Author: Hermien Zwiers
LETTER TO CLASSMATES
A bit daunting to go into telling about all the people, places and things since 1974.
I swore never to go back to Grahamstown the day I flew to Holland in April 1975, because of very unhappy events outside and inside of the school during my time at PJ Olivier. At some stage, I broke all bonds with the NG church and all religion. So, from age twelve I spent all my time trying to be top of the class to have some “worth” in the eyes of the school and my parents.
So, there was a need for me to mention this without going into details, as my whole life up to this day, has been shaped by that period of my life. Up to this day, I have painful difficulty socialising as I did at school. I flew to the Netherlands a few months after matriculation, traveled over Europe and worked at Schiphol airport and elsewhere for two years. I attended French, Spanish and Italian classes in Amsterdam to further my love for languages. I returned to South Africa by ship and after a year, ended in Germiston where I also worked as receptionist and pharmacy assistant and moved in with my high school boyfriend Petrus. We lived in Johannesburg for a period while I attended RAU to do BA Languages and Linguistics (now University of Johannesburg).
Petrus and I married in 1978. I wanted to be with my best friend for the rest of my life. There were times when I truly loved him but after two emigrations, one to Holland and one to Australia and four wonderful children, we did separate in 1995 and then divorced. I met my second husband at Dunk Island in Australia in 1997. I was fortunate to get amazing healers to help me finally reach a place of peace, an end to my self-harm and a spiritual life. I am grateful. After 20 years of being a mum at home and working as volunteer for La Leche League International and other organisations, I finished a few more diplomas (counselling, tourism, childcare) but found it hard to fully get back into the work force due to my age, I believe. After a short unfinished apprenticeship, I started a business of house-painting with two other women in Maleny, Australia and made a success of it for 15 years until my hands and wrists said, “no more”. Douglas and I finally moved to New Zealand. We both still travel almost every year, mainly to see our children and parents. My parents have by now both passed away. We visit his parents in Scotland from time to time and I spend about 5 months a year near my children and grandchildren overseas. I have done seasonal work here in NZ and am a wannabee writer of books, none published yet as there is much work and much fear to overcome.
My eldest daughter, Marisca, turned 40 a few days ago. She is an art technician and art teacher in England and has a husband and 2 children. Both are being home-schooled.
My second daughter Brianna is 37 and a full-time mum but also a yoga teacher. She is my heartache child as she was severely ill twice in her life. I admire her battle to finally overcome her challenges. She has a lovely son. Her ex-partner is still around and is a dear person who has his own struggles with life. It is painful for me, but I currently hear very little from Brianna. She lives in Australia, but, like me, she has traveled to and sometimes worked in many parts of the world. Europe, North and South America, Asia, Scandinavia, the UK, etc.
My third daughter Sabrina is 33 and a nutrition and fitness specialist and runs a marketing business from home. She has two boys with her husband in Australia.
My son Carl, 28, lives in Belgium at present, but owns a tiny house in Hungary too. He has done volunteering around Europe for 4 of the past years and is doing paid construction work since a year ago.
This above is not a full story as it could go on and on.
The above will form part of my future blog: “. THE MIDDLE DAYS…. The 1970s onwards”. Almost all original names have been changed to protect people.
THE EARLY DAYS
Seven has meaning and is important; it is THE number for me. I was born at
7pm. on the 7th of July in the 1950s in the hospital of the little town called Bedford in the southeast of the Republic of South Africa. I officially became an adult on the 7th of the 7th in the ’70s.
Bedford had a tarred main street, a cinema where I saw a movie most Saturdays, a library, a shop across from our house where I could buy candy for 1 cent, put in newspaper that was rolled up like a funnel, a church, an Afrikaans school and a convent.
My birth went really well, my mother told me and she breastfed me for three months. All this was very much because of the support from midwife Anna. I slept in my mother’s room for the first few months and then she fell pregnant again. When the new baby brother was there I turned to my new mummy at night, my sister Henrica. She changed my nappy, took me into her bed when I cried, washed my hair and generally looked after me. Being only 13, some of those days were times of resentment for her.
Memories of the past flash through my mind:
When I was little, I dreamt that I could fly and also that I was rolled up in a carpet filled with spiders, one dream of exhilaration, the other of sheer panic. I ate sand. I walked in my sleep.
To be continued …
The above will be continued in my blog “ THE EARLY DAYS…. The 1950s–1970s, THE BEDFORD-GRAHAMSTOWN YEARS”. Written by me when I was young, in Afrikaans, and later translated by me. Almost all original names have been changed to protect people.
Today my dad would’ve been 98. Albert Zwiers. Born in Emmen, the Netherlands. I have no idea why I feel sad. Very.
I need to start something here. Blog . Vlog. No doubt it is of vital importance. I cannot live without writing. If I have nothing to write on in the middle of the night in the dark, I will grab a nearby pen and a tissue and write. In the dark.
I am keeping my initial blogs short as I need to learn how to work the website, for a start. My name is Hermien Zwiers. I am in my sixties.