Friday, September 30, 2011


It is not hard to remember my sweet sister-in-law Hazel. 

She scared me from the moment I met her and all of the years of our relationship I was in awe of her in so many ways.

But always just a little bit scared.

For one she was older than me and never let me forget it. 

For two I was dating and/or married to her big brother. HER big brother. I had to prove myself worthy!

Fulton School
Hazel was special in many ways but the most obvious one was that from 18 months old Hazel was profoundly deaf.  While this development was no doubt very hard for her family at the time, they did an amazing job in raising her and giving her a strong sense of who she was and what she was capable of.  At a young age she went to boarding school at Fulton School for the Deaf which shaped her in many ways.  She was a leader and an athlete and today there is a garden there in her memory.

 Hazel graduated high school and became a Laboratory Technician.  She went away to live in residence and Allan built her an alarm clock rigged up to her lamp so when the alarm went off the lamp flashed to wake her up.  No wonder she loved her big brother!

She was confident, even feisty.  She would say to people who couldn't understand her guttural speech or who treated her as if she was mentally delayed " I am deaf not stoooopid".  And then she would give them the stink eye. 

I got the stink eye more than once.

I remember an exchange with her.  I was driving up College Road in PMB in my pale blue 1965 VW beetle and she was in the passenger seat.  I was trying to say something to her and she put her hand on my arm and said "Look at me when you are talking to me!"  I responded I was driving and needed to keep an eye on the road so that I didn't crash the car... and she "Then shut up!"... O.K.!

Her lip reading ability was legend - in a busy restuarant she would lean over and ask if we wanted to know what the couple across the way were saying to each other! It was hilarious what she could "hear" by watching!   She didn't miss a thing.  Many TV programs in South Africa at the time were dubbed into Afrikaans but she could "hear" the english by lip reading!

She got married and had a little boy, Shane, and was so in love with him.  When the marriage ended sadly she carried on working and being a single mom and raising her son.

6 weeks after being diagnosed with Leukemia (while we were all still being tested for bone marrow matches and making plans to go to see her) she died at the age of 38. 

4 years ago today.

The grief from her loss caught Allan up in its vortex and although he made it back to South Africa for her funeral which gave him some closure, he came home and brought with him a world of brokeness and hurt.

It is beyond hard to imagine she has been gone 4 years, beyond hard the journey we have walked these last 4 years.

Today we remember her.... her feisty, funny self.  Her drive and determination. Her fierce love for her family.  I pay tribute to her parents for all they did for her and to her amazing sister Wendy who went above and beyond so many times as a sister and a friend.  You loved her so well and she knew that!

Hazy, we miss you.  We love you.  We will see you in Heaven!

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