Category Archives: family

Muddy waters

As I face the New Year, I feel I’m ready for a new beginning. I know that each new day is a new beginning, but, with what’s gone by this past year or two, I’m thinking that a Big new start is in order. I want to reconnect with all my friends I’ve neglected in my year-long slump and infuse energy into my work and play. This involves a lot of deep work for me. One thing that keeps popping up is the subject of forgiveness. I’m fairly sure there are a slew of people needing to forgive me for wrongs and perceived wrongs. I hope they’ll have the courage to confront me, so that I can apologise and make amends. From my side, there is one huge forgiveness challenge that I know is going to hold me back, but I don’t know if I’m big enough to let it go. Yes, I know forgiveness isn’t about approving of someone’s behaviour, but I’m afraid that forgiving will open me up to more of what the person is capable of handing out.

Jurgis was very involved in doing family research in Lithuania while we were volunteering in Ireland. This was costly, but he considered it well worthwhile. The payback for us was huge and life-changing, but it was also done for other close relatives who had asked for the information. Jurgis, at the time, was desperately trying to rebuild bridges with the relatives in question, as we hadn’t had contact for so many years. One day, he broached the subject of all the bureaucratic costs relating to the research he was doing and suggested the relatives contribute to those costs, as they were also benefitting and we weren’t earning at the time. One relative replied scathingly calling Jurgis a beggar and many other nasty things. Anyone who knew him, knew he’d give the shirt off his back for you. He was heartbroken and confused at her words. My feisty, caring daughter took up defense of her father and got a similar tongue lashing from this relative. I still have those messages saved. Yes… I know…. I shouldn’t, but I do. My suggestion to my little family unit at the time was that we just distance ourselves, which we did, though Jurgis still made weekly international calls to his relative. No one ever called him.

Jurgis died. Funny how death affects people. It wasn’t long after his death when the relative that slung abuse at him added me on Facebook. I have spent this past year ignoring that add. As I’m facing my New Beginning, I’m having to face forgiveness, but I don’t know if I can forgive. I know it’s the right thing to do, but I’m clearly a holder of grudges – not happy to admit that! Oh what to do… what to do?? I know what to do, but am I big enough?

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Posted by on December 28, 2015 in family


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The End

we3 Not the best photo, but the last of the three of us

2014 is drawing to a close. I sit alone and cast my thoughts, those that allow themselves to be cast – distraction has become my theme song – back over the year. In July, I cried. The job I loved and, with it, the security I had crumbled into a little heap of angst. “Not fair!” I cried. It wasn’t too hard to pick up out of that with the help of a new job and some truly great colleagues and friends. For a while there, I thought life could turn out to be ok.

It wasn’t to last though. A visit to the doctor, tests and a diagnosis later – life wasn’t done with me. Of course, I knew something was wrong, but being flung into a vortex of surgeons, scans, new foods, pills, tears, sleepy days and sleepless nights left my head spinning. I took comfort in my friends and family and had the rock-solid support of my husband.

The rock crumbled. Jurgis was the one who would coax me daily to take my pills and drink my juices. When I felt I couldn’t, he would do it for me, pushing me all along. It was never me. It was ‘we’. I remember sitting at the table with him. “We’ll nail this thing together. You’re not alone. I’m fighting with you.” He never let me give up! Not fair! Not fair! He was too young to die. He was meant to live to 112. We were meant to grow old together. We talked about it… joked about it. We had dreams, some realistic, some destined to remain in dream world. I first started dating him back in ‘81. We got married in April ‘86. That’s a fair time to get to know someone, though, after living in each other’s pockets for so long, I was still learning new things about him. He was very predictable in so many ways, but still managed to surprise me regularly. Ah yes, life is going to be different now.

Having said all that, I was thinking as I wrote this that, while the year has been a tough one on many levels, it’s also been an incredibly wonderful year. This is the year that I realised my dream of moving to live near Tatiana in England. We’ve climbed mountains and weathered many storms on that journey! I also had a job I truly loved. Not many experience that in a lifetime. I made new friends and renewed old friendships, both of which I treasure beyond measure.

I want to close this year trying, though finding the right words without ending up sounding gushy isn’t easy, to express the gratitude I feel.

I’m grateful for the 30 years I had with a wonderful man that I miss so much. I’m grateful that he was able to bring me this far. I’m grateful for the times he bullied me into taking care of myself, often to his own detriment. I’m grateful for the strength he gave me to carry on when the world appeared to be crumbling around me.

I’m grateful to my amazing daughter and her man. Tat has stepped in and taken over from her father in being my rock and my strength (and my bully). She and Ste have taken me in and made sure I had a home, so I wouldn’t be alone. What was meant to be a visit while we looked for a place of our own has become a longer-term haven where I can lick my wounds and heal.

