On My Mind…

I don’t have a cohesive post today. There are few things that were on my mind but I could not choose only one to write about so I am going to give a little time to each: some are serious and some are not…

Where are you now?

On May 3rd this year was the one year anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann – the little 3 year old British girl who vanished in Portugal while on holiday with her parents and twin siblings. I don’t want to get into all the theories of how and why she disappeared. But her continued absence struck a cord with me. I have two daughters and the thought of not knowing where your child is or if they are alive, must be to a parent, the worst feeling in the world. When I studied at university in South Africa, there was a fellow student of mine who went on a working holiday across Europe with his girlfriend in 1992. His name was Delarey McWilliam Smith and his girlfriend was Anita Swaak. In May 1993, they were last seen in Greece while traveling between the Greek islands and Italy. They were due to fly home in August of 1993 but never came home. They have never been seen again and to this day no one knows what happened to them. There was one sighting of them in June of that year but nothing concrete and all clues ran cold. I was not friends with him and if he were alive today, I am not sure if he would even know who I was. We heard about the disappearance in 1993 and for the last 15 years, it has been in the back of my mind. Where are they now? Are they alive? Do they know who they are? I can not even begin to think of what must be going through their parents minds. There were news reports, pleas for information – all at a time when we were not as equipped as today to get the message out there. How long do you grieve for missing people – your missing children. For eternity. How long will we have to wait to find out about Madeleine McCann? Will I still be thinking about it in 15 years?

In the USA, approximately 58 000 children a year are abducted by a non-family member. According to the White House, about 200 000 children are abducted by a family member usually with a custodial dispute of some sort. Of the 100 reported stranger abduction (the most dangerous kind) 40% are murdered. Tough statistics to read when you have children, impossible if you are looking for your missing kid.

Yes, the war in Iraq

The war in Iraq is on every one’s lips now a days, as the politicians battle it out to be the nominee or the next president. I was living in the UK when Bush launched Shock and Awe in Iraq. I don’t think I was ‘awed’ but I was definitely ‘shocked’. It was like watching a movie. It could not possibly be real. I have never supported the war but I have always supported the troops. I have definitely always felt with the parents, children, wives and husbands who have loved ones serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan. After all, they are making the ultimate sacrifice. Then we moved here and my heart was touched by the yellow ribbons I saw on the gates and front doors of homes. Homes of families who were waiting for a loved one to return – waiting for a loved one who may never return.

I know this couple, their children attend the same daycare as my youngest. He is a fireman (already a huge hero to me) and a loving father to his two kids. He has already served abroad with the military and has once again been called up to do his patriotic duty. This changed the war for me. I still don’t support it but now I actually know someone who is going over there to fight. Now as I drive between school and afternoon dance classes and girl scouts, I look at the ribbons through new eyes and the significance they carry for those they represent is overwhelming. Stay safe my friend, stay safe.

Soccer Hooligan

What a wonderful example to set for young children, especially those in the UK. Joey Barton. Who? I hear you ask. Joey Barton – a twenty-something football/soccer player for Newcastle United in the UK. He has just been sentenced to 6 months in jail for assault and affray. What a waste of the talent that he has been given. He is earning a very good living by doing something he obviously enjoys but has chosen to be a thug instead. These are people that children look up to. Football/soccer is a religion in the UK and many children look up to these sporting stars as an inspiration to achieve something with there lives. I know, Joey Barton is not the first and he definitely won’t be the last.

Gas

Gas is costing around $4-00 a gallon here in my neck of the woods. It is up 68 cents compared to this time last year. I don’t drive much, thank heavens. Hubby commutes in on the train so my monthly budget for gas is relatively low. Coming from the UK, initially, I could not understand why Americans complain about the gas prices in this country. Where I lived we were paying $10 per English gallon. That is right TEN DOLLARS and remember that an English gallon is less than an American gallon. Granted the cars are smaller with smaller gas tanks and the public transport is so good, you really could get around without a car. But still ten dollars a gallon. However, my rose tinted glasses with which I viewed this country have slightly gone off color. Things are more expensive than they were two years ago. But coming from where I have come from (both SA and the UK), life is still pretty good here and is still pretty affordable if you shop around.

Can I speak to a real person?

I have had the displeasure of having to phone a few service providers over the last few days to schedule furnace repairs, cable box replacements, Internetconnection repairs, amongst others. Never have I felt more like an outsider, a foreigner than when I am confronted with an automated assistant. Press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish. So I press 1. You need to speak your answer but little Miss Automated does NOT understand my South African accent. I am sorry, I did not get that. So I shout ‘Customer Representative’ for the 10th time. I am sorry, I did not get that. Let me transfer you to a customer representative. Why thank you, you are so kind. Our customer service center is currently closed. Please call back between 8am and 5pm. I look at my watch. 5:07pm. When I placed the call it was 4:50pm. Please help me not to go crazy here….

******

So these are my issues today. But on a lighter note. I had the windows cleaned. They are old and with permanent storm windows at the top so me clingingclimbing on a ladder outside trying to wash them is not a good idea. The company arrived this morning. Cleaned all the windows and did it all in a half an hour. I was impressed. But today I felt like a desperate housewife for the first time in my life – ogling the 20-something year old Enrique Iglesias look alike who was adding a shine and sparkle to my day as he washed the windows! I am sure I will call them back again to wash the windows before the winter!

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~ by ski holidays on May 20, 2008.

4 Responses to “On My Mind…”

  1. Hi there. I was very good friends with Anita Swaak. Delarey and here have just vanished into thin air. I miss them

  2. How strange. I was also at Stellenbosch when Delarey & his girlfriend went missing. I also think of them from time to time, even though I didn’t know them. If we do this, the family must do it. It must be hell.

  3. Often think about Delarey, sometimes have vivid dreams about him and many fond memories….. I was named after his mom, Adré and played as kids together in Northcliff, JHB. Later were at Stellenbosch together where he was much loved and DJ at Radio Matie. I am sure he is alive and hope that I see him one day……
    It amazes me how people can just go missing, and the devestating effect this has and their families. It is good to keep talking about them and to remember our friends fondly….

  4. I was great friends with Delareys youngest sister, since nursery school actually. She and I were still in touch at the time of the disappearance and although we lost touch, I feel like hardly a day goes by where I dont think of Delarey or his wonderful family. I have so many fond memories of the countless hours, days and weekends spent in the Mc Williams Smith’s home. A truly devastating event and as a parent myself, I cant even entertain this thought.

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