Goodnight Doll

 

All things come to an end and so too has the life-changing experience of writing my tribute to my brother Eugene and his partner Pieter and their journey with terminal cancer. Roller Coaster at SunsetI have finally given birth to this labour of love and Goodnight Doll is now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions. It has been a constant companion with me over the last couple of years or so and it feels as though I am saying goodbye to a trusted companion. It is first and foremost a tribute to Eugene and Pieter, but I hope that it might also comfort others on similar journeys and raise awareness of prostate cancer.

Although I have published a number of books before, writing this book has been a totally different experience in so many ways. By its very nature, it was an emotional experience as I relived many of the memories I had shared with my brother over the years. These memories included the fond memories of the times we lived together, our shared travelling experiences and finally the painful memories of coping with his diagnosis of terminal cancer.

In addition, I had to learn the many challenges that accompanies the process of self-publishing and coming to grips with sourcing services such as copy-editing, proof reading, book cover design to name a few and which I had in the past left to the publishers and editorial teams. The final challenge I continue to grapple with is the mind numbing art of pricing, marketing and the many suggestions and advice on how to run regular promotions. Along the journey I have learnt a great deal about the dynamic new industry of self-publishing, engaged with many new groups, both virtual and physical, and blogs I did not know existed hitherto. I have been invited to write guest blogs on a number of these sites, which has led to new avenues of writing.

Finally, I have had to deal with the question, ‘now what?’ Where does my career take me next? Do I return to the role of an academic and its associated roles or is this the start of a new beginning? The experience of writing my tribute has rekindled my love of writing and not the academic writing that has occupied so many years of my professional life. Throughout my postings I have shared with you my search of discovery and reacquainting myself with my writing voice long since silenced by the rigid and structured approach of the writing style expected by the academic community.

The metaphor of an elastic band helps to describe how I feel at the moment. If you continue to stretch a piece of elastic and then let go, it is unlikely to return to its original length and shape. Having been stretched for the duration of writing this tribute, I feel it will be impossible for me to return to the same size and shape before I embarked on this journey, namely that of an academic. Therefore, I have been engaged in many hours of soul searching in recent months as the end of this significant chapter draws near. The soft voices whispering in my ear has been telling me that it may be time for a change of career and lifestyle.

I conclude the completion of Goodnight Doll with a huge a thank you to everyone who has followed my journey of writing this tribute through the postings of my blog and for being companions on this very special and often, painful journey. Should you read the book it will no doubt have much more meaning having read the blog and followed the many challenges I have faced on the way. I share some photographs below that support and illustrate the memories of Eugene and Pieter that I refer to in my book. I end this blog with the following poem that has meant so much to Eugene and Pieter on their journey with prostate cancer.

Death is Nothing

Death is nothing at all …                                                                                                                                               I have only slipped away into the next room.                                                                                                  I am I, and you are you.                                                                                                                                 Whatever we were to each other – that we still are.                                                                                  Call me by my old familiar name.                                                                                                             Speak to me in the easy way which you always did.                                                                                  Put no difference in your tone,                                                                                                                     Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow,                                                                                             Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together,                                                    Let my name be the forever household word that it was.                                                                               Let it be spoken without effect,                                                                                                                      Without the trace of a shadow in it.                                                                                                                     Life means all that it ever meant,                                                                                                                             It is the same as it ever was,                                                                                                                                There is unbroken continuity.                                                                                                                               Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?                                                                                      I am waiting for you – for an interval – somewhere very near,                                                                  just around the corner.                                                                                                                                                All is well …

‘The King of Terrors’ by Henry Scott Holland

Photographs to support some of the stories and anecdotes shared in Goodnight Doll

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A young Eugene and Pieter, together with our Mother, my sister and I and her two boys

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Eugene and Pieter with our parents early on in their relationship

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Eugene and Pieter at the house Eugene renovated under the guidance of our father. It was a major achievement for Eugene in so many ways.

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Eugene and Pieter with Laurence on his first trip to South Africa

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At the home of very dear friends of ours, Hennie and Gerrie, with whom Eugene and I had spent many an enjoyable visit

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A memorable trip to Brugge, Belgium and a boat trip around the canals. It reminded us of Venice.

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The ultimate coffee and cake, namely the traditional sachertorte in Vienna, Austria.

