Sunday 5 May 2013

My Mom and Melkkos

My mom, Marie.
A glass of milk. Obviously.

John Lennon's lyrics for Beautiful Boy are especially poignant to me now. 'Life is what happens to you while you're making other plans.' Or as my mom would say 'Man proposes and God disposes. 
I had fully intended being slightly self-obsessed with the launch of my book: I saw myself lapping up the attention (gratefully), basking in the glory (hopefully) and being unbearably smug (just a little bit). I was really looking forward to this whole book-author thing.
But things haven't quite worked out that way. And the reason I'm writing this is so that  you may understand my silence and forgive me for not having gotten back to you or acknowledged your recent kind emails and messages. You see, on the day of my book launch my mom was hospitalized. She had been chemo-weak and sick leading up to my book launch but she was determined that she would be there on the night. But she wasn't. Since the 8 April, she's been in and out of hospital. Those familiar with cancer know how this goes; despair and hope.  Tears and tests. Bargaining. Acceptance. Prayers and practicalities. I have been unable to think of anything else. It has been all-consuming. And some days during the last couple of weeks were harrowing.
It's better now.  My mom is slowly regaining that familiar fighting spirit. That's why I can write this. Because I am less frightened now than I was 10 days ago. Ten days ago I thought I'd lose her.
I can remember two things about this time, the one was making myself melkkos late one night, in desperation, while she was in the hospital having a brain scan and the other was lying on the couch on our stoep one warm night, my head on her lap while she sat up straight. We spent an hour looking at the beautiful silver full moon that night and talking softly. I don't recall what it was we spoke of. Because words didn't matter....


1/2 cup of flour
1 1/2 tablespoons of butter
Pinch of salt
3 cups of milk
Cinnamon stick.


Mix the sugar and cinnamon to make cinnamon. (Obviously)
Rub the butter and the flour between your fingers until it's all nice and crumbly.
Bring the milk with the cinnamon stick to boil
Slowly, bit by bit, add the butter / flour mixture to the warm milk, stirring gently all the while.
Reduce the heat of the milk, adding as much cinnamon sugar as you like or need.
And simmer for 5-7 minutes, while stirring gently. 
Remove the cinnamon stick from the melkkos.
Serve in a deep bowls with some more cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top.


  1. "sterkte" is the appropriate afrikans word used here i guess ( afrikans is not my language )

    It's just strange as least in regard to me and the profession i am in that we meet every single day lots people who have to go through very challenging situations , health wise. Somehow with years in the field we build up a thick shield to protect ourselves emotionally, sadly trying to disconnect ourselves from the "patient" , even to the extent of seeming very cold . It's even worse as a younger doctor - where somehow a macho atttitude is more displayed .We go about like gorillas beating our chest to other doctors " i didnt get a minute's rest, the bleep went non stop! , i put in a temporary pacemaker and dealt with "n" number of heart attack patients , and had to tube 2 of them ect... !! " forgetting completely that there were people in distress.

    But when someone close and meaningful to us ,the whole picture changes. That shield just melts away ! And at least I, become a bag of emotions ! ( Don't tell Jacques that ! ) . but yes a close one being sick is like my worst nightmare! But then with some personal insight, the way you deal with patients and families after also changes, and hopefully in a more humble way

    wish your mother a caring doctor and more than anything she recovers soon.

  2. Dear Sam

    I have always admired your writing, this is such a beautiful post, i hope with all my heart that your Mum recovers.
    May you have peace and happiness.

    I havent had melkos since a child, when my mum made it for me, i think its time again.

    Kind Regards

  3. When I was little, I was always scared my mom would die. My only comfort was that I was sure that, as I got older and more independent, she would matter less to me and eventually when she was so old that the inevitable came to pass, I would be stronger and it wouldn't hurt so much. Instead, as I've grown older, she has become not only my mom, but also my friend,and losing her now seems impossible to survive. I should probably tell her that.

    I hope your mom just gets stronger and stronger. X

  4. Loved rreading this thank you