I was in std 7 when my oldest sister gave birth to my first niece. The first grandchild of the future generation. A little bundle of much anticipated joy. My life changed forever that day. I became an aunt.
With that responsibility, I realised that I was a keeper of space. A 14 year head start on my tumble through the planet. This role was different from being big sister, because I wasn’t expected to look after her, nor share my bedroom with her. I could offer to do these things which made the relationship with her, easier. The pressure was off me. But there was a queue of volunteers to hold her, feed her and entertain her. However the nappy changing queue was a lot shorter.
I remember looking at my sister differently and wondering how she felt being a new mum but her eyes were too wide with surprise to go into a philosophical discussion. Fortunately my mum, granny, was on hand to weave her magic and I would slip back into my (shared) bedroom to listen to my music.
My niece was a bundle of giggles and a real joy to watch. She charmed everyone with her presence as we all stared into that wordless space where she seemed to be entertaining a different dimension. She began to talk about this dimension and her ‘friend ‘ as soon as as could form words. I was intrigued but not surprised. I had my own awareness that I felt in the depths of music. Her friend became part of the family and I was glad my sister didn’t discourage her in any way, and amused when I heard she had to set a place at the table for her friend.
Life happened and I had my gap year and the small family moved overseas and my niece grew into a remarkable, capable and bubbly young lady. After studying teaching ( a job at which she is a complete natural) she became a mum herself. A concept which would have baffled my brain, had it not been for the internet and me being able to see this for myself. This new label of being a great aunt, was softened by the realisation that my niece is a damn fine mum, and I marvel at her capacity and ability to raise two well mannered, lovely, energetic and fabulous young lads on her own. Grandma and Grandpa do their bit too, but this niece of mine doesn’t understand how me, as a non-parent ( who shies away at this kind of constant responsibility) marvels at her vocation as a mum.
Her birthday reminds me of the impact she had and still has on my life, and I am truly honoured to be able to call her niece.
As a youngster, one of the jobs I saw myself doing (doesn’t everyone have more than one?) was air hostessing. Possibly as a result of being so impressed with the beautiful, graceful ladies I saw on our long flight from Scotland, but the travel appealed too. However, after the removal of my appendix at the age of 12, I locked myself into the idea of nursing. I had a messiah complex plus I was nosy and wanted to see what went on behind all those curtains.
A decade later, I was contemplating soaring the skies again. My two options were my planned gap year or just possibly an air hostess job. But the timing wasn’t meant to be and I set off on my gap year before the air company got back to me.
Three decades later, I got a chance to play dress up as an air stewardess. With many air miles under my fake hat, I was assisting on a Heritage tour in my home city. I was super excited to be on this tour of a small privately owned, airport on the far side of the city. But I was also unusually excited to be dressing up. I suppose I am easily pleased, but I am finding fun in the small things in life and I try not to take it too seriously. I can be very intense in my ‘other’ real job as a therapist so my fun factor kicks in daily now.
I have spent the last couple of years going on many Heritage tours in Johannesburg and I am loving feeling like a real tourist in my hometown. It’s been an eye opener discovering the history, beauty and buildings plus it’s a lot cheaper on the pocket.
The Rand Airport was finished in the early thirties. It is a glamorous building that was the first international airport in the country, seeing both military and royalty go through its doors. It is no longer an international airport, which probably helps keep its more personal charm. Designed to look like an airplane from the sky, it has been lovingly restored and is a well preserved space that excites and delights me. Even though I had only visited it once before, it felt familiar and friendly. Perhaps it is the happy sound of helicopters and small planes that influences me but I played my role of hostess with a big grin on my face.
We got the chance to visit the kids managing the air traffic control (I really am getting old -lol) and had an escorted tour to see the fire engines and some fascinating hangers. The marvel of these metal beauties getting into the sky still amazes me and we were treated to a quick air show of some aerial acrobatics. Watching the small planes get parked in their hangar, by a long standing staffer manoeuvre his tractor with speed and skill was impressive. A quick visit to a hotel on site, made me mentally start saving up for an overnight adventure of watching the small hub of air activity for a prolonged period.
The tour ‘captain’ is passionate about flying and life, so it was easy to be led by his stories with assistance from a real captain who shared some fascinating experiences, one of which, being hijacked in the cockpit. More detail is needed about that, but sadly not the right platform for the whole story. All too soon, the group started to twitch and it was time to return to ‘earth’. A fascinating world with a sub culture that remains hidden until I begin to scratch. Definitely worth more digging, and I plan to visit the Air Museum also on the same grounds.
My ‘maiden flight’s over for now, but one of my life’s mottos has become ‘never say never’. I am open to the adventure of life.