Time to Practice the ‘Need to Know’ Principle

I was in the army (and air force) long ago, where I learned a lot of helpful skills I still apply in my life today. (I will get to that in a few paragraphs.)

By now we are beyond the point where the tekkie hit the tar (South African for ‘the rubber meets the road). It’s Day 17 of the national lockdown in SA due to the Covid-19 virus and our president has already increased the proposed 21-day lockdown with at least a further two weeks.

In the beginning it was almost fun. Everyone forwarded jokes and kept Facebook diaries of their days, their improvisations, their silliness. Nobody really expected the lockdown to be lifted after only 21 days, by hey, one could hope…

The whole Corona epidemic is a rollercoaster experience for me. I didn’t particularly look forward to the lockdown, as I presume was the case with everyone else, because limitation of movement isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of a free life. But nevertheless, we all went into it positively. I still am positive – one have to be (!), but like everything new, this also wore down pretty quickly.

I too, follow the news and read everything that passed my phone screen in the beginning. The jokes were hilarious and still are, the motivational video clips and spiritual songs are uplifting, beautiful and emotional and the updates from friends, families and strangers on social media makes one smile and sometimes laugh loud. All fun and games.

But. I’m also a person who, like many of you, gets bored easily. I get fatigued very, very quickly. And my Corona fatigue started already before the lockdown! Getting fatigued can be a very dangerous thing, because what can happen is that you just switch off and ignore the situation that bores you or make you tired and can miss the things you really need to keep you safe, sound and healthy.

This Covid-19 epidemic is something really puzzling. We all ‘know’ now where it originated from, we have the ’facts’ about the virus and we are getting ‘updates’ on the spread daily. I put those in quotation marks, because I’m not sure that we get the real picture. Actually, I am sure. I have so many unanswered questions about this pandemic, which probably would never be answered. We are being given information from governments’ sides, we are bombarded with ‘expert’ opinions and on top of that, our feeds are flooded with conspiracy theories. It’s very confusing and difficult to really know what goes on, where it goes on and what precisely is done about it.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe everything we’ve been told. Not just about Covid-19, but in life generally. That doesn’t make me a conspiracist – just a realist. I like a good conspiracy theory though, and being a creative writer, I can even think up a few myself easily – although I never go public with it. I’ll leave it for my novels one day. 😊

Our family has quite easy circumstances to being locked down in, so we really have no reason to complain. But we are still humans. And humans tend to feel human emotions when their circumstances change. On Day 8 I felt cooped in for the first time. I could hear my husband sigh when he went to the kitchen in the morning to make coffee, and I’m sure he hears mine when I go to the bathroom in the morning and the realisation of another locked in day kicked in. Day 11 was tough again. Today is easier to stay in because of the wind storming outside. The point is even though we have comfortable circumstance to do it in, any limitations take their toll on the physically and mentally and causes our emotions to go up and down by the things that enters our minds.

And this is where my remark about being in the army comes in. One of the first things you learned when entering any defence force is the very important THE NEED TO KNOW-principle. This is for your own good, you learn, because what you did not know, you could not tell and couldn’t hurt you. This meant that a great deal of discipline had to be practiced. You were to stay out of conversations where you would hear what you were not supposed to hear and out of places you didn’t belong. We all know that we are by nature curious, so it is very tempting to listen to gossiping, do things which can be harmful to us and watching things that are not good for us. After all, we now have access to almost any information we want.

In today’s circumstances this is more relevant than ever. We can listen to and believe everything we read or watch on our phones and forward it to our as-gullible family members and friends. When an overwhelming lot of information is going around as is the case at the moment, it can drive us mad.

Be honest. Can you even remember all the information, jokes, videos, songs you’ve seen during the past few weeks? Of course you can’t, because we have been bombarded with information – good and bad. We are getting overloaded by the news, social media and our friends and family. So, that overwhelming feeling you sometimes get after reading or watching another post is very normal.

Now, on Day 17 it maybe is a good time to get a bit more disciplined in an effort to keep our sanity. We are in the middle of lockdown and the toughest part is still coming. Lockdown can even be extended again, so now is a good time to start taking better care of yourself mentally. And this is where we can implement and practice the NEED TO KNOW principle. This is where you start making decisions to your advantage – and to advantage of all those you love.

