Covid Chronicles
Fairlady|January/February 2022
Covid-19 has changed everything – not least of which is the essence of ‘home’, and what it means to us. Here are four tales of journeying, leaving, staying, going the distance and finding peace.
By Tracy Bax

ELIZABETH BAER, 56

Elizabeth grew up in Umhlali and left South Africa 35 years ago to travel. In the UK she married, had two sons and settled in Bath. Her eldest has just started his first job, and the youngest started university this year.

Although she enjoys living in Somerset, Elizabeth came back to South Africa often for family holidays. ‘I love the salty sea air, wide-open space and tropical vegetation of the KZN East Coast,’ she says.

When Covid-19 hit, those trips came to an abrupt stop. Like many of us, Liz found the isolation overwhelming. She kept up with her exercise regime, trying to stay grounded. But when she went for a routine check-up and discovered a lump in her breast, her sense of wellbeing was compromised.

Every visit to her oncologist was made alone. Some of her post-surgery follow-up appointments were done remotely. The knit of sisterhood was now at a distance. Friends left food on the doorstep; people dropped off cards, messaged, called… but there was no human touch. Then Liz contracted pneumonia. She was admitted to a hospital in Bath, where they discovered the radiation had ‘burnt’ one of her lungs and created a space for the virus to enter. She spent frightening nights lying in the dark, battling to breathe.

One nurse held her hand for hours when she was gasping for air. ‘I will forever be grateful to the unknown souls who helped me overcome,’ Liz says. ‘There I was, having a kind nurse hold me while I sobbed and confronted every hope, wish, dream, regret, chance, and second chance.

‘I decided then to take early retirement and come to South Africa as much as possible while still being present for my sons. I bought a small unit in Salt Rock. Many people told me it was a terrible business idea, but I was investing in my soul, my heart, my life. I realized through Covid and cancer that you can’t put a price on that. I landed in Durban in October 2021. As I walked off that plane, the sweet caramel scent of burnt sugar cane transported me straight back to my childhood. I felt peaceful in the hot chaos. I was so grateful to be in a position to do this, the thing I had longed to do but suppressed for so many years. I had come back home.’

GOGO MTHETHWA, 31

Leaving home to work on cruise ships gave Gogo the chance to see the world. She made voyages around the Caribbean Islands, MidAtlantic crossings and hopped around the Mediterranean.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FAIRLADYView All

How to Survive the Feast-Or Famine Cycle

It’s empowering to have more than one income stream, but there is a downside: it’s easy to splurge when money is plentiful, but what about the lean months? Three self-starters share their tips for keeping an even keel through good and bad.

6 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Kaley's Comet

Kaley Cuoco was so beguiling as Penny on The Big Bang Theory that she soon became one of the highest paid actors in television. With HBO’s comedic thriller series The Flight Attendant, she entered exciting, slightly sinister new territory – but it proved her range as an actress and cemented her broad-based appeal.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Let the Music Play

My dad died days before the global lockdown. While I was trapped within four walls, music and dancing gave me reason to smile again.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

How to Make Your Own Luck

Luck isn’t easy to measure or study, but those who have managed to do it discovered it’s not the work of fate – it’s a skill you can cultivate and improve. So, how do you go about it?

8 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Local Flavour

Stocking up your pantry? These artisanal foods are guaranteed to ignite the senses of home chefs everywhere. Meet the foodies behind two of South Africa’s tastiest brands.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

The Comfort of Ritual

Rituals imbue our lives with depth and meaning. And in times of uncertainty, they are even more important because they create a sense of grounding.

8 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Get Your Shine Back!

When the last of the summer heat is over, it’s important to take time to reverse any hair damage caused by sun and sea water.

5 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

The Rise of the Personal Shopper

It’s not a new concept, but the number of people who make a living from sourcing goods on behalf of clients is on the rise. We talked to three personal shoppers to find out what it takes.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Back to the Wild

Imagine camping in the Little Karoo… a billion stars above you, the ancient desert beneath, the insistent flapping of your canvas tent in the cold night air. Then banish all the rustic images this conjures up – because Dwyka Tented Lodge will confound all your expectations.

6 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

A Good (Mo) Hair Day

"Beauty Mokgwamme had other dreams, but circumstances took her exactly where she was meant to be."

3 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022