To all my friends, family, colleagues, clients and service providers:
Thank you for your friendship, kindness and support during what has been a gruelling year for us all.
During 2020 some of you have lost loved ones while others have lost jobs or contracts. Some had to watch the suffering of their family members who were desperately ill and hospitalised as COVID swept through our lives and stole our hopes and dreams for 2020. For my friends in California: Bob, Helene, Betsy and Andy, 2020 meant dodging COVID and being uprooted from their homes because of the fires.
However, there is also so much to be thankful for:
2020 was also the year that my dear friend Kae was able to get out of his wheelchair and walk with his prosthesis and it is the year that my son Colin returned home from Vietnam, this month in fact.
I would like to thank all those whose kindness has touched my heart in so many ways. One of them is Nazeer Sonday who was instrumental in raising funds to ensure that the PHA farmworkers had food on the table and to Berry Young for raising funds to keep domestic workers with a regular supply of food parcels. It was such a pleasure to help and be aware that there were others with even greater battles.
I would also like to thank my friends who have been there for me in so many ways. Thanks to my family and to Mel Alperstein and Liz Welsh for being there even during the quiet times. Thanks to John, Josephine and Marianne, Donna, Muriel, Maanda, Lila, Jaline, Patrick, Laura, Sylvia and Zimbini for your friendship and support. I would also like to thank Lionel Davis and Colin Soskolne for their valued friendship; for so kindly doing the seminars and thank you to all those who booked. Thanks also to Lucille, John, Bob, Helene, Betsy and Andy in the States who, though battling with their own challenges, were so incredibly kind. Thank you also so much to Sarah Evans for your constant support and care. The list is much longer and I thank you all.
2020 was also the year where people showed the strength and determination of the human spirit under very trying times. I am thinking particularly of Phumeza Mgxashe who is such an inspiration. Phumeza messaged me 15 weeks ago to say that she was en route to Groote Schuur and then a little while later to say that she was being tested for COVID. This was very worrying as she has Lupus.
After this the only news I had was via the tireless nursing staff who informed me that Phumeza was on a ventilator and could not receive visitors. By week 8 or 9 I finally heard from Phumeza again and we were able to text each other via Whatsapp. One day while in hospital Phumeza messaged me to offer me the use of her car as she knew that I was without a car. I didn’t accept because it did not feel right for me to do this, but I was so touched by her offer. Phumeza’s tenacity of spirit was such that after the ventilator was removed at Week 11, she sat in her hospital bed and completed her MA thesis, which I edited. From her hospital bed Phumeza’s messages were always positive and only once did she give a hint of the challenges, when she wrote that ‘life is so challenging with Lupus that one has no other choice than to be brave’. However, her life has never been defined by her illness. She is someone who goes out of her way for those around her as a mentor. During Lockdown I so enjoyed reading an article about Phumeza when she spoke about mentoring a young woman who had only seen the ugly things in life and how she wanted to show her that life was also beautiful.
Yesterday Phumeza messaged me to wish me well for 2021, saying ‘may it be a year of friendship, well-being and solidarity throughout’. This morning I was very happy to receive a message from Phumeza to say that she was discharged home last night and that she ‘slept like a baby’. I have asked for Phumeza’s permission to write about her as she is such an inspiration. She jokingly replied: ‘Sure Joline. I didn’t know that a Lupie with scarred lungs could be an inspiration!’
So thank you Phumeza, for your gentle kindness and for the living example you are about overcoming adversity. Everytime in 2020 when I felt like throwing in the towel, I thought that if Phumeza can overcome the challenges that life has placed on her path, then I have no reason to complain.
Thank you also to my children Blanche, Colin, Kyle and Sarai as well as my cat Charlie, for the endless joy you bring me through your kindness, your laughter, your engaging intellects and for all I learn from you. Thank you Kyle and Sarai for cooking me lunch on my birthday and for your ever thoughtful gifts during these difficult times.
None of us know what 2021 holds for us, but we can choose to enter 2021 with optimism, kindness and hope, doing everything possible to overcome, rise above our circumstances and treat each other with respect and dignity. As I write these words of gratitude, the words of Maya Angelo And still I rise come to mind
My wish for you all is that 2021 will be kinder and that we in turn will be kinder, to each other, and to the environment.
We will rise!