Tag Archives: memoir

Friends for Life (My Other Family)

Memoir of Chris De Flamingh

My friends whom I met & known over the past thirty (30) plus (+) years have always meant the world to me as I would always try my best to be loyal to all my friends, as friendship has always been very important to me. We would always meet up for beach braais (bar-b-que), birthday parties, and stock cars at Goodwood show grounds (long before it became Grand West) on Saturday & Friday night.

We did everything together and felt like a family (almost like a brotherhood). Many nights we would just sit and chat when we didn’t have money to go out or go to local clubs like Alligators (Paarden Eiland), Arena (close to the waterfront), Crowbar(CBD), Quay 4 (on the waterfront) and many other venues.

The Blue Peter was just a small little venue back then in the early nineties (1990s) and we often pop in for late-night drinks. Then there was also a club called Tramps in Greenpoint very close to Arena we frequently frequented. Those were the good old days.

I personally stopped going to clubs during the early 1990s as I felt “been there, done that. So I had no more great eagerness to go clubbing. I would drink on weekends and occasionally during the week as well. I would get to bed at 5am and be up at 06h30am for work and felt wide awake. I was filled with the energy of youth.

Today …….I do not have that kind of stamina to party like that anymore.

We always remained together as a close-knit group and kept up together. Communicated as we prepared mature plans for the day or weekend.

Often alcohol would play a part in us having fun/parties as a group and we would drink as usual but really enjoyed those days.

Some friends stood out for me namely Chris, Damian, Erik, Keith & Gerald Hopkins.

Chris is a mechanic and we would at times take our cars to him for repairs. He hardly ever refused us unless he was really busy.

He can withstand patience only for so long then he would explode if people abuse his good deeds; as I learned one year after he just had enough, so I gave him some space and we discussed it afterwards and understood fully where he was coming from so I would preferably call him so he is aware I’m planning to pop in and so I learned to respect his privacy including his needs as a father and breadwinner in his own household.

In April 1995 my dad passed away and they all came late one evening to lend their moral support as I was absolutely devastated and wore black for more than a year, as I mourned the loss of my father. I had difficulty accepting he was gone.

There isn’t a manual that teaches anyone how to deal with traumatic situations except for the Word of God (The Bible). I really had to grow up fairly quickly at this time in my life as I had to start paying bills like water, electricity etc. As my mom could not survive on her pension and I at the age of 24, it was just KFC, Steers and parties and alcohol etc.

Some years later, I was unemployed for about 3 years and Chris arranged from the group of friends to contribute each a certain amount which I was able to pay for some essentials petrol (fuel) etc.

In 1998 Erik paid for the repairs of my car and didn’t know how much it meant to me. He used to host many times nice causal braais at his family home and his parents were always very accommodating to all his friends being there having parties or just a plain decent visit for coffee.

I suffer from severe depression and anxiety and I had been feeling down for quite some time. One night I was in the Edgemead / Bothasig area and parked down a quiet street when I wanted to take my own life. As I held the gun to my head, I didn’t know how to deal with what was going on in my life. But for some or other reason I decided against it and lowered the gun. Then I drove to Erik’s house and he was alone as his folks had been away on holiday. When I pitched up at his front door he told me to enter and have a seat he made us some coffee and I proceeded to explain to him what had just transpired. I thank the lucky stars he was there for me that night and on so many other occasions.

Damian is another very good friend of mine and he is always available to help a friend and hardly ever says “no”. Damian has knowledge of electronics, computers, cars, etc. He is self-taught and has a very inquiring mind and that is how he accumulated his knowledge of some technical issues in the above-mentioned experiences. One essential thing I learned about Damian is, Don’t piss him off!

On more than one occasion he has repaired my cars in the past and refuses any compensation for it. Damian, I trust with my life and know he will always do something within your best interest.

God brought this wonderful group of friends into my life for a reason and they mean the world to me never ever take them for granted.

I also had other friends over the years and some are longer around as they went to be with God our Father.

Marie Upton, Cathy Ward & Deon Marais, Raymond Murray, Sandi Shaw (born Tuck) – These were very close friends of mine with some I would often share very personal information and brought a form of mental salvation to me at the time.

My friends are my family and I feel very proud to have such a great bunch of guys that I made friends with almost thirty (30) years ago.

Don’t take your friends for granted and have the utmost respect for them and take their social needs into account so you don’t crowd your friends and cause a very taste of dislike, disrespect and emotional discomfort and maybe feel too embarrassed to show your face again.

One day I had an argument with Sandi on the phone and I was very upset and felt very ashamed after the argument.

Sandi sent me a letter which she called a “Thank you gram” Thanking me for being her friend and I had known her for about twenty (20) years. She mentioned something in her letter to me where she said “Don’t let the sun set on an argument.” This was I think at the beginning of 2015 and passed away after suffering complications from cancer.

She lived at the time in KZN but we kept in contact on almost a daily basis. Either via email and /or Skype and phone. I was very heartbroken when she passed away.

Mr Kent is a very special friend of mine, he is a retired school principal and was also a good friend to my mom when we didn’t have a car to transport my mom to and from the hospital. He also assisted me with taking me to my clients at the time when I had to supply them with paper rolls which I sold through my business. He even cancelled a family commitment in order to assist me once I needed to be dropped off or collected where I had to go one afternoon. Mr Kent was kind enough to transport us wherever we had to go and was a great help and inspiration to me and still is. He is such a very humble and loving person.

I met Frank in 2004 after starting a new job at a carwash he used to pop in during his lunch hour and I always looked forward to that, so we could have our friendly casual chats etc. He mentioned one day that I should come to his family home which I did and we became good friends. He has been there for me in times of need when I needed his help. When he needs my help I jump for him because we have been very good friends since 2004.

Just a last word on friendship, if I may. Lessons learned from my experiences with my friends especially are to always respect one another and have compassion for one another and respect one’s personal space and family time. Always show courtesy for your neighbours & friends.