Wordless Wednesday: Vintage Motorcycle

A bike on the road is worth two in the shed.” ~ Unknown

Found in our family album. Once upon a time long ago, a motorcyclist would wear a suit and tie.

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‘Gone but not forgotten’ for Sonel’s Family B&W challenge

This week, Sonel’s B&W Photo Challenge is ‘Family’. I recently borrowed my mom’s old photo albums, as I had suddenly realised how little I knew of the generations of my family who had gone before.  As I turned the pages, I was filled with sadness, thinking of the many family members I should have known and loved, but never got to meet, and others with whom I had just a brief encounter. My Great Aunt Mary was my grandma’s sister. What a beautiful woman she was, both inside and out, and so loved by my sister and I. We used to have such fun with together, and were absolutely devastated when she died of cancer in the prime of her life, and our adventures with her came to an abrupt halt.

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When I was a child, we often visited my Great Aunt Sue and Uncle Harold. I remember that my eyes were always drawn to the photo which stood on their piano, of a handsome young man in army uniform. Alfie their only child, was one of the many young casualties of the second world war. The piano had been his, and was never opened after his death. Here he is in happier times, with his mom and dad.

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My mom has often spoken with pride of her older brother Fred. He was her hero, a great swimmer and competition diver, diving from the top of cranes in Hong Kong Harbour. The two of them were very close.

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He went down on an unmarked Japanese POW ship which was torpedoed by the allies in 1943. A Military Medal is little compensation for the loss of a beloved son and brother. His name is at the bottom of the first column on this segment of the Roll of Honour.

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I know I would have loved to have had him as my uncle. Maybe he would have taught me to play the trumpet, as well as how to swim, which is something I’ve never really mastered.

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This birthday card was the last correspondence mom received from him. I kept the flower in colour. I’m sure Sonel won’t mind, as it’s so pretty. 🙂

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Mom’s Uncle Bob is another man I would have loved to have met. He would have been my great uncle, if only he hadn’t also been killed in the war.

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My dad’s dreams of studying to be an engineer were shattered by the outbreak of war, and he was in his late teens when left his home and family in the Dutch East Indies, now known as Indonesia, to join the Royal Dutch Navy on the submarines. At the end of the war, he fell in love with my mom in England and they married. Because he hardly spoke any English, he was forced to settle for a very mediocre job as an electrician in a coal mine. Times were very hard, and any job was better than nothing, especially with a young family to support.

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My dad survived the war, physically unscathed, but he never saw his mom and dad again, and my sister and I didn’t get to meet our grandparents. My grandfather was killed by the Japanese, and my grandmother died when we were very young.

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As I pored over these faded B&W photographs, my heart was filled with sadness, thinking of how war can change the course of people’s lives for ever, and usually not for the better. These words spoken by General Robert E. Lee, are so true: “What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.”

To see more entries for Sonel’s challenge, click on the icon below.

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Thoughts on Mom’s 88th birthday

Thank you so much to all of you who left messages of congratulations to my mom on her 88th birthday.  I read each and every one to her, as well as the Facebook messages. She said, “How very kind people are. Tell them I really appreciate their wishes.”

On Thursday, hubby and I went to fetch her here for the weekend, and met my sister for lunch. Those of you who read about the “elusive turquoise top” which I was trying in vain to find for her birthday which is today, may be amused to know that we walked into a boutique at the centre where we went for lunch, and found the perfect one, and it wasn’t turquoise at all, but a mélange of soft greys. It waved to sister, almost as soon as we walked in the door. Crisis averted. 🙂

That evening, just as I was about to start preparing supper, the door bell rang and there was a courier with a cardboard box addressed to mom. She was beside herself with excitement, never having had a couriered parcel before in her whole long life. It was from my daughter in Johannesburg, and contained  yummy chocolate goodies. Her thoughtfulness really made mom’s day complete.

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On Friday, we took mom down to the bench at the top of our beach steps, and there we sat for quite a long while, watching the waves and the ships. It was a very special time for both of us.

