Friday, March 14, 2014

Blood is thicker.

I am so incredibly fortunate to have had a happy childhood. My father did not. His parents were separated when he was very young. He didn't speak much of his father, but one day he showed me some small scars on his arms and legs. Cigarette burns, he said - from when he did something or other that made his father angry.

His mother found that she couldn't take care of him and his younger brother Albert on her own, so she sent my dad to live with his grandparents. They took him in grudgingly. From what I gathered, they were very poor and old and in no way warm and loving. But fortunately there was no more physical abuse. He told us about the dung and peach pit floor in the kitchen and having to walk barefoot to school, even in winter. Again, luckily, my father was bright and able to skip some years in school, so that he applied for a bursary and started studying medicine in Cape Town when he was sixteen. Another saga follows - one of heartbreak and betrayal. But in the end, he found my mother, presented her with his four children and himself, and she said yes.
It was a great love.

My father lost contact with his brother for many years, but by the time I was born, they had found each other again and spoke regularly. I remember going to Potchefstroom to visit Uncle Albert and Auntie Katie. The jacarandas were in full bloom everywhere and their house was wonderful. So different to our own - it had a museum of curiosity feel to it. Glass cases full of interesting things to look at: Boer war memorabilia and tartans and thistles, as we are descended from the highland clan of Lamont. I think he gave us the Lamont crest which hung in our house for ever and ever. A Dexter hand, coupled at the wrist. Ne Parcus nec Spernas.  Neither Spare, nor Dispose.

Albert Turner passed away this week. In this old photograph, he looks so much like my father. My sister and I had our own private nickname for Uncle Bert... we were big Magnum PI fans.

RIP Uncle Higgy-baby.


Petro said...

Weereens 'n bitter mooi storie. Jou Pa klink na 'n wonderlike man. Jou Ma was 'n dapper vrou.
Ek wil nog hoor.

the sourcerer said...

Petro, hy was en sy is. Ek is trots op hulle! Dankie.

Norma West said...

Your background is so interesting Lily, no wonder you like to write.
I think your passion for collecting and 'dressing' probably stems from that visit to your uncle's house.

the sourcerer said...

Thanks Norma - and yes, definitely! I said as much to S. the other day. X