Her Voice

Wanting to bring Ouma’s voice to her memorial – to bring her memory alive, somehow, and feel the comfort of her presence – I read out extracts from her letters over the many years during which we corresponded.

Harfield Village

Dearest Laurel,

As the winter approaches, I’m becoming a ‘kitchen dweller’ – the sun shines in here at the back, in the afternoons especially, while the front bedroom and the lounge remain chilly and gloomy. Today is one of those pearls of days, between gales and storms, just sunny, and still, and clear and lovely.


Thank you for your letter a while ago – we are always delighted to hear from any and all you grandchildren. We note that “The Boyfriend” – poor chap – still doesn’t have a name! Do extend our sympathies to him!


Dearest Laurel,

Your letter was most welcome – many thanks. Glad your week alone at home was cheered up with friends and videos, and congrats on producing those delicious meals. You are so fortunate that you’ve had the experience of learning to cook and having to share the preparations of meals for the family for some years already. I landed up as a new bride 50 years ago with such very basic culinary knowledge! It was a long, difficult learning experience before I was reasonably confident about cooking.

Harfield Village

How are you enjoying ‘Varsity life? When I did my BA way back when, I was very young and inexperienced in the ways of student life, and was so busy coping with lectures and studies that I missed out on quite a lot of the social side (tho’ I did have dates and go to dances, and swim for College). But when I came to U.C.T. in 1947 after having worked, and been in the army, it was so much easier to cope with a much wider range of activities and interests and studies. With your two years of more or less “doing your own thing”, study-wise, you’ll probably be much more at home with ‘Varisty life than many students who are fresh out of full-time school. Enjoy it anyway, but don’t forget you’re there to learn!

Kendrick House

You wrote about Clive training for the Dusi – memories of the time I seconded Theo and his friend Gerfried on that race are still vivid. It was quite an experience for me! That steep, steep hill that we had to drive up – Oupa had done it the previous year, and told me he’d had to reverse up because our car hadn’t the wheel power to go up head first! I can’t remember any more which way I managed it but I did get to the top.

Harfield Village

Tomorrow it’ll be a month since Oupa died – what a jumbled-up month it has been. I am still trying to sort out myself and my affairs. I do miss being able to visit him, but I couldn’t have wished him to live longer in that poor, useless little body. It is wonderful to think that his spirit is free at last, and we must remember him as he used to be – full of jokes and adventures and information and interests and lots of love for all his family.

2 thoughts on “Her Voice

  1. I just love the way letters and quotes like these can bring a person back to the forefront of your mind. Having said that, I remember my stern Norwegian grandmother saying, “We will have no artistic temperament in this house” which sounds uber stern even after all this time

  2. Oh, what charming letters, Laurel! Thank you so much for sharing, and my deepest condolences at your loss. But your Oupa is not gone. I would venture to ‘guess’ he will continue to be around for you through his guiding, loving voice and spirit. XO ♥

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