On my hike down memory lane, I stumbled across this gem……….


When I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes about thirty years ago, I ignored the fact, rather like sticking one’s head under the blanket in the belief ‘if I can’t see it, it can’t see me’. Sadly, it could see me and snuck up on me in two different ways.

Knowing that the condition is termed Sugar Diabetes, with emphasis on Sugar, but having a really-sweet tooth, I continued to sweeten my coffee, and to indulge in delicious chocolate desserts, and most of all, to munch on Crunchies, Aero and any of their sister sweets. I say ‘Sister’ sweets because I imagine only females can be so alluring but so dangerous.

Burning feet, constant thirst, and debilitating drowsiness, I took no notice of all the symptoms, just kept feeding the monkey on my back. That monkey also enjoyed fried foods, which were also a no-no, but so yummy.

Eventually, my sins caught up with me and my eyesight began to diminish.

In my day I had enjoyed painting. From wildlife to landscapes, to enormous eight-foot by eight-foot murals, I tackled them all and loved the challenge. I remember buying brushes from the largest flat brushes, about two inches wide, to the tiniest size 001-pointed brush, and even then pulling out all the bristles until only one remained for the minuscule details in my pictures.

The day came, however, when my two worlds collided. My love for chocolate damaged my eyesight. Also, a nasty little melanoma showed up in my right eye, which was successfully treated by radiation but left me with significantly impaired vision on that side.

Finally, just for fun, I woke up one day to a stroke in my good eye. It seemed I was being sent a message, that my creative days we’re over.

My grandson, who really loves me, hated watching my disappointment when I could no longer see well enough to paint any works of wonder,  and he quietly packed away my paints, brushes, turpentine, and all the paraphernalia that went along with my beloved hobby.

So, okay, no painting then. Ho hum, what to do, what to do? Ooh yes, beads! I had about three thousand rand’s worth of beads sitting neglected in a cupboard, from the day’s when I was making jewellery.  Fortuitously, at this time a friend of Vaughn’s came around with some air-drying clay. It is a great medium for people without access to a kiln. She rolled out a circular sheet about 12 centimetres round, and then using beads of different colours, created the most beautiful mandala, which, for those who do not know, is a series of concentric circles of different patterns.

It was something I could do. I had my spectacles and magnifying glass, and about three thousand rand’s worth of beads, I was set. Okay, so now, let us begin. All went well until I made a mistake and tried to pick up a bead out of the wet clay. My fingers could not get a grip of the smooth surfaces of the beads. When I tried to pick up one that was misplaced, I couldn’t do it without spoiling the rest of the mandala.

“What I need,” I pronounced, “is a pair of tweezers.”

In my mind, that would solve my problem.

Vaughn dutifully bought me a great pair, and they were unlike any other that I had seen. The ends were bent downwards, which made picking up and placing beads easy-peasy.

The day came when Vaughn was out of the house, and I found myself a bit bored, wondering what to do when I remembered the beads. Aha, I would get them and finish the mandala. I found the piece of clay we had rolled out, ready to be dressed.

It was quite dried out and cracked, so I poured water over it and let it soak in a saucer for a while. Then I went looking for the beads. Most of them had their own plastic container, with about a dozen compartments for different shades of the same colour. All very organised, but I also had an old ice cream container where I kept any odd beads leftover from the necklaces and earrings I used to make.

I found the tub of assorted leftover beads and, it was in a very odd, out of the way place under the lounge curtains. When I picked it up, I was surprised at the weight of it, seemed very heavy for the amount of leftover beads I remembered having.  Then I recollected having a very cheap white bead; I kept in a tub. 

I settled down with the beads and the clay disc, ready to prove how very clever I was, and to finish making a beautiful mandala, all by myself, not needing anybody’s help.

Just as I was settling down to create an exquisite work of art, Vaughn came home, unexpectedly early. I quickly stashed the beads on the floor next to my wheelchair.

The following morning, as he was vacuuming, he found the box of beads, picked them up, and looked at me quizzically.

“Gran, what this?” he asked.

“Its beads, I was going to surprise you, show you that I don’t need you to watch me all day and every day. You know if you want to go out, or something, and that I can entertain myself.”

He looked at me, and I could see he was struggling to hold back his laughter,

“Gran, what are you doing?” he asked.

“Nothing, “

I said guiltily, not wanting him to see what I was up to. It was supposed to be a surprise, after all.

“Gran, what are you doing with the birdseed?”.

“Huh?” I looked at the container and, it’s contents closely.


Realising that I was about to try and make a mandala out of birdseed, I had to finally admit defeat. Apparently, they were not kidding when they said, if one did not take care, then Diabetes could damage eyesight.  So, I put down the clay, but working on the lemons to lemonade theory. I thought to myself

‘Oh well, at least it gives me a topic for my next blog,

 Then picking up my iPad, I started to write

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