I am in an airport lounge again, waiting for my flight back to Johannesburg after a few days in the Mother City; the last few, appropriately enough, spent with my mother. We have had a lovely time, lots of sightseeing, some good meals, and lots to talk about. Friday was one of those pitch-perfect summer days; we went round the coast road to Hermanus, stopping along the way for lunch in Kleinmond, and yesterday we went off to Stellenbosch and Franschoek, sampling the wines at Rustenberg and Tokara, and at Thelema. There is a new ‘DeliCATessen’ at Tokara, all light and air, glass and stone, where we tasted the olive oils and had a platter of antipasti for lunch; simply wonderful. In Franschoek we stopped in at David Walters’, the potter, and chatted away to David and his daughter Sara – I told Sara that her little bowl would soon be taking up residence in Toronto. She laughed and said, ‘my pots seem to travel all around the world, and here I am, stuck in Franschoek!’

In the evening mom hauled out some of the family photos; we reminisced, and talked about her upcoming hip replacement, and she pointed out where she has put her will, and where her boxes of jewellery and ‘treasures’ are. One of the things she showed me was an airmail letter from dad, dated 1970, in which he calls her, in the tenderest terms, his ‘littlest angel’ and begs her to stay just as she is….he says his friends have asked after his ‘gorgeous wife’, and observes how the years have brought them closer together, and have not driven them apart as happens so often with people. They had been married then for 18 years; I would have been 17 at the time, and pretty much at my most horrible as a rebellious and resentful youth; and I thought, ‘what a numbskull I have been – I had no idea he loved her so very tenderly and so much.’

I had tears in my eyes, and my heart felt very full. And here she is, the littlest angel: my mother.

'Littlest angel'