Dear Friends & Family
As I’m writing this, it is the evening of Easter Sunday. The children are in bed but not yet asleep. Outside, the cold autumn rains announce the new season, an overnight shift from summer.
It’s been more than 15 months since my last mass email, so you can’t accuse me of spamming… As you read on, you will see why I’ve been so quiet. Someone once told me that life is like a roll of toilet paper: the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes. By that reckoning, I must be nearing some sort of end. Our Christmas stockings are still hanging on the wall, suspended in the tension between the ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas Yet To Come. I think I will just leave them hanging there.
2011 was mostly a year of struggle and many sad good-byes. Most of the struggle involved a sluggish economy that kept my business within a feather’s throw of insolvency month after month. One plan after another failed and it was all I could do to keep on going on. At least, things are a bit bettter in 2012.
Don’t get me wrong, I love working for myself (I think I have a great boss!) and I love doing what I’m doing (basically anything that helps set people free from the tyranny of medication). However, it’s hard to earn sustainable income with such a model and it is hard to persevere when all around shake their heads behind your back with that knowing “Don Quixote” look. Yes, mostly I’ve been tilting at mind-pills, such a big idol of our age. The belief that sanity (and happiness) can be found in a pill must surely be one of the most absurd religions mankind has invented.
Not that I am without pills myself, nor that herbal remedies are somehow ‘holier than thou’ simply because they are natural. There is a place for crutches in the healing process, but their comes a point when crutches no longer serve and may even delay healing. The wisdom to know when that point is reached is often sadly lacking among my colleagues, whether orthodox or heterodox therapists.
Enough philosophy. For me, 2011 was dominated by the unexpected stroke of my dear uncle Udo, my mother’s youngest brother. He was looked after in a frail care centre in George, which allowed our children to get to know him better. Sunday lunches with Udo became a new family tradition, hauling the long-suffering Udo and his wheelchair with us to all sorts of destinations. Eventually, his health collapsed and he died peacefully on 5 September. A great loss to us who knew him.
During this time, Ami’s beloved Ah Ma (grandmother) also suffered a stroke and died. Ami had to fly back to the East at short notice. Fortunately, she could be of help to her Ah Ma during her last days and could bid her farewell.
June 15 saw the joyful birth of my first niece, baby Lily. A miracle child given to my sister Muchi, she has become a firm family favourite.
In late September, Ami undertook a long-since planned trip back to Taiwan with her mother and sister. It was the first time in 8 years that she returned to the land of her student years. Her erstwhile classmates are now all specialists, while Ami is still not quite registered as a ‘full’ doctor in South Africa. But none of them have three children, either… Or such a good-looking husband.
Speaking of children, Ludwig is now in Grade 1 at Holy Cross, a hybrid between a Catholic school and a public school. Mercifully, they seem to have united the best of both worlds. Ludwig loves nothing more than drawing and is a good artist (my definition of a good artist is anyone who can draw better than I can). Last year, one of his pieces got an A+ at a regional competition, with encouraging feedback from the judges. He told Little Otto, “When I’m big, I will have my own art shop and you and Kara can work for me.” He often writes and illustrates his own story books, mostly completing an entire book in less than an hour from conception to completion.
Little Otto (as distinct from his grandfather, Big Otto) is still the same solid ball of exuberant joy. I don’t recall ever seeing him walk. Rather, like some sort of oversized bumble bee, he runs from one fascination to the next, finding joy, surprise and mirth in anything that crosses his path. Two years Ludwig’s junior, he is now in one of those pre-grade 1 thingies at Holy Cross and loving it.
Where Ludwig finds joy in two dimensional creativity, Little Otto finds it in three dimensions (read: Lego). Thanks to full programmes, they can only play Lego on weekends. Otto starts counting sleepies as soon as the box is packed away on Sunday night and has been known to wake me at 3 am on a Saturday morning, wanting to know if he can start playing Lego yet. He is also exceptional at drawing, but his love lies in building complex structures.
At age three, Kara is now alone at home in the mornings, with Elma our beloved nanny. Loving the kitchen, she has started her own little business called “Kara’s Kitchen”. Friday afternoons after I finish work, she and I walk from door to door in our neighbourhood, selling her wares (biscuits, jam tarts, pesto and more). She is doing so well that I took a bridging loan from her the other night (since repaid!). She loves being the centre of attention after being in the shadow of the boisterous boys for so long.
We have continued hosting Bianca from time to time, though with Ami working most weekends, it hasn’t been possible as often as we would like.
Our biggest news for 2012 is that Ami is expecting our next child / children in October. As in the past, we won’t be discovering the gender before birth, but we’ll find out if there’s more than one before then. So far, the pregnancy has gone very well and Ami is bearing up under the stress of working long hours in the Emergency Centre (sometimes seeing more than 70 patients herself overnight).
Right now, however Ami is back in Malaysia, where her father suddenly became severely ill a few days ago. He is currently in ICU and struggling with multi organ failure.
By now, you probably understand why the Christmas socks are still hanging on the wall and why I haven’t sent any decent personal email to anyone for months and months. There is much more to tell, but I’m afraid my toilet roll is nearing its end..
Frank & the Muller tribe