This past weekend we went to Sydney. I fell in love. Of course I fell in love with Sydney. Who could not love a city which houses the beautiful Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the ANZAC Bridge?
But that was not my big fall-in-love moment. No, I fell in love with my husband’s 93-year-old uncle. How did he win my heart? Let me tell you.
Everybody greeted each other, the way families do when they haven’t seen each other for a long time. I kept back a bit, since I haven’t met this part of the family yet. But then, a frail, elderly man hugged me and whispered in my ear. He melted my heart. My husband wanted to know what his uncle whispered to me but those naughty, 93-year-old eyes started laughing and he said I could decide later if I wanted to share it with anyone.
So what did he say? He said: “Ek het jou lief, my bokkie.” Yes, here in Australia, so far from my homeland, an elderly Australian gentleman tells me in Afrikaans, my mother tongue, that he loves me. He could have said it a thousand times in any language and it would not have had the effect on me that it did. But because he spoke the language I grew up with, he found himself a permanent spot in my heart.
So how was he able to speak Afrikaans to me? (It was the only sentence he could say, but it was effective enough!) In 1946 a lady from South Africa named Myrtle came to Australia. She met a handsome young man named Gordon and stole his heart. They were married and had two sons. She taught him a few Afrikaans sentences. She passed away from an asthma attack but he still remembers when she used to tell him: “Ek het jou lief, my bokkie.”