  • It is a time to start reading selectively. Read and watch only what you need to know to stay safe and healthy.
  • Laugh about and share the funny jokes.
  • Listen to good messages with sound spiritual input.
  • Don’t forward fake news and conspiracy theories. Check facts before forwarding and overwhelming others with info that they DON’T NEED TO KNOW!
  • Put down your phone. You don’t need to be on it the 24/7/365. Read something printed on paper. Like a good book. And The Good Book!
  • Keep a routine, but also do something out of the ordinary every day.
  • Exercise – even if you have to run in one place while watching a TV program. Everyone can exercise, no matter how small their place is.
  • Be creative. Build something, draw something, write something, bake something, sew something, plant something… We are people made to create, not to just duplicate (or forwarding in this context).
  • Don’t read or watch Covid-19 any other news just before going to bed.
  • Most of all – keep spiritually strong. Read the Word of God, meditate upon it and pray for all.
  • And lastly – give thanks for what you have and for your circumstances.

The virus and its effects are still with us and it will be with us for quite a while longer. We must stay strong from the inside. There was an old WWII poster stating ‘Loose lips may sink ships’. Listening to and believing everything we hear and forwarding it to everyone we know, isn’t something responsible people who love their friends and family do. Discipline yourself. It starts with me and you.

Keep your ship afloat. It still has places to go after this.

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂🙂🙂

Related blog posts: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/03/26/were-all-riding-in-this-corona-bus-together/

Related blog posts: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/03/27/in-the-beginning-we-were-created-to-be-creative/

Related blog posts: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/03/31/family-traditions-creates-unbreakable-bonds-and-awesome-memories/

Those Big Small Things in between Facebook Status Updates

20150606_114239More Egypt Chronicles

Life is speeding so fast that it can overtake us very easily, leaving us clinging onto whatever we can to survive. And when we are in survival mode, we tend to focus on just that – survival. Sometimes we need to get off the runaway train, stay on the ground and just enjoy the moments of experiences added together that is called ‘life’. So many of us live for our “one day” – that day or days near or farther in the future when all our dreams will be realised into the utopian existences we spend all our free time imagining.

But sometimes we need real life to give us a slap through the face or shower us with the proverbial bucket of ice water to slow us down from our busyness or even to bring us to a halt in order for us to stop and be alive within the actual moment we find ourselves in.

It can happen through the shock of sudden death, the scare of illness, being faced with dangerous situations or just recuperating from something less serious – but as disruptive.

Shock or trauma or failure can sometimes be good for us. It can help us clean our systems, re-organise our priorities and re-evaluate the impossible goals we set for ourselves into obtainable ones and making us pause for a while. Very few things in life can be so good to us than coming to a complete standstill. And I really mean to stop doing what you’re doing and to live in the moment, with no looking forward to the tomorrow that may never be born.e always dreamt of living abroad for a period of time. Due to circumstances that dream got lost for a while, but after some time it found its way back into becoming a possibility and our lives were frozen in their tracks. Everything we did or didn’t do, planned or didn’t plan and decided had to be weighed first against the probability of going away for a few years. It changes one’s whole focus, lookout and pretty much everything you do.

The realisation of a dream can be a horribly, scary affair and takes courage to pursue. (Read my previous blog on this at https://fieliesdekock.com/2015/11/10/the-process-of-realising-a-dream-can-be-a-nightmare/)

We only heard six months later that we were going to live abroad. In Egypt. I cried for a day and then my previous positive-self reappeared and I made a pro’s and con’s list and, surprise-surprise, the pro’s list convinced me – not that it was the longest! (How is it that when your prayers are being answered and you get what you ask for that you get confused?)  But the crying subsided and the excitement and frightfulness kicked in. We had a lot to do – easier stuff and more difficult stuff. All the easier stuff had to do with the ‘whats’ in our lives. The more difficult ones had to do with the ‘whos’. My mother lived with us for 17 years and she had to be relocated. And we had to find houses for our four dogs. It wasn’t easy.

Fast forward…

…to living in Cairo, Egypt, for two years.

It takes time to settle into a new environment. And it took me one year an nine months to get so used to the new place to fall into a little bit of a rut – in spite of (or maybe because of) busyness.

