{Sponsor:Food & Trees for Africa} Carol Milner's project me story

28 February 2011

The problem with humans is that when we have opportunities we in most instances don?t grab them.? By nature we procrastinate and when it?s too late, we come with the ?if only? syndrome.

So I have been watching and reading my cousin by marriage?s blogs for exactly 416 days (with a little bit of envy).? Honestly, if you ask me, I think to bare your soul to humankind every day of your life is not only cathartic but is also truly remarkable.? So Jodene, thank you for inviting me to blog on your blog.

But life is about lessons and the lessons of life.? My own life is a true Danielle Steele novel.? I have not for more than 10 years found anyone to bare most of my soul too.? Until this week, that is.? And suddenly he has taken my life and turned it upside down and inside out.

I grew up in a very disparate home, spending many years being used as the proverbial football between my now absentee mother and a father whose hang-ups are founded on the tragedy of a concentration camp and his suffering.? Nowhere is there any remedy for these hang-ups.? So he found what he thought was the best way to deal with them.? He now lectures tolerance to students all over Europe.? Except I believe he opens the can of worms every time he gives a lecture.

My father lives in France with his wife of many years, has two daughters who live in Belgium with their partners and three young grandchildren.? It is easier for him to have a normal relationship with his children and grandchildren on his doorstep than with the three of us 12?000 km?s away.

In my heart, I cry for his pain. ?Maybe I shed a tear for our relationship too. ?I suppose as the next generation of a survivor, you relationship is sacrificed on the horrors of Hitler.? I promised myself though that I would not perpetuate the pain through my own children.? Instead I hope I have raised them in our new democracy to embrace life, embrace challenges, embrace diversity, embrace culture and religion and very importantly to never look back over their shoulders.

My mother?s pain was more about being forced to marry my father.? So you can ask yourself when did my relationship with my mother finally implode?? It was after I realised and said it out loud, that every time she looked at me she saw the man she hated so much.? Sad but true.

And so I suppose it was expected that would marry the first man who asked me.? Maybe my fear was that no one would love me for me.? That he happened to be Jewish was a bonus.? We married really young and my oldest was born when I was 25.

But happiness is what you make of it.? Part of being happy is realising that your own life is integrally part of others lives.? When Mervyn became sick he could not understand this.? His anger and bitterness was taken out on those he was supposed to love and the revolution began. ?Napoleon move over.? Through a decade of anger came 17 doctors and a constant reminder to me that I was to blame for his sickness.

As the local government elections dawn, I am finally after 15 years of being a city councillor and working two jobs to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, able to ?feel it?.? It?s an ayobaness I just cannot explain.? Suddenly I can feel an energy and spirit inside that I thought I had lost along the way.? To the people who have taught me? - thank you.? To the people who voted for me along the way ? thank you.? To the people who have been kind and grateful ? thank you.? To those who have stuck knives in me, who have gone out of their way to hurt me ? only you can ask for forgiveness.? Ask and you will receive because you have not understood the secret.

Now I suppose the next logical question would be why I am able to put some of my life on paper.? Four days before Mervyn I was accepted at Wits Plus.? This for me was the most frightening step of the next two years.? I didn?t even get to tell him I had been accepted.

So there I was this crazy chick walking into my first lecture with 120 students and when asked to tell the class, by rotation, how old I was, there was this deafening silence.? But I have truly made awesome friends.? One friend in particular, my dearest Joe, comes from central Africa.? His love for his wife and child and for Africa is so deeply touching that just saying his name brings a lump in my throat.? And all the craziness of studying has given me a new perspective on life, love and relationships.? This week our year end 2010 marks were finally formalised and this old crazy woman had the highest year end mark at 96%.? So the ?young ones? will now have to bow in awe of the old lady.

As the academic year begins again this week, my heart cannot help but murmur its grateful thanks to my most awesome lecturers for their patience (I am really and truly a mad Gemini) and guidance.? For showing me the light and being tough on me because I sure needed it.

And so after 15 months, my wings have spread and I have soared about a childhood of pain and misery and a decade of issues of blame, anger and a whole host of other stuff to finally understanding why G-d put me on this earth.? It is so easy when you are in the thick of things to ask why me.? Why did I have a vindictive stepfather who abused my mother?? Why did my parents spend so much time fighting through lawyers?? Why did G-d let me carry a child to give it back to him?? Why did my late husband become a total stranger?? The why?s now just don?t matter.

Today I am woman.? Today I am a vessel of love and understanding.? I have watched and understood the secret.? I have watched and understood the concept of paying it forward.?? I have this week opened my heart and have suddenly developed terrible side effects that I can laugh at.? Where it will go I don?t know.? I only know that one?s fate lies within one?s own hands.? If life gives you a chance at happiness, only a fool would let it pass by.

Finally to my son Russell, my daughter Brenda and whole host of friends and some family who have shown constant toughness to me as an act of kindness and have bitten their tongues on occasion, thank you for letting me now go.? I love you from the tips of my toes.

Sponsor's Information: Food and Trees for Africa

Read more about the history and overwhelming achievements of Food and Trees for Africa: Our history

To support Food & Trees for Africa:

Nedbank, Morning Glen
Branch number: 159805
Account number: 1598020919

15 comments on “{Sponsor:Food & Trees for Africa} Carol Milner's project me story”

  1. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this very honest story. It might have given me courage to write one myself.

    1. Well you know that I would love for the world to hear your story, Jess! I hope it spurred you one enough 😉

    1. Lets hope each story spurs more and more people on to share that honest story! I would love to share yours 😉

    1. It was such a joy to share this space with you! Thank you for all your support and love that I can feel always!

  2. Thank you for sharing your life and for recognizing the work that we at Food & Trees for Africa do!!!!

    1. It was an honour to feature both the story and Food & Trees for Africa. Your logo will remain on the blog as a permanent sponsor!
      Best of luck for all the incredible work you do!

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