Good South African Friends

When Carter was in 8th grade she came home from school one day and said, “We had the nicest twins, a boy and a girl, come and tour the school today. They are from South Africa.” She new that South Africa was my favorite place I had ever visited so we talked about why I liked it so much, “All the people I met there were so warm and friendly,” I tried to explain.

That summer, when I was in charge of the welcoming program for new families to the school I found out that those South African twins were admitted and their family was moving to Durham from Cincinnati. Since they were not just new to the school, but also the town I took them as out mentee family. Being the mentor family for Cait and Adam Ushpol was the best perk of being on that committee, because along with the twins came their parents, Kelly and Mark Ushpol. They held true to my feeling of all the other South Africans I had met and we became friends right away.

Russ is not usually one to get involved in the mentor/mentee relationship, but once I met Mark I knew Russ wold like him. It worked out perfectly that Carter and Cait became great friends, Kelly and I did and Mark and Russ, we all also loved Adam and their two dogs Zoe and Ella. The Ushpol’s would come to the farm for thanksgiving and were the perfect guests.

Then, just as the kids were finishing up their schooling Mark and Kelly announced they were moving to Atlanta. Like a whirlwind they moved into our lives and then they were gone. For the kids, they were all going off to different colleges so it was not that weird for them, but for me and Russ, we lost not just the kids, but Kelly and Mark too.

Adam stayed locally in NC for college so that meant we got Kelly and Mark for Parents weekend, but I promised Kelly I would come to Atlanta to visit while the kids were in school. It is hard to move to a new place when you don’t have kids in school to give you a group of people you have connections with.

With Russ having his eye operation at the beginning of the year I had to refrain from planning any travel in case I was needed to be his eyes. Once he had the miraculous operation that brought back his sight I was free to travel. I packed in as much as I could in a short couple of months. So with one week left before Carter is finished with her Freshman year I made the trip to Atlanta, to keep my promise to come and visit.

It is no hardship to come and visit Kelly and Mark. They have a beautiful house and are the most hospitable hosts. Kelly didn’t even let me help make the salad for dinner. Of course she would let me take her picture, but Mark obliged my need for a blog photo. Of course I had good snuggles from Ella. I just wish Cait and Adam, Russ and Carter were all here too. These aren’t just our South African friends, but our dear friends.



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