storytime…

What’s your favourite mode to read with – new books, used books, audio books, or e-books?

WAHM

In between bites of cracker, my little mouse weakly tries to ride out the waves of nausea thrown her way. She wins. She loses.

So the day goes…

In between words typed onto the page, I hold a little girl’s hair away from her face, as she leans over the toilet. She’s hot. She’s cold. Mercifully, sleep eases her into a world free from pain for a few hours.

So is the role of a mother.

In between loads of laundry, I re-book appointments, reassess my schedule, and debate what the rest of the afternoon will hold for a work-at-home-mom with a sick child on her hands.

This is one of the perks and difficulties of freelancing from home. Available for my family first and foremost. At the mercy of their needs, but aware of the other responsibilities that I have agreed to fulfill.

So is the life of a freelance writer, I suppose…

Sunset