Archive for January, 2013

It was always such a joy to pick Mabel up on a Saturday morning and bring her to the flat our business rents in Johannesburg, where she helped us to keep the place clean and tidy.

I spoke with Mabel last Monday to make arrangements for Saturday 11 January 2013.

Now Mabel’s children are making her funeral arrangements.

She died on Tuesday.

It’s almost unthinkable that  I will never see her again.  That I will never again hear her unique blend of English and Afrikaans. That I will never again hear her laugh and see the sparkle in her eyes when she was laughing.

One of my posts last year had the theme “Let’s not postpone life”, and with Mabel’s passing and also after watching a documentary about Steve Jobs last night, which included part of an interview  in which he says that “the last few years have reminded me that life is fragile”  I became more aware that life is short and that it may come to an abrupt and unexpected end.

Maybe at the beginning of 2013 it is appropriate to take time out from our busy schedules and reflect on our lives.  What we would still like to do before they make our funeral arrangements.  Understand what is truly important to us right now.

What are the things in your “bucket list”? Maybe dust them off and see them every day in one form or another to burn it into your decision making process when you decide what the best thing it to do right now.  Do the things that will take you where you want to go, and say “no” to the rest.

Thank you for brightening up my Saturdays in Joburg, Mabel – hamba kahle.




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In line with my theme for 2013, live healthy, I went for a lovely walk on Lion’s Head in Cape Town this morning.

Not being the fittest person around, I did not venture to go to the top of the Head. I parked my car  at the kramat  and walked over the hill to enjoy spectacular Sea Point.

I then turned around and walked to the main “entrance” to Lion’s Head.

Along the way two people were walking very fast in my direction. One was dressed in uniform and the other person was pointing out to him where a hiker had fallen a while ago higher up on the mountain.

Soon afterwards I could hear a helicopter approaching and after some delicate manoeuvring a stretcher was lowered to the hiker. The helicopter then left and returned after a few minutes.

At that time I assumed that an hiker fell and was injured and then rescued – only to read later on Twitter (#lionshead) that it was in fact a fatal incident. My sympathy goes out to the family and relatives.

I continued walking up Lion’s Head up to point where I could see Camps Bay, and then returned to the kramat – an important icon of Islam.

I had a look inside and saw the grave and three prayer mats and some other things.

It was just on 9 o’clock and, walking towards my car, from somewhere in the city I heard a church bell tolling, calling Christians to church.

At virtually the same time I was “in touch” with two of the major religions in the world, right here in wonderfully diverse Cape Town and South Africa.

Then I thought back to the hiker’s fall not so long ago.

The hiker: Muslim or Christian (or any other religion or atheist)?

The helicopter pilot: Muslim or Christian (or any other religion or atheist)?

They most probably didn’t know each other.

Maybe their forefathers many centuries ago were involved in religious conflicts.

But does all of this matter in a moment of need?  In moments of need the lines dividing us into different groups of people according to religion, skin colour, gender or age vanish.

When someone is in need, the rest of us help.

We help without first asking the person to complete a checklist to see if they meet “our” criteria.

In this morning’s effort the rescue team must have consisted of many people and organisations. All working together to see if they could help one person in need.

Human energy swings into action when a fellow human being is in need of help.

In day-to-day life we find ourselves in situations of need.  Even something simple like the need to be left alone while working on an important project.

And for whatever reason we often do not, or feel we cannot, ask for help or communicate our need.   But asking for help is not a sign of weakness…

Whether at the office or at home, when we need help, ask for it – just like the man did this morning. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Only when you “put it out there” the proverbial universe can respond.

Let’s pull off the labels that we put on ourselves and other people – and that often separates us and keeps us drifting further apart. Then we can get to the real person and support that person in the best possible way.

And let’s communicate our need for assistance when needed.

It may just save our lives.

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