I’m grateful for my friends. Oh how grateful! You, my friends, are what has carried us through all the drama and trauma of the past few months. I walk covered by a mantle of love and carried along by the collective caring I experience daily. My friends may be all over the world, but your presence here with me is very real. Then there are the friends who made sure that Christmas wouldn’t be a lonely tear-fest. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the whole Williams family!! I had reason to thank them even before that for making Jurgis’ farewell a spectacular one where we cried and laughed and toasted and burnt up the night sky. I believe he enjoyed that evening too. The only frustrating part for him was not being able to drink his own toast and it wasn’t for lack of trying. I’m also grateful to all those who helped us celebrate his life, people who didn’t even know me, but came to show support and those who travelled far to be with us. Thank you!

I also want to remember the people who form the network of healing for me… my old GP who would call to see how I was and my old breast cancer nurse who still checks up on me. All the staff at the Southport hospital for caring for Jurgis and ourselves with gentle dignity (and for not being too shocked at our outbursts of either laughter or tears) and later for the way they’ve cared for me through my own treatments. When I arrive at the hospital only to find it’s the wrong hospital, they’d take it in their stride, contacting the other hospital to explain and seeing if they could fit me in at the one I’d walked into. The patience of my surgeons is just one more gratitude to add. I’m grateful, not so much for their faith in me, but for allowing me to be me and to believe in myself.

I’m off to join Tat at the club now. It’ll be odd. I’ve never done this alone before – see what you get for going straight into a long-term relationship right out of school. I can do this. Bring it on, 2015!



Posted by on December 31, 2014 in family, friends, gratitude, jorge, new-year


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To all my mothers

This is a repost…. edited slightly

One woman gave birth to me, but I had many mothers. This blog is dedicated to all the mothers out there… the women who were mother to me and to those who have the souls of mothers, but could never, for whatever reason, be one. My life is a series of moments where I changed hands… I went from mother to mother, each one holding my hand and leading me on to the next stage of my growth.

My first dedication, naturally, goes to my gran, the woman who raised me as her own. What I am today, is largely thanks to her. She empowered me to be me. Then there was Sophie. Sophie was the one who abba’ed me (carried me on her back), strapped to her back, Xhosa style, while she worked. She fetched me from school, gave me my lunch. She taught me to love samp and beans. I remember Aunty Val, the lady at Sunday School who took over when my gran took me there at the age of 3 to learn about God. Then there was Miss Brown, my Grade 7 teacher, an elderly spinster lady. Everyone dreaded getting to her class, as she was ‘strict’, but when we go there, we knew we’d reached a safe place to grow and thrive. We loved her and cried when we had to leave her. We cried again when she died.

Then there was Lynette’s mom who said she’d happily adopt me. I cried on her shoulders quite a lot as a drama-queen teen.

The list would not be complete if I didn’t mention the hostel moms at boarding school who put up with a lot of stuff ‘n nonsense from us, listened to our crying and ‘bullied’ us into keeping cubicles tidy and doing homework. Now Margaret was hardly a mother-figure, but she was a fair deal older than me and knew how to be a wife and keep house. When I found myself alone in Cape Town as a newly-wed, she was the one who helped me with her unique mixture of humour and common sense. Aunt Molly was the one who later held my hand and let me cry on her shoulder after Ceinwen’s death. She had lost her son too. She was just ‘there’ and helped me through a really difficult time.

Ros… my dear friend, sister, mother and the one who attended Tatiana’s first grandparent’s days. Ros had plenty kids of her own to keep her busy, but opened her heart, home and life to more as they appeared on her horizon. She was my spiritual mother and there in a very practical sense too. She was the one who helped me stay slightly sane through the trauma of leaving home. And Aunty Ruth *smiles* who was mother to all living creatures that crossed her path. It didn’t matter whether you were a child, a woman, a nasty bullying pidgeon or a little turtle dove, whether you were a cat or a dog. Every creature was loved and cherished as only a mother can. My own "Mrs Pepperpot".

Once in Brazil, my mothers were online. The one who truly comes to mind is Felicity. Felicity was, to me, mother, sister, and very dear friend. She was there for me pretty much from the word go when I was struggling to adapt to this strange country and missing home sooo very much. Let me not forget Llynde, who has played a very important part in keeping my dreams alive and helping me grow in the talents she saw in me.

Many of these women are no longer with us, but I know their spirits are still with me, guiding me, keeping me strong and giving me comfort.

Strangely, this is the first time I have not had a mother-figure in my life. I look around me now and I see my fellow-mothers and sisters, those who are mothers and mother-figures to others, the women who go through the same joys, fears, hopes, dreams, sorrows that I do, who inspire me and light my journey. You are all so important to me.

Thank you!


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Posted by on May 9, 2010 in family, fel, memories, reflections, thought


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I posted the photo of Jorge and I as a group challenge on the subject of ‘humour’. The South Africans will ‘get’ this one.

