Of secrets discovered..

1986

I was only 12.. and a very young 12 too. I had a mom, a dad, various brothers and sisters, 2 dogs, gerbils and played make believe that my broom allowed me to fly…

I didn’t even know we had a secret.. and it would’ve probably not been so bad being told about it had it not been in the midst of chaos, sadness and change..

My dad was leaving us.. more correctly he was leaving my mom.. going away to be a family with someone else.. And this was not the time to tell me about secrets.. I didn’t want to hear anymore.. I wanted things to be the way they were..

.. but we all know that no matter how hard we cry and how many tears we shed. Things will be what they are.

So my dad left .. and then the truth had to be revealed to us. It was time for me to know the truth about my family…

My parents weren’t married. The ring on her finger was not put there in a holy communion.. vows were not exchanged in the company of God.. I was officially a bastard child.

How could this happen? My mom had my dad’s surname? I don’t understand..I hear things being said but I am soo confused by all this and more.. We had to leave.. after 21 years of my parents being together, loving each other, having children together.. we just had to leave.. My mom had no claim on anything and had nothing to show for the countless years of being by his side and looking after him.. I was dying inside.. How could this happen?

My mom then told me the story of how my parents met and what a difficult life she really had.. She was young, a nurse in Joburg, pretty by anyone’s standards but from a strict Afrikaans family that afforded her no freedom and therefore she was probably a bit naive.. She met a dashing young man (her words) and fell in love. Marriage was soon on the cards for her and more importantly freedom from an oppressive home life. But after the wedding things soon turned sour and his true colours surfaced. He started hitting her. And this was just the beginning. She knew this was wrong but where could she go? Her family didn’t believe her.. She had no real friends to turn to and there she was, married to a man that thought nothing to smack her around when he needed to be entertained.

She took as much of it as she could until one day he beat her so badly she miscarried.. A life was taken from her.. she had stood by and allowed him to treat her like a punching bag, having numerous affairs and so on.. but her unborn has just been taken from her in an angry burst of violence, next time it could be her life he takes from the world and she knew it.

The next day while he was gone out to work she packed her bag and fled for her life.

She walked for hours with her one suitcase wandering the streets of Joburg, confused, scared and tired. She eventually sat down at a bus stop and knew that she needed to make a decision as to where she was going and what she was going to do but for now she just wanted to rest..

My dad whom she about to meet was a very sad and broken man too. His wife divorced him and took his kids just a few months previous. He had a drinking problem and was unable to take control of his life. His life was one of work, drink and sleep, with drink being the problematic portion. On his way home one day however, he saw a beautiful young woman sitting at a bus stop, and found himself drawn to her.He walked up to my mom, saw her slumped shoulders, saw the sadness in her eyes and just knew that she needed a friend.

“Why Hello there!” he greeted her as pleasantly as he could. And she just smiled at him. You see, my mom was afrikaans and even though she could understand english, speaking it was a very different story. “Goeiedag Meneer” she replied. My dad smiled because even though he could understand afrikaans, speaking it was a very different story.

He took her hand in hers and asked her if she wanted to come to his home and join him for dinner.. and that’s where it all started really.. she moved in with him.. and they lived happily ever after??!!?

No, this is not a fairytale.. this is reality. They overcame their differences,she helped him to sober up, they eventually fell in love with each other, had children together, and then 21 years later he found himself in the throes of a mid life crisis and left her shattered….. at the bus stop once again.

So there you have it. My mom ran from an abusive husband, was unable to get a divorce from him for fear of him finding her, and so was never able to marry my dad. Which is not all that bad, except that it left us in a very vulnerable position when he left.. a very bad situation all round.

The thing about secrets is that once they have been told they are no longer private. Everyone knows about it.. It goes from being a secret to being harsh reality. And knowledge may be power but sometimes not knowing is bliss…

Now before you get all angry with my dad for being a tosser..leaving us the way he did.. shattering our lives in such a cruel manner.. Bear in mind the man he actually was .. Kind, Caring, Funny and Smart.. And even kind, caring, funny and smart people make mistakes.. yes, everyone makes mistakes in life.. its whether you learn from them that makes the difference…

I forgave him for everything that had happened.. And love him dearly for being my darling dad, warts and all.