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Eugene never could resist a coffee and cake. Outside one of the most famous tea rooms in England. Betty’s tearooms in Harrogate, Yorkshire

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Eugene and I during one of his first trips to York and its charming medieval streets

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Eugene on a river boat in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the home of Shakespeare

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The Lake District and one of Eugene’s favourite destinations

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Eugene and Laurence feeding the ducks in the park opposite my house in the North East of England

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My husband always enjoys playing the part and on this occasion as the butler, waiting for Eugene, Pieter and myself to arrive

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Eugene discovered Murphys beer and I tell the story in the book of how we teased him by nicknaming him ‘Moffie Murphy’

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Spirituality was always important to Eugene which meant our travels around Europe always include visits to cathedrals and churches. Taken at the beautiful cathedral in Durham, near my home in the North East of England

 

Just some pictures capturing the many happy Christmases we shared on visits by Eugene and Pieter to England

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In memory of the 80th birthday of our Mother

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Pieter with his brother, Koos and his wife, Denise

 

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A beautiful view of Newcastle, North East England taken from the restaurant at the Baltic, home to art exhibitions and events

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Eugene and Pieter on their wedding day with Gerrie (their ‘daughter’ on the far left) and Trevor, Gerrie’s partner and the Dutch Reformed Minister that married Eugene and Pieter

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One of the last meals out with Eugene and Pieter before he was admitted to the hospice where he passed away

I had the privilege of having Eugene walk down the isle with me on my wedding day. It was his last trip to England and he was suffering from the side affects of the the many treatments he had endured during his illness. He was on hormone therapy at the time and as a result had picked up a lot of weight.

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Eugene with Laurence and me on our wedding day

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Eugene spent his last birthday in the hospice and my sister decide to decorate his room in honour of his birthday

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One of the last photographs of Eugene and Pieter before he passed away

In my book I describe how Eugene made a ‘come back’ shortly before he died and how the idea of a tea party with all the guests wearing outrageous hats was invented. At his Remembrance of Life Service, everyone who attended wearing hats with a difference. These are just some of the many interesting hats on display.

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Pieter and myself, together with a dear friend of theirs, Barry, went on a pilgrimage to Clarens, to scatter Eugene’s ashes where he and Pieter were married.

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Eugene and Pieter downsized when he became ill and Eugene was determined to leave a peaceful haven for Pieter to escape to when he was no longer with him.

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About Angélique du Toit

The raison d'être for my blog entitled, One Step at a Time, was originally to share my journey of writing a tribute to two very special people; my brother Eugene and his partner, Pieter. I made a life changing decision to take a sabbatical from my role as an academic to fulfill what I had come to view as my life’s purpose, namely to write a book as a tribute to their six-year ordeal of living with cancer after my brother was diagnosed with terminal prostrate cancer. This blog was therefore to share this journey of writing my tribute, in the form of a book that was published in January 2016. Although, as an academic I have published numerous articles and books for an academic audience, my tribute to Eugene and Pieter required a very different style of writing. My blog was where I ranted and raved about my inadequacies as a creative writer, as opposed to an academic writer, and where I shared the adventure of finding a different voice of expression. However, I have moved on and decided to combine my love of writing with my insatiable passion and curiosity of people and my new blog, Hags with Attitude, is a culmination of my 20 year experience as a Coach and that of writing. My life has meandered around different countries and continents as well as different careers and my blog will share stories and experiences from women around the world. View all posts by Angélique du Toit

6 responses to “Goodnight Doll

  • Hannah McCall

    It’s wonderful to see these lovely pictures. Congratulations – it is a beautiful book.

    • angeliquedaviesdutoit

      Hi Hannah

      Thank you so much for your kind words. It is quite an emotional experience, capturing both euphoria as well as sadness. However, in between those two is the celebration of a wonderful life lived.

  • Kathryn Headley

    Hi Angelique
    I have just finished reading “Goodnight Doll” and found it very moving and enlightening and these pictures bring it so much more to life. Congratulations. Kathryn

  • Don Tabor

    Hello Angelique. As a gay man who just underwent surgery for prostate cancer I want to thank you for the privilege of getting to know you and your brother and his partner via your book dedicated to them “Goodnight Doll”. What a beautiful tribute to them and what a wonderful inspiration to those of us facing the unknown. Your brother left you a legacy of love and wonderful memories which you unselfishly shared with us all. I can only imagine the heartbreak and tears in writing this book of honour. Thank you for sharing this love with us. Now he will live on in the hearts of many. Bless you. Don

    • Angélique du Toit

      Hi Ron. Thank you so much for your very kind words, which brought tears to my eyes. My thoughts and meditations are with you and your own journey on the rollercoaster ride. May you have the love and support from others to walk the road with you as my brother did with the support from Pieter. Angélique

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