Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Sunday 5th October

Tomorrow is my birthday!

(Although, the celebrations have begun early!)

There is nothing like an impending operation on your birthday to rally the troops and to give a reason to have flowers delivered and the family gather for dinner two days before the ‘actual day’. 🙂

Last night the whole family (except James, who is writing prelims, poor thing; and Nina, who is in New York) gathered for dinner to celebrate my birthday. I phoned and booked and the booking was in my name. I also made a point of telling the Maitre D’ that it was my birthday (of course). So, we were the last to arrive (fashionably late and all that – by only a few minutes). When we walked in, the Maitre D’ said, “I suppose you are joining Jane’s party.”

It was really cool to answer and say, “I am Jane.”

Never a bad thing to be the reason for everyone to have a celebration.

Whenever we get together like that, there is always a sense of a present absence, because the fact that Mum and Dad aren’t there looms large. This is my first birthday without Mum and I miss her terribly, especially under the circumstances. It’s the 5th one without Dad and I miss him so much too.

I do know, though, that they are with me – with all of us – all the time.

So much has happened in the last year.

This time last year, we were in the throes of beginning the final preparations for my 50th bash. Now look where we are.

And yet, we get through it all.

There are a lot of reasons why this is so, but I think the biggest is summed up in the one word ‘family’. When Mum was in hospital that last week, she told me a number of times how lucky she was: to have such a lovely family; and to have us all so close.

It is quite unusual, I think, to have a family of 19 all so very close – geographically, emotionally and supportively. Except for David, who spends days in Pretoria, and Nina, who is studying in New York now and who lives mostly in Pretoria, we all live, work and study in the same city.

And I am so blessed to have that strong presence around all the time.

Yesterday we went to 55 and Carl told me that I looked terrible. I think I was having a mild anxiety. Deep down inside, I am scared for the op – who wouldn’t be? (Especially me, who is terrified of a needle!) It’s okay, though. I know it has to happen and I know it’ll all be okay.

I am not looking forward to the aftermath.

What this cancer has definitely taught me, though, is that patience is definitely, if not a virtue, at least a necessity.

In some strange ways, it feels as though most of the journey is behind me. The truth is that it has barely begun. I am not alone, though. I have Paul, David, Sarah, Dani and Michael with me every step of the way, as well as Daynia, Noel and Carl and their families.

Who could ask for better travelling companions?


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