Mom and the Titanic

Mom was watching the movie Titanic when the frailcare nurses came mid-movie and hauled her off to bed.

Ever co-operative, dear old Mom sighed and accepted. The next day she asked two fellow inmates who had stayed on: “What happened!? Did it sink all the way to the bottom, or did it land on an iceberg and drift to safety?”

“They gave me a blank look,” she tells me. “Looked at me as though I was mad.” “Oops,” she says, “They didn’t get my little joke.”

Undeterred, she tells me with a chuckle , “Next time I’ll ask them what happened with Cain and Abel,” she says . “Did Cain kill Abel in the end?” I’ll ask them.



Mom Mary has constipation. Don’t tell everyone, but its just a fact and its not funny. I even put a bomb up and nothing happened. You know, Granny Bland used to get constipation and now here I am getting it. A mere seventy years later you can be struck with a family ailment out of the blue.

Rose is the matron at the home and she loves Mary. I told Rose I had constipation. This morning she came to me and said “Have you been to the toilet yet?” I said no, and she said “You know, Mary, you’re full of shit.”

Mother Mary Methodist

Tue 2nd May 2017 –

I got a phone call at work from a good friend of the folks who had just visited Mom and Dad – “Your Mom was saying strange things and was not herself, I think you should visit”, said Keith Griffiths. I phoned sister Sheila, who phoned other sister Barbara, and then drove to Maritzburg.

Mom was physically fine, but a bit confused and – tragically – with marked short-term memory loss. Trying hard to be alright, she asked me ‘How’s Trish?’ Trish who died six years ago. Dear old Mom has had a ‘turn’ leading to sudden short-term memory loss. Tragic. She has always been so sharp and organised. Luckily her long-term memory and sharp sense of humour is unaffected.

DAMN!! Probably a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or “mini stroke”.


TIA – caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain. The disruption in blood supply results in a lack of oxygen. This can cause sudden symptoms similar to a stroke, such as speech and visual disturbance, and numbness or weakness in the face, arms and legs. However, a TIA doesn’t last as long as a stroke. The effects often only last for a few minutes or hours and fully resolve within 24 hours.

But Mom’s memory loss is still apparent a week later.

She blames a bad fall she had when she banged her head hard on a corner near the kitchen door.


I phoned them the next morning:

Dad says he told Mom to stay in bed till the sun came up but she didn’t. He thinks she should see an audiologist as she doesn’t listen! He’s as deaf as a post and her hearing is great, making the joke all the better.


Mom says she prays for Tom n Jessie every day that they’ll understand their lessons and pass their tests.

I asked her in mock-worry if that wasn’t cheating?! Mary Methodist immediately saw the joke and hosed herself. Slightly cautiously, though. She was raised not to tempt fate. No, she didn’t think asking for divine intervention was cheating on their behalf, she chuckled.


In the midst of a big cleanup, Sheila found a photo. On the back is written:

Marjory, Pat and Peggy – Harrismith 1938 – Signed DC Reed

*** pic here ***

So she phoned Mum for more info:

Marjory was Farquhar – her younger sister was Dossie, who was Mum’s great mate and bridesmaid, She now lives in an old age home in Bethlehem and she and Mum chat quite often. Pat was Bland, Mom’s older sister. Peggy was Hastings – Michael’s sister – she had a lovely sense of humour – she had three kids and then her husband walked out on her. So she came back to Harrismith and married Bert Starkey – her kids were Barbara, Stuart and AN Other.


The “DC Reed” Mum thinks was Peggy’s cousin Daphne, whom they called Dodo – Mum says she was lovely and they all loved her.

It’s really a gorgeous pic and Pat looks so full of fun and nonsense, which she usually was!

So now you know. Love Sheila


More Mom Memories:

One day, before Mum started school, Brenda Longbottom came to play. She lived across the road in Stuart Street and was much older – a full eighteen months older. Mum very proudly told Brenda about a book she was reading – all about a little girl called Lucky.

When Brenda saw the book she told Mum in a withering tone that the little girl’s name was Lucy, pronounced Loosie, not Lukkie! Mum was devastated.

(Years later I was also teased for getting hard and soft ‘c”s mixed when I said Sir-Sum-Fur-Rinse for circumference. Hey, we read phonetically ‘by our own selves’, so this happens!).


Mary’s niece Frankie Cowie married and became a McCarthy. She named her sons Patrick and Henry. When a grandchild was born she phoned Mary with the good news and asked if she could help with a name. ‘A name that goes with McCarthy.’ Well, Mom knew not to suggest Gert, even though that was the granpa’s name, so she immediately asked: ‘Have you thought about Benni?’

Benni McCarthy was South Africa’s ‘bad boy’ star striker in the national soccer team and was very much in the news at the time. A real character, he marches to his own drum and has even been a rap artist! Now he’s a coach and father of four daughters.

I can just imagine Frankie throwing her head back and HOSING herself at Auntie Mary’s suggestion!


R.I.P Neil ::: 1925 – 2013 – Trish’s Daddy

Neil Humphrey 1925 - 2013 - Much loved Daddy of his twin girls Trish & Janet !!
Neil and his girls – Trish & Janet

On Sunday, July 14, 2013, pete wrote: Trish’s dear old Dad Neil shuffled off quietly yesterday. As always no fuss. Made sure the family knew “No funeral, no memorial service, no nothing,” before he went.

Broke his hip two weeks ago and although he got wonderful treatment at the Prince Mshiyeni state hospital and the pinning of the bone went well, with no infection and no pain, he was just shy of his 88th birthday and only managed to sit up twice, with much help from daughter Janet and the physio. He never got back onto his feet.

He was a wonderful fella, always helpful, obliging and useful. Whenever I was lax on the home-improvement front (um, that would be ‘always’) Aitch would very pointedly, with an evil grin say “MY Daddy would have fixed that LONG ago” or if I said “That’s vaktap, irreparable,” she’d retort “Don’t worry, I’ll take it to my Dad – HE’ll fix it. He can fix ANYTHING!” Teased the hell out of me, that woman.

And Neil accepted our kids unconditionally. Simply flung open his arms and got on with the job of being Gompa Neil to Jess and Tommy. His usual fine, unfussed, can-do approach to life.


Irrepressible sense of humour, when someone was “gaan’ing aan” too much Neil would show ironic “sympathy” by playing a mournful air violin! He always looked on the bright side, but was running out of joy the last two years, what with being completely blind, missing his one daughter and his other daughter being far away.

He would say to me “I really MISS Trishy so much!” Twin daughter Janet has been a star to him these last two years – and the last two weeks even more so. She’ll sure miss the hell out of him now, as will her Mom Iona, who Neil doted on, cooked for, looked after, pandered to.

Humphrey Toti