Precisely one year and nine months after arriving here, I fell into a not-so-slightly ‘down’. (Don’t worry – it was caused by stupid pains, and although they remained, the depression flew out of the window after a few doctor’s visits. ((And I realised that my ‘depressions’ are always health related.)) And it is a fact that everything seems worse if you are far away from ‘home.’)

Now that the background history is told, I will get to the point. Since that day, three years and three months ago when we first heard that we may be moving, I have learnt to live in the moment. Because of the uncertainty of our situation, we stopped buying unnecessary things, didn’t make decisions with long-term consequences and just started taking every day as it came.

Due to the fact that we came to live in a country where the security situation can be volatile, our circumstances can change at any time and our stay can end unplanned and abruptly. So, I decided to keep living here the way we lived back home for those uncertain fifteen months before we left – in the moment. And I already decided to keep doing that when we get back home one day. But, as I am writing this – even that isn’t a certainty, because that is a tomorrow that is still to come. I pray though that it will happen for us all.

But back again (!) to the reason for this writing. During all these experiences the last few years, I have learnt to enjoy the ‘little’ things in life. Don’t get me wrong. With our current, temporary lifestyle come lots of privileges, which we enjoy and appreciate enormously! I mean, without this experience, my dream to see at least something of Europe would probably always have stayed only in the dream phase. We have cruised the Nile and we are scheduled to go again soon. We have snorkelled in the Red Sea (and fell in love with it)! On a French mountain I have played in the snow for the first time in my life! I attended my first (second, third and shortly my fourth) ball! I have stood in a chamber in The Valley of the Kings outside Luxor containing the petite mummy of king Tut. Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera. These are memories I will cherish for as long as my mind allow me.

But as it is in life – privileges don’t come free or cheap. And in between these very wonderful experiences are those that don’t reach Facebook status. And they take up way more time than those very wonderful ones. They are the ones that can make or break us. The in-between times when the heat, dust, cultural differences, strange religion, terrible traffic, the thin, sick, hungry street dogs, the stray cats, the tummy bugs, the illiteracy (mine!), the overwhelming crowdedness, the ‘ununderstandable’ customs, the poverty, the dirtiness, the interestingness, the bland food, the overripe tomatoes and all the things you miss from home, make you wonder how on earth did you make it so far and how on earth will you make the rest of the time?

I remember back home when we had some challenges, we would go for a walk in the afternoons and with my hand in my husband’s and with our son and our dogs tagging along, I felt like the richest person alive! And this, I personally believe, is where the secret of happiness lies: to find blessings and joy and thankfulness in even the littlest things in mundane life.

I have listed just a few of these things that make me happy. Some of them are not so little at all.

  • Reading Bible and praying whenever I want to, because the Living God of the Bible is always everywhere.
  • Mild weather.
  • Walking to the shops.
  • Walking to the shops on my own legs.
  • Walking to the shops on my own legs in mild weather.
  • Having good Egyptian people in our lives.
  • Eating the last piece of biltong someone thoughtfully brought when visiting.
  • Sitting (in the still mild weather) in our garden, listening to the birds chirping without the competition of the air conditioner sounds (because the weather is still mild and the aircons are still off).
  • Aircons in summer!!!
  • Drinking rooibos tea with my husband and son on a Saturday morning outside in the garden (when the weather is mild) or in the TV room or swimming pool (in summer, when the weather is not so mild).
  • Sleeping through the night without fear of violent house-breaks.
  • Waking up in the morning. (What a privilege!)
  • Having an Afrikaans (my native language) speaking buurvrou (neighbour) in the building across ours!
  • Having even more friends from home nearby and being able to lunch with some of them every week!
  • Feeding at least two of the many hungry cats in this huge city.
  • Watching ‘our’ two cats doing all their cat-things in our garden on top of the parking garage.
  • Taking pictures. Lots and lots and lots of them.
  • Being thankful for every ‘big’ or ‘little’ thing that works out.
  • Being safe after there had been uncertainties.
  • Aircons droning out the muezzin calls.
  • Power coming back on after cuts. (These days they aren’t as frequent and as long as in during the first year. Something to be thankful for – especially in summer!)
  • Experiencing everything with my husband and son!
  • Kissing my husband good night.
  • Kissing my son good night. (That’s probably not something he would like people to read on the Internet ((but he likes it – I can tell)).)
  • Seeing my husband happy because he can watch South African rugby and cricket matches on the satellite TV channels.
  • Paging through the teabags at my Japanese friend’s dinner to find a rooibos tea bag!
  • Having lots of friends from around the world to hang out with, visit new places with and to learn from.
  • Being able to buy the medicine I need and don’t get from home.
  • Being healthy (I hope).
  • Coming home to a haven of safety and tranquility.
  • Having a good landlady.
  • …the list can go on…