I’m the hard of hearing one in the family. Jorge, on the other hand, has selective hearing, but we often tease him about being deaf because he is so ‘tuned out’ a lot of the time. For our anniversary, Tatiana sent us an anniversary card from home with "Hoesê?" (translates directly to "How say?" or "What??" with emphasis) on it. Correctly written, it would be, "Hoe sê…", as a lead in to asking something like, "How do you say….?"  "Hoesê" in this form, though, is a catch phrase in South Africa. It comes from an old TV series where one of the characters would often shout that term. Seffies… please help me out with the name of the program. It is killing me!
PS. Did any of that make any sense to anyone who didn’t know what it meant?

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Posted by on September 3, 2008 in family, fun, jorge, language, south-africa


Birthday boy

feuding family - jorge corrianne tatiana - xmas 2007


Jorge, the family clown, trouble maker, stirrer of the year…

Over a mug of his favourite Malzbier, we asked him, "How does it feel to be middle aged?"

"I don’t feel middle aged," said he.

Tatiana reached over and twirled the curl over his growing bald patch. "So how does it feel to be going bald?"

I think he snarled…. before he got his revenge…. Ooh yes… he got his revenge, right Tat? ; )

Happy Birthday Jorge!

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Posted by on August 25, 2008 in birthday, family, jorge


Calling Major Tom

departure for Australia

So we got a message today. Jorge’s brother, Henrique, is finally off to Australia… the start of a new life. We just got, "Cheers mate! We’re on our way!" They leave South Africa on the 14th. They’re currently living with Marlise’s family and have already sold all they need to sell. I think we’ll have no contact with them until they land in Australia. We then have to wait to hear from them.

I’m thrilled for them. I wish them every happiness and smooth sailing on this new journey. I can’t help being a just a little envious though. Ah well… our turn will come : ) Funny, I was busy working on my new Multiply theme when I got the message. Somehow fits.

Before our phone line went down, we had had incredibly dry weather. That ended a couple of days before we got telecoms back. We have since had nightly storms and pretty much constant drizzle. Apparently a record amount of rain for August? Don’t know where they get that from. Yes, it has been raining and we’ve gone from constant bone dry to constant damp, but still…

My sewing machine has finally gone in for repair/maintenance. This machine was given to me by Jorge when Tatiana was just a couple of months old. It has worked very hard. It has taken me through soft furnishings in 10 houses, much of our clothes these past 18 years, self-employment doing soft furnishings for others, and so much more. If they had told me it was past repair, I wouldn’t have been surprised. They had never seen this model of machine. It is old, for one, and secondly, was bought in SA, where machines are very different to here. Repair quote, a very surprising R$50 (US$31). Nice! I have a pile of fabric and a major deficit in pants. I need to get sewing. Shopping for clothes in this land of midgets is… well… challenging ; ) On the other hand… sewing time means time away from the pc. Oh dear… *sigh* I can’t win haha!

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Posted by on August 8, 2008 in family, immigration


Weird conversation


Photo by Jorge on his trip to Lithuania

Jorge is a strange character. His usual reaction to death or the announcement of someone’s death is a super-tactful, "Sh*t happens." Apologies for the expression. I’m quoting very literally. I say, super-tactful, because he has been known to insert some black humour at that point, unless checked. I’ve always believed that this is because he has no earthly clue how to deal with the subject. Emotion of any sort in himself or anyone else makes him incredibly uncomfortable.
This morning, he called an elderly spinster who apparently knew him and his family when he was just a tiny tot here, before they moved to South Africa. She also knows the Lithuanian lot well. The lady, Irene, was talking about another lady (I forget their connection) who is recently widowed and having a hard time adjusting. She’s 70 and her husband was 75. This got Jorge talking about death and then, graves. He has this dream of returning to Lithuania to buy the land his grandfather owned.

This was different. He now wants to find out exactly where his grandfather was buried here in Brazil, so that he can take a handful of soil from his grave to his grandmother’s grave in Lithuania. He then wants to renovate her grave because it has been neglected. Those who know Jorge, will know that this is really strange talk from him. He never met his grandparents. In fact, he only recently met his aunt for the first time, his uncle having passed on before he made it to Lithuania.
We have never, as a family, given much credence to burial places. I believe that the grave is empty. It is merely a symbol… a marker. The spirit of the person lives on in our hearts and lives. A meaningful tribute, to me, would be to plant a tree or something in their memory. Jorge is about as unsentimental as they come, so this kind of talk had us wondering if he was feeling… uh… well. Is my husband getting sentimental in his old age? He is, you know… in many ways. Then there are days when he totally blows that ‘persona’. Confusing guy….

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Posted by on July 22, 2008 in family, jorge, lithuania

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