My family and other animals, are very close to each other, protect each other like ‘gangstars’ and generally know what is going on in each other’s lives, no details are left out.

Therefore, it would make sense that my mom, who taught me to drive, does not like driving with me as I am too ‘fast’ and ‘scary’ for her. I allegedly hit every pothole, talk while I drive, overtake slow cars and buses……. Just the general halabaloo of Zimbabwe traffic…… including staying on good terms with the ET drivers.

My mom asked me to drive her the other day to the shops. I warned her very clearly that I had just taken my nightly pills and it would not be a good idea if I drove. My concerns were met on deaf ears and off we went down the driveway.

After getting lost, which is something I never do, I went around a corner on two wheels and hit every pothole. My mom was under the dashboard, screaming at me to slow down. I calmly told her ‘maybe I shouldn’t be driving’, after we went round another corner on two wheels. I was in complete control of the car, however ‘Miss Daisy’ in the passenger seat did not like the ‘racing’ mode I was in. When we stopped at our destination, I was dragged out the driver’s seat and placed in the back seat, never to drive my mother again. Now I did rather intentionally do this to her, which is horrible, but the look on her face and the screaming that followed, I will remember for the rest of my life. I am now banned from driving for the time being.

When my mom drives she asks all of us in the car to tell her when the road is clear so she can get into the mainstream of traffic. The conversation goes like this….. ok mom go…. Ok maybe not….. ok mom go…. Ok maybe not……….Granny stop lol. Which ends up with me under the back seat embarrassed at her ‘old granny’ driving that she does now and I make my nephews sit in the front.

My middle nephew and my dad drive like me, so should I need to urgently get to the Doctor, they are the designated drivers as I know I will get there. Should my mom be taking me, she’ll be asking me all the way to the Doctor which way to turn and going at 60km/hr, with bicycles overtaking her. There is also a concrete bin in the middle of the road near my Doctor, which I remind her about, just in case it ends up on our bonnet and we have to take it home.

My mom and dad are very good drivers but cannot drive at night as they cannot see. So the tables are turned. If my parents are late, I phone them or go look for them. They are chaperoned if they go out at night and are dropped off and collected. My dad is a brilliant passenger, in that you do not have to talk while driving, my dad can talk (non-stop) to the airport and back.

This brings up a point which saddens me in our society right now. Many old people who have dedicated their lives to their children are being placed in Old Age homes and being forgotten. There are some brilliant old aged homes but do not desert your parents. I asked an old lady what I could bring for her next time I came and all she wanted was jellybabies and toothpaste. It made me sob.

My family is large and we are blessed to have them in Zimbabwe still. We all agreed that my gran would not be left in an Old Aged Home and that we would do everything in our power to keep her home with us looking after her. The day my Gran passed to heaven she had her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in her bedroom to say ‘goodbye’. It was an absolute blessing to be able to say the final earthly goodbye. I whispered in my Gran’s ear (as hearing is the last thing to leave the body) and asked her to please tell my children (who are in heaven from a car accident) that I love and miss them. At first my Uncle was horrified at me, thinking me insensitive, but I knew where my Gran was going and I knew my children would meet her in heaven, then she could tell them. It’s now a family joke that if you die in front of me, I will not help you, I will just whisper in your ear to send a message to my children!

My dad has never done anything wrong in my eyes and will always be my hero. I will look after my parents, should they get sick. After all my mom taught me to use the toilet, how to eat, fed and clothed me for 18 years and has been my biggest fan. During the war days, my mom would have to take me to the Casualty Unit, at night because I was having an asthma attack. So why would I leave them in their old age? Where has the big old families gone where we had aunty who shouted, the grumpy uncle, the sister, the brother – all coming together as a family, supporting, protecting and generally being a family! When you have your first baby your mom should come and help you. My mom used to babysit for me, everyday so I could work. How can I ever repay her back? When you have your own child, you realize everything your parents have done for you and you learn to appreciate them so much more.

Sorry I did not mean to divert there, but, maybe someone out there needs to read this message. My big family has made wonderful memories, lots of laughs, lots of inside jokes and always have fun when we together. We support each other and I would not be here today if it were not for my family behind me 100% cheering me on to finish my race of life.
I am eternally grateful for my parents. The love of my mother and the wisdom of my father. God sure did know I needed emotionally strong parents that keep me propped up as well as themselves. Not forgetting they are looking at me, their daughter, who is broken and it breaks their heart every day. Imagine not being able to help your daughter who has had her life shattered and changed in a blink of an eye. My parents got the worse deal there. They lost their daughter (although I’m here in body, I have brain damage) and lost their grandchildren. Sometimes I am the old Janine and then I am not. The pain I deal with on a daily basis in my body is excruciating and sometimes I wish I could run away from myself, however, my family keeps me going. We have had so much trauma and deaths in our family from when I was 2 years old and this ‘trauma’ and ‘finality of death’ has brought my family closer to one another and we count our blessings every day.

This is for my Granny, who was my confidante, my gran, my best friend and my partner in crime! Love conquers all.


My family and other animals

Beautifully Broken
by Janine Milliken
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