These are just a few things and when writing them down, I realise that they are not so little. They are pretty big and important. They are the glue that holds life together. To be in awe when seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time or feeling small against the largest of the Giza pyramids is splendid, but one can survive life without it. Of course travelling enriches our lives and I am a big supporter thereof (even if it is just exploring outside of you immediate comfort zone) and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on these experiences! But it really is the ‘small’ things that we can’t live without, which makes the mundane extraordinary – which is the difference between letting life get away from you and living in the moment. It is the ‘small’ things in life which brings sustainable happiness.


© 2016  – I, Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock is trying hard to be an awesomest wife and greatest lover, finest mom and to write something all at the same time. I share my current living space in Cairo, Egypt with my husband, young-adult son, the building’s two cats and the space in my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters to function as a normal human being.

The Woman who made me Fall in Love with Afrikaans Words only to Realise that she was Actually Writing in English and was an American


I remember my pre-school growing up years in two phases – a phase where we lived on two farms, although I actually only remember the second farm. Of the first I only have two memories – one where I received my soft toy monkey and namesake, Fielies, as a Christmas gift around my third birthday (yes, I actually remember getting the present and opening it) and the other where my sister, twelve years older than me, ignored my mother’s instructions and gave me Coke-Cola in a baby bottle, even though I wasn’t supposed to having Coke or be drinking bottle anymore.

Of the second farm I have many happy memories, much of them involving my brother, father and grandfather.

The second phase was living in the neighbouring town. Here my memories contain mostly our house, my brother who was nine years older than me and in high school in the next town during the week – and my grandfather’s shop. (See my blog entry for more on this at https://fieliesdekock.com/2013/04/02/my-grandfathers-shop/).

My grandfather sold stationary, fireworks and also gifts and gift cards in his shop. My grandfather and grandmother taught me to read and write numbers and I helped them put handwritten prices on the products in the shop. This made me feel very smart. But what didn’t make me feel smart was that although I could write numbers, I couldn’t read letters. The gift card display cupboard filled with Helen Steiner Rice cards made me realised that. The cards were different than the other cards in the sense that they didn’t only have words inside the cards, but also on the outsides.

I was fascinated by these little symbols that, when put together with other sets of letter combinations, formed words. I was even more amazed by the fact that so many different words could be formed by using those letters. And with that, if you know how, one could make sentences using all kinds of different words. And these sentences became the keys to creating other worlds. Worlds full of stories.

To overcome my frustration I sometimes asked my grandmother or grandfather to read me some of the cards instead of a storybook. I didn’t understand much, because the words confronted emotions and life experience I could yet identify with. But what I did get, was the wonderful rhythm of the rhyme that made those words sound as beautiful as a symphony in my ears. I could just listen and listen. As soon as I learned to read in school, I used Helen’s cards to practice my reading.

Then one day a new order from the big city arrived which got mixed up somewhere and the shop got someone else’s order and to my shock and wonder I found out that Helen was speaking English too! I could now practice my English reading too. It paid its dividends, because my English spelling became very good and my vocabulary grew beyond my second language reading book’s arsenal. I won’t comment on my speaking ability though because in our town no one spoke English. There were Afrikaans, Tswana, Portuguese and Lebanese people living there, but somehow no one spoke English!

Only many years later I learned to my surprise that Helen Steiner Rice (I thought the name was a bit foreign) wasn’t a nice Afrikaans speaking boere antie (boer aunty), but actually a very nice American woman who started writing greeting cards when she took over a greeting card company and she realised the need for cards with feel good messages.

