09 November 2010

Christopher Frank Oldham Wells - Dad

12 February 1944 - 22 July 2010

How can I possibly do justice to the life of a man who meant so much to so many people in a simple blog?  I normally start my blogs by loading up the photos and only then I start writing because the photos bring the experiences rushing back to mind.  My Mom's been scanning in so many wonderful old photos which I've uploaded (thanks a MILLION Mom!).  And they have brought the memories flooding back.  But I'm still stuck for the words to pay tribute to the amazing, multi-faceted man who was my Dad.  

I was his little girl - right up to the day he died.  There wasn't a thing he wouldn't do for me if I asked for help - Mom's always said I had him wrapped around my finger!  As I sit here contemplating how to go about this, allowing the memories to wash over me, I really am having a hard time thinking of Dad alone.  I have been extremely blessed to have two parents who were a complete team.  I can't think of Dad without Mom being right there too.  What amazing role models they have both been for Douglas and I!

Dad knew a huge amount about so many things.  And what he didn't know and wanted to, he'd find out.  Especially when it came to building stuff.  He was a born engineer.  I like to think I got some of that natural aptitude for things mechanical from him.  Dad used to service both his & Mom's cars.  I remember standing over his shoulder while he was working on Mom's mini.  I remember his eventually relenting and showing me stuff - I think he wished I would just wear pretty dresses and play with dolls - instead I lived in jeans and ended up doing woodwork to matric!  But once he came to terms with having a tomboy for a daughter, he was only too happy to explain & show me how things worked.

You know, I don't remember Dad ever being too busy to answer questions, help with something or play with us.  How awesome is that?  And play he did!  Heavens, I don't know who had more fun - him or us.  There was the rough 'n tumble on the lounge floor where he'd tickle us & get us squealing (in my case screeching!) and getting Apollo (our long-haired Alsatian) all worked up into a frenzy.  And how can anyone who grew up within a 5km radius of our house ever forget Mr Wells' Legendary Rope Swing?!  A long, thick rope swing tied to a high branch of one of the tall pine trees.  Another long, thinner piece of rope slung over another tall pine tree which served as the pulley.  A kid got onto the swing, held onto the swing rope with one hand & the end of the pulley rope with the other. All the kids waiting in line for the swing would grab the other end of the pulley rope and pull.  The kid on the rope swing would be pulled higher and higher until they felt they were high enough (usually as close to the height of the pulley branch - about 20m up - as possible) and then let go.  Woooooohooooooo!!!!!!  Wind rushing through your hair as you swung like a pendulum, missing pine trees by inches.  What a RUSH!!!  Of course these days, there's no way Dad would've been able to get away with that - which is completely irrelevant, because he did then.  And all the kids in the neighbourhood have some hair raising experiences to take with them forever.  

I grew up having a Dad who went diving for crayfish and perlamoen (abalone).  Who bought a ski boat hull and, together with a couple of mates, built the rest of the boat and took me fishing.  To this day, I love nothing better than to get to the very front of a boat/yacht and curl up on a life jacket and listen to the slapping of waves against the hull and feel the boat rocking.  Most kids fell asleep in cars - my favourite place to sleep was the anchor well covered in life jackets while Dad & his mates fished.   Not only did I learn to fish, but I learned to scale and gut fish too.  

And along with that was learning how to cook a fish on a braai - after making a roaring fire which took at least 5 hours to burn down to coals suitable for cooking!

When I was a teenager and the home phone was MINE, I remember Dad embarrassing me no end by answering calls, "It's your 10c, speak up!"

And Dad was never happier than when he was building something - a braai pit, a new kitchen/lounge/bathroom, a beach cottage, a hydrolic-something-or-other garage door....  and not to forget the legendary wind charger!

I even had the extreme good fortune to work for Dad for a few months at Springbok Sprinklers where I got to learn his amazing work ethic and ingenuity in solving problems as they arose (traits Scott is also blessed with).

I have a lifetime full of memories which I could go on for days describing.  But looking back at these memories, it's glaringly obvious just how much I learnt from Dad and how he had such a huge hand in shaping who I am today - and what I'm capable of doing.

I miss him terribly.  And I know that Dad was very happy with how my life is shaping up.  He was so happy that I'd finally made it to Australia.  And he was over the moon with my choice in husband - a younger version of himself who loves to drill shit, hammer shit and build shit!  They say daughters marry their fathers, well I got extremely lucky and managed to find a man who is so like my father in so many ways.  And Scott and I will continue to do Dad proud in everything we do, how we treat each other and those around us.

