Dear Old Sambucca

Lemme confess that the first emotion when Sambucca the black labrador finally breathed her last was relief. The sadness and the memories came later. See, she grew a brain tumour and it grew and grew until it was about as big as her head.

When the bump first started we knew it was the end and I told the kids I would just support the old dear and only consider ending things if she was no longer comfortable, not eating, not happy and not interested in a ear rub or tummy tickle. I said I don’t want you shooting me just cos I’m inconvenient and so I’m not shooting Sambucca for our convenience. And anyway, she’s only 87yrs-old in human terms. Born in August 2012.

Well, she hung in and kept eating while getting thinner – which is a terminal sign in a labrador. I was vrot with worry and angst as she started getting smelly and the parasites attacked her – fleas, flies and ticks. A daily bath and shampoo helped but she’d disappear for hours and come back covered again, her hidden spots in our jungly garden obviously infested with the lil bastids. Yet she still kept getting up and walking towards me tail wagging as I got home each day, asking for a scratch. Then Friday she got weaker and Saturday and Sunday she didn’t eat. I added gravy and fat and she refused it. Refused a meal! I knew it was soon. Sunday night she suddenly yowled a bit and then went quiet, considerately choosing Aitch’s birthday as her last day so we can remember it more easily.

I started digging her grave early Monday morning and three inches down I came to an astonishing and unexpected realisation: I am not cut out for physical labour! Can you believe it!? I sub-contracted the task and Tom and his mate Jose dug a goodly hole – after negotiating a financial reward – and Sambucca now joins her predecessor Bella and a gerbil under the soil in our garden. Also Aitch and her Mom and Dad’s ashes.

Rest in peace ole Sambucca, you made twelve years and five months and were the best watchdog ever: you watched the monkeys stroll across the yard, you watched the hadedas glean the lawn, you watched our neighbourhood kids stream in and out of the gates whenever. You only barked when I got home to say Hey Welcome Back! About Time! Look What A Good Watchdog I Am! and by the way, When’s Supper?!

And that’s when you showed you had 12% greyhound blood, as you tore off round the trailer, gleefully thinking “He’s Home! He’s Home!”. Two laps when you were younger, one lap the last couple years.

Jess was going to call you Sweetie when you arrived, so we hastily canvassed friends for a less saccharine moniker. Terry Brauer from the Gramadoelas of Pretoria came up with Black Sambucca. Just right.

vrot – full of

Find Sambucca (Jena out of Yellow Daisy by Kilgobbin Zinzan) ‘s pedigree certificate here.

Executive Summary

Tom and I were off to the Palmiet. Mom and Jess were out, so I asked Tom to leave them a note so they’d know wassup when they got back. Sure thing Dad!

I see it on my way out. It says “we have gone.”

I say, Tom, tell them a bit more than that, my fella. Sure thing, Dad! And we trundle off to go fossicking:

When we get back, there it is on the kitchen table, complete with the seven year old’s additional information:

Tom’s note to Mom for our trip to the Palmiet:
We have gone and we well come back – Tom Tom

Stripey Overboard!

When you’re twenty two months old you can venture off north into neighbouring African countries in a kombi as long as you’re prepared and have the right companions. Like Stripey. He’s unflappable and always smiling.

And your Mom. She’s the best for food, clothes, warmth, that sort of stuff.

and your sis and your Dad can come along too . . He’s quite handy as transport and a vantage point.

Just watch out if you go to Lake Malawi . .

and catch the ferry to Mombo Island . .

. . that you don’t drop your companion Stripey overboard! ‘Cos then the ferry driver will have to slow down, turn around and go back so that your Dad can hang over the side and rescue Stripey. To avert a disaster!

He’s there somewhere, Dad!
Please can you turn back, Mr Ferryman!?

THANK YOU Mr Friendly Ferryman! signed: TomTom and Stripey

Stripey wearing his industrial chain

Forbidden Ink

Dad I want to get a tattoo.

Aaaargh! I shrieked in my head but “O-ka-ay” I said out loud, all calm-like, “Have you thought about it?”

Oh yes, lots.

“OK. What’s a tattoo? Is it safe? How much does it cost? Does it hurt? Who would do it? Have you got enough money? etc”

Oh, she hadn’t thought of any of that.

“OK. Do your homework and get back to me with the answers please.”

She did. Now that she knows more, she’s more nervous. But still determined. After all, Sindi has a lovely outline of Africa tattoo’d above her ankle.