Although Helen was dubbed ‘Ambassador of Sunshine’ at the Gibson Art Company in Cincinnati, she didn’t only know the sunny side of life. Her father died when she was young and instead of pursuing her dreams, she helped her family survive. She married a young business man who lost everything in the 1929 New York stock market crash and was left widowed at age 32 after he took his own life due to depression related illness. But she became a successful business woman and ran the greeting card company for forty years, while keep writing her beautiful poems and unknowingly taught a little Afrikaans girl how to read, first in Afrikaans and then in English. And then to write. First in Afrikaans and then in English.

Thank you, Mrs. Helen Steiner Rice, for unlocking the world of words for me.

HSR 10 Commandments

PS: You can read her story on a website dedicated to her at http://www.helensteinerrice.com/hsrinfo.html.

PPS: I found out today that either Google doesn’t know everything or that I don’t know how to get the information I need out of Google. I tried to find out who was responsible for the translation of Helen’s poems into Afrikaans, but I couldn’t. I also tried to find out into how many languages her work is translated into. I’m still searching. If you have more information on this, please comment.


© 2016  – I, Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock tries hard to be a Proverbs 31-woman – excellentest wife, finest mom, greatest lover and successful ‘wordpreneur’ all at the same time. I share my current living space in Cairo, Egypt with my husband, young-adult son, the building’s ginger cat – and the space in my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters to function as a normal human being.

The Process of Realising a Dream can be a Nightmare


To conceive a dream is so easy. You just think it up and if you are passionate enough about it, you obsess over it. You envision every little detail. You see it in that sacred secret place where dreams are pictured in all its splendid tints and facets and glorious results. In that place that has no space and no limits. The place that no-one else can see. You dress it up, colour it in, expand it limitlessly and enjoy the outcome as if it already happened. You feel the magnificent emotions even before you even started doing anything about it. What a sweet, sweet place that place called imagination is!

Sometimes in life it happens that we lose those beautiful imaginary creations of ours – because of circumstances or because of failure. Sometimes the loss is due to our own limitations, flaws, choices or immature doings. Some of them we lose or have to let go, because they were only meant to teach us and to make us braver.

Blog Dreams inserts

But, sometimes we get a chance to transform those imaginations into reality. I know that for the millions of go-getters out there, this is the moment they lived for and waited for their whole lives. It is the moment in which they can grab their dream in both hands and force life into it. Now me, I’m not one of those people. The realisation of my dreams scares die dinges out of me. For me the process of realising a dream is a nightmare. Because this is where two worlds meet – that fantastic world of comfort, no responsibilities and no liabilities and the scary, scary world where you have to face the proverbial music and actually do. It’s a world that makes your tummy ache and your head burst and where you want to faint, turn around and push your dream back in the safety of imagination’s womb and forget that you were ever able of conceiving such a frightful creation.

Because realising a dream is not only about day dreaming. It is about hard work, unpleasantness and vulnerability. The process of realising a dream is much like childbirth. For months a new person grows inside you. You nurture it, dream about its features, character, life. You wait in anticipation as the little human grows and grows until one day it can’t stay inside you anymore and needs to get out into the world.

I am not making this analogy easily. I know that losing a dream can never compare to losing a baby, but writing from the heart also means writing from experience. Loss nestles itself very deep in the human soul. All kinds of loss. If it is the loss of a human who had grown inside your body for a time or a dream that has grown inside your being. It feels. That is what makes us human and how we deal with the loss is what makes us individually who we turn out to be.

Some expecting mothers choose to abort the new life just after conception, because it came as an inconvenience, but doing so leaves a void in their souls that can never be filled. Some moms lose that life – not because of own choice, but because of circumstances or because that life wasn’t sustainable. It hurts. So. Much. Even if you know it wasn’t meant to be or that it wasn’t your fault – and somehow in your heart there always remains a memory of love. And sometimes more than just memories linger. Very real nightmares continue to occur of what could have been but was not. The same happens when losing dreams.


If so blessed to walk full term, expecting mothers very often experience a lack of sleep at the end of the pregnancy and angst and nightmares before the birth. They know that there is no way around it. The baby must get out – and no fear, angst or nightmare can stop or even delay the process. The little human’s life depends on being born.

In life, when one loses an unborn baby, the law of survival urges us to try again, until that new conception or the next or the next clings to life and grows and lives long enough to see the light.

