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Of strength and courage

It takes strength to stand strong in the face of your challenges, however big or small they are. Today, the 16th of December, is an auspicious day for me and my family. In South Africa, it’s known as the Day of Reconciliation – more on that later – but we know it as the Day of the Vow.

lagerPhoto by Peter Thomas

My old friend Peter sums up the happenings of the original Day of the Vow or Day of the Covenant on his site. There are many more sites that give the history of that day from various perspectives. This blog is not intended to recount history or morals or right vs. wrong in any way. It’s a remembrance of my ancestors, what they went through and what we’ve been through and the lessons we can carry from that.

On that day, so long ago, a group of a few hundred Voortrekkers (pioneers) came face to face with over 10 000 Zulu warriors. The Voortrekkers made a laager from their ox wagons and defeated the Zulus, killing more than 3000 men, while, of the Voortrekkers, only 3 were lightly injured. As I said before, I’m not going into the rights and wrongs of the battle. The lesson to be learned here, for me, is one of unity and strength and courage. It took great courage and strength to pack their worldly goods into a wagon and trek across country, over mountains, rivers and lands where they would most certainly be attacked. Alone, we need strength and courage to face our challenges, but banding together… as families, as friends, as communities, we can do great things!

Much, much later, South Africa renamed this day to Day of Reconciliation. It’s a day that was created on the foundation of the Day of the Vow to reconcile the people of South Africa and to create a day of unity and healing. The men who came together to create this new day displayed courage and strength. It takes continued courage and strength for the people of South Africa to build on that dream of reconciliation.

When we think of courage and strength, it’s often in times of great strife and ‘war’ with our challenges. Certainly, those are times we need to call on what courage we have and to be strong. Sometimes, just standing up and doing what we believe to be right takes even more courage and strength. Sometimes, the daily grind of living takes even more.

Way back, my ancestors, at one point, were kicked off their farm, which was burnt to the ground by the British. The men were political prisoners and the women and children were put into concentration camps. When they came out, they lived for a time under an oak tree, baking their daily bread in an earth-oven. Yes, they had strength and they had courage. I like to believe that we’ve inherited that strength.

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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in genealogy, history, thought

 

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10p

10p

One of my most precious possessions is a 10p coin minted in 1962. It’s not a special coin in itself. It’s just an ordinary 10p coin, but to me, it means the world.

Jim, my hero-worshipped grandfather, and I were walking along Rink Street, probably heading for Lilwills, the bakery that made the best egg sandwiches I have ever had. They also made the best cheese and tomato sandwiches, now that I think about it. I was about 6 then and, as was my habit, was walking with my nose to the ground. I like to think it was so that I could spot coins, but it was probably out of a fear of tripping over a crack in the pavement. I was just that kind of kid. On this occasion, though, I did spot a coin, much bigger than the coins I was familiar with. Pounds and pence had been out of South Africa for some years by then.

Jim told me all about the pence. He was Scottish, you see and knew about these things. To me, that was the most exciting of all… a coin from ‘his world’! The fact that angels leave coins for people to find was even more special. We took the coin home and Jim put it on a chain for me. This chain is very long by my adult standards, so it must have hung at my knees back then, which is probably why I never wore it, but I treasured it. As an adult, I wear it a lot. It reminds me of Jim and makes me feel he’s still watching out for me.

It’s funny that… that I feel he’s watching out for me. Someone mentioned once that I had an angel watching out for me. I was going through a really rough time. It was about then that I had a dream that mixed Jim up with a lion and words of courage. Still, it was, to me, just a dream with a message. I thought no more of it. Not long after, here in Ireland, I found a shiny new 10c piece lying smack dab in the centre of a doorway. Still, I didn’t think much of it, as someone could have dropped the coin. When I found another one, also new and shiny and 10c, I started thinking it was odd, but what made it far more unusual was that this one was smack dab in the centre of the doorway of a chicken shed! Not the sort of place one would usually drop a coin. Ok, I was paying attention by then. I found 4 more coins. All of them, without fail, bright shiny new 10c pieces and all lying in the centre of doorways. This was in the space of a couple of months. Too much coincidence? I’d say. So don’t mind me if I believe my beloved Jim is watching over me and holding my hand when times get a little rough. I still have all those coins. Perhaps one day, I’ll put them on a bracelet to match my necklace.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in jim, memories

 

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