Article and photos by Denise McLaughlan
I am a lively and enthusiastic nearly 75-year-old woman who has embraced life despite 28 years on my own. I live in Cape Town South Africa in my 1837 characterful home. I have two grown-up children and three grandchildren, no other close family. I Grew up as an only child and used to feel lonely quite often. The latter has changed somewhat now that I am older and wiser. Part of my nature has also been to engage with people, to be curious and have many interests. I have a a zest for living , and am not fazed by changes – in fact I welcome new things- whether it be learning all about technology, enjoying social media like Facebook trying new activities like PowerPoint collages or simply rearranging and decorating my house in a different way. I can bounce back from bad situations, for which I am thankful.
Part of my ongoing verve is because since becoming a child of God, I have realised repeatedly that I cannot cope without Him in my life. He has led, guided, protected and provided for me for these 28 years since 1992, when I was only 47 and was broken, divorced, forced to go forward alone, find work (after 12 years at home). It wasn’t easy to get back into the workplace despite being a slightly-out- of -touch teacher and having worked in various fields such as an officer in the S A Army, selling insurance from a call-centre and many temporary jobs. I was fortunate to obtain the bond for my house and after 25 years it has been paid off! My house has worked for me –providing income.
Over the years I was faced with times of unemployment, my children leaving home and having quite serious problems, depression and anxiety. I always believe there is help out there and one must go and get it. I attended Deryn’s Divorce Recovery workshop, I was active at my church and I resorted to my old-time journaling. Keeping a daily diary from my teenage days evolved into journaling my Quiet time with the Lord plus writing about and working through all the problems of the time. Later I started a blog and more recently some newsletters about my solo road trips in my converted Mazda camper car- more about that later!!
Some of the aftermath of the divorce was the ongoing problem of finances and so I started to take in boarders – or rather –tenants offering a room in my house plus sharing my kitchen, bathroom and at times my living area. So, doing I had extra income and felt safer after my children left home. I must admit I really enjoyed the young vibe and life in my home, which also freed me to pursue another great love of mine – weekend getaways and any form of travel. I would save or work as a showhouse sitter on Sunday afternoons just so I could afford a little trip…at first always looking for a friend to go along but lately I go it alone- if needs must be!
At around 60 years the young and fast call-centre environment got to me and I went back to teaching for two years- at a small Christian school where I had to take on Grade 2 and 3 in one class ( and this while I trained as a high school teacher!) I tackled it but then they realised I would be better with the Grade 5 and 6 class. This episode prepared me well for the next phase of my working life – that of being a part-time au pair for school going children working for one particular family. I was suited for this being a teacher, a mother and grandmother. This I did for 10 years – I mostly enjoyed this but it also had its difficult times. During this time, I started doing House-and –Pet sitting. Besides loving pets, it would give me that most welcome extra money – (always a toss-up with on whether to do maintenance on the house with it or save for a trip!?)
You will have gathered that I was inventive in surviving the working years, but this builds in faith that God will provide, and I never once went without a roof over my head or food to eat. I my next blog I will show you how my adventurous life developed over the years. Please join me for the journey and I would be happy for you to comment below.