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My mother noticed him at once. This gentle blue eyed man that
projected so much character and restraint – he had captured her in some
distant way from the start. It was love at first sight for my dad. He was
captivated by this lovely brown eyed girl. She had a silent sadness in her
eyes and yet a girlish friendliness about her that put him at ease and drew
him to her. Somehow he just knew…..
My father later learnt of the fiancé that never returned to her from the war
which had just ended. KILLED IN ACTION! the newspaper report had read.
She had grieved him deeply and threw herself into her work in the
Waffs.(Work was scarce in those war years and lots of young girls found
their vocation through their sense of duty towards their country, and joined
the Womans Auxillary Force of the South African Defence Force.
As the weeks turned into months and the realisation sank in that her
sweetheart was never to return, my mother felt a strange comfort in the
presence of this serious young man when their work often brought them
together. She gradually found herself looking out for him. However, the
other girls pursued him relentlessly. They called him Baby Blue. They
invited him to parties but did not include her. She took a step back and
decided to simply concentrate on her work.
My father knew though that she was the girl for him and disregarding the
attention he got from all the other girls, he unflinchingly pursued the woman
that God had chosen for him. They were married a year later and moved
into a small boarding house in Arcadia.
The dark clouds of World War II were clearing away but there would be a
war yet to come – the fight for survival! Work was very scarce and money
even more so.
He buried himself in further studies and my mother was right there
supporting him. He had just achieved his B.Sc. degree when the war broke
out. A degree that he had acquired in the desperateness of a farm boy who
had seen his father‟s struggle against the elements, illness and lack. He
had set out to study with the tenacity and determination of a young man
who had made up his mind to change the tide.
Apart from his burning ambition to become a scientist who could make a
difference, he also had a deep knowledge in his heart that he was destined
for more, but he set out to do what he knew best by becoming a scientist
which to him was the only way he knew how to bring change, for the
moment. Also what form of change, he would only begin to realise years
later. Growing up on a farm with his family and seeing the agony of his
father struggling with bad health and the desire to give his family what they
deserved while fighting droughts, hail and pests; something stirred in his
boyish heart. Out there in the loneliness of the night with a moonlit sky, he
stood and gazed at the stars with his father and asked him why the stars
and the planets moved in harmony and order and seemingly obeyed God‟s
laws except for people – why was there so much chaos down here?
Together they would pray and talk about the God of the heavens. He loved
and respected his father very much and also developed a deep love for
God as a result of those conversations. He loved to read His Word. At a
very young age he saw that God had given His people laws to live by and
in doing so, they would prosper. There would be no droughts, pests,
poverty or war if they would only live according to God‟s laws.
With this awareness in his heart, he became a diligent student and was
respected by all who knew him. His sisters loved him and looked up to him.
Being the only son and his father‟s right hand, he carried enormous
responsibility not really fit for his young age, due to my grandfather‟s ill
health. These responsibilities made him a mature and serious young man.
He finished matric and set off for Stellenbosch having borrowed the money
for his first semester from his uncle. Boxed into a tiny and dark little room in
a backyard and no money to waste, he had little else to do but bury himself
in his studies. Life would be hard for him but he quietly accepted it, almost
as if he knew that God had a specific calling for his life.
During the war he became disillusioned by the horrors of it but more so of
the decadence of human nature that he witnessed and it shocked him to
the core. He was stationed in Egypt, Italy and also Kenya. As a young
captain he enjoyed certain privileges and was able to enter the inner
chambers of the elite - retired Generals, Commodores of the British Army
and the British Civil Service. They had been stationed in Kenya for lengths
The things he saw there repulsed him especially with his background on
the farm where all the necessities of life such as food, money and clothing
were scarce. He had lived a life respecting all that; including the people he
loved and that taught him self respect to a very distinguished level.
Although they were poor, they were well brought up.
His war experiences made him feel almost detached from life itself. He
knew that there had to be more to life! There had to be reason, hope,
something! This inner calling in his heart soon made him realise he had to
be different, separate from the rest. He was never one of the boys but
rather the object of their jesting. The faraway look in his eyes told them that
he was not one of them.
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