Mike and Helga – Modern Day Romance…

One of the things that I think is really important to keep your marriage alive and in focus is to reflect upon the heady, pheromone laden days of your early relationship!

This is a story I have told multiple times.  Apart from Mike & I, I have changed the names of the other people involved in this our true story.

How Mike & I met goes back to an unexpected Friday evening in about August of 1983. I was only 18 and I was staying at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital Nurses’ Home.  One evening, I was called to the phone booth to take a call. That was how it was done in those days. No cell phones, no phones in the rooms. Calls came through the tickey box! How James  got my number, I’m not sure, but he did and when I said ‘hello’, he explained who he was. James from church. Immediately, I wondered why he was calling, because, in actual fact, apart from being ‘James from church’, he was ‘James from church who I thought was dating someone else’!  James went on to invite me to go to the Baxter Theatre to see the Pirates of Penzance. Oh my word!! What you have to understand is that when I was 18, I was so insecure; I had such a low self-esteem; I had such a poor self-image. For a guy to phone me up and invite me out…it just never happened. How could I say yes, when James could possibly be seeing someone else? How could I say no, when this may never happen again? Surely, I surmised, there must be a very good reason for him asking me.  I couldn’t resist the offer, so I said yes.

On that Friday evening, James picked me up and off we went. He was tall, dark and very popular. He was English and had come to South Africa to work. He carried himself with an air of confidence and authority. Women found it a very attractive trait and flocked to him in droves! Well, that’s what it seemed through my 18 year old eyes.  He was about 22 or 23! We made small talk on the short drive from one side of Rondebosch to the other – he parked and into the Baxter Theatre we went. The foyer was alive with well-healed Capetonians, looking forward to an evening at the theatre. As we squeezed our way through the milling crowds, James was clearly looking for someone. There was silence between us, so to put an end to that, I chipped in, “Who are you looking for…a tall guy with blonde hair and a moustache?”  James looked down at me curiously. “Yes,” he replied. “How did you know?” “Oh, just guessing, ” I said. On not finding his friend, we moved into the theatre and found our seats.  A couple of people were seated next to us –James’s friends.  James greeted them and then said these memorable words, “Mike, this is Helga. Helga, this is Mike.” Little did I know that the tall guy with blond (ish) hair and moustache, who was sitting with another girl in the Baxter Theatre that night, would end up being the man of my dreams! It was not going to happen overnight though. But that was how it began. Mike ran the YMCA on Queen Victoria Street in Cape Town City Centre. It occupied the now vacant land next to the current Centre for the Book. James was staying at the “Y” and that was how he and Mike knew each other. That night, I hardly cast a second glance at Mike. My focus was on James, wondering why he had invited me and what his intentions were! After a wonderful production of Pirates of Penzance, we went out for coffee and he told me that he & Jane had broken up. He needed a date and I was it. I wasn’t sure if he would invite me out again. I can’t remember being very interested in him, but I was flattered that he asked me on the date and not someone else.  That wasn’t going to be the last time I saw James.  It wasn’t  immediately, but after a few months of friendship, we were ‘going out.’ Had Facebook been around at that time, I would have changed my FB status. In fact, I thought I was in love with him!

From time to time, I would go to the ‘Y’ with James and Mike would be there. James would stop and chat. I remember standing behind James while he spoke to Mike. I was able to observe the two of them. I was by then 19 and I looked at Mike and thought, ‘here is a very important person!’ Far more important than I realised!

James and I were going to the same church. Mike was attending another. One weekend James went off hiking for a few days. By Sunday evening, he wasn’t yet back, so I went to church alone. Lo, who should visit my church that evening? Yes! Mike! After the service, we went to the kitchen for tea. I stood in the kitchen and made the tea. Mike stood in the church hall with the hatch between us. We chatted a bit, about what, I have no idea, but one thing I do know: the chemistry between us could have lit up a Christmas tree! If there was an ‘unseen crowd of witnesses’ surrounding us, they would have been nudging each other! I thought to myself, ‘it’s almost a pity James is on the scene. If he wasn’t, this would be a very nice guy to get to know!’ Horror! I  was struck with guilt as my loyalty lay with James!

Time passed and my life rotated around nursing and my increasing attachment to James.

