Four years after the birth of my son, I was heavily pregnant with my second child. My colleagues took me to a farewell lunch and I was asked if I knew the gender of the child and if I had a preference?
Not wanting to jinx things, I gave the diplomatic answer that I didn’t mind as long as the baby was healthy and had all the necessary appendages. Then, after a small pause in the conversation, I took a deep breath and admitted that if Truth be told: I would love a daughter.
When she made her elegant, effortless appearance on the planet, I received the biggest and most exquisite bouquet of flowers, that had all the nurses oo–ing and ah-ing, from my former colleagues.
With it was a small card, that read: “It came as no surprise that you were able to arrange things perfectly!” The perfect sentiment for an executive assistant to receive from her former boss.
It was not of my doing at all, though. My daughter just slipped into the world swiftly and without fuss and has been that way ever since.
Even as a tiny little girl, she showed an uncanny knowledge of other people and their motives. I remember going to a movie with her at the age of two. She could just express herself in words, so I was amazed when she tugged at my sleeve and announced in a loud whisper: “ Mommy, I think he likes her!”
She was pointing to the two romantic interests in the film and made this observation long before the plot had begun to unfold.
I suppose I should have known then that she has something special. An ability to see and sense things that are not always apparent to others yet.
I think it is this vision that makes her able to visualise and conceptualize a show. It enables her to cast exactly the right actor or actress and to see the backdrop or the scenes when she is working with a new production.
She and I sometimes look at the text of a new play together and I find myself blown away by this ability to see quite concretely how and where the action should take place. She lights up as she describes what she sees, her hands moving and her eyes bright.
As the production takes shape, through the hard work and discipline of all concerned, I and others begin to see what she has in mind.
I especially love and admire the way she creates a space for the young people who are part of the production to contribute and own and shape the action as it evolves. It is always as much their production as it is hers. She lovingly refers to them as “her kiddies” and delights in each and every one’s achievement and growth.
Every year, when she chooses a theme or play, I am touched. There is, without a doubt, a special reason for the choice. It seems to me it is always a relevant and worthwhile choice.
This year she has chosen:” My children have faces” by Carol Campbell – a beautiful story about the “karretjiemense” of the Karoo.
She and her cast of young people from Tygerberg High School are making this story their own and once again it is about growing and learning and enjoying.
Yes, there are accolades and recognition along the way, but the real joy lies in the creative process and hard work.
As my beautiful daughter and “her kiddies” spend her birthday today creating a Karoo world and telling an amazing, uniquely South African story, I celebrate this talented and loving woman.
I am so proud to call her my daughter.
In my heart, I send her a huge bouquet with a card: “It comes as no surprise, that you are able to arrange things perfectly”.
It is no wonder you were born on Women’s Day.
Happy birthday, Jeanne Marguerite Du Bois.