Jessie’s Tummy Mummy Thembi became a good friend thanks to Aitch and her conscientious follow-up and ‘adoption’ of Thembi. Aitch nurtured her and encouraged and empowered her. She arranged classes such as computer and sewing courses; she had her teeth seen to and hugely improved by the state orthodontists at Addington and King Edward hospitals.
Once a month she would take Jessie – and me and Tom sometimes – to meet for lunch with Thembi. Aitch would also take her supplies and goods to sell; Jessie loved those lunches. She and Thembi would gossip and giggle and point at people walking past commenting on their looks, dress, gait, whatever. Scandalous! They loved it!
Once we took Thembi back to Port Shepstone so she could show her Mom and Gran that Jess was fine. She had left them at age thirteen to go and work as a domestic servant for a family in Chatsworth.
Thembi longed for a boyfriend, and when she met a guy who was very good to her she was very happy. But tragically she then contracted AIDS; Aitch pitched right in and arranged to meet the chief HIV / AIDS doctor in charge at King Edward, who saw to it that Thembi got good treatment and got it in time. She sickened rather quickly though, and grew weak.
Jess wrote to her when I visited her in Addington:
She died on the 19th of August 2010 in the Albert Luthuli hospital, after a stay in Addington hospital. I took her boyfriend and her brother Dumi in the kombi to buy a coffin and then to fetch her body; then arranged for them to get her remains – and themselves – to Port Shepstone.
Thanks to Aitch’s calendars and the death certificate, I now know Thembi was born on 2nd July 1983 and was fourteen when Jess was born.