However, a storm was brewing. When James had left the UK to come to South Africa, he had broken off a relationship he had with a girl I will call Sally. Once we became more than just friends, he wrote to Sally (snail mail) and told her about me.  Some weeks later, Sally’s reply arrived. It contained news that made me realise that Sally was a force to be reckoned with. She wrote to say she was coming to South Africa on a 3 month working holiday. Knowing no one else in the country, naturally, it would fall to James to find her accommodation, show her round, introduce her to all his friends and entertain her… just what she wanted and absolutely NOT what I wanted. I remember it being an unsettled, confusing time. James and I continued as we were until it was almost time for Sally to arrive. Then we had a bit of a discussion. James felt it wouldn’t be fair for the two of us to be in a relationship while he was having to spend most of his time with Sally. We decided to step back & have a break from each other until Sally left. I actually was quite happy with this, as I had three intense months of college ahead of me, complete with massive exams at the end.  So the plan was  for July, August and September of 1984 would be dedicated to study and James and I had an amicable parting. In theory it sounded fine, but you can never predict matters of the heart!

Sally arrived in Cape Town and initially stayed at a Christian hostel in Muizenberg.  It was  inevitable that our paths would cross. After all, James and I were both going to the same church and she would be there too. James was working in Cape Town. I was at College in Observatory and had most afternoons off. James and I arranged for me to catch a train to Muizenberg, meet Sally and then join up with him later at his flat in Kenilworth for dinner.

Meeting Sally for the first time was a curious event. I was now 19 and Sally was closer to James in age, maybe 22. I didn’t know much about her, but James had told me she could sing and she was highly intelligent, two facts I would soon experience first hand.

I caught the train as planned, got off at Muizenberg and walked a short distance to a Christian hostel on Atlantic Rd (Alive Cafe is now in that building). I was nervous, not sure what to expect or how I would be received.  I entered the building and spoke to the receptionist, telling her I was there for Sally. She sent a message up to her room.  I  heard  Sally before I saw her. She came downstairs singing at the top of her voice. I felt like running away! I was already intimidated by her and now I knew for sure, I just could not compete. She had a massive singing voice. I am entirely un-musical. I cannot hold a tune, let alone sing a decent note. Sally’s voice boomed through the building, confidently and perfectly. I cringed.  Everyone knew her – they smiled and joked and I felt very, very small and unnoticed. Sally and I greeted each other and then went for a walk. I cannot remember what we spoke about but I do remember her being very cheerful.  We ended up walking back to the Muizenberg Pavilion and she brightly announced, ‘let’s call James.’ Without hesitation, she went to the call box and started phoning James. He was at work and took the call. They chatted about the evening plans. She told him where we were and said, “Come and pick us up.” He was sitting in his office in Cape Town. He caught the train to the office every day, so picking us up entailed catching the train back to Kenilworth, walking to his flat, picking up his car and driving down to Muizenberg, only to turn around and take us back to his place again. It was completely impractical, so I said to Sally, ‘let me speak to him.’  I took the phone and said, ‘Don’t worry James, you don’t need to pick us up. We’ll catch a train back to Kenilworth and meet you at your flat.” He was so appreciative.  Sally was furious! She said something about us being worth the inconvenience. I replied that it was so much simpler just catching the train. Off we went to the station. Sally sullenly took her seat opposite me. She became very quiet. Her body language spoke volumes. In a new country, with everything different, one would have expected her to at least look out the window, but she sat leaning slightly forward, staring almost at the floor. I asked her if she was okay. “I just get very quiet when I’m angry,” she said. “Ohhh, ” I thought, deciding it was best to keep quiet. But I have to admit, I felt a little smug! The rest of the journey was spent in silence.

We arrived at Kenilworth and got off the train. I led the way to James’s flat. Once there, her quietness was over and she was all happy and ready to socialise.  We sat in the kitchen while James made dinner. I remember him saying something like, “I can’t believe I’m sitting down and having dinner with both of you together.” I couldn’t either!  It was the only time we did that. I never saw Sally alone again.

I felt I was no match for her. She was beautiful, talented & intelligent. Even though my head was saying breaking up with James was a good idea, my heart was in pieces. I threw myself back into college work. I generally saw James and Sally on Friday evenings when they helped at the youth meeting and on Sundays. I didn’t know if or when they would be there. I went into auto mode, just going to church and going home.  Sometimes I would see them at Gardens Centre, holding hands and chatting. I found it physically painful to watch them.

