Two things I learnt about life this past weekend

The weekend started out great. As most weekends typically do when you live in a place as beautiful as Cape Town, South Africa.

On Saturday morning, my husband, bulldog and I took a drive up the West Coast to see his parents. Family from Durban also joined which meant the entire Forbes clan were going to be together for the weekend. My parents-in-law house is 80 steps from a private beach and the weather was playing along very nicely. It was all looking good and promising to be an amazing weekend.

But, it didn’t end as well as I’d hoped. Regardless, I left for home definitely having learnt a thing or two.

Look after yourself now so you don’t turn into an old fart

My father-in-law (FIH) is probably one of the hardest working people I know. His career as a Mechanical Engineer has seen him build some of the biggest roads in the country and it’s a job he’s not only very good at, but one he truly loves doing. You see, at 69 years old, he was about to start work on a new two-year project this coming month. Unfortunately, that has taken a backseat for the moment. I will explain why.

When we arrived on Saturday, the family were all on the beach and, after joining them, we were told that the night before my FIH was taken to hospital after almost choking on a piece of steak. He clearly survived and that night a few jokes were created at his expense while we all kept an eye on the size of the bites he was putting into his mouth. No more drama from the steak department and we went to bed. Waking up the next morning, we were greeted with news that the FIH had fallen while getting out of the shower and had landed so badly on the edge of the toilet bowl that he was starting to urinate blood.

Cue emergency ambulance and heated discussions about how we were going to get him down the stairs. After enough morphine to stun a whale, my husband and brother-in-law eventually managed to carry the FIH down the stairs. An important thing to bare in mind here is the body shape of the person they were carrying down the stairs. The FIH has very little muscle mass which means super skinny arms and legs with a big belly that’s already proven to be an issue with his balance. He doesn’t so much as walk, but shuffle where he needs to go. Last year, he slipped in a convenience store and basically ripped his ankle off the bone. It’s had to be fused now which means he has no movement in it anymore. It doesn’t much help the ‘shuffle’.

A couple of x-rays and some high-tech scans showed that five, yes five, of the FIH’s ribs had been broken and his kidneys were badly bruised. This would explain the bloody urine. So ICU it was for a week on bed rest, and the potential for a couple of months at home while ribs (which are the worst bone to break) try to heal.

This news might seem more annoying than life shattering to most but I feel it’s important to give you some context around my FIH. Yes, he’s worked very hard and provided as well he could for his family throughout his career. But, what he hasn’t done, is take into consideration the importance of health as a key factor in promoting and ensuring longevity. The FIH drinks only black coffee and red wine and eats a simple diet consisting of potatoes, toast, and meat. Very occasionally, some greens might find their way onto his plate but these times are outliers versus being the norm. He doesn’t do much (read: any) exercise and because of this a lot of his muscle mass has already started to atrophy. I love him dearly and feel bad writing about him like this, but seeing what his lifestyle has created has given me the responsibility to share it with more people.

Don’t let anyone control your money, especially if you’re a woman

I know I said above that my FIH enjoys working and that he’s about to start a new job (well, let’s see if it happens) but these aren’t happening out of complete choice. It turns out, that during his career the FIH didn’t really pay much attention to his savings and currently can’t afford to retire if he plans to live another 10–12 years. So he’s had to go back into the job market.

What frustrates me the most is that he never shared his financial situation with his wife and she never had access to understand how much money he had. Ultimately, she ended up saving more for retirement that he did but it’s not enough to support the two of them.

I have friends my age (early 30s) who don’t know how much their husbands earn or whether he is saving for retirement or even whether they are beneficiaries on any of the savings should something happen to him. It’s insane and even when I speak to them about it, there’s this underlying belief that the husband is doing everything right and that they will be okay.

They will NOT be okay and I don’t care how wonderful the husband is as a person, if you’re not looking out for yourself as a women in 2019 there’s something wrong with you.

So, my takeout for this piece is: look after your body just as much as you do your mind and take responsibility for your own financial freedom because nobody is going to do either for you.



Sabrina Forbes

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