Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

I woke up this morning thinking about my mom and dad. It's Valentine's day and my heart turned to people who have come into my life over the years. My dad died when I was 22 years old, he had cancer, in all the years I knew him I never once heard him disparage my mother, I never even saw them have an argument. My dad treated my mom like a princess and she treated him like a prince. Things were different in those days, I don't see couples today holding each other in such high esteem, pity.

Anyway when I got up I went looking for a photo album that my eldest sister Felicity had put together some years ago. The pictures are not of the best quality, photocopies of photographs, and since I don't have a scanner I had to photograph them so please excuse the poor quality. When I opened the album tears came flooding from my eyes, I really do miss them both so much, I Couldn't have asked for more fantastic parents. This post is about them and is, in a small way, my tribute to my parents, James White Maritz and Marjorie Keith Maritz (nee Lyon).

 My mom was a really beautiful woman, not only on the out side but in nature too. She had this quiet confidence about her that manifested itself in  peaceful serenity. Her husband and children were her whole life. There is so much to tell about this wonderful woman, she flew aeroplanes for a hobby, went through the second world war, she raised her five children with a degree of love that nowadays is hard to find. Never a discouraging word but love and wisdom in everything. She grew up in a small town in the Natal midlands called Dundee, this was where she met my father. Later her family moved to Durban on the east coast of Africa, hot, humid and tropical. We grew up in Durban too, it was only many years later that I visited Dundee.

This picture reminds me so much of my daughter. Was my mom beautiful? Oh yes. No wonder my father loved her so much. Who wouldn't? They say that a man will land up loving a woman who reminds him of his mother.I'm not sure how old she is in this picture but if I met someone who looked like this today I would definitely take a serious interest.

My father, James White Maritz. A good looking man by any standards. One of the things that he taught me was sport fishing for barracuda off the coast of Durban. He used to make his own fishing spoons and being very capable with his hands built so many things for us kids. I remember a slot car track that he built that took up a whole lot of garage space. We had a ball with it . Two tracks two cars a huge transformer and a whole lot of neighbourhood kids screaming at the top of their lungs. What a blast! He also taught me how to develop and print my own black and white photographs.

My dad was the managing director of a company known as Crown Cork Company while in Zambia. Over the holidays we would go to places like Victoria falls or Lake Kariba on the Zambezi river. Fishing was one of my dads passions so Tiger fish or Vundu ( huge barbel weighing as much as 200kg), were in danger on these occasions. He loved traveling and over the holidays we went all over the place, Tropical central Africa is an adventurers paradise. Ndola, Mufeleira, Kitwe, Chillelebombwe and even up into the Congo. We had such a fantastic time as kids. Always all the children, mom and dad together in the station wagon just having fun as a family.
Unfortunately upon his return to South Africa he was diagnosed with cancer and went through years of chemotherapy and suffering before eventually passing away in Pretoria in 1978. (His nurse while dieing became the mother of my two children, James White Maritz II and Shelley Anne Maritz.)
My mom went through many lonely years before passing away in Johannesburg in 1990.
Mom and Dad from all of your children we would just like to thank you both for the amazing life you gave us, for the amazing love with which you nurtured us and for all the good things you instilled in us.  Your example of how a couple should treat each other has made an indelible impression on all of us. We really love and miss you both.
Happy Valentin's day Mom and Dad.!/photo.php?fbid=477675376043&set=t.756469552


  1. Thank you Geoff for sharing these family memories with all of us. God bless, Lloyd

  2. Thanks Lloyd, there is so much more to tell about my amazing parents but then I might as well write a book (which may happen). My family enjoyed this post as far as I can tell.

  3. Hello Geoff

    That is truly an incredible tribute to the parents. You're quite right. I often chat to them, Dad in particular, and tell them that their marriage and our family life was so very special that it didn't prepare me - at all - for what is actually out there. I think we can all relate in some way to that.

    Dad never, ever swore in front of any female - not ever. I did hear that he used the occasional expletive with you boys.
    The first time I ever heard of Dad swearing was when he was told that he had cancer and he turned to Mom and simply said "Bloody Hell".

    Even though we'd have wine with our Sunday meal, neither of them ever drank excessively and never, ever got drunk. I don't think I ever even saw them tipsy.

