This evening Joy invited me over to their house for dinner, she treated me to a special Chinese cuisine, which is kind of like a surprise dumpling. It’s a portion of sticky rice filled with various beans, a piece of pork and mushrooms. We had this with a side of vegetables and a chicken and corn soup.
The chicken corn soup, is Nicole’s favourite dish, everything else we had isn’t really her favourite so we had it tonight while she’s away on a school athletics trip. Joy and I Spoke about the various Chinese dishes that the Sens have, what struck me the most however in our dinner conversation is the love Joy has for Nicole.
She speaks fondly of her daughter telling me little anecdotes of the moments she has shared with her daughter. Nicole literally dropped into the Sens home when she was three weeks old, the social worker called Joy up, telling her that she had a baby. Joy thought she would probably collect Nicole in the next couple of weeks or so, instead the social worker said “Actually, can you come tomorrow”?? And that was the start of love so real, you can see it in Joys eyes every time she mentions Nicole.
Joy has been working on a family photo album since April 2012, she is on page 98 of 100. I stood in their study while Joy flipped through the pictures of her Family album. This is a real family album, there are pictures of each person and little narratives of their individual lives. There are photos of Nicole painting her room with her best friend. There are photos of Clinton’s Grandmother dancing with Cousin Ryan, just before she passed away. There are photos of teddy with his guide dog that they later found out was sponsored by the Comrades runners. (Ted ran the comrades 5 times)
This photo album is everything. Joy has the embarrassing photos of a naked baby Nicole, of toothless Nicole and of baby Nicole lying on Teddy’s chest.
“When I took this photo of Nicole lying on Teddy’s chest, I noticed that every time I laughed, she laughed in her sleep, so I said to teddy, look I’ll show you and I laughed, then she laughed, it was the most amazing thing ever”
This is one of the many stories Joy shared with me tonight, she also remembers the very long conversation she had with an year old Nicole, who sat on the toilet seat and asked “why didn’t my real mother keep me” this is a conversation that Joy thought she would have had when Nicole was 16, but it came much earlier, and since that day, it hasn’t come up again.
I’ve spent a lot of Time with Sens and in all the time I’ve spent with them, I have focused on the narrative of tradition, but today I realised that the stronger narrative is that of love. I don’t think I have ever met a family more loving than the Sens.
Everything they do for one another is a labour of love. This is what Joy describes the toy box as.
When Nicole was younger. Joy made a toy box for her, she painted it pink and Decoupaged it, with little fairies, on the inside of this box, there are cut out photos of Nicole that have been made into a collage, covering the surface of the lid of this toy Box. “I chose each picture for a reason” says Joy; there isn’t a single duplication of a photo, that is how much thought went into that toy box.
Just yesterday Grandma Suntoy told me about Joy’s Childhood, she beamed with pride when she told me that Joy was one of two students who excelled in the Trilingual exam, and a generation later, Joy showed me all of Nicole’s trophies, she was the only student to have received the awards for best Hockey player, Netball player and for Athletics in one year “They usually give them to three different kids, but this time, Nicole got them all” says Joy, then she repositions the trophies, lining them up perfectly next to one another.
Tomorrow Joy is leaving for Potchefstroom at 7:30 am, to go and watch Nicole run at the Inter high athletics competition.
Yesterday While Teddy was doing my feet, he said to me, “you are just like my daughter, she says to me Dad, I’m going to watch the rugby, but I know she’s going for all the Sexy boys’ legs, I tell her-You don’t know a thing about Rugby”
Teddy also refers to his daughter as a Banana, yellow on the outside, but white on the inside. But whether she is a Banana or not, she is his Little Madam and Joy is the Madam.
So, this got me thinking, what’s the big hoohah? Tradition won’t change anything about this family, they will love one another until the end of time, regardless of what traditions and ceremonies pop up along the way.
This afternoon Teddy gave me a Chinese name Momonthai. This translates to “No need to worry” and honestly I don’t think he could have picked a better name.
There really is no need to worry, I’m not worried about the future for the Sens, It doesn’t matter to me whether or not Nicole will follow traditions, I know that whatever she decides she will come to home to a house that is filled with Pictures of her family and she will belong, and she will be loved.
That’s my story for today. Love conquers all, it doesn’t many how many disagreements you have, or that you don’t always share the same vision. But if you can sit in the same house and laugh about the past and hope for the future, you have a good thing.
I am totally on a mission to make Clinton marry me, so that I can marry into this amazing family. For those of you who don’t know, The Sens are Clinton’s aunt and uncle and I went to school with Clinton, I must admit. It’s not looking too good right now, but if anything, at least I got a Chinese name and I have experienced “Family” in a way that only the Sens can share it.