People in the church weren’t so sure about what was going on. They knew James and I had been in a relationship and now here was Sally. I threw myself into my studies. Weeks passed and then one night I was called to a phone – it was James. I was thrilled to hear from him and I recall wanting to stay on the phone for as long as possible. I didn’t want to hear about Sally. He asked me how I was and I told him I was ‘okay.’ I was way too proud to come to close to admitting that I was hurting and struggling. He suddenly became very emotional – I could hear he was upset. He apologised if he had hurt me at all and said he was so sorry and he hadn’t wanted things to turn out like this. I was confused. I didn’t know what he was talking about. It worried me. I felt he was sending me a message to say that our relationship was more over than I thought it was. I thought it was ‘on hold’ but this conversation made me think that maybe Sally had been successful in her quest to get James back.

I became more desperate and when James phoned me quite late one night a couple of weeks later and asked me if he could take me out for coffee there and then, I didn’t even hesitate. I went from depression to elation in 30 seconds.  He picked me up at about 10pm and we went … I can’t even remember where. We did a great deal of talking, trying to find our way back to the fun conversations we used to have. Something had changed. Everything was emotional. This wasn’t the James I had known. I clung to him, not wanting the night to end. I didn’t want him to go back to Sally. I was desperate to know that he still liked me and that maybe we  had a future together. I tried pushing him into a commitment of some sort. He wasn’t giving me the right answers! Eventually, he dropped me back at the college at about  3am. I knew I would be in trouble the next day… and I was. I was called to the Supervisor of the Nursing Students, who also happened to be the head of the Christian Union which I attended. I was embarrassed and said it wouldn’t happen again. It didn’t.

Where was God in all of this? I was clinging to the knowledge that God is sovereign and that He knew exactly what was going on. But the internal upheaval was overwhelming. I was a fragile creature, crying out for affirmation, and I was losing the one person on earth who I thought would ever love me.

The days ticked by. I counted them. Eventually, Sally’s visit was half complete. We were on the back nine now and I was sure that James would come back to me before her plane was fully airborne. I was feeling more confident as time went by. My exams were finished – I passed well. I moved back to Somerset Hospital Nurses’ Home.

Soon, the final week of Sally’s visit arrived. She was leaving the next Sunday. I was counting the hours. I went to bed on the Wednesday evening of that week.

It was 1am on the Thursday before Sally was due to leave. I was abruptly woken by a knock at the door of my room. On opening it, the night matron stood there – wearily, as if she too had been disturbed, she announced there was someone to see me. I asked, “Is it James?” “Yes,” she replied. I couldn’t believe it!  Wow, I thought, maybe he cannot wait for Sunday!  Hurriedly I dressed, combed my hair, brushed my teeth and went downstairs. There stood James. I will never forget his countenance. His head slightly bowed, as if deep in thought. He raised his eyes and quietly greeted me. “We need to talk,” he said. I got a knot in my stomach. My pulse quickened. He looked serious. I felt a little unwell. Silently we left the building and got into his car. He drove the short distance to Green Point Beach car park. I said nothing. He parked and turned off the engine. In the darkness, I heard him sigh. Then he turned to me and said,

“I’ve asked Sally to marry me and she’s said ‘yes,’ so we’re getting married on Saturday and I’d like you to be there.”

I couldn’t believe what he was saying. Before I could respond, he burst into tears. Sobbing, his head hung over the steering wheel. I moved closer to him and patted his back. “It’s okay,” I found myself saying.  He composed himself and said he was sorry. My mind was reeling. I think he went onto say he had just come from the church’s minister and he had said James must come and tell me. Job done, he started the car, drove back to Somerset Hospital, watched me walk inside and without another word, left.

I went back to my room, dumbfounded, speechless, gutted. I threw myself on my bed and in the darkness of the early hours of the morning I tried to make sense of what I had just heard. I tossed and turned for the rest of the night. In the morning, I barged into my friend’s room and sarcastically barked, ‘do you want to go to a wedding on Saturday?’ Sleepily, she replied, “Whose?” “James” I spat. “He’s marrying Sally!” She was shocked. I couldn’t contain myself. I had no family in Cape Town.  I went the phone booth and phoned my Dad in Harare, Zimbabwe. Through burning tears I spilled out the story. I heard his distress on my behalf. What could he do? What could he say? Here I was thousands of kilometres away, heartbroken – he could only sympathise. In the preceding months, he had told me to be very careful of James. My Dad’s words rang in my ears, ‘Any man who plays two girls at one time cannot be trusted.’  At the time when I had told James that, he was mortified and wanted to prove my Dad wrong.  My Dad was generous in his comfort, but the words fell on an empty heart. In sadness, I hung up and had to face the hours ahead, desperately hoping that the wedding thrown together in 48 hours would fall through. By the end of Thursday, I knew one thing for sure: I wasn’t going to watch James marry Sarah. In the evening, I plucked up the courage and called his flat. Praying Sally wouldn’t answer, I held my breath as the phone rang. After a few rings, James picked up. I didn’t engage him. I had the sentence planned and memorised. “I’m just phoning to say, I won’t be there on Saturday.”

People rallied round James and Sally to pull off a wedding celebration. I heard of the dress being hired and people being invited. A lot of the folk from my church were going. Close friends all pitched up on Saturday. For me, the day was like that of a funeral…I just wished it would end. My heart was shattered. I hoped against all hope that something would prevent the wedding from going ahead, but nothing did. James and Sally got married on that Saturday and the next day, the long awaited Sunday, Sally boarded her planned flight and flew back to England. James stayed behind to work his resignation time and wrap up his Cape Town affairs.

God hadn’t just closed the door to my relationship with James – He had slammed it shut, bolted it, locked it and thrown away the key.

I was not yet 20. If someone had said to me at that time, ‘Helga, one day you will be grateful for that closed door’, I would never have believed them!  As far as I was concerned, I had just lost the only guy who ever showed an interest in marrying me! I doubted there would be anyone else!

After Sally left to return to England, there was still about 6 weeks before James would leave as well. I continued seeing him at church and on one occasion we went to the beach together. But of course, everything had changed.  I had to come to terms with the idea that we would never be. He was married. He was out of bounds. The minister of my church  was very kind to me. When he was preaching at another church, he invited me along,  just so I wouldn’t have to see James. He became like a father figure.

Before leaving Cape Town, James sold his car to me. At the end of November 1984, I caught a train, for the last time, to Kenilworth, and walked to his flat to take ownership of the car. This was it. This was going to be the end. I was a bit of an emotional wreck that day. We had a brief, subdued conversation. We went downstairs to the the car park. He put his arms around me and for what seemed like several minutes we embraced. Then I took the keys and without looking back, I climbed in the car and with tears streaming down my face, I drove away! That was the last time I saw James.

The next day, I left for a holiday to Zimbabwe. I had seen parts of Zimbabwe while living there, but there were some top tourist spots I still wanted to visit.  Much earlier on in the year,  on the spur of the moment, I had walked into the offices of the Blue Train to find out how much it cost. I discovered that the price was going up on 1st December 1984 and if I booked to travel any day before, it would be R90 less. I booked for 30th November. God knew I would need that holiday and He planted the seed and provided the means for me to book about 8 months before.

On 30th November, I climbed aboard the Blue Train and enjoyed the most amazing trip to Johannesburg. Then I flew to Harare and around Zimbabwe, stopping in Kariba, Hwangwe, Vic Falls and Bulawayo. I spent some time in Harare & then flew back to Cape Town. I arrived refreshed and ready to put the past behind me and move forward. I didn’t hold any animosity towards either James or Sally. I didn’t resent them or harbour any bitterness. They were just like me…trying to find their place in the world.  Deep down, I knew God had not abandoned me. He had a marvellous plan for my life and it would be revealed in time.  Although I knew this to be the truth, it wasn’t easy.  I remember spending hours in a Sea Point cafe with a friend who was also looking for his life partner. We would sit drinking coffee & moping about how dismal our lives were! But slowly as the months passed, healing came.

One day in early winter of 1985, I was walking through the Gardens Centre when I bumped into the catering manageress of the ‘Y’. June brightly said, “we’re having a sing-a-long at the ‘Y’ tonight, why don’t you come along?” I said, “Is Mike van still there?”  She said “Yes!” I said “Does he have a girlfriend.” She said “No!” I said, “I think I might just!”

And so I did! I went along that night and Mike was there. With happy reflections of massive chemistry between us, I sat down next to him and asked him how he was. He was subdued and not very happy. With a bit of a frosty response, my expectations plunged. “Oh well,” I thought, “I enjoyed myself and just because he’s not interested in me isn’t going to stop me from coming again.” So the next week I went and the next. That evening,  again I approached him and asked how he was. “I’m looking for a partner,” he replied. “HUH?” I thought to myself. “What was that all about?!” I stayed right to the end and helped Mike clean up the place after everyone had left. Then I said goodbye and went home.  The next Saturday I did the same thing. Hung around, helped clear the cups and saucers, put the chairs straight and made small talk. It worked! He invited me out for coffee afterwards! BINGO! And over coffee that evening at the Spur on Strand Street, once more the chemistry began to sizzle.

