Allow me to interrupt myself today (I will continue sharing our Robertson holiday with you again tomorrow) by telling you all about my grandmother! She was born 90 years ago today, in the small Transvaal town of Bethal and was baptised Engelina Johanna Adriana Basson. We call her Ena. Her dad was Johannes Basson and her mom Helena Adriana (Lenie) de Jongh.

Her dad was a teacher and when Ena was 2 years old the family moved to Riebeeck-Kasteel. He worked as an accountant at Bokomo, but later in life found his true calling as a boarding school house master. Malmesbury had a “rich” school hostel and a “poor” school hostel, splitting the kids from the farm workers from their wealthy employer’s children. My great-grandparents had the ambition that all these kids must be together and with church funds transformed some of the bigger “herehuise” into hostels for the kids. Later a big hostel was built and Johannes and Lenie became the hostel parents until Johannes died.

Ena grew up in Malmesbury and went to school there. In her words she was an average scholar, but to her credit she could play the piano (“was nie te slim nie, was nie te soet nie, maar kon darem klavier speel”). But “playing the piano” does not begin to tell you how great she was. During her final year in Stellenbosch doing a teaching degree, she received full marks for her rendition of Clair de Lune by Debussy!!

After school she became a teacher, and at all the schools she worked, she was given all the musical tasks, especially doing revues with song and dance.

Her cousin Albie Louw use to swim with his friend Hennie Albertyn at the local swimming pool. He told his friend that he wanted to introduce him to Ena and again in her words, “that’s when the trouble started”! They got married, he opened the first ever bioscope in Malmesbury and after some success, opened a furniture store. He was so successful that he opened more of them all around the Boland and retired at the age of 46! The two of them where quite the couple, The Jones’ of their time, dashingly beautiful, outgoing and vivacious. Ena turned out the be the socialite of Malmesbury!! Always with red nails and off the shoulder dresses even before they became fashionable! Even I can remember her weekly appointment at Hester’s Salon – every Friday she had her hair done. My mom recalls/complains about the many hours of sitting through appointments and having her own hair also permed at a ridiculously young age on Ena's instructions.

They had two daughters, Adlene (my mom – also a Helena Adriana) and Rosanne. Oupa Hennie died at a young age and Ena remarried. She met Jacques Malan on an overseas trip and the two of them settled in Umtata, where Oupa Jacques was the registrar of the University of Transkei. When he retired, they moved to Somerset-West. After his death, she stayed on in her house in Somerset-West as long as she could before moving to an old-age home in the Strand.

She is 90 years old today, still drives her own car (!) and has a wonderful, generous heart. And SHE IS STILL SO BEAUTIFUL! I love her.

Last weekend Emma and I jetsetted to the Cape to celebrate her birthday with her. Her two daughters, all her grandchildren (except for my brother living in France) and almost all the great-grandchildren, including little Emma, attended a luncheon at Gabrielskloof in the Overberg. Even Albie, the cousin who introduced her to Hennie, was there! Looking at the assembled crowd I knew what the writer of Proverbs meant when he said a man with many sons is the possessor of great wealth…

Gabrielskloof is a beautiful wine estate just outside Bot Rivier on the Swartrivier Road. Their restaurant is located inside a large barn style building with great seating outside. We had a grand time.


Thanks to Callie and Elanie Fourie who helped me with these photos.

1 comment:

  1. Hennie Albertyn was my cousin - so does that make your aunt! Only met himonce when he visited his in Saldanha while checking on Boland