Friends for 70 years and still going strong

2017-03-15 08:23
Maureen Grobler (left) and Carol van der Leij have been friends for almost 70 years and they are still going strong.                                      Photo:ANIKA DE BEER

Maureen Grobler (left) and Carol van der Leij have been friends for almost 70 years and they are still going strong. Photo:ANIKA DE BEER

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FOR two ladies from Port Elizabeth, the saying “best friends forever” has become far more than just a meaningless phrase.

Carol van der Leij (70) and Maureen Grobler (69), both originally from PE, have been friends for almost 70 years, since they were born in fact, and they are still going strong.

Van der Leij was born on February 28, 1947, and Grobler came along soon after on May 6.

Their parents were friends as they lived across the road from each other in Steytler and the two girls were often thrown together in one playpen.

“It’s a beautiful feeling, knowing that there is such a thing as a lasting friendship,” Van der Leij said.

The two girls were inseparable for many years. They went to the same church, the same primary school and even to the same high school for a year before they parted ways for the first time after Van der Leij moved to Walmer and Grobler to Fernglen.

This first move seemed to start a trend in their friendship as they both moved several times over the following years before settling where they are now.

Grobler currently lives in Linton Grange with her husband, Manie, while Van der Leij lives in Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal.

Even when Grobler and her husband were living in PE and Van der Leij was in Benoni, they still took turns to visit each other and made an effort to stay in each other’s lives.

“We never lost our friendship, never lost that connection,” Van der Leij said.

In March 1969, Grobler got married and, two weeks later, so did Van der Leij.

“Their friendship was so strong that I had to cut my honeymoon short to get to Carol’s wedding,” Manie joked.

Despite having two very different personalities, the two women consider themselves closer than sisters.

“We never argue. We have our differences, but we say what we feel and then move on,” Grobler said.

“I think it depends on what you’ve gone through in your life together that causes you to never split. Carol and I have always been friends. It’s never faded away.”

Although she lives quite a distance from PE, Van der Leij still pays a visit to the Groblers every year for ten days.

“When Maureen comes to get me from the airport, it’s almost as if I saw her yesterday instead of a year ago,” she said.

“I will continue to come here until the time comes when we can’t do it anymore for one reason or another.”

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