1944-45 - Dad with his Mom (Cape Town Granny) at Onrust

1949 - Dad at Onrust

Also around 1949

1952 - Dad fishing at Onrust
And later he taught Doug & I to do exactly the same thing, in the same spot.

1952 - Dad, his sister Jane and their Dad at Onrust

1952 - Dad at Onrust

1965 - Dad with his future mother-in-law - my Little Gran

1965 - Dad at an army camp

12 February 1966 - my beautiful parents on their wedding day
(also my Dad's birthday so he wouldn't forget their anniversary!)

June 1966 - Dad at Hartebeespoort Dam in the jersey Mom knitted for him

Old Years' Eve 1966 - Dad on the left, Little Gran with a white dot on her mouth and Mom just right of centre in the blue.

1968 - Heidelberg Kloof - think Mom & Dad were on a camping weekend

Around 1970 - Dad with Cape Town Granny at Onrust

1970 - Dad giving Ranger an enormous bone - somewhere in Jhb

1971 - Heidelberg.  My future godparents, Rayna & Johnny, Dad and Little Gran.  Even camping Dad had to having a marque instead of a simple tent!  

1973 - Dad with his little girl - Lombardy East

1973 - Lombardy East - Dad & Jane with the little cousins - Me, Naomi, Shane & Delice

1975 - And little Doug arrives to complete our family of 4

1977 - The Sand Dune Beach at Onrust - Dad and Doug

1977 - Dad at Onrust

1978 - Onrust - CT Granny, Mom, Lourens, Dad, Doug & Me

1978 - Dad with the cine camera at Onrust

1980 - Onrust steps with our successful Harder catch - Glynn, Dad, Tracy, Me & Doug

Early 80's - Cape Town Gran & Dad at the airport

Early 80's - Cape Town Gran, Mom & Dad at the airport

Early 80's - Mom & Dad in the pool at Lulworth Way

1983 - Dad & I braai-ing at Onrust

1983 - Dad building the new lounge extension at Lulworth Way
(See the height of those pine trees?  The swing tree was the thick on on the right of the photo!)

1983 - After a hard days' work...  Nothing like an ice cold Castle & a nap in the chair...

1984 - Mom & Dad at a cricket club party at the Lulworth Way house

 1984 - An after show party in the braai pit Dad built next to the pool in Lulworth Way

1984 - Dad & Doug with Dave Millar's Great Dane at their small holding (think that's Joy Millar in the background)

Around 1985 - Dad was busy doing something and I pushed him in the pool - that's Apollo in the background.

1985 - Dad building the cottage down at Pringle Bay

Mid 80's - Doug, Dad & Apollo fooling around on the lounge floor

1986 - Dad fooling around with a family friend, Heima at Tokai Forest - if I remember correctly we were playing cricket & there was some confusion about who was going to catch the ball...

1986 - Dad at Pringle Bay

Around 1986 - De Kelders with second cousins - Adi (I'm hungry!), Michael and Geoff Baker

1986 - Up at sparrows seeing visitors Jonno & family off from Lulworth Way back to Jo'burg

1986 - Boys weekend at Pringle Bay

1987 - Playing a joke on me at Pringle Bay - Dad & cousin Jonno

1987-88 - Doug's godfather, Geoff Du Bois with Dad at Lulworth Way.
Geoff & Pearl now live on the Gold Coast & as I write this, I am sitting at their dining room table!

1987-88 - Grampa and Dad - Lulworth Way

1987-88 - Dad relaxing at Lulworth Way

1988 - Building the stage for the Hobbies Club - Doug, Len Pye, Alan Russell, Dad & Apollo sitting guarding the lot - Lulworth Way

1988 - Dad & Neil Veitch at the braai at Pringle Bay

1988 - Dad enjoying a great skottel braai breakfast - baked beans, scrambled eggs, tomato, wors.. Yum!

