A Jar of Blessings

By Susan Roberts

I saw an interesting suggestion on Facebook: take an empty jar at the beginning of a new year and every time something good happens during the year, write it on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. At the end of the year, take the papers out and read them, and see how many good things happened to you during the year. In other words, count your blessings.

I might try that for 2014 because it’s a bit late to do that for 2013. Or is it? If I were to figuratively do that, what would I find in my imaginary jar for the year that has just passed?

It’s been a year of interruptions for me because I moved house. Twice! It’s surprising how much time that takes up. What a mixed blessing moving was. I did manage to redistribute some of my junk via the SPCA and Hospice, which made me feel good about myself, but what more important blessings did I get out of those two moves?

Well, two of my very best friends came to help me move from my termite-ridden cottage into the upstairs flat on the same property and, as if that wasn’t enough, the same two came back nine months later to help me move back into my newly renovated cottage. True friends. Thank you, Jackie and Michelle – I am eternally grateful for your help and kindness. You are blessings indeed!

I could get all frivolous here (Who, me? Frivolous? Never!) and talk about the upstairs flat having enough space to stretch out a bit and that glorious bath that I loved so much. I could also wax lyrical about how nice it was to have a second bedroom when my friends or family came to stay, as well as my own huge bedroom being surrounded by trees and exotic birds, but you’ve heard it all on these blogs before. Blessings that I truly appreciated at the time, but for now I want to concentrate on some things I haven’t yet shared.

Like how I had so much fun working backstage on “The Insanity League” with Aaron McIlroy, Ben Voss and John van de Ruit. What a hoot it was to be there! Five weeks of running around backstage got me fitter than any gym could have done. A few weeks later I was lucky enough to stage manage the excellent KickstArt production called “The Ladykillers” for four weeks in May and June. I not only had a great time on that production but renewed my friendship with my old friend Tina, who I’ve missed in recent years.

This year I waved goodbye to a niece and a colleague, both of whom emigrated Down Under, but that also inspired me to plan my holiday in Australia and New Zealand early in 2014. In January I will see my sister whom I haven’t hugged for two years, and in February I will do the same to my niece whom I haven’t seen in more than a year, apart from on Skype.

A more sobering blessing in disguise was how I got to think about old age and frailty, when my 89 year old uncle died at the end of last year, leaving my 87 year old semi-senile aunt with no one to care for her. I ran myself ragged trying to find an old age home that took in Alzheimer’s sufferers, and I also managed to track down her other relatives. Blessings stepped out of the woodwork to make my task easier. I know now that I didn’t do it all on my own but was guided every step of the way.

My aunt went from frail to feisty in that wonderful home where she was well-looked after, well-fed, and reasonably happy in each moment in her fractured mind. In that safe place she had nothing to worry about and could spend her waking hours lost in her long-ago memories of family and loved ones who had gone before her.

Sadly, my aunt passed away a few months ago, but her passing was peaceful in that home where so much love and care reverberated daily through those cheerful, laughter-filled halls. Elize and her staff are angels in disguise. The attorney dealing with my uncle’s estate said after his first visit to my aunt: “The people who work there go straight to Heaven when they die.”

My stepfather also died this year, after five lonely years without my mother. Hopefully they are both in a better place now, perhaps sharing nostalgic moments with my uncle and aunt?

A reflection on blessings for 2013 wouldn’t be complete without mention of that other great man who passed this year: Nelson Mandela. What an incredible blessing he was, taking our beleaguered country from uncertainty to freedom, with no ill-will to those who incarcerated him for so long. He made the most of the years left to him after his release from prison, and spread his special Madiba Magic wherever he went, endearing him to millions across the globe, but especially here at home.

In September this year I took my friend Tina to see the monument outside Howick and we both shed tears on seeing the many Get Well messages scrawled onto pieces of bark and stones, each carefully placed along with flowers, now dried and wilted, during Mandela’s illness a few months before.

Mandela was a man truly loved by all, and a blessing whose legacy I hope will endure forever. There is so much I want to say about him but can’t right now. Maybe in a future blog or novel…

So what are your blessings for the year that has just ended? Like me, do you look forward to counting those pieces of paper in a year’s time?

Happy 2014 to you all!Picture

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