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We weren’t the only ones enjoying the sea air.

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Saturday morning was my day for playing piano again at the mall, so hubby brought mom along to listen, and then we went for a tasty lunch and a bit of shopping. Helping mom to negotiate her way through the crowds of shoppers, I couldn’t help keenly feeling the reversal of roles. I remember when I was a child, having to run to keep up with her as she strode along the street, walking the mile or so into the town because it was “quicker than waiting for the bus.” “Step it out, you’ve got long legs.” she used to say to me. Now I hold her arm protectively, as she’s not too steady on her feet, and I’m afraid she might get bumped by some passing stranger who doesn’t know how special she is. I know it comes to all of us who are fortunate enough to have elderly parents, but I can’t help feeling a twinge of heartache as I see how frail she is. I’m so glad that something which hasn’t changed over the years, is her sense of humour. When we’re together, the smiles and laughter come thick and fast. She sees the funny side of everything, and I’ve inherited this sometimes embarrassing trait. My sister is the same, but even worse, and when the three of us get together, you might be forgiven for assuming that we’ve been let out for the day from some institution for the insanely comical. I’ve also passed this gene on to my daughter, and our long-suffering husbands have  just had to learn to live with it, bless them. 🙂

On Sunday, mom’s birthday dawned bright and sunny, and as usual I took her tea in bed. There she lay, her slight form hardly making a bump under the bedclothes, and I couldn’t help joking. “Happy birthday mom. You’re two fat ladies today!” She replied with a laugh, “That’s exactly what I was thinking when I woke up and realised that I’m 88 today. She had Facebook messages from family overseas, my daughter and granddaughter phoned from Johannesburg, and my sister and her husband phoned from Lesotho where they are spending a few days in freezing cold temperatures. Hubby’s 99-year-old mom in England also spent a good half hour chatting to us all. I then made a really nice lunch, and one thing I will say is that mom has a great appetite for her size.

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Just before I served our sticky toffee pudding, we had a Skype call from our son and family in New Jersey, and mom was so thrilled to see her grandson and his three gorgeous children. Little Taylor was also celebrating her 4th birthday, and Sienna kept jumping down off her dad’s lap to show us how she can do cartwheels. Two-year-old Max came to say “Hi” and then he was off on his own mission. Isn’t Skype just the best thing since sliced bread?

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Now mom is back home in her little cottage, and I’m sure her neighbours were glad to see her back. They all love her to bits, and gathered together to see her off on Thursday, and wish her a very happy weekend, which I know she had. That’s another thing about my mom. She never takes anything for granted, and is always so grateful for each little thing and every act of kindness. My darling mom, may you live to enjoy many more years.

Weekly photo challenge: Happy

There are so many different ideas of what makes for happiness.

To quote George Burns, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”

Audrey Hepburn once said, “The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it’s all that matters.”

I have both of these: The close-knit family which is not on my doorstep, but when we do get together, we have the best fun, and make the greatest memories. I also have a most enjoyable life, which enables me to be happy almost all of the time. (Nobody’s perfect, are they?)

I see that quite a few bloggers have posted family pics, so thought I would also do some ‘happy snaps’. Hubby and I are still happy after  more than 40 years together.

We have a great son and a lovely daughter, who although they live on opposite sides of the world, have so much fun when they get together.

I love this happy photo of our son and daughter-in-law, trampolining on their wedding day at Lake Tahoe.

What a happy little grandson we have. This was taken at a pumpkin farm, last year.

My middle granddaughter was happy to make her own pizza.

Travelling makes me happy too. This was taken in Bali, a couple of years ago.

This will be me, waiting for the taxi to the airport, in a couple of days time.

Then we’ll be off to see my smiley mom-in-law in England. This was taken 9 years ago on her 90th birthday. She made the Pavlova herself, and we were all very happy to help her eat it.

I would have loved to do one of those fancy galleries with my pics, but as you can see, I’m blonde, so can’t work it out. 🙂

To see more contributions to the WordPress happy challenge, just click here.