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Johannesburg, South Africa

tanya@tanyahaffern.co.za

© 2017 Tanya Haffern

 

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Wherever you are, be ALL there

June 14, 2018

Stay close to those who are not afraid to be vulnerable, because they have confidence in themselves and know that we all stumble, including you.

Paulo Coelho

 

 

The universe was sending me smoke signals. My cell broke when I dropped it on the staircase. The following day...a broken laptop screen!! My laptop slipped out of my laptop bag onto a carpet. And broke. Seriously, what are the chances? A lost wedding ring. Visas for a long planned overseas trip left to the last minute that cost a small fortune. I felt scared to move, what was going to break next? I knew something was horribly wrong but how could I fix it? I can fix anything, right?


On Tuesday morning, I stood gazing out of our shower window into our back garden. (yes we really do have a view onto the world from our shower!) I saw my Dad amble down to the washing line to hang up the clothes. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Life is flying past me and I am simply not present. Too fast, too furious, too busy, too distracted. 


I have watched so many life events through that window. 20 years in the same place will do that to you. Tiny new born clothes blowing gently in the breeze, waiting to be worn for the first time. Clothes that struck terror deep into my heart. Would I be a good enough mother? Would we be good enough parents? What sex would our child be? 

 

Then my mother in law, Buddy, clothes.  Practical dresses, stockings - always stockings, sensible panties.


Shortly after that, more new born clothes. This time pink. We knew. Less terror this time, pure excitement that our family would grow into the two daughters I knew we should have. They would be so grateful to have each other one day. I know that for sure because of the immensely important role my sister, Kim, plays in my life.


Esther our domestic worker’s clothes. Only ever on the line on Saturday mornings. I still miss them. Cancer came suddenly and forcefully, she stood no chance. 


Then Patricia came to work for us. Extra large clothes, always stylish. 


One day Buddy's clothes left. Sadly, her mind left way before her clothes did and we had to put her in a special home. Kaelyn, our eldest daughter still misses the long hours they would spend reading endless books on our outdoor swing.


Now my own parents clothes wave gently in the breeze. I would never have guessed that they would one day live with us but after the liquidation of their printing business, they didn’t have many options. What a blessing it turned out to be.  Our daughters are constantly showered with the special kind of love only grandparents can provide. School lifts are sorted, life just works. 


Something about seeing Dad, now completely grey, walk slowly down to hang the washing up woke me up. Time is fleeting. Seasons are changing right before my very eyes. And all I am doing is chasing, rushing, getting one thing done rather than being present, rather than connecting with my family. 


Stop. Breathe. Connect. Go have tea with my parents. Leave the laptop off in the evenings. Ignore the constant bing of my cell phone pulling me back to some new distraction.

 

Just. Be. Present. 


One day my clothes won’t be on that line. And what do I want those I leave behind to remember? Frazzled stressed out multitasking mother and distracted wife? I don’t think so.


Thank you Dad, thank you washing line.

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