I know I must be old because I’ve started to appreciate my parents! I’ve stopped laughing at them for being so ‘backward’ or old fashioned or technologically challenged. Now I’m admiring them for sticking to their traditions, keeping the family grounded and not relying on cell phones to communicate.
This weekend my parents are celebrating their 40 year anniversary and it’s made me think about how valuable they are. Not so long ago I was fighting with my mum and sulking with my dad, complaining about how they ruled my life and hated me. I’m glad I grew up! They still irritate me sometimes but I’ve learnt to put that irritation away. After all, they’ve got a lifetime of experience and they certainly know what they’re talking about! I cringe when I think of all the times that I doubted their advice or laughed at their suggestions. Children can be very cruel sometimes.
My parents worked hard to bring up three daughters in JHB. They left their family in a small Natal town and came to the City of Gold hoping for a better life. Things were tough but I don’t ever remember lacking anything. I had a house, food and my family. The things that were important to me back then, like fashionable clothes and more spending money seem so ridiculous right now. I think about how my mum struggled to put us all through school and look after a family of five and I can only admire her. They had no family support here in Transvaal and had to go at it alone. Plus they were frowned upon for the way they brought us up, were weren’t as old fashioned or ‘traditional’ as our cousins back home but I think we turned out pretty well.
We weren’t always the perfect family, my dad was an alcoholic who could never keep and job and my mum slogged in the same company for the past 20 years just making ends meet. We struggled a lot when I was younger but despite that they kept it together, they kept us together. I would come home from school and no matter how tired my mum was she’d sit and talk to me about my day. My dad would help me with my homework and pet me if I had a bad day. They taught me about my religion and about other religions. They taught me about how to care for animals and how to be compassionate. They taught me that my elders deserved respect that family came first. They taught me to laugh at myself and cry when I was sad. As I got older I observed them and learnt how to deal with people, how to be kind and patient and helpful. I learnt how to be a good wife to my husband and to make people feel welcome in my home. My dad taught me how to cook like a pro and drink like a master! My mum taught me how to light my lamp and bring God into my life. I’ve still got so much to learn from them.
Now that my sisters and I are grown up we can provide more for my parents. We try as much as possible to give them the stuff they couldn’t have for so long because of us. This involves holidays and appliances and money and the material things that we can afford. This weekend however we’re doing something different, we’re throwing them a surprise anniversary party. It may not seem like much but we have a purpose. We done the material gift but we want them feel something with the party. We’re inviting all their friends, the ones who’ve supported them and their marriage for the past 40 years. We’re hoping that this party, in some way, will show them that their struggles for the past 40 years of their lives have been worth it. Show them that they brought up 3 responsible, happy and healthy daughters, have 3 wonderful sons in law and 3 beautiful grandchildren. I want them to know that they are loved and looked after, that they can grow old in peace, knowing that they have done well in this life. They have passed on their values and ethics, traditions and culture, teachings and experiences to two generations who will do the same to the next two generations and so on. I want them to know that they’ve made a positive mark in this world and that no matter how much I may have disappointed them in the past I’m going to do my best to make them proud.