by Tony Copple (excerpts from his journal)
Tony celebrated a quiet 80th birthday. In another season, we would have had a party. But during a covid season, when he’s also working through healing of TB, it was a low-key affair, with a nice lunch in a winery restaurant, with lots of ministry. He didn’t even have time to respond to his Facebook birthday greetings! Here’s an excerpt from a day in the life of the new octogenarian, Tony Copple:
“Monday, February 15 – my 80th birthday! This didn’t start as birthdays should. It was also the first day back at school. Bella asked me to drive her brother and grandmother to his school. I set my alarm for 6:45 am, and was a little late at Bella’s due to traffic on this first day of school. J (14) and his grandmother got in the car. She has virtually no English, and J has some understanding but he speaks very little. Luckily he knew the way to the school. Soon, they both got out after I had driven quite a way, but the wrong way down a one-way street. I drove on, and did an 8-point turn on the narrow street. I parked and walked back.
By then, J had gone into the building and his grandmother was waiting outside the gate, and was chatting to a friend. Around 8 am, I suggested that we went, and I got the car and drove to her since she has difficulty walking. I drove her home the long way, via OK Foods to get toasted breakfast sandwiches for her and another girl we mentor, Chantelle. I drove on to Chantelle’s and gave her the sandwich and a banana. Then I brought another girl we mentor, Anthonica, to our home to do the Youth Alpha sessions “Prayer” and “Bible.” She doesn’t start school until Wednesday. She had coffee with us, and then we turned on the Alpha videos. She was very attentive, and had good answers to the periodic discussion questions. Half way through the second session, we stopped for more coffee and (my) birthday cake. After the session, I asked her to read the parable of the Prodigal Son, and then I questioned her about it, ensuring she understands the story within the story. She had another hour in our home, before I took her to “Boland Crafts and Things” store to buy wrapping paper for her school books, which is an annoying and expensive custom that the local schools have foisted on learners.
When I had taken Anthonica home, I went to the pharmacy, and then to Munnik’s jewellery store for a new battery for Bella’s watch (which used to be Laurie-Ann’s watch). I was very happy to have the chance to see Esme again, following her son Charl’s memorial service. I told her that it was good to see that she had found the strength to reopen, and I assured her of our prayers. L-A had asked where I would most like to have my birthday lunch (since she was paying from her “secret stash” (small savings account), and I had suggested Ou Meul restaurant at Du Toitskloof winery in Rawsonville. We had been there before (including with our friend Tanya), and I remembered the ambience there even more than the food.
On this special visit however, it is the food that stays in my memory and taste buds. It is rare for me with TB to actually have an appetite and enjoy food. We started with Load-shed beer, and Du Toitskloof Savignon Blanc respectively. I chose the smoked salmon salad I really enjoyed the salad! The salad dressing made every lettuce leaf special, and the smoked salmon with its own creamy cheesy dressing was outstanding. L-A had a health bowl full of quinoa, avocado, cream cheese made with cashews, spiraled corgette (zucchini) and carrots, with a little added chicken. She declared it was one of the finest salads of her life. We had dessert from the tarts and cheesecakes display. Mine was “millionaire’s shortbread.” All of this was on an outside table with no wind, but a feeling of being the best place in the world right then. The bottom line of dining, even in top notch restaurants here is the price – around 45 – 60 % of the Canadian equivalent!
At 5 pm, after buying cooking oil and washing powder for Lottie, I arrived for my 5:15 appointment with Dr. Marius van Dyk, somewhat nervous. He had read my optometrist’s note, which mentioned the possibility of stitch material that possibly did not dissolve in my left eye after cataract and eye-repair surgery.
While I was in the waiting room, I tested out my left eye, and I found that the focus had actually improved in the last few days since the eye was measured. When I told the surgeon this, he did some vision measurements, mentioning that he almost always never used stitches during these operations. A few minutes later after shining lights into my eye, he saw that he had indeed used stitches, because of the long-term damage he had found in the eye from an accident I had in 1983. He was having difficulty examining my eye, because I have having a very hard time keeping it open, while I was faced with his bright lights!
At one point, the light was so bright, just as if I were being forced to look at the sun for several seconds. So I cried out in pain. This was too much for him. He said that he couldn’t see into my left eye if I couldn’t keep it open, and he absolutely didn’t want to cause pain. I reminded him that I was wearing dark glasses whenever I was out of the house, because light was painful for me. He said he wasn’t sure what to recommend. He thought about it for a while, and then said that he could use laser surgery to remove the residue of the stitches. He asked me to sit at his laser machine. He said that to do this, he would put a contact lens into my eye, but when he tried to do this, I was again overcome with the bright lights and he gave up. I mentioned that part of my problem today was that he had put eye drips in to dilate my pupils, making me more sensitive to light. He then said that I could come back in a few days, and he would use drops to make my pupils smaller, which wouldn’t prevent what he wanted to do. Further, he prescribed eye drops to be taken every few hours for the next few days. We set the appointment for Thursday at 5 pm. I said I would be getting prayer support to help us through, and he enthusiastically endorsed that. On my way home, I delivered the washing powder and oil to a grateful Lottie.
I listened to an SA-FM debate where the host firstly denied South Africa is a predominantly Christian country, and then asked his listeners if it was right that the president should mention God in speeches, such as “God bless South Africa,” because it ‘marginalized atheists.’ Most callers disagreed – I actually felt angry with the host for airing such illogical views – yet views that many Canadians would agree with. In a tolerant society, anyone, and particularly politicians, should be able to be open about their beliefs. Atheists should not be upset if they hear people speaking about God, any more than left-handed people should be upset if most guitars are built right-handed. In the evening, we watched the frightening finale of “The Undoing” (Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman) on Showmax. It needed something pleasurable to end my birthday.
My sister told me that she missed receiving a music mix I had made five years ago. I arranged for this, and for another batch for her. I still get a kick out of sharing music with other people.
Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple (usually Laurie-Ann)
L-A's devotional blog
TONY'S DEVOTIONAL BLOG
Tony's south african journal