Thirteen Years: Sizing Up Property

AIDS was… an illness in stages, a very long flight of steps that led assuredly to death, but whose every step represented a unique apprenticeship. It was a disease that gave death time to live and its victims time to die, time to discover time, and in the end to discover life.

~ Hervé Guibert

Sizing Up Property

Continued from… Victoria And Albert Waterfront

They were all up early, and by ten o’clock that Sunday morning, they arrived at Jeanne’s home.

Isaac — who felt better after a good night’s sleep — and his two visitors got into Jeanne’s car. She would drive them over to the house of Iris and Ken.

Iris and Ken lived in the surrounding area of Hermanus, a coastal village just over one hundred kilometers away from Cape Town. Hermanus was known worldwide for the annual whale spotting one could do there. Iris and Ken permanently lived in a holiday park where they had bought a house.

Jeanne first drove to the small town called Strand, where she picked up her sunglasses. She had forgotten them there on her last visit to a friend. From the Strand, she drove through Somerset-West and started the long climb of the Sir Lowry’s Pass. This pass allowed passage across the natural barrier of the Hottentots Holland mountain range that stretched along the eastern side of Somerset West and Gordon’s Bay.

At the viewpoint on the summit, Jeanne parked her car between others. They got out and walked to the viewpoint, where other people already enjoyed the magnificent view of False Bay.

Annie and Jacques walked as close to the edge as they could. Annie had the camera in her hand, snapping one picture after the other. It was a clear sunny day and they could even see Table Mountain on the other side of False Bay. Annie soaked it all up, not knowing when and if she could ever lay eyes on this again. The view also silenced Jacques.

Jeanne and Isaac leant against the side of Jeanne’s car. They didn’t speak. They just enjoyed the view.

Had Annie looked back at that moment, she would have seen the same pensive look on Isaac’s face as she had seen the day before. Isaac was glad he didn’t have to drive today. Even though he had slept well, he was still tired after all the driving he had done in the past two days. Isaac was used to staying in bed most of the time. He loved having his friends with him, and he wished he had more stamina than he did.

However, with Jeanne driving today and Isaac not having to do anything but just be there, he will be able to regain a bit of his strength.

From the viewpoint on the Sir Lowry’s Pass, they soon continued on the national road that would take them across the Hottentots Holland Mountains. The next pass they crossed was the Houwhoek Pass. At the bottom of this pass, on the other side of the Houwhoek mountain range, was the small village of Botrivier. They passed this and just before they would reach Hermanus, Jeanne turned off onto a dirt road. This road would take them to the holiday park where Iris and Ken lived. At the gate, Jeanne called ahead to Iris to tell her they would arrive in a couple of minutes.

Ken waited outside their house as Jeanne drove up their driveway. He knew Jeanne wouldn’t be alone in the car. Jeanne had informed him and Iris she would bring her brother with her. Jacques, who sat in the car next to Jeanne, got out of the car. Ken looked at Jacques, then to Jeanne, who was out of the car too, and then back to Jacques.

“That’s not your brother,” he said when he returned his gaze to Jeanne.

“Nope, it’s not,” Jeanne laughed, “I brought a surprise with me.”

Iris appeared from the back door of their house. She had overheard the conversation between Ken and Jeanne and wanted to size up the situation herself. The first person she saw was Jacques, and he also puzzled her.

Who was this man?

Then she looked at the woman who appeared behind Jacques — Annie. Surprise widened her eyes and her feet involuntarily moved in the car’s direction, while tears streamed down her face.

“Annie! Annie! Oh, it’s so wonderful to see you again!” Iris cried and she hugged Annie tight.

“Surprise!” Annie said, while hugging Iris, “I bet you never thought that I would come to visit you!”

Iris couldn’t stop crying. Jeanne introduced her and Ken to Isaac and Jacques. Their hosts invited them to take place on the chairs under one of the enormous trees surrounding their small garden. Birds chirped, and the wind rustled lightly through the leaves of the trees. When each of them sat with a cup of coffee, Iris almost cross-examined Annie about her mom and children, about their trip to Cape Town and how long they would be there. It disappointed her to hear the Dutch couple would leave again a week’s time.

None of the others allowed Isaac to do anything and, for once, he didn’t mind at all. He enjoyed the peace around him, the healing power of nature. Except for taking a walk around the park, Isaac didn’t move from his chair all day.

All of them except for Iris, who was busy in the kitchen, took a walk around the park. Annie had her camera with her and she made as many pictures as her heart desired. She never wanted to forget this trip. Since she still felt slightly guilty about the previous day, where she had forgotten how quickly Isaac tired, she stayed close to him and she made sure the pace was a gentle one.

Looking at the different wooden houses, Jacques asked Ken how much one house cost. It surprised both him and Annie when they heard the price. Together with Isaac, they daydreamed for a while, saying they would buy the house and Isaac could maintain it for them. The three of them knew it was only daydreams which would never manifest into reality.

Since not all the houses were the same, Ken asked them if they would like to see one of the other houses on the inside. It was smaller than the one Ken and Iris lived in. Both Annie and Jacques wanted to see it.

Ken walked back to his own house to get the key, while Jacques, Annie, Jeanne and Isaac waited on the side of the road. Isaac sat down on one of the low poles to rest. Even though they didn’t walk far or at a high pace, he felt the tiredness in his legs. He didn’t want anyone to know.

Ken returned with the key and unlocked the front door of the house, while explaining the owners only came out to their holiday cottage once a month. For the rest of the month, Ken and Iris looked after their house and garden. The house wasn’t big inside. It could be called cozy with its small sitting room, tiny kitchen, and one bedroom. The bathroom had a lovely shower in it. For a couple, this house would be ideal, but it was too small for a family with kids.

Annie, Jacques and Isaac daydreamed some more, also about how Isaac could live there all by himself. Once more, they know their dreams would never turn into reality.

To be continued… A Visit To The Military Hospital

Note: This series is a rework of a self-published book (2009), rewritten for this blog, and in loving memory of a dear friend who suffered from and passed because of AIDS. Keep in mind this story happens in the late eighties and throughout the nineties. Names of characters have been changed to protect their privacy.

© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay

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