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  1. Joan Wright
    July 15, 2018 @ 12:14 am

    Dear Gerda,
    How wonderful to see all the photo’s of you and your precious family. I liked all the artwork you sent ,crazy as some of them are,artists are not even keeled. You are so honest about your life and I loved you looking glam with the mayor. Not to mention the Chevy 409, which is so beautifully restored.
    I am doing well two years since I lost precious Derek. I decided to take my whole family to Disneyland Paris for my 70 th birthday. We also celebrated Michelle’s 45 th birthday on the 12 thJune.
    I thought this would be a fun and fantasy place for all of us,and especially for little Michael.
    From Paris I went to Nice with Sybil Bekker. She was also a koshuisbrak. Do you remember her? We had a weeks stay there staying at an Airbnb in the children’s room surrounded by toys. A real comedown after Newport Bay hotel, but we had fun visiting various places and spending a day on the beach in Monaco.
    Sybil now lives in Perth ,Scotland and she was widowed earlier this year. Her husband Jim was 93 and had ,had dementia for many years. She was so kind to me and we had a great time going to St Andrew’s and having fish and chips in Anstruther on the East coast.
    The fourth and final week of my holiday was in Iceland. What a place. Loads of volcanoes,black beaches and white surf and waterfalls abound. I stood with my two feet on where the tectonic plates of North America and Europe meet.
    Reykjavik has a very beautiful church with simple lines and a tall steeple. Also the concert hall is a beautiful glass structure that takes on different colours and shapes,quite phenomenal.

    I stayed with Sam ,an Airbnb guests mother Svana. She spoke little English, but as I cannot
    speak Icelandic at all ,we got on fine. She has stayed in Simon’s Town with me as has Sam.
    My family are all fine. Michelle is thinking of leaving Coca Cola after 20 years. She would like to spend more time with Michael who will be 5 in 31/12/18. Greg is a very good Dad and a very creative person. He is a tad nervous of Michelle leaving Coke! However ,Coke is a very hard core company to work for and Michellie is taking strain.

    Lisa is fine too. She is on holiday in Stockholm and will be teaching two sessions of yoga there. One in Stockholm and another in Upsala. She lives a very simple life and is happy. I helped her with dad’s money to buy a new flat in Sea Point and Michelle bought a huge house. 530 square meters. She hopes to air bnb two rooms in the house as well as let the self contained two bedroomed flatlet.

    I am still in my home in Simon’s Town and looking after the four flats Derek bought. Lisa helps with the two in CT ,and Michelle helps with the two townhouses in Jozi.
    Things are achanging in the country at a pace ,but I am quite content here.
    Renata Van der Walt is thinking of moving to Muizenberg and I am excited about that!

    I hope all your lovely friends are keeping well. Has Kirstin returned form Mexico? Give my love to Shen, tell her I am still wearing the pink Mother’s Day hat.

    Gerda you know that I admire you ,even in this stressful time for you ,I have always loved you and we have been friends since 1962. Fifty six years is a very long time. Know ,that you are never far from my heart.
    Much love and forever friends,


    • Gerda Saunders
      July 15, 2018 @ 8:32 am

      So wonderful to hear from you, Joan, and get a letter full of your news. I am so glad that you are taking the effort everyday to enjoy your family and also go places, and even there connect with people you love and with the wonders of every place. I think of you so often because of your loss of Derek and the amazing example you have given me of mourning him intensely, and celebrating the wonder of a life with him, and going on to live in the moment of each day. I love the way you keep up with longtime friends–you have given your hospitality to so many of us when we visited and stayed in your home, and have gone to trouble to get together on your travels. The time with you and Derek here is very precious in my memory. How lovely that you had your 70th birthday with your family in Paris Disney! Iceland is one of the places to which I have always been attracted since landing there (and only seeing the airport) on my first plane ride and my first trip out of SA, when I was on my way to stay in Iowa with the Hennings when I was 16. You make it alive for me with your lovely description. You write so beautifully, my dearest Friend of 56 (!!) years. About Kirstin, yes, they’ve been back from Mexico for some years now. My goddaughter Wilhelmina graduated from high school and will be going to Yale, but first she is taking a break year to travel and work in Mexico and other Latin American countries with her fluent Spanish and knowledge of the culture. I love you so much, Joan, and wish you ongoing joy in life and the people you love. I am lucky to be in that number…


      • Joan Wright
        July 22, 2018 @ 8:14 pm

        So wonderful to get your reply Gerda ,and to know that despite everything that has happened to you over the last ten years, you continue with your ups and downs. Well done Gerda.
        I know this is not easy for you and I admire you for your strength and bravery.
        All is well with us ,and my girls have been very supportive of me since I no longer have Derek.
        Little Michael will be five at Christmas and is so cute. He is a happy little boy and well behaved.
        Michelle is thinking of leaving Coke to spend more time with him.
        I do not quite know how she will do it ,but I told her I would support her on all levels if this is what she would like.
        Love you lots and lots.
        Joan ❤️


  2. Mary
    July 15, 2018 @ 5:03 pm

    My dearest friend,
    I’m so sorry to hear that your early July ushered in the hideous alien creature who slammed you headfirst into the ground, then continued to stomp and kick you while you were down. It is both heartbreaking and heartwarming to read your account of this horrific attack. Heartbreaking because all of us, who love you so much and hold you dear, would do anything in the world, if we could, to ease your pain and slay the horrendous beast-monster who tortures you. And heartwarming because you did just that, albeit temporarily, all on your own. Your battle is valiant and brave. I am grateful for the glimpse you’ve shared with us today. I love you always.


    • Gerda Saunders
      July 16, 2018 @ 8:01 pm


      No you see what happens when you and David leave town! Thanks so much for your understanding, your cursing of my monstrous alien, your support, always. It means so much to me that I can not only talk “at” you through my blog, but actually with you in writing and in person–your shoulder must be soaked with my tears by now! Just as well shoulder pads went out of fashion many years ago 🙂 Or maybe “feminine protection” would be a good idea for this situation…

      Ive been thinking of you constantly since you left and am so curious to her more about your adventure.


  3. Shen Christenson
    July 25, 2018 @ 3:19 pm

    Thank you my sister-friend. This so strong piece is such a clear gift of feeling through your very bright eyes. Thank you. I love you


  4. Kathy Shand
    July 25, 2018 @ 10:55 pm

    I finally sat down to read your last piece. I still marvel at your wonderful way of helping me to begin to understand and then step back in awe of the difficulties you face, how you face them and what you teach me about facing and handling them. Your strength flows from your writing and continually expands my knowledge not only about dementia but literature. Your July was difficult to say the least but you have showed me how to work through that and your positive voice reaches me. Thank you.


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