To survive not only life, but ourselves, we have to try again when we lose a dream. We need to learn to dream new dreams. Dreams that would stick, go full term and burst into realisation when the time for it has come and the expecting ‘womb’ cannot contain it any longer.

We also need to embrace the birthing process like a fed-up, anxious, scared new mother who knows that the baby must be born – no matter what! It is never easy and many, many things can go wrong. There can be complications with the birth or defects that hadn’t been detected beforehand. In extreme cases even a still-birth is a possibility.

Blog Dreams inserts

It can be the same with dreams. A dream is made to be born or aborted. To abort it will always leave an emptiness and a lifetime of wondering ‘what if?’ Of course there is the possibility of miscarriage too. We can take the big step, try and not succeed. Or the dream can be ‘still-born’ and be a failure. From experience I have also learned that failing at something is far more liveable with than aborting or not even trying to do something. The margin between failure and success can be so minute sometimes. But the gap between aborting and not trying is absolutely unbridgeable.

So, my son, when the time comes and the pangs make you fear and want you to abort and you feel anxious and inadequate and unqualified – remember the mother, who in her fear and pain and angst, push through, knowing that life depends on it.


© 2015 – I, Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock tries hard to be a Proverbs 31-woman – excellentest wife, finest mom, greatest lover and successful ‘wordpreneur’ all at the same time. I share my current living space in Cairo, Egypt with my husband, young-adult son, the building’s ginger cat – and the space in my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters to function as a normal human being.

The Curious Occurrence of People’s Comings and Goings on Earth


I am sometimes, actually all the time, a bit flabbergasted by the fact that people, well-known or not, live an extraordinary life – for the good or the bad – and then one day, as if they were mere mortals from the onset, are no more.

I’m busy reading John Baxter’s book, The Most Beautiful Walk in the World. It’s a collection of stories, anecdotes, quotes and by-the-way facts about the streets, corners, buildings, passages, cafes, gardens, restaurants, fashions and people of Paris – from the past to the now. By the way he frequently quote and referred to Ernest Hemingway, one can’t help to think that he must be at least a little bit obsessed with the larger than life (in more than one way) American writer.

I read a book the way I take a walk on the beach or go about my daily chores. I start out with a goal to go somewhere but stop to take a picture of a see-through crab or a washed up piece of wood or I want to clean the toilet, but instead open the cupboard and see paint waiting to change something’s colour.

Although I am not diagnosed with some attention deficit disorder that comes with a long abbreviation, I get distracted easily. It’s not that the books I read are boring (I take care not to waste time reading what I really, really dislike), but because the writer triggers my curious bone, which leads me to visit my good know-it-all friend, Google, to make sure that what I read is true or to learn more than the author was willing or allowed to mention. Maybe it’s because I love knowing as much as I can or maybe it is because I question e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g or maybe it’s just because I’m a naturally curious female person. Whatever the reason, my Google friend is always more than willing to help and a visit there is never a short, focussed or a goal driven one. I turn off at every interesting link, follow even the faintest paths from there and end up at a totally different place than I intended to. But that’s a point for another day’s ramblings.


Today I visited Google to read up again on Hemingway’s life. And what a life it was! It was busy, full of intrigue, drama, trauma, tragedy, excitement, love, strife, journeying, disappointments, successes and conflict. Relationships were formed and broken often. Some mended after time – others never.

Ernest not only survived World War II, but also a few other wars as a journalist as well as car crashes, two airplane accidents, and life threatening illnesses. It is so sadly ironic that in spite of cheating all these potential killers, in the end he took his own life.

John Baxter lives and walks where Hemingway and Sylvia Beach of the original Shakespeare and Company bookshops, Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali and Scot and Zelda Fitzgerald lived and ate and created and partied.

When we visited Paris and London and Jerusalem and Amsterdam and walking the streets of Cairo and braving a sand storm at El Alamein in the Egyptian desert, I can’t help to be in awe to think that in a strange way my life somehow ‘connects’ with those people’s lives who lived decades and centuries and millenniums ago. I remembered looking at the Eiffel tower in total amazement knowing that Ernest did too. And so did a lot of other famous and less famous persons from the past and present.

