This morning, Reggie, Aunty Karin and I drove out to Milnerton, which is a suburb slightly to the north of us. Reggie’s cousin Buller (his real name is Hans, but she always calls him ‘Buller’ – which is not to be confused with Ferris Bueller from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!) was celebrating his birthday today.
Perhaps you recall that we had baked my special Flat Kathy Lemony Biscuits a day or two ago, so that we would have a little gift for him? In addition to taking along some biscuits, we also picked up a couple of bread rolls and some California rye bread, with a couple of slices of ham and roast beef at the local Kwik Spar.
“It’ll be just the perfect time for a mid-morning kind of snack, to catch the beginnings of the post-breakfast and pre-lunch empty-tummy rumble,” explained Reggie, winking at me mischievously.
Ooh, I like the way she thinks!
“So where exactly are we going?” I inquired politely, as we drove out on the M5 and then zipped across onto the N1 in the direction of Canal Walk. I know all this, not because I was reading a map or anything, but because Reggie was keeping up a running commentary of our route.
“Cousin Buller lives in Milnerton, in a place called Robertson House,” she replied, flicking on her indicator and checking her blind spot in the side mirror, before changing lanes. “It’s a home for people with spinal cord injuries. Basically, it’s a home for people in wheelchairs.”
Oh. Oh dear.
“So is Cousin Buller in a wheelchair then?”
“Yes, Flat Kathy, he’s been in one for many, many years,” she nodded, stopping at a red traffic light, before turning left.
“Tell me more about Robertson House?” I asked.
“OK. Robertson House was started in 1979 by a trust to accommodate disabled servicemen who were injured while doing their army service. The house was officially opened in 1990 by the then administrator of the Western Cape Province. They can currently accommodate about 16 residents. They provide three meals a day, a laundry service, 24-hour care services, a limited transport system and lots of social activities. It’s a lovely place, you’ll like it.”
When we parked in front of the building, we were greeted by Sally the Dog who came up to us, wagging her tail. We gave her a hello pat, and then went inside to the cosy apartment, where Cousin Buller and his wife Sharon stay.
“Happy Birthday, Buller!” we chorused, as we entered his apartment. He smiled brightly. He was on the phone with his mom, who lives in a small town called Swakopmund in Namibia, so Reggie and Aunty Karin said hello to her too. She sounded like a nice lady. I hope I will meet her someday.
(I overheard Reggie mentioning that we might be flying to Windhoek in a month’s time! Oooohhh! Isn’t this absolutely thrilling? I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be a surprise, though, because they haven’t really discussed it with me. So I’m pretending not to know, as I don’t want to spoil it.)
When Cousin Buller had rung off, Reggie held me up and said, shyly, “Buller, I would like to introduce you to someone.”
“Oh?!” exclaimed Cousin Buller, looking at me in surprise.
“This is Flat Kathy. She comes all the way from Nova Scotia in Canada, and I am showing her around Cape Town. Perhaps you’ve read about her on my blog?”
“Erm, no, I haven’t actually,” he confessed.
Reggie sighed. She always gets so upset when her family and friends don’t read her blog or subscribe to her posts. Poor dear.
“Well, have you at least read Flat Kathy’s blog?” she demanded, crossly.
“She has a blog?” he asked, incredulous.
“Yes, she has a blog. As soon as she arrived in Cape Town, she asked me to create one for her.”
“Well, that was considerate of you,” he commented, smiling at me. “Please send me the link, alright? So what have you been doing with her, and what you are still planning to do?”
Reggie explained about my exciting wish list and told him about some of the adventurous things we’d done, and the nice people we’d met. I could tell he was most impressed.
“How would you like to ride on a wheelchair with me, Flat Kathy? I bet you haven’t done that yet!”
“Ooh, I would love to,” I cried, promptly sitting down on his lap. He used a joystick to move his wheelchair around the apartment – it was such fun, I couldn’t help giggling! Suddenly, I lost my balance, toppled over, and landed on the floor. Oops… Reggie quickly picked me up and dusted me off.
“No harm done,” I beamed at them all reassuringly. “I’m quite alright.”
Buller was keen to pose for a photo with me. He is such a nice, well-brought-up young man. Reggie is very fortunate to have him as her cousin.
“Now how about something to eat?” asked Reggie.
“Oh yes, that’s an excellent idea.”
As she was preparing something to nibble, Cousin Buller’s mom-in-law and father-in-law arrived. They also wanted to wish him a Happy Birthday.
When Reggie introduced me to them, they greeted me very warmly. Much to my delight, they knew about the Flat Stanley Project, and in fact, they know someone who has hosted Flat Stanley. What a marvellous coincidence! They are the first people I’ve met here in Cape Town who know about Flat Stanley and who can really understand my eagerness to travel around the world, to have lots of exciting adventures and to make friends everywhere. Isn’t that exciting?
When the time came to leave, Cousin Buller accompanied us to the car, and graciously posed for a final photo with me.
Goodbye, Buller, I hope I will see you again. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!