A ‘second mother’ to the needy

At the memorial service for Liz Mills on Women’s Day at Christ Church, Constantia, I thought how apt were Shakespeare’s words in Mark Antony’s defence of Julius Caesar… “that the good (of men) is oft interred in their bones”.

“In the church packed with her large family of children and grandchildren – 35 altogether – plus their partners and relatives bringing the numbers to about 50, I wondered how many of those present realised what this exceptionally beautiful and multi-talented person did to help women suffering from post-natal depression (PND) at a time when there was little understanding for this condition.​“

Perhaps this empathy stemmed from moments in her own life as the mother figure of 10 children— four from her first marriage, four stepchildren from her very happy marriage to Derrick Mills and their two children.

Hilary Rosenthal, in her tribute to her sister-in-law and close friend, told how about 20 years ago Liz had the vision to start an NGO dedicated to the needs of women experiencing PND. This led to the establishment of the Post-Natal Depression Support Association, (PNDSA) which provided information as well as individual counselling and was broadened to include ante-natal depression.

“Liz brought to this organisation her unique energy, empathy and creativity… greatly encouraged and supported by Derrick.
She worked together with the assistance of a dedicated group, including women who had suffered from PND and knowledgeable professionals. Funds were raised and, in due course, there was a grant from the Lotto.

“From small beginnings, PNDSA grew and helped hundreds of women across the country during which Liz became virtually a second mother to those she helped through difficult times.”

A mark of her strength of character was that her fear of public speaking did not stop her from delivering lectures at international conferences.

Another feather in her cap was to organise in Cape Town the first PND conference. Its success led to similar supportive initiatives being launched which reached thousands in all communities.

A heroic pioneer

I would have had more enjoyment out of Cape Town Opera’s opening night of Wagner’s Der Fliegende Hollander had I better understood director Matthew Wild’s reason for presenting his haunted Dutchman as a look-alike Jan van Riebeeck. In fact it was a good idea.

Early accounts of the mythical sea captain doomed to sail the seas eternally put the location 
of his sinking as the Cape of 
Good Hope, making it the only opera in the Western world to have its origin in the Mother 

Moreover the legend originated in the 17th century. This coincides neatly with the arrival in the Cape on April 6 1652 of “Oom Jan” and his three ships to colonise the Cape for the Dutch East India Company (or VOC.) Back in the days when we had a public holiday every April to celebrate his arrival, we regarded him as a hero, but now we better understand the disastrous effect on the indigenous people of that colonisation.

In his programme note, Wild explains that he has presented the Hollander as the “imagined unquiet spirit of the VOC commander who earned the greatest fame/notoriety in our country – once hailed as a heroic pioneer, now increasingly reviled – who is unable to find rest, redemption or homeland in either the 
country of his birth, or that which he colonised.”

Dodging queues

Since my last column I have been in hospital for a short stay. A very short stay indeed. I went to the Melomed Private Hospital, opposite the Tokai Pick n Pay Centre, for my annual cholesterol blood test.

It was my GP who suggested I visit these Pathe Care PathCare rooms instead of those at Constantiaberg. “You won’t have to wait,” she said. Nor did I. Had I not stopped for a quick bite in the coffee shop afterwards, I would have been in and out within the free parking time limit.

Like many motorists and shoppers, I had watched the hospital building grow month by month till it opened late last year. So I jumped at the chance to have a valid reason to step inside the hospital for something as simple as an injection. I found plenty of parking at the back of the building, the interior of the hospital cosily warm on a rainy day and the coffee piping hot and good.

You can’t judge a hospital’s nursing and care from such superficial assessments, but it is worth dodging the queues at Constantiaberg’s Pathe CarePathCare before too many other people get wise about the convenience of Melomed at their doorstep.

Simplifying beauty

After reading the Bulletin’s article about Kirstenhof residents being upset that a City contractor has sprayed their verges with herbicide, I am a bit shy about raising the state of the middelmannetjies in Tokai Road.

Once they were the pride of Tokai with mass plantings of shimmering Bokbaai vygies or other brightly coloured low-growing flowers. Understandably, with an ever-growing area to look after, the City gardeners have had to go for simplicity and ease of maintenance when beautifying our roads. They now make use of aloes and rocks placed strategically among white pebbles, and that looks fine as long as the weeds are kept in check. Right now they are not and it looks as though a weed killer, rather than time-consuming weeding, is required to spruce things up.

Reverse training

Did you know that dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish?