08 February 2012

Our LOVE: The Machinist's Wife

Simply put I HAD to start of this little love series with a love story that although not my own is very close to my heart. I am of coarse talking of my parents love story. My Mam, also known around blogland as The Machinist's Wife, has ever been a sorce of love. And together my parents have shown me all that love is... Please check out Helen's (Yes, MAM'S) blog here. And enjoy....

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Twenty days after my birth, in a freezing, sleet and sloshy England, my husband was born into the humidifying heat of South Africa. Miles apart, yet  already hand-picked by the Creator of all. 

Years later, due to my father’s love of travel, and the complete optimism of my mother, I met my husband after a Saturday matinee in the small country town of Dundee, Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. The minute I met him, I knew he was different.  I knew I would love him.

We were on school holidays and it was the typical summer romance:  we swam and went to the picture theatre, drank milkshakes at the local tea room and took long walks.  We also sparred and debated everything. He carved our names on an old English oak tree, just outside my old junior school grounds. For years, I kept an acorn from that same tree...

We married in Dundee, too.  We couldn’t afford a fancy wedding, so we donned our brand new grey suits and met at the local magistrate’s office.  It was a tiny room and we could hear ‘business as usual’, as one does in a court house. The magistrate began the ceremony and all I could think of in those moments was how strong his Afrikaans accent was.  I had to concentrate really hard.  He asked us a few questions, which were a blur to me and then announced “I now pronounce you husband and wife”.  Those words made me sob with pride!  I was now a Mrs.  I shared my sweetheart’s name...

Our early days of marriage were filled with excitement. Our ‘furnishings’ were very few; a piece of carpet on the floor (which we used as our bed), a couple of blankets and one pillow. We slept fully dressed in winter.  Our main diet went according to an apprentice’s wages and consisted of a staple diet of rice with onion gravy, (usually boiled and burned in brown and orange enamelled pots), followed by coffee and Ouma's rusks (which she would make in bulk. She knew..).  Occasionally, we would treat ourselves to a chocolate (either a Turkish Delight or a Cadbury’s Creme Egg) and a trip to the two Rand drive- in, where we would park the Honda 175 and lie under the stars, enjoying every minute of being together.

There's much to be said in building up a home together. Building it together. Not moving straight into a fully furnished, pantry well-stacked, efficiently heated home. Building the home together and doing it Hard Time. This definitely bonds in a way like no other.  We knew then, as we know now, that it is never about the wedding, but the marriage...

Before long, we discovered that I was carrying our baby.  Emma was born with large, dark eyes and little hair - blonde fluff, as we called it. We weren't in hospital long; we wanted to be home. The three of us were together just three weeks before my husband had to leave for a three month 'border duty' camp, in the then compulsory South African Defence Force. Each day, I would write to Emma's daddy. Each day, Emma would sleep in her pram next to me, while I wrote and told him of every little insignificant thing that we lived through. And then, as the letters were completed, we would post them, hoping that there would be a return letter for us in the mail. Letters from my husband were few and far between. Those that we did receive were censored by army officials.

After completing his National Service in the middle of his three year apprenticeship my husband qualified as a Fitter and Turner or Machinist, as I still fondly call him. This meant more in his pay-packet and a chance to get ahead in life. We were able to buy good food and lots of it. We were able to buy a new bed. We were able to buy many items that we had waited so long for. Despite our house developing into the cosy home we had long desired, it wasn't enough. My feet were itching, just as my father's had years before. My husband's feet caught the same fever. We wanted more.....

"It's the land of milk and honey, Helen...." my father would tell me, referring to the country in which we now live - Australia. "Things are going to get worse here. You'll have no regrets. We'll follow you soon. I promise."

Three years later, we had packed up our home and were waiting at my parent's home for the day that great silver bird would take us to a foreign land. My parents and brothers promised me that they would only say a 'quick' goodbye on our day of departure. They lied! I felt as if my heart was about to be ripped out of my throat. My mam slipped a book of verses by Helen Steiner Rice under my arm, as she squeezed me and implored me to "...go now, Helen".

Time is a great healer.

Today, we have a house full of young adults, as we were blessed with another two children – Sarah Mechelle and Samuel Thomas. All three live at home with us and we are joined by Hayley, who is our Sam’s young lady.  Very soon, there will be a grand-daughter.  I know she will be gorgeous.  My parents are in their eighties and live ‘just down the road’.  They kept their promise!

The Machinist, my Machinist is still as loving, romantic and exciting to me as the day we first met. Every day, he asks how I slept and how I am feeling.  He makes me laugh without trying.  He says what’s on my mind before I can utter words. We look forward to tea and lunch times, as we will be seeing each other.  We work together and anticipate who needs what / what needs to be done.  We no longer spar, as although we are – well padded – we know we could do ourselves an injury.  We still debate, and oftentimes, the debating turns into heated arguments.  But they never last long.  We ‘miss’ each other too much without the One Heart.

Every day he wants to please me and make me happy. He will forever be my Valentine, and I will always be his; the Machinist’s Wife.


  1. Ohhh what a perfect start to this series, this was such a great read :) You're lucky to have such an inspiring couple as your parents :)


  2. Awww! This is so nice! I am sorry if I have bot replied to your email about doing one of these! I MAY have some time this weekend. If not, I am so sorry!!

  3. Loved reading this... :) xx Thanks for sharing!