I looked at the centuries old buildings in London and I realised I walk where Shakespeare dreamt up his plays, where Dickens wrote his prose and Churchill maybe had sleepless nights over the nightmare that was the Second World War.


In Anne Frank’s hiding place in Amsterdam, I read a young girl’s letters and I could identify with her passion and her dream to become a writer. Anne’s dreams died young, but her spirit lives on, still touching the hearts of people like me when I walk where she walked and try to imagine what it was really like to live indoors and quiet for months to be safe from people who want to kill you just because of the race you were born into.

In the Valley of the Kings the mummified remains of young king Tut is displayed for whoever is brave enough to take on the desert heat. How is it possible that he and I can be in the same room with thousands of years stretching between our births?

My eyes gazed over the hills surrounding Jerusalem and I know that just over two thousand years ago, Yeshua (Jesus’ name in Hebrew) entered the city triumphantly on a donkey as it had been prophesied hundreds of years before and cried over the sins of His people.

When my brother died too young I felt so many conflicting emotions. The feelings of sadness and heartbreak were normal, but for a while I questioned the reason for his existence. Why was he born if he was going to die ‘before his time?’, I argued with God. But of course it wasn’t true. He lived a full life, even though it was shortened. And through him God created more life. Life that still goes on and will go on. Just two months ago our family welcomed his second granddaughter into this world. Somehow he will remain here with us, because his DNA lives in those who came from him and his memory lives in us who loved him.

The memory of all those who lived before us are still alive. Their deeds and the legacy they left are still with us – good or bad. People today still have scars caused by Hitler, Stalin, Hussein and the likes. But others were healed because of a Mother Theresa and the Florence Nightingale who chose life instead of hate and death. Einstein, Bell, Edison and Pasteur and many more from the past slaved away so that the future would be easier, safer and healthier for us. And we still listen to the genius collections of notes composed by the Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi and Beethoven.

Thanks to the many, many graves at El Alamein and other graveyards all over the world, our world didn’t tumble down because of the doings of power hungry dictators. Their bodies are decomposed under the hard, dry, desert soil or in the unharbouring (yes, I like making up words) waters of the world’s oceans, but their sacrifices and legacies outlived them. Some had famous names like Roosevelt, Montgomery, Smuts and Mountbatten, but some were just simple men – sons, brothers and fathers, like my great uncle, Kosie Coetzer.

People live different lives, but we all leave something behind when we ‘leave’. Big or small. Good or bad. Pure or evil. Our lives are entwined with one another. The past is still with us and will always be. We are the future’s past. I wonder what we will leave behind for those coming after us. What will I leave? I hope it will be something worthwhile.

© 2015 – I, Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock tries hard to be a Proverbs 31-woman – excellentest wife, finest mom, greatest lover and successful ‘wordpreneur’ all at the same time. I share my current living space in Cairo, Egypt with my husband, young-adult son, the building’s ginger cat – and the space in my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters to function as a normal human being.

An Awkward Love Letter

ons hande


My dearest husband,

This might just be the most awkward love letter I have written to you so far. Today is our wedding anniversary and I realised last night that today, I will be married for longer than I have been single. And that we know each other now for a quarter of a century already.

It made me think, because it feels only like a blink-of-an-eye away that I was woken by my sister with breakfast and sparkling wine in bed, excited that day big day had finally arrived! But, thinking about it a little bit more, I realised that quite a lot can happen in a ‘blink of an eye’. I remember (not necessarily in the correct order…)

