Wow I have missed you. A bit of a catch up, first of all Natal was great it was really good to be in the bush. We saw some fantastic birds including the pearl spotted owl (I have such a thing for owls and this is SA’s smallest - only 15cm high, I mean SERIOUSLY how cute can you get??) I also am happy to report that I did see the neergaard’s sunbird and a pink throated twinspot. Also a southern banded snake eagle which some of the pro birders seemed to be get really excited about.
I opted to spend an extra night in durbs on my way home to see my bro and his fam. This is my niece… in her ballet outfit.
Her mom was putting her to bed and said a little prayer with her and before she repeated the “amen” bit she added in “and thank you for cazzy coming to visit”. HALLO!!! Melt my heart!!!!!
Now for the big swallow past the lump part. You’ve probably read my dotings about my niece before so you’ve probably also read about my gran before. Noon.
On Monday morning last week, early early I heard my alarm go off. I turned to get it and realized actually it was my phone ringing. It was my dad. He told me Noon had had a heart attack and had died.
He asked The Band to look after me. I lay in bed and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. The Band held me and cried with me I think.
I spent the past week in East London helping sort out my gran's flat and preparing for the funeral etc. No email access unfortunately, so I have really missed you all. I had to do a eulogy at the funeral and so I started by writing it as a blog post then converting it.
She was warm, loving, incredibly generous, adventurous and feisty!
Noon walked a lot and she had a few run-ins with thugs. Actually I should say that thugs had a few run-ins with Noon as they always seemed to come off second best. One time she was walking and a guy ran past her and grabbed her cross and chain from around her neck. This poor thug obviously didn’t know who he was taking on. Noon was pretty short, but looks can be deceiving. As she tells it “I shouted all sorts of things at him and called him some very rude words which I won’t repeat to you dear.” So the guy said “Well I’ll give you the cross back, but I’m keeping the chain!” “No you are not!” she replied “You will give them both back immediately!” To which he sheepishly placed both on the ground and ran away.
Why 'Noon'? When Noon was little her mom, her sister and her would go on the ship to England. Noon would hide and her mom would call her “ninky ninky noon”. Since then she’s been known as Noon.
Noon lived at The Woodholme on the East London Esplanade (beach front) for nearly 20 years and that was her territory. Everyone at the Wimpy knew her. She’d say they make the best coffee in the world. I agree. She was one of those who could go in and ask for “the usual”. All along the Esplanade bead sellers would greet her; “hello granny”.
When a ship wrecked at the break wall last year Noon could’ve been a Reuters correspondent. She’d give updates on exactly what was happening with the wreck over the months. She was so disappointed when it was finally gone – she wrote to me that she felt like she’d lost a friend.
Noon was old. 89 last week, but you wouldn’t have said so! Just 6 years ago she traveled to Cape Town and Oudtshoorn to swim competitively in the SA Masters Swimming Champs!
She loved gardens and would often point out trees to me saying “That would be a great tree for climbing.” She really had an adventurous spirit and a fun spirit.
She told me that she was up in Joburg for work as a young lady when she met my granddad and he invited her out for dinner. She promptly spent the money for her return fare home on a dress for the evening.
Another time they were away somewhere and she had been eyeing a certain ring in the jewelry store. My granddad dared her to jump on the trampoline. She said that she would jump for ten minutes if he’d buy her that ring. He agreed. So, being a legal secretary, she quickly drew up a little contract which they both signed and then started jumping. She got her ring.
Noon was a great letter writer – when I was in university I’d get a letter from her every week. She was also a great reader of books. In fact if Noon was around you had to keep an eye on whichever book you were reading at the time! She loved her reading, especially books involving adventures. One of her favourite favourite books was Rosie Thomas’s White. It’s a great book about an Everest expedition. When she finished it she told me she was exhausted as she felt she’d climbed the mountain with the team. My brother Mark, her “Marky-boo”, would send her postcards from his travels to various parts of the world and she would write to him “I so enjoyed our skiing trip… I can hardly wait for Egypt.”
Noon loved dining in fine restaurants and through my high school years and whenever I was back home after that she’d take me out to lunch. It was always a treat for us both.
My grandfather died nearly 20 years ago. They were living in Bloem at the time and when she moved down to East London. Her Alsatian, Blackie, had to be put down. I think it was one of the hardest things for her. But a few years ago we got a border collie called Phoebe. Well Phoebe and Noon just absolutely took to each other. I’m sure many of you have heard her speak about Phoebe. Whenever Noon came to visit Phoebe would go absolutely crazy. They utterly adored one another. I’ve never seen anything like it. I suspect that Phoebe has also developed quite a taste for seafood as Noon used to always sneakily feed bits of her meal to Phoebe under the table. My parents would pretend not to notice and Noon would wink at me conspiratorially. Noon would often marvel to me “I never ever thought I could love another dog…” Every time I spoke to her on the phone she’d give me an update on Phoebe and would end off by saying “Oh I do love that dog!”
Noon absolutely loved her 3 children, 9 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. She boasted of them at every opportunity. She’d call my brother Matthew her HH – her handsome hunk. She loved to talk about her “Richie” and how he strutted his stuff when he got his matric results. And I suspect that the more he’d cringe the more she’d repeat that story. In a book I found this week she wrote “Every time a grandchild is born, one’s heart opens a little wider to take the new love in. You can actually feel it happening.”
Noon was very caring. She volunteered in the Physio department in Bloem, in the Hospice in East London and at Woodholme’s sick bay. She would quite happily massage a sore back or sore feet. Absolutely servant-hearted if you consider some of the feet in my family! She had patience which you seldom see nowadays.
Something that was always very hard for Noon was that she never knew her dad. Her dad died 2 weeks before she was born and she has always felt that void. She’s often said to me how lucky I am to have a dad who loves me so much and she’s often commented on what a wonderful father this one is or that one is.
When Noon was a little girl living in Queenstown she had a loose tooth. As she tells it, she called her neighbour, a dentist, to show him. There was a drought at the time. He’d just come from the outhouse and he wiggled her tooth and then pulled it out. The next morning she was unconscious. Her gums were swollen over her teeth and they couldn’t wake her. But while that was going on she saw herself walking along a dusty road. She saw her dad standing there. How her heart must have swelled to see the dad she’d longed for all her short life. He was so happy to see her and was so full of love, but he told her that it wasn’t yet time. And then she regained consciousness.
I’ve been left wondering why she lived so long after losing her husband. What was she holding out for? It must be so hard to outlive so many people you love. Why would God keep her here for so long?
I think the answer is for us: her friends and her family. For us to learn from her. For us to be loved unconditionally by this great woman. When I think of why my heart is breaking right now, when I consider my pain, it is all selfish. It is all of how much I will miss her and how sad I am that my future children won’t know her, but for her I am happy. She is with her heavenly Father now and she is with her dad at last. She’s gone home.