Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I have been through some huge changes in my life over the last few weeks. It has taken me a bit by surprise as to how much I have found myself reflecting on these changes and how much the whole “thing” has impacted on my life for the last nine or ten years. I am processing many thoughts and emotions which I am not totally ready to write about yet. I believe the changes are all good. I am confident that the outcome of the changes will all be positive. These events lead to Father’s Day 2007 being the first in almost ten years where I was not involved at all with how my family celebrated the day. This was a relief for me and it was good to see DDTF’s older children take a moment in time to acknowledge their Dad.

I thought about my late Dad and although I am very used to not having a father, when I watch Ross and DDTF, I very often wish I did have a Dad present in my life. I thought about my neighbor whom I have only known for just short of six years. My friendship with Stan is the closest thing I have had to a wonderful daughter/father relationship in my life. I say that with no disrespect to the memory of my father. It is unfortunate that my relationship with my Dad had to wait for many years after he passed on for me to be mature enough to work through it and reach a place of understanding about it all. I am therefore very grateful for the friendship of my friend next door and I don’t think he has even a vaguest idea of just how much I gain from it and how much I value it … perhaps next Father’s Day I’ll tell him.

The conversation outlined below took place on Yahoo Messenger between me and a friend of mine who lives in Chicago. JBL and I worked together about 22 years ago when we were both still living in South Africa. About a year ago I saw a pic of him in a weekly e-newsletter I get from South Africa and it was through that letter that I managed to re-connect with him after all these years. Although we never socialized outside of our brief contact during working hours, I remembered him because of his UNBELIEVABLE sense of humor. He is the kind of guy that cracks me up by just walking into the room and looking at me. In meetings I would have to sit looking away from him as I could not keep a straight face when I looked at him. He was for me a top bloke and I was thrilled to get the warm and equally pleased vibe in response when I first emailed him.

As this conversation unfolded, I decided to save it because I related to it so strongly. I am sure every South African now living in another country who reads it will relate as well. I think every parent who reads it will relate. It speaks of the dream that all parents have of seeing their children grow up into happy, confident, well rounded successful people enjoying the best life we all strive to give them. I asked JBL if I could use it and I knew the perfect time would come to share it.
(I have only edited out the user id’s at the start of each sentence. There are some South African slang words displayed in italics which are translated at the end of the post.)

jbl: today (15 years ago) we arrived at O'hare. Today 15 years ago
I stumbled off the plane, with my wife +2 kids, 8 suitcases, short pants
and a whole lot of butterflies in my stomach.
jbl: I had just said goodbye to my mother (avo sholom) who said goodbye to her two grandchildren that she lived for .... and visited our house in JHB 3 to 4 times a week to visit and baby-sit ......but she knew that we were doing the right thing.
jbl: and I will never forget that feeling of leaving South Africa on that flight. as the plane took off I remember looking through the window and thinking ...............
jbl: shit - I am on a one-way ticket ....(not like previous trips when you are moerse excited because you are on an overseas jol and then will be back home in about 2 weeks or so) this was a different feeling as the plane took off .... they were excited ......... I was kakking myself… sort of loose pooh stuff.

dawn: I also so clearly remember thinking, as we took off in pouring rain, what my mom on the ground must be feeling - I was the last of her three children to leave - she was going to be remaining in South Africa without any of her three kids around her - I remember feeling like I was abandoning ship.

jbl: sort of ....."what the fuck am I doing" - and is this the right thing to be doing? and all the mixed emotions as the plane takes off and you are g-forced back into the chair
and the lights of JHB sort of get smaller and smaller and you skeem ....... wow ........ when next will I see my chinas, my mom ......??
and so when the drinks cart came around I nearly kissed the hostie .....nearly gave her a fat smooch right on the lips - LOL
jbl: and two scotches later .... I sort of relaxed .....
I had a job to come to and knew that my missus would work (because she wanted to)
so that part of it was OK .... then fast forward to the picture of my daughter
because when you decide to emigrate, and you decide to leave , immediately we all refer to the famous … "well we did it for the children". Rabbi Yossi Goldman reminded me ..... 15 years ago when I told him we were leaving and he asked why and I told him ....for the children … his reply was, “good .... but remember you are leaving also for "you" and "your wife".
jbl: so 15 years later ..... at a graduation .... one does get the chance to reflect .... and put it all in perspective that ..... if we did it for the children - then fine .... here's a point in time to mark .... she graduates with her Master of Science in Developmental Education from one of the best Institutions in the US of A - a proud moment
so ..... happy events give us emigrants an opportunity to reflect . I am sure that sad events allow similar reflection but as a dual track one takes a moment in time -- sitting in the graduation ceremony (like sitting on the plane) and reflect - here is my little girl, now 28 - graduating ..... and I think back on when she went to the first USA school, then high school (and that graduation was a time of reflection too), then college and that graduation was a time of reflection too .... and then her masters - and so it goes - and as the kids grow up every moment in time of some significance allows us all to reflect.

dawn: and that is when, as a parent, you can really count your blessings when the moments of reflection are filled with pride, and achievement, growth and accomplishment - which essentially is, without taking anything away from the child's achievement, a manifestation of good parenting - and one can be proud and happy - what a pleasure! In an instant, so much become so worth it – right?

jbl: I love milestones ..... for instance I can now tell you what I have done and not done in the past 15 years .....!!! I can tell you for instance that in 15 years, I have bought Dominoes pizza about 5 times - walked into the Kentucky Fried chicken place near me twice - never ever eaten Pizza Hut in the USA in 15 years - don’t know why I remember this.

dawn: 'cos it's a darn hard trap to avoid - I can't take credit for that one - I must confess that in the beginning we most certainly fell victim to the convenience of fast food outlets!!
Thanks for sharing this china – very special! Talk to you soon. Love you lots!

South African slang translations:
Avo Sholom – Yiddish for respecting a departed one – wishing eternal rest and peace.
Moerse – big time!
Jorl – Party
Kakking myself – Crapping myself (as in being scared and nervous)
JHB – Johannesburg
Skeem – Think
Chinas – Friends
Hostie – Air Hostess/Flight Attendant
Missus – Mrs (wife)