I saw a painting on Gharki’s blog the other day and it triggered something…a familiarity…a memory….fortunately good
Then it struck me…Aunty Rosa…that painting reminded me of her. Isn’t it strange that something so random can trigger a memory. Not that it was repressed. I loved her dearly and only have fond memories of her and her husband, Uncle Dan
Aunty Rosa (Rosaline) was of Portuguese descent. Married a Coloured man and her parents disowned her. They moved to ZA and ended up living in the area we were to move to. My parents and OB moved from the location to die Poort, and happened to buy a house right next to these two precious people.
My Ma came to depend on Aunty Rosa a lot. Aunty Rosa was like a second mom to her – my gran was ill and living in Laudium, and Ma didn’t see her mom and her siblings nearly as much as she wanted – and needed – to. As a result she sought Aunty Rosa’s company often and they became very close. We became family to them, as they did to us
When the maid abandoned me – locked me up in a room with only my bottle, which wasn’t even full – one day, they heard my wailing and alerted my ma. Uncle Dan broke in and took me home to them, cleaned me up and fed me. The maid was fired and Aunty Rosa and Uncle Dan looked after me till I went to school. I think this incident is the root of my claustrophobia
They had a child of their own – Ricardo (B2’s second name) who managed to land himself in trouble with the law, and ended up in jail. For life. He died in jail. She wasn’t able to have more kids after him, I guess which led her to “adopt” us as her babies. I always wondered at the sadness in her eyes. Only later did I understand why
We – myself, OB & BB – were her children. Myself more so – I loved being at their house, playing with the dogs, going on drives and visits with them. It was a happy house. I was constantly either at their place or they at ours. They didn’t have a TV, so Aunty Rosa would always come over to watch her programs there – Dallas, Kojak and some other programs I can’t remember any more
Oh, but she could talk. You’d be watching whatever and she’d be going “Maar xxxx, hoe kan daai man dan nou so maak. Ismossieregnie. Hulle moet hom ook sommer skiet” in a whiney voice. I swear, she believed these stories to be real – just like me, but I was a kid, what was her excuse?! lol
We’d become so exasperated we would give up trying to follow the program at all and just leave the poor Aunty to carry on. I remember thinking “Auntie, as jy net kan stil bly, miskien sal jy uitvind hoekom hy daai gedoen het” . But of course I never did.
She was a shrewd business woman – they started a Taxi business and within a few short years, she was the only female Taxi owner in the township. And boy, were the drivers scared of her!! They’d take NO chances with the day’s takings. If they had to hand over to Uncle Dan, they’d pocket a R50 or so (a LOT of money back then) but she’d always find out and unleash her wrath on them! Only the truly stupid would try that trick again!
Uncle Dan was a different kettle of fish – a real grumpy bugger at times, with a sharp and dry sense of humour, and a heart of gold, a real softy – when she’d talk so much during the programmes, he would look at her and say “Maar, Rosa, kan jy nie bietjie stil bly nie, ons watch” not that we were being inconvenienced, oh lekker no! He was more concerned that his viewing was interrupted!!
I used to go out in the Taxi with him practically every day – in a T-shirt, my nappy and bottle in hand. I remember standing in front at first (ja, very dangerous). Later (when I got too big) he banned me to the back seat to do the takings. Of course, I grew out of accompanying him eventually!!
Aunty Rosa taught me to eat pap. She used to make pap & marog, or pap & scrambled eggs (don’t cringe) or pap & whatever was available for lunch or breakfast. I loved pap, but never learnt to make it? It’s always lumpy and runny. Go figure!
She had these paintings – one of the sun setting over the ocean, while the waves crash against the rocks. I believed – and told them so – that the sea was the colour of vomit – until later I grew to recognise the image (we’d never been to the coast on holiday – our first sea holiday was when I was 9). I loved that painting. The beauty. The power of the waves. The tranquility.
There was another painting of lemons in a bowl on the table. And that is what Gharki’s painting reminded me of. The two paintings look nothing alike except for the lemons. Strange, hey?
She promised me that I could have both when she died. It never happened ‘coz someone stole it while she was ill. Freakin’ sharks. She took care of all her employees and that’s how they thanked her? We were so busy tending to her, we never noticed.
Uncle Dan died when I was about 12. Sommer net so. Keeled over in our house. I remember grieving, but it’s very hazy.
She wasted away from cancer. She was too hardkoppig to have the lumps checked out. By the time she was diagnosed, it was too late. Because she had no family, myself and my ma took turns to care for her until her last day. It’s horrific seeing someone so vibrant and lively disappearing in front of your eyes. And when you can’t do anything for the pain….
Aunty Rosa died when I was 16. That was the first time I experienced grief. Oh, we had family who died – my gran for instance and Uncle Dan – but I was too young to fully grasp what dying and losing someone really meant. Or maybe I didn’t feel such a bond with the others. It was terrible. Of course, later, I realised that one can experience grief on unfathomable levels.
I am glad I visited Gharki’s blog. I think I was meant to go there. Somehow. These are memories I haven’t thought of in a while. We get so busy with life and our issues, and we too frequently remember and cling to the bad. It’s good to recollect the fond ones too. This is why I thanked Gharki….and I say thanks again. Honouring them has been long overdue
I truly loved the both of them. I wished they could have been at my wedding. That they could’ve met my babies. They would’ve spoilt them rotten, I’m sure.
Que Sera, Sera