The very next day she arranges a visit to the tattoo parlour with Sindi, where they are going to find out more and then come back for a final decision. They take themselves there by taxify.

The main thing I’m interested in is: Who’s the artist? Is he/she good? Does he/she do a skilful, safe job? Ask to see their work. Show me their work.

So I’m furiously kicking for touch and I think I’m delaying things nicely. I went through enough trauma with the piercings, I hope to dodge this mutilation. I feel like I’m handling things well as The Dad. I’m In Charge.

So I get a message: Hey Dad please can I have mom’s birth date and her death date.

The message is sent from here:

Jess_tattoo[1]

** sigh **

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Luke Flew out the Train Window

There were two birthdays on the steam train and the pictures are from Tom’s. He turned four. 2005. Aitch arranged a magic day after much preparation, cake-construction and Mom-liaison. Here she orchestrates:

Inchanga Steam Train - Tom 4th Birthday-003.jpg

I was on the train and we had a lovely day. Later Luke, Tom’s big china, turned four and had the same birthday. On Luke’s birthday I was a designated driver, taking a car to the end-point to take stuff and ferry passengers.

So I wasn’t on the train on Luke’s birthday trip when he flew out of the window.

But first: These pictures are of Tom’s birthday:

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That cake:

Tom 4th bday Inchanga Steam Train collage 1Tom 4th bday Inchanga Steam Train collage 2Inchanga Steam Train tracks

Here’s our Luke-fella with Mom Terry. Both on the train and at the stop for Tom’s party (you can see TomTom’s cake). On his way up he was without make-up, and on his way back he was all face-painted:

Luke flew out of the window! Inchamga Steam Train collage
Luke flew out of the window! Inchanga Steam Train

On his big day the same train journey was arranged; Up, then a party in Inchanga and then down: the return journey. Afterwards, I got back to Hillcrest; To Stokers where the journey starts and ends; When the train puffed in I heard a strange tale: Tom huffed and puffed, “Dad, Dad! Luke flew out the window!” The adults said Luke had fallen out of the train and been taken to hospital. I was aghast! What!?

Later the tale unfolded. Luke had fallen out while the train was choofing along. His Dad Steve had leapt up and wanted to jump out after him, but the train was going too fast so he hared through the carriages, rushing through the gaps till he got to the front and could attract the attention of the driver who stopped the train. Steve ran back and found Luke with some railroad trackside dwellers, who had found Lukie-boy –  maybe even seen him fall.

The hospital checked our Lukie-boy over bone-by-bone and organ-by-organ and pronounced him all intact. Massive sighs of relief!

Amazingly, Luke later also said he’d “flown out the window” so who knows what actually happened? Weird!

Our First Soccer Tournament

At five years old Tom was mad keen on soccer. His first tournament in Westville North was cause for great excitement. His team wore orange bibs and tackies and he played everywhere on the field and in the goals. Which he didn’t like. Boring, Dad.

Tom Soccer 008.jpg

He preferred the role of full-field chaser:

Tom on the ball, with Soccer Ma coaching

Champion Soccer Mom was there in full force and voice. That’s her on the right, Mom of triplets Yaya, Yasir and __. She was great, shouting encouragement and advice to all, especially her kids, TomTom and the star player for the orange bibs, Ntutuka. Here are her triplets in orange, on the left, 3rd from left and on the ball:

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Supporters traveled from afar to support their favourite team. God-parents Dizzi and Jon live a few hundred metres up the road so made the trek to cheer on their hero:

Tom first soccer tournament collage 1

Essential support came from the team manager Sir Aitch Ferguson:

Mom fusses over Tom

and the expert coach and tactician Me Mourinho – wearing a Galatasaray S.K cap (that’s Turkey’s best soccer club, turkey!):

Tomaldinho gets invaluable advice from his coach

After the game that all-important thank you team handshake. Tom not exactly the tallest team member:

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Later tournaments required more kit. We HAVE to have these latest and greatest boots, Dad! We simply CAN’T play without them! Us superstars need our bling!

Tom soccer tournament 7yrs old
Tom soccer tournament 7yrs old

Tom kneels getting instructions from coach
Real boots and a real coach!

Tomaldinho! I was seeing dollars sign$ I was going to sign him up with Amazulu – No Dad!! PSG in Paris!! Oh. My bad.

But then suddenly it was rugby. RUGBY Dad! I need new boots. You can’t play rugby in soccer boots, Dad! I’m a rugger player now!