Playing Cards that Life deals you – learning from a young man

Memories of playing card games with our Dad.
As children, our Dad loved playing board games and card games with us. We used to play dominoes, draughts and 11-card many a night.  The 11-card game was a fun game. Usually you are only allowed to place out all your cards in their permutations if you are going to win. My dad built in a concession: we were allowed to put out sets even if we had a “bad hand” and could not play all our cards to win. We were showed that there are possibilities even if success seemed light years away. We loved him for this because as time passed, we mastered the “Adult” version of the game.
Our own set of cards on our life’s journey
Strangely, life is just like that. We are often dealt a set of cards of life experiences on our journey to personal mastery. Often our sets of experiences seem to set us up for failure. One crisis seems to follow another and you seem to find yourself burdened with responsibilities or duties that hold you back, slow you down. Yet these very experiences are the ones that sharpen us tenfold and once we have passed these growing stages, we will soar.  How many times don’t we think we do not have the inner strength and courage to persevere? Yet, no matter how difficult our life experiences as we grow older, we are given the energy, the faith and the inner strength to carry on. I know this is true because I see this in Newton.
Newton – Conductor and orchestra of his own extended family
Newton- my husband’s nephew, a 28 year old husband and father to two young children is a mirror for many of us. Like any head and breadwinner of the family, he has to provide loving care and support for his wife and children. Besides this, Newton also has his once active, independent mother completely dependent on him for basic care and support, just like a helpless babe. His mom- my sister-in-law - is now completely wheelchair-bound as a result of two strokes and chronic arthritis. Yes, his mom is currently a resident at a Senior Citizen’s home, but Newton and his wife, Veronique, fetch her for weekends and have brought her home for the Christmas week. This is a tall order for a young couple given the high care required but they show unselfish love in spite of the sacrifices they have to endure.
Top: Newton has just spent time with his gorgeous wife, Veronique
Bottom: Newton with his son Donelle

Creating synergy
I saw this with my own eyes when Newton brought his mom along to spend the day with us at Berg River. I watched Newton unobtrusively throughout the day. Newton was conductor and orchestra rolled in one. He spent time with all of us. When the glare of the sun caught his wheelchair-bound mom, he gently wheeled her to a shady area. When his son started playing soccer on the lawns, Newton took up his position as goalkeeper and seamlessly tapped the ball to and fro to a happy Donelle. There was enough time to bond with his adorable wife under the palm shrubs and to manually inflate his toddler daughter’s floating ring that she needed for her swim in the pool.
 Newton fitted in time to braai, to chill with his cousins who formed part of the 12-strong visitor group and time to fit in two swimming stints. When he saw his mom sleeping awkwardly in her wheelchair, he gently lifted her out of the wheelchair, placed her on the camping stretcher under the willow tree and covered her lightly with one of the blankets they had brought along. Much later in the afternoon, I saw Newton disappear with his mom behind the privacy of our zipped up tent. Later I see his wife joining him inside the tent as well. After about 20 minutes, the three of them emerged with Geraldine looking fresh, comfortable and happy. He sprayed the tent, spritzed Mom too and wove his fingers through her hair, making sure she looks good.

Geraldine, me and Ma, a  sprightly 86 year old relaxing in the shade
Much later the evening after multiple sets of boisterous games of dominoes, our visitors packed up. Even then Newton was multi-tasking. He had already packed the luggage in the car, strapped in his children and had placed his mom on the front seat, safely harnessed. After doing his final checking, he sprayed the car ever so lightly with a spring flower fragrance – sensitive to the other occupants in the car. After thanking us profusely for a super day, they drove off into the distance.
A few of our nephews and nieces: Shermon, Tristan (Sasha's friend), Chantal, Doolie . Basil and Newton doing their braai   stint while Shermon - just relieved - looks on.
What I take from this modelling experience
I am in awe of this young man who is taking all his responsibilities in his stride and for being able to create balance! On more than one occasion I tell Newton that he will be and is abundantly blessed because of his sacrificial love for his mother.  I remind him that blessings and random acts of kindness come in all forms at any time. I like his direct answer: “Yes, Aunty Sharon, I know… thank you… I do believe that I am blessed.”
Newton is an ideal model to show us how to traverse those difficult journeys as part of our growth. Sometimes we think the cards life deals us, set us up for defeat, hardships and pain. This is when our resolve must be strong. We need to exercise dollops of patience, dig deeply for meaning and motivation. There is purpose in everything we experience no matter how long we remain in the doldrums. We cannot surrender, we should not lose hope.
Thanks, Newton. You have enriched my life with your random acts of kindness…

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