My mom and I share a number of similarities; we’re both redheads, we love animals and we’re both stubborn as hell. But with our similarities come an abundance of differences. This is to be expected, of course, since we’re two completely different people, and as much as people tell me I look like her, I’m a vastly different human, and that means that we don’t always get along.
This weekend, for possibly the first time in my 26 years on this planet, I had the opportunity to take a roadtrip with my mom to the tiny town of Velddrif on a Mother-Daughter weekend. No boyfriends or siblings, just the two of us piled into her car with a bunch of tools, curtains and odds and ends, ready for the 2 hour drive to her new little place. You read that right. At the age of 40-something, my mom decided to branch out and buy a little escape pad in the middle of nowhere.
Two and a half hours of travelling on the West Coast road brought us into Velddrif, with my mom exclaiming constantly and nervously, “It’s no Clifton, but it’s something.” And it was something, a small rustic rectangle of a place overlooking the river, set in a cluster of other houses.
And over the course of a weekend, I realised that even though I have known my mom for all of my life, she hasn’t known me for all of hers. And she still has things to show me.
You can make friends anywhere
The only person more verbose than our own Marié, in my opinion, is my mom. Which is weird since she had me, a human that does not particularly seek to interact with other humans. But what I have learnt from her, and what I envy, is that you can make friends in nearly any situation.
This superpower was once again put to use when it came to meeting a local in the immediate vicinity who later offered to help us put up curtains. It was proven at Die Vishuis where the owner sat down to lunch with us – my mom had befriended him on a previous trip when she and my uncles managed to get a boat stranded on the riverbank.
Treat animals with kindness
Stopping at the OK Foods in Velddrif, pretty much the only grocery store that we came across, my mom insisted on buying a pack of boerewors. This in itself isn’t weird, as the two of us were planning to braai (okay, not myself so much, but my mom is Afrikaans), but the boerewors pack wasn’t for us. Instead my mom was planning to cater for the three dogs that come to visit everytime she is there.
The dogs weren’t the only ones to benefit from my mom’s generosity either. She kept a lookout for the two chickens, one of which had been christened Tant Sara, and the six juvenile peacocks in order to feed them.
It really is the simple things in life
We survived the weekend with water that comes from a JoJo tank, the hot water courtesy of a gas bottle that we attached a few minutes before we needed it. With the lack of WiFi and TV, we made do with conversation and preparing dinner together. We danced to music from a tiny speaker. We thrived on the quiet, the stillness of the evening and the simplicity.
You can change your narrative
My mom decided that she wanted something different. She wanted something else and she decided to go for it. My mom put her eggs in one basket and chased a dream, bought a tiny fixer-upper in Velddrif where she spends her weekends hanging curtains with her kid and revelling in the simple things. She decided to change her narrative.
There is humour in everything
I wouldn’t say that we are a particularly superstitious family…. Until the dark rolls around and we start haring for the nearest light. Somehow my mom and I got it into our heads to visit a ghost house – really just a vacant house nearby that has a few suspicious rumours circling it.
Us being, well, us, we bought a bottle of tequila and popped it in the freezer so that we could take some liquid courage in anticipation of the adventure to come. We had lunch, had an afternoon nap that spanned about four hours, and woke up with the mist pouring over the river and enveloping the house. Even after a shot of liquid courage we deemed it too eerie and carried on with the evening.
This meant attempting a braai with crappy wood that smoked more than anything else, making braaibroodjies for two, splurging on good wine and talking about everything and nothing until 11:30 at night, laughing at our own unwillingness to venture into the dark in search of ghosts.
Over the years my mom and I have shared in heated arguments and late night fights, squealing tyres and “I’m never going to talk to you again”. We shouted and cried, sometimes because of one another. Sometimes to one another.
We’ve shared in the heartbreak of animals passing away, we’ve had laughing fits until we’ve cried and struggled to breathe. We’ve shared and kept secrets. Had early morning bubbly and late night tequilas.
And I’ve learnt that there is still a lot to learn from this woman I look so much like.