From then on, every Saturday evening after ‘Fireside Fellowship’, we went out for coffee. No contact in between – just Saturday to Saturday. As I got to know Mike better, one thing became clear, he ticked all my boxes! When I was about 16, I had made a list of the kind of guy I wanted to marry. Mike was perfect! The only thing that I hadn’t factored in was his age. 13 years and 8 months older than me, made him already 33 while I was just 20.

One Saturday evening  I told him I wasn’t able to be there the following week because I was going onto night duty at Red Cross Children’s Hospital.  When he heard that, he said these memorable words, “I’ll call you during the week!”  Oh! Oh! Slow down my beating heart!

I went off to night duty with a spring in my step and great anticipation in my heart. I would wait until midnight and then if he hadn’t called, I would relax. On Wednesday night, midnight passed. At 1am, I answered the phone in the sister’s office, and there he was. “Hello,” he said. I almost fainted. He had such a nice voice! He asked me out on an official date on Friday evening. Immediately I accepted, but in doing so my first responsibility fell to the wayside. I was helping run the youth group at my church and could hardly not pitch up because I was going out with Mike! But I couldn’t resist. By Thursday, though, I knew I was going to have to tell him I couldn’t actually go out with him on Friday because I had youth group. I plucked up the courage, called the ‘Y’ and asked for him.  I explained I had to go to the youth meeting to help. He said, “No problem, I’ll come too!”  I was horrified…. I knew all the young people would have a fine time ‘oohing and aahing’ and giggling over me and my date. But I couldn’t say no, could I? So Mike came with me that night and there was indeed some sniggering and cajoling, but I laughed it off and we left a little early and went to the Gardens Centre for coffee.

I guess it was a bit of an ‘iffy’ date – ‘iffy’ because it began at the youth meeting I was helping at,  and ended sitting talking in the darkness of the carpark at Gardens Centre. In those days, it wasn’t under cover and we sat looking out over Mill Street.  Amid the conversation, Mike asked a loaded question, “How do you think you would fit into a YMCA situation?” Mike was the resident manager at the ‘Y’ and it was a big commitment. Clearly, if he was going to get married, he would need someone who would ‘fit in.’ Ha! I saw immediately what he was getting at and responded, “I’m sure I will fit in just fine!”  There is another thing about this ‘date’. It absolutely did not end in us formally being ‘in a relationship’.  It was a landmark for me because of the importance of the question Mike asked. But we were still not ‘exclusive’. I just got to know Mike a bit better. In fact, I was at that moment probably more attached to him than he was to me.

Unbeknownst to me, Mike had a couple of other ‘issues’ he was dealing with.  Her name was Carol! She didn’t live in Cape Town, but was coming  to visit him. Mike had not told me about her. She was very keen on him.  As far as I knew, Mike lived at the ‘Y’ and I had been told by others that there was no one in his life. A little while after our date, two nursing friends and I were going to Betty’s Bay for the weekend.  I asked them if I should ask Mike to join us ‘for security.’ They said that would be fine. I plucked up the courage to phone him one evening quite close to the weekend, apologised for the late notice and went ahead and asked him to come with us. I really thought he would jump at the opportunity. To my surprise, he declined! He did say he really wished he could, but he had something else on and he wouldn’t be able to make it.  I was curious as anything about what he had on, but didn’t ask and left it at that.

We went away for the weekend to Betty’s Bay as planned. We had a lot of fun and I had the opportunity to take some long walks alone. It was on the Betty’s Bay beach that I specifically had a meaningful time of prayer for ‘my future husband, whoever he was, wherever he was.’ I didn’t know it would be Mike. I didn’t know who it would be. I prayed fervently for him, that the Lord would take care of him and keep him for me. Little did I know that that very same weekend, Mike was seeing Carol and at the end of it, he would know for sure, that she was not the girl for him.  A few days later, I visited one of my nursing friends who was sick in hospital. She attended Mike’s church, and knowing I knew him, she told me she had seen him on Sunday. “Oh,” I said, ‘how was he?” “He was quite subdued,” she replied, “he told me he had just broken up with is girlfriend!”  “WHAT?!!” I was shocked! “He doesn’t have a girlfriend!” I exclaimed. “Well that’s what he told me, ” my friend announced.  Talk about intrigue! Wow. This was bad. This was good. Bad that I didn’t know about the girlfriend. Good that he had broken up with her. Poor Carol!  It gave me lots to think about. I wondered what would happen next! And there I had been, on the beach praying for my future husband. Little did I know that God was orchestrating things at that very moment!

