From the dusty little farming community of Creighton in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands to the big city lights of Johannesburg, back to the Midlands and then on to a brand new life in Europe – what an ADVENTURE this marriage has been!
Feeling liberated, adult and adventurous, I left my nursing job in Pietermaritzburg to take up a medical representative position based in Johannesburg in order to be in the same city as the love of my life.
Culturally this was a shift from rural to urban but I had done it before by heading 1000km away from home to attend university in Port Elizabeth, followed by a first job in a remote game reserve in the far northern regions of KZN, from there to a ski season job in Switzerland which brought me back to my roots, thoroughly broke, nursing in my home city. I figured that I could do this too and had the encouragement and support of my adventurous Dad egging me on, how could I possibly fail? The jobs, failures and success are for another post…
Darling, as he has come to be known, was a very busy man: a newly qualified Chartered Accountant, working the usual 8-5 hours, and a solid member of the South African men’s hockey team meant many hours of training, camps, tournaments and team time, leaving little for us time but, as hockey really was what our lives revolved around, it was easier to bear.
Since South Africa was finally emerging from the shackles of the apartheid regimen, we were permitted to compete on the international stage in sport again, so too the Springbok hockey team no longer having to tour as rebels under the name The Saints. The glorious green and gold kit was donned and the tours began in earnest, leaving even less time for us back home.
Thankfully hockey being the sort of team game that it is, I was soon a member of a hockey club in my new home town and playing in the premier league, making friends and enjoying city life, along with my new medical career. This did not take the “missing my man” part away by any means but it did make the time together more precious, especially once I had been introduced to his vast, loving Portuguese family. They were all typically Medeterreanean in their warmth and welcome, especially around the table where food was generously shared.
The introduction to Darling’s family was an event forever burned into my memory as I managed to expose my gullibility and test my loyalty to this relatively unknown family right from the start, not to mention the fact that Darling is probably the most convincing man on the planet!
In my quest to impress, I asked him if his mother spoke any English, to which he replied, very little, which got me onto the request for a polite sentence in her native tongue that I could greet her with – rookie error 101, right?!
The sentence was produced and I practiced and practiced. With much anticipation, we drove to his youngest sister’s home for a family Sunday lunch where I was to be presented to the whole clan. On arrival we were all gathered around the front door where Mom was waiting, surrounded by her adult children. Introductions were made, teasing comments dished out by the siblings to their baby brother and I plucked up the courage to greet Mom with my Portuguese sentence, which I did pretty well given the practice that I had had.
A very pregnant pause, a giggle from Mom and then guffaws from the rest of the clan as I had been thoroughly duped into telling her that I had a face like a pig’s butt!!! Thankfully Mom’s command of the English language was flawless and we’ve always got on very well ever since!
Following a number of international hockey tours, during which my hockey hero covered himself in glory, we decided that we were going to throw in our lot and look for a house to make a home for ourselves. I managed, with the help of a mutual hockey friend, to find a bank repossessed townhouse that we were able to secure for a song, thanks to the generosity of my Dad’s aunt who made me a loan for the amount of the deposit. I got scrubbing and cleaning and we turned the sad little thatched house into our own, all before we were married which was something of a taboo in our family, society & culture. Since I was past my mid twenties and Darling into his early thirties, we rebelled and unofficially moved in together – unofficially for our parent’s sake and officially because he was hardly even in the country, never mind the house!
None of the rebellion sat well with either of us so, following a Bible study class that we had attended at our local Methodist church one Monday evening, we decided to get married. Unfortunately the wonderful ex-Greek Orthodox minister who led the group was not in possession of his marriage license book so he was not able to perform the deed there and then. We made the arrangement with him to marry us on the Thursday evening as the next day we were taking Mom to the farm in KZN to meet my parents for the first time.
Thursday 17th February 1994 dawned and we went on our separate ways to work, returning early at 4pm to shower, don a new dress for me and a new shirt and tie for Darling. Picking a bunch of herbs from the little vegetable patch that I had cultivated at the back door to join a bunch of roses from a vase, we set off for the church where we met up with Mom and my Dad’s cousin and her husband, the three of whom would be our witnesses.
In no time at all, with sweaty palms, shining faces and no rings to exchange, we were married and blessed in our church with our little party of six!
Thus began the official part of our marriage, which was kept a strict secret, until the day of our unofficial wedding on a glorious Autumn Saturday afternoon in May when during the speeches, the secret was revealed amidst intakes of breath, gasps and wry head shakes. No matter, we were happy and the honeymoon has never ended – it has led to adventures a-plenty and still more to be discovered!