1988 - Good morning!  Starting breakfast before a surf at Pringle Bay - Stephen Coetze, Mom, Dad, Doug, Deon Truter

1980's - Springbok Sprinklers end of year braai - Dad & Dave Pienaar with the boys

1989-90 - Mom & Dad in the lounge at Lulworth Way

1991 - Table tennis tournament - Dad & Neil at Onrust

1991 - Launching the rubber duck at Onrust - Dad, Neil, cousin Naomi and me

1991 - Braai at Onrust - Neil, Mom, Len Pye & Dad

1992 - Little Gran, Doug & Dad in the huge Lulworth Way kitchen that Dad built

1993 - Mom & Dad at Lulworth Way

1993 - Mom, Dad & Doug at Lulworth Way

1993 - My 21st - Dad, Len, Nicky, Sharon & Nols

1995 - Dad & I - a wonderful photo taken by Bennie Smit just before I left to go over to the UK

1995 - Dad relaxing with the papers after a hard days' work

1998 - Geoff, his enormous camcorder & Dad at Onrust beach

1998 - Mom, Dad & CT Gran at Geoff's 50th in Edgemead (think that's the back of my head in the foreground)

2001 - Mom & Dad in the garden of their new house in Green Way

12 Feb 2003 - Dad's birthday & folks' anniversary - dinner at Green Way

March 2003 - Mom, me & Dad - Green Way

2003 - The Wells Clan - Doug, Mons, Tiffer, me, Mom, Gran Noreen, Gramps, Dad

2003 - Dad & Tiffer eating ice cream

2003 at Groote Post wine estate on the West Coast - Mom, Dad, Mons & Doug.  I introduced Dad to Groote Post Shiraz & it was his favourite wine and is still one of mine.

2003 - Mom, Dad, Tiffer & Buddy at Green Way

2003 - Dad & Mom on a sunset cruise at Langebaan - the first time Mom had been on a boat (without getting seasick!) in years!

Xmas dinner 2003 - Mom, Gran Noreen, Dad, me, Hilda Collins & Gramps

2004 - Mom & Dad picnicking & summer sunset concert at Kirstenbosch Gardens

2005 Fathers Day - Scott & I took Dad to Onrust for the weekend.  Stopped at Pringle Bay on the way home.

August 2005 - Dad & I at my surprise birthday/engagement party at Cape To Cuba

August 2005 - Dad probably telling embarrassing stories about me at the party - Dad, Jordy, Lilly, Gaz

18 March 2006 - Dad on my wedding day

18 March 2006 - Wedding pics - Mom, Scott, Doug, me & Dad 
What a very happy day this was!

Dad rocked the dance floor at our wedding - Dee, Dad & I

Dad doing his famous left-footed-elbow-flap-bum-wiggle with the girls at our wedding.  Dee, me, Janke, Dad & Lilly

Mom, Dee & Dad at our wedding

March 2006 - After the wedding, Mom & Dad took Barry (Mom's brother) & Alison to Evita se Peron in Darling

April 2006 - Cousin Shane came to visit - Scott, Shane, Cape Town Granny, Dad with Buddy, Mom & me

June 2006 - Fathers' Day at Scott's folks' place in Wellington.
Dad & I with Scott & his Dad, Mike.

Fathers' Day 2006 - Dad deep in conversation

12 February 2007 - Dad trying out his birthday present in our Kindroggan apartment

12 Feb '07 - I love this pic of Mom & Dad!

March 2007 - The Onrust Chainsaw Tree Massacrer!  Following the mysterious poisoning of the three trees next to the Onrust house, Scott & Dad had to chop down the dying trees.

They were like two kids in a candy store fighting over who got to use the big power toy first!  LOL!!!

1 Sept 2007 - Housewarming/my birthday party at our house in Parow.  Mom & Dad playing the fool for the camera!

1 Sept 2007 - Housewarming/birthday party at our house in Parow.  Dad discovers the Orgasmatron....

December 2007 - Scott's birthday - another sunset concert at Kirstenbosch - this time Michael Buble!!!

12 Feb '08 - Dad's birthday at Green Way

16 Feb '08 - Dad at our farewell party at Green Way

19 Feb '08 - farewell dinner with Dad, Scott, me, Mom, Shane, Cape Town Granny and Megs (this was also shortly before Shane & Megs moved to Perth)

31 May 2008 - Mom & Dad land at Sydney airport

Dad harassing some poor lady at Sydney airport - damn! he had such a wicked sense of humour!

June '08 - Dad, Mom & Scott at Wahroonga train station, Sydney

June '08 - me, Mom & Dad in Sydney Harbour

June '08 - Mom & Dad at the fountain in Hyde Park, Sydney

June '08 - Mom & Dad at Bobbin Head, Sydney

June '08 - Geoff, Pearl & Dad - Gold Coast

June '08 - Dad at Surfers Paradise

13 June 2008 - Mom's birthday at Doug's place at Banora Point, Gold Coast - Dad, Scott & Mom

June '08 - Mom, Jazzie & Dad at Byron Bay

June '08 - Dad in his favourite place - Tumbulgum - with Chris

July '08 - Dad & Chris with a koala on the Gold Coast

July '08 - wish I'd been there that day - Dad wearing the results of his sheep sheering efforts!