After I found out about Carol, I just wanted to speak to Mike and find out what was going on, but there wasn’t really much opportunity. I was working. He was working. The Saturday night meetings were over, but one thing was in the pipeline and that was A WEDDING! A dear nursing friend of mine was getting married and I had been invited. It was to be held in Durbanville and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to ask Mike if he wanted to come with me. So, plucking up the courage again, I phoned him and asked him if he was available.

Phoning Mike  to ask him to come to a wedding with me, took quite a lot of courage. When I asked him to go to Betty’s Bay, he had said ‘no.’ I didn’t know why at the time, so phoning him for the wedding invite was nerve-wracking. If he said ‘no’ I would know for sure, he actually wasn’t interested in me.  I phoned him and asked him, my heart pounding in my chest. He said, ‘YES!’  As I thought back to that date, I knew our relationship was not quite off the ground because I DROVE! It wouldn’t be long before the role of driver would change. The wedding was great. After the service there were a couple of hours before the reception, so we went to a restaurant and had a cup of coffee. I remember feeling so happy that I had a date and that I wasn’t at this wedding alone. Funnily enough, a year or two back, the couple who got married that day told me they had seen us on their wedding video. I would love to see that one day!

Mike & I got to know each other a bit better at the wedding. In fact, he may even have driven me home. My car was the one I had bought from James. The only thing was that I hadn’t yet paid for it. It was a very loose arrangement with James when I bought it. He knew how hurt I was and I guess he didn’t feel he could lay down the law on a payment plan. We had settled on an amount and he generously said, ‘pay me when you can.’  Since returning from my Zimbabwe trip, I had started saving. I was 20 and was putting money away each month towards paying off the car. He had said, when I had the whole amount to let him know and we would organise how to get it to him.  Several months of saving had accrued and I was nearing my 21st birthday. Before remeeting Mike, I began to think it would be nice to celebrate my 21st with family. I had no family in Cape Town. I wouldn’t have too much of a 21st if I stayed in the city, so I began to concoct a plan. Maybe I could take some of the car savings and fly to Zimbabwe for my 21st. I wrote to James, asking him if he would mind. It would delay the payment, but I promised him, the car would be paid for. I didn’t hear back from James for a long time. By the time his letter finally came, Mike and I had been to the wedding and things were heading in the direction of a relationship. So much so that after the wedding, he phoned me and asked me if I would like to go to a church social with him. I said yes. When he came to pick me up, I had just received James’s reply. It was heavy on my mind. James had said that if I went to Zimbabwe for my 21st, he knew I would never pay for the car. He said my first priority should be to pay him back. I was quite shocked. You can imagine the first thought that went through my mind was ‘after all he did to me!’  On the way to the church dinner, I told Mike about the letter and asked him his opinion. To my utter chagrin, Mike agreed with James!  He too said the most important thing was to pay off the car.  I really respected Mike for that. Here was a man who was willing to stand up for what was right and he wasn’t saying something just to please me. For that reason, I scrapped the Zimbabwe plan and whatever happened I would celebrate my 21st birthday in Cape Town.

I was still staying at Somerset Hospital Nurses Home and Mike and I were seeing more and more of each other. When I arrived home, my friend and neighbour Amy would say, ‘has he kissed you yet?’ The answer inevitably was ‘no.’  She asked me this question so many time, always quite amazed that we hadn’t kissed! Finally, in September of 1985, our friendship blossomed into courtship. I wrote Amy a note saying,

Helga  climbed up the door and opened the stairs. She said her  pyjamas and put on her prayers. She turned off the bed and crawled into the light. and all because Mike kissed her goodnight.

Our relationship was on!

On 5th November I celebrated my 21st at a dinner and dance at Suikerbossie Restaurant with Mike and 2 other friends. In December,  I went to East London to meet Mike’s parents. They liked me. Their son was 34 and not yet married. If they considered me too young, they said nothing. They were delighted that he had at last found someone. Who found who is what counts here. Mike told me he started praying for a wife when he was 13. I think the Lord heard that prayer and said, “Hmm, he’s special…let’s see what’s in production…He spotted me and said, ‘she’s the one! I’ll grow her for him!'” 8 months later I was born & the growing began. I think Mike would have liked to have not waited quite so long, but the wait was worth it.

We had loads of friends rally round and help us plan the wedding, just 11 months after we started dating.

A rainy Saturday 9th August 1986, we got married and lived happily ever after.

Psalm 127:1

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.


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