    Remember -
    Those spontaneous trips into the countryside?
    Like leaving for Loskop Dam at about 3am on a Saturday morning, with our camping gear piled high in the back of the stationwagon and arriving back late on Sunday night?
    And that time Dad got a bee in his bonnet about Barberton daisies and we trekked all the way to Barberton for the weekend so that the folks could take their time buying the daisies they wanted?
    The go-kart Dad made us, with steering and brakes and all? (no feet-brakes for us) and how all the neighbourhood kids would take turns on the go-kart with two pulling it - dashing through streets was such fun.
    Mom's special 'padkos' for our trips? I still haven't been able to make scones the way she did with her magic touch.
    Mom spending hours and hours with her art and then crafting copper pictures of incredible excellence which she was happy for us to give to our teachers - each and every one of them.
    The absolutely incredible artists which both Mom and Dad were and how they occupied themselves with their family during their leisure time. I never considered myself to be a burden to them, I'm sure none of us did.
    The only occasions when I remember the folks being away from us was when, on rare occasions, they attended a function.
    What a gracious hostess Mom was with all the many visitors we had at our home, all the time, even opening up our home to international visitors in Zambia when the hotels deteriorated to a state where one couldn't stay there.

    And what incredible people skills they had.

    I remember at one of our birthday parties (I can't remember whose), we'd decorated that gigantic garage in Durban North (the one in which 12 Mini Minors fitted comfortably). The folks were upstairs in the formal lounge when the Redhill Motorbike Gang arrived, adorned with their usual chains, ready to crash the party. Dad was downstairs in a flash and went straight up to them and said "Boys, what are you doing outside? The party's inside. Come on in." They did - which was something else which is amazing - accompanied by Dad, had a few cooldrinks, ate some of the cakes and snacks and then disappeared into the night. That was unheard of for that gang which always caused chaos wherever they went.

    How both of them delighted in beautiful pieces of furniture and silverware and our house, even with five children and an odd assortment of all sorts of pets, always exuded such quiet dignity and calm. Our home was truly our haven, wasn't it?

    There's so very much in the memory bank that pops up every now and then and then slips away to be remembered on another day. We were blessed with wonderful parents and a loving and fairly unique (I believe) family life.

    Good luck with this wonderful trip down memory lane.

    (Just on a point - Mom died on 17 September 2001 (I know - it was the year of my 40th. In fact I spent that birthday at the hospital after she was transferred to the Jo'burg Gen in a coma). Dad died on 11 April 1978.



    From: Geoff Maritz
    Sent: Tue, February 15, 2011 10:47

  4. Sorry about this late reply but I can give you some info about them, maybe you can edit your blog to include it

    Dad born 4/08/1926 in Molenjeni (spelling) Natal
    Mom born 24/01/1925 also in Molenjeni

    Married in Durban 7/01/1950 (not 100% about the year)

    Lived in Dbn until early 1952 when they moved to Benoni. We lived in Benoni until I was about 5 when we then moved to 14 Corina Road Edenvale. We left Edenvale in about 1963/4 when we moved to Durbs & the folks bought the house in Blackburn Road, Redhill in about 1965. Dad was transferred to Zambia in 1969 & came to Jhb early in 1972. Dad died in April 1978 & Mom in Sept 1991 (not long after Fid's 40th) Not sure of some exact dates - maybe the rest of the gang have better memories than me.

    Hope this helps - I'll try & dig out some some photies to send you

    Love C xx

    From: Geoff Maritz

  5. charmian mcdermid to me
    show details 10:00 AM (5 hours ago)

    Thanx Geoff - that is beautiful & it brought tears to my eyes - miss you....loves & hugs...xxxxx

  6. Hey Geoff

    Just read your blog.
    That’s really cool J
    You’re quite eloquent hey?

    Anyway, really enjoyed it a lot.

    Love you stax xxxx

    Toni Maritz

  7. The above comments are ones I received from my sisters. This was the only way I could get them published but hey! it worked. Thanks guys. Love you all stacks.

  8. Geoff, I love your blog and wish I was clever enough to have something similar. Here's my Facebook page with some of my writings. You may enjoy. Perhaps you can do some kind of a link to your blog? I don't know. Anyway, here's the link.!/pages/Fe-Maritz/153302351376257


  9. Wonderful photos of your family and childhood, Geoff. Sounds like a great life. That is so cool about your mother flying airplanes! Wow! And look how fashionable she was! (yes, she is pretty and I can see the resemblence in Shelly). Glad you have all these memories with your sisters, etc.

    Oh, now I know how Archibald came to have 'Lyon' in his name, correct?

  10. Yes Joy, you are correct Archibald was named after my Mom's father, Archibald Marmaduke Lyon, that's his full name.
    Rereading this post has, once again, brought tears to my eyes. As Charmian said, we were totally unprepared for what the world was like outside of our home. Things were so different when Mom and Dad were alive. All of us children are still alive and in contact with each other in one way or another, even the grandchildren are all still going strong.
    God has blessed us all with long life, possibly as recompense for taking Dad away so early.
    Thank you lord for allowing us to look back with such fond memories, Geoff.