July '08 - Dad & Chris building a tree house in the garden at Banora Point

July '08 - Dad enjoying a cruise up the Tweed River to Tumbulgum

July '08 - Dad & Chris on the cruise up the Tweed

July '08 - Mom & Dad at the Tumbulgum Tavern

July '08 - Dad & Doug at the bus stop - Mom & Dad travelled by bus & train between Sydney & the Gold Coast so they could see more of the countryside.

July '08 - Lazy Sunday afternoon at the Newport Arms, Sydney

Another stunning pic of Mom & Dad - taken at South Head with Sydney skyline in the background

July '08 - Mom & Dad on the Harbour Bridge

Dad having some fun at the Japanese Gardens

Digging into a couple of Tigers at Harry's Cafe de Wheels

Fooling around at Bondi

People watching at Bondi

Dad & Scott with their Aussie hats at the Opera House

Taking a break at the Rocks Market

Dad doing a non-coordinated march in the Blue Mountains

July '08 - last scrumptious dinner at Lotus Inn Chinese restaurant in Wahroonga before Mom & Dad left Aus.

Arranging beautiful magnolias after a few wines....  with Dad's running commentary - very funny!

July '08 - Mom and Dad waiting to check their luggage at the airport

12 Feb '09 - Mike, Dad, Mom & Cavell celebrating Dad's birthday

And the Green Way house is sold!  Dad celebrating with the estate agent at the pool (which Dad built!)

And of course, he couldn't resist dunking a pretty lady in a white blouse!  LOL!

16 April '09 - Dad in the lounge amongst the clutter on their first night in the Kindroggan apartment.

12 July '09 - Dad being a boy & throwing logs into the flooded canal

June '09 - Dad in his element!  Revamping the bathroom at Kindroggan

October '09 - Dad still in his element!  Revamping the kitchen at Kindroggan

July '09 - Dad building bookshelves in the lounge in Kindroggan

July '09 - Dad with his new toy - a big flat screen TV!!!

Xmas '09 - Dad with CT Granny at Pinelands Place

3 Feb 2010 - Dad's always been fascinated with stained glass so decided to learn how to do it himself.  Here he is at the studio in Salt River where he took lessons.

March 2010 - Dad & Bennie at Gaansbaai harbour for lunch

March 2010 - Dad & Bennie - fire, beer, wine, whiskey - happy as Larry!

April 2010 - Dad, Doug & Chris at Onrust

April 2010 - Dad, Doug, Chris & Sean braai-ing at Onrust

2010 - Breakfast train trip

1 July 2010 - Dad in the Soccer Bubble Boat at the Waterfront

3 July 2010 - Dad & friends on the Fan Walk.  He SO enjoyed this day!

3 July 2010 - Dad on the Fan Walk

Dad, I know that you know you were well loved.  I miss you so much.


Anonymous said...

Wow , he sounds like an amazing man ! Fantastic pics , many happy memories ! Gus xx

mupersan-1 said...

what a wonderful tribute Mands. you did him a great justice. Ireally enjoyed reading this. Thank you.

Mamajoon said...

Ah, Mands. So many happy, happy memories. A couple of weeks before Dad died, we were sitting with a cuppa, looking out at Table Mountain. He reached across, took my had and said 'We've had a good life, haven't we?' And didn't we just? He was such a vital presence in my life that it's still hard to believe that he won't just walk in the door at any time and ask 'Is the kettle on?'

Pete said...

Thanks for sharing this Mands, what fantastic memories! Pete xx

Devin said...


I did not know your family (as I did not know you very well, or very long), but it is a beautiful thing that you have done here.



Devin said...


I did not know your family (as I did not know you very well, or very long), but it is a beautiful thing that you have done here.



Anonymous said...

Mands, what a lovely tribute to a very special person.

We fondly remember Chris as a quiet, softly spoken man with a great sense of humour and the cherry on the top - a pukka GENTLEMAN.

Chris was loved, respected and admired by all who had the privilege of knowing him.

Luv Mike & Cavell

Tony Holmes said...

Great story and wonderful tribute to Chris. This blog will be a family heirloom. Love
Tony & Penny

Uta Higgs said...

This is so beautiful!