Positive thinking keeps Marais family going

2018-04-25 06:02
Despite losing nearly everything they had, Jean and Seymour Marais remain positive and dream about one day taking another trip to China.               Photo:ANIKA DE BEER

Despite losing nearly everything they had, Jean and Seymour Marais remain positive and dream about one day taking another trip to China. Photo:ANIKA DE BEER

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A SERIES of unfortunate events have left a local elderly couple almost homeless, but not hopeless and they are now living proof that one is never too old to stand up again and use your talents to survive life’s challenges.

Seymour Marais (79) and his wife Jean (76), who now lives in a retirement village in South End, lived a fairly affluent life for 37 years in Port Elizabeth, before they decided to move to Cape Town in 2005 to be closer to their only son and two grandchildren – a decision that cost them almost all they had worked for so hard.

Through a series of unfortunate events, they lost their house in Lovemore Heights, their car and the accommodation they were promised.

During the 10 years they spent in Cape Town, Seymour, who hails from Komga in Transkei, and Jean, who was brought up in Queenstown (now Komani), struggled to make ends meet.

“I started teaching the piano because we had nothing; we only had our savings to live on. Eventually, we ended up renting a little flat that belonged to a church in Hout Bay,” Jean said.

She first started teaching music at a little school in Llandudno before getting the opportunity to teach at the Kronendal Music Academy.

“There was a piano in every room and there were violins, cellos, drums, flutes, recorders and clarinet,” Jean remembered. She initially taught only the recorder there before they approached her to teach the choir as well.

Finally, they managed to move back to Port Elizabeth in 2015 where they are now happily settled once more.

Despite the numerous challenges they have faced, the Marais’s are endlessly positive that things will get better for them and, in the meantime, choose to focus on the many good memories they have made over the years.

Jean and Seymour have been married for 54 years and according to her, they do everything together.

“I looked after my mom and dad for 12 years. They stayed with us and when they passed away, Seymour told me to go and study. I always wanted to do singing and music. I was 50 years old and I went to UPE (now NMU) and got my Bachelor of Music degree,” she said.

“I taught music at primary level at HF Verwoerd and Charlo Primary School.

“After some time, the government did away with music posts at the schools and it was very hard for me to get a teaching post. So, then we had a clothing business.”

Before things went downhill in Cape Town and while Jean was teaching in Llandudno, they saved up money and took a trip to China.

“The guy who took us on the canoe said he worked with Jackie Chan in a movie once. I asked him to sign my book,” Jean laughed.

“We’ve been to England and we’ve been around the continent (Africa) and all that, but nothing touches China.

The people are so polite there and I suppose they have their fair share of crooks there and so on, but we didn’t meet any.

“And we found them to be very nice and easy to talk to,” Seymour added.

Today, about two-and-a-half years after returning to Port Elizabeth, they keep active by taking walks on the beach and doing a 5km fun run every Saturday and they sell a number of things to make ends meet.

“We’ve got a place to stay now, but we’ve got no money to live on,” Jean explained.

Currently, Jean and Seymour sell a natural muscle rub, baked goods, such as cookies, fudge and rusks, and Jean offers piano lessons.

“Last year, I was teaching piano, singing and recorder, but now I’m just doing piano,” she said.

Their little enterprise has grown by word-of-mouth alone. They often drop off their sweet creations at a nearby hair salon that sells them and they recently baked goods for a wedding as well.

“Jean was making fudge and giving it to everybody here and we decided that since people like it so much, we can start selling it,” Seymour quipped.

“We survive. We just started with the baking and selling about two months ago.”

“We’re finding it very difficult to get through to people. It’s going very slowly,” Jean added.

Despite this, they stay positive.

“We expect to go to China again soon and get another car as well,” Seymour laughed.

“We manage, you know. We’re fine,” Jean concluded.

The biscuits that they bake are however such a hit that one of their customers phoned Port Elizabeth Express to share the couple’s inspirational story.

For more info on the products they sell, contact Jean on 083 948 5712 or 041 582 1406.

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