Claim to fame: my sister – in – law, rocking Glam-ma to 3 grandkids, expat teacher, living and working in the UAE for the past 13 years, sans hubby, go – getter and never – quitter.
Challenge: post – 40 career change and international move.
Roberta qualified as a teacher the year I was born. Process that for a moment.
I met her the day we informed hubby's family that we had in fact eloped and married. An impromptu decision to celebrate our marriage saw me meet all the Londt siblings, their spouses and children on one day. I had done ok with the others but Bertha( as she's known) was the last to arrive. Everyone had warned me that she was the one to impress so I was sufficiently unnerved. Her first words to me were, " So you're the one who married my brother." My response, "No, I'm the one your brother married" set the tone for our future relationship. We clicked immediately, despite our age difference.
You wouldn't know it by looking at her, but she's 64! But not your regular, geriatric looking, sad bag granny 64, no siree Bob!
She's also the mother to three, grandmother to 3 and an all round genuine person. But that's not enough to get you on the first ever Challenges series, no ma'am!
So who is she? She's a nooi Londt, second eldest daughter of 7 siblings, self – professed black sheep of the family and a woman with a very strong sense of self.
She married hubby Ken, had three beautiful kids and remained an independent woman in a time when women rarely worked post- marriage. Indeed, her circumstances were comfortable enough with a husband earning a more than generous salary, for her to rest on her laurels and breed.
However, Roberta is not your run – of – the – mill, "by the book" woman. She worked, owned her own car, contributed to the finances and remained in charge of her destiny through the birth of all three her children, eventual job loss by her husband and a mortgage.
She learned to make do with less, stretch a Rand, double her income with a part time job and through fostering a good work ethic and loyalty. She also managed to raise her children to show respect and work hard, maintain a marriage through 35 years of emotional and economic ups and downs, and the loss of a child.
This wasn't enough for her. She also contributed to her community, sitting on her rent agent's board, community improvement forum, and fundraising for her late son's rugby team's trip to France.
At the time she was working at the Road Accident Fund in Cape Town because making a life on a teacher's salary (especially the salary of a POC) was not enough to survive on. She has also kept heart and soul together as a doctor's receptionist, a Tupperware lady and an insurance agent.
One thing Roberta is, is a survivor.
When I decided to move to the UAE I could think of only one person to ask to make the leap with me.
At 51 it was a late change for her, but she could see the opportunity presented by a move overseas. She could pay off her home, set up a healthy retirement fund and perhaps earn enough to support her family comfortably.
While we both discussed the options with our SOs, in our minds the decision had already been made. When we finally set foot on the plane bound to Dubai we didn't know we'd be tied together on a journey that has lasted 13 years.
Her philosophy of life
She maintains herself though a healthy diet, attention to skin care, exercise ( she's a fan of Zumba and salsa dancing) and above all, a die hard "age is nothing but a number" attitude to life. She is often asked if she's 40 something, and she's shamed many of her friends who are younger than her with her flawless skin, killer legs and bright smile.
She enjoys life and we often go out dancing on our sacred girl's nights out. She wears her short skirts and sexy heels and puts girls less than half her age to shame. Others her age look like wrinkled prunes with attitudes to match.
She maintains strict routines, waking and going to bed at the same time each day. She makes sure she eats small regular meals, stays hydrated, and stays positive through all of life's uncertainties. She also likes learning new things and enjoys playful repartee.
She fosters lifelong friendships, is loyal to those who deserve it and is one of those who would give her last to help someone else.
She makes an effort to stay in touch with her family back home ( she's just welcomed a new grandson to the world) with Skype calls (when we still could), Whatsapp messages, expensive phone calls home and regular flights to SA. She makes an effort to be there for every Xmas and perhaps one other celebration or holiday.
Roberta has decided that 13 years in the UAE is enough. Her family needs her and she's got bigger and better things to work on.
We're going into business together and while I'm staying put for now, she's going to go ahead and set things up for when I do get there. I wouldn't trust anyone else to do it.
So there's definitely no easing on the throttle for this Glam- Ma. She's still gunning all her engines and grabbing life by the short and curlies. I often say I hope to age in the style she's taught me: with fearlessness and chutzpah!
What did you think of my First Lady of the Challenges Series? Isn't she fab? Let me know in the comments!
Until next I blog,