  • Communism fell and so did the Berlin wall.
  • We watched the war in Iraq on the TV in the evenings after work.
  • You went on a course to Chile for four months and five days and while you were gone, the world seemed to turn asymmetrically around me.
  • Your youngest sister got married while you were away.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • You came back and the balance of my little world was restored.
  • We became engaged without you ever asking me to marry you.
  • We got married. In between these two undertakings, I don’t remember anything else happening.
  • When we got married it was trendy for anti-marriage campaigners to say that “marriage’s purpose had been served”.
  • The ANC had been unbanned and Nelson Mandela was released from prison.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • You travelled abroad for work.
  • Apartheid had fallen and we (South Africa) had our first real democratic elections.
  • Three new babies had been born into the family in the meantime.
  • Racism started to change its face – not just in South Africa, but all over the world.
  • You travelled abroad for work.
  • Political correctness entered our world subtly.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • South Africa had been allowed back into the sports world and the Springboks had won the Rugby World Cup.
  • We had misfortunes at getting pregnant.
  • I had a heart operation…
  • …during which I was pregnant and didn’t know (the hospital made a God-intervened mistake by not testing my urine before the operation)…
  • …and medical experts advised us to have our son aborted…
  • …which we refused…
  • …and he survived and was born healthy…
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • I left my job after ten years.
  • I got another job.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • You travelled abroad for work.
  • Our son grew up to become a lively toddler and the love and centre of our lives.
  • I had another traumatic operation, but by God’s grace we go through that too.
  • My father died.
  • You and I travelled abroad together for the first time. We vowed never to travel without our son again. So far we haven’t.
  • Crime became profitable in SA.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • You went on a year-long course – fortunately close to home.
  • My beloved brother died.
  • India had a huge earthquake.
  • Our son went to school.
  • You travelled abroad for work.
  • One day planes started flying into buildings in the USA. More than 3000 people died.
  • This started new wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We watch it on TV. Again.
  • Al Qaeda became World Enemy no. 1.
  • Crime became worse in SA.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • I quit my job.
  • I had another heart operation.
  • Pluto was downgraded to not being a planet anymore.
  • It became legal to murder your own child when he/she is still a foetus.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • Saddam Hussein vanished.
  • Saddam Hussein was found.
  • Saddam Hussein was executed.
  • The Springboks had won the Rugby World Cup again.
  • We travelled abroad for the first time as a family.
  • We decided that I would become a stay-at-home mom.
  • Iran had a huge earthquake.
  • Our son got it in his head to be home schooled.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • We started home schooling.
  • You travelled abroad for work.
  • We travelled abroad six times more.
  • Turkey had a huge earthquake.
  • The world learned about tsunami’s when more than 230 000 people died in South Asia.
  • During the course of the last seven years four family weddings and three births occurred.
  • You travelled abroad for work.
  • There were divorces and remarriages in our family.
  • Uncles and aunts died. The older generation was leaving this life. A younger generation was getting older.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • Marriages between men and men and women and women became legal. Marriage was suddenly popular again.
  • Your father died.
  • Arafat died.
  • South Africa had hosted the FIFA Soccer World Cup.
  • Crime had become an epidemic in SA.
  • One day a man in Tunisia burnt himself to death and started a revolution in his country and in Libya and in Egypt.
  • Syria became a blood bath.
  • Mubarak resigned, Gaddafi was murdered.
  • Our son turned 16.
  • Governments in North Africa changed.
  • Osama bin Laden, the alleged brain behind  the 9/11 tragedy was killed in his hide-out in Pakistan.
  • Governments in North Africa changed. Again.
  • Our son got his learner’s driver licence.
  • There was conflict in the Middle East.
  • We moved to Egypt.
  • A plane vanished in mid-air, not to be found.
  • A few months later, the same type of plane from the same airline was shot down over Ukraine.
  • Boko Haram in Nigeria kidnapped 200 girls and caused havoc in the country.
  • Ferries sank.
  • Planes crashed.
  • Volcanoes spewed.
  • A Muslim extremist group, who make Al Qaeda almost look polite, arose and wants to take over the world. They kill as far as they go.
  • Our son finished school.
  • Pluto may be promoted to become a planet again.
  • Our son turned 18.
  • (There will probably always be conflict in the Middle East.)

These were only a ‘few’ things that came to mind while I was pondering last night away. Through all these years we celebrated anniversaries and births and birthdays and cried at deaths. We have made the best of friends – which we still have – and we had family joys and tragedies. We laughed and we loved. And now we are 25 years older. In the blink of an eye.

One thing we know, and that is that change is constant and that everything changes. The world changes. People change. Ideas change. Trends change. Laws change. Life changes – in the mere blink of an eye.

Even love changes. My love for you changed. I love you more now than I loved you 25 years ago. Thank you for not asking me to marry you and then did it anyway 23 years ago.

You are the love of my life.

Always yours,



‘VrouQ’ can roughly be translated to the English non-word ‘wifey’ (from ‘wife’)