early february 1990, i’m sitting on the spanish steps in rome. my then boyfriend, later husband, is working on the godfather III, so i get to hang out while he films. however the movie started filming in december the previous year and by now i’ve had enough. i realize, i want to go home.
smash cut: 10 february 1990 – we’re in the airport lounge in brussels. i see someone i know and she shouts out, “mandela’s free tomorrow!” wow, we are floored by the news! at long last (27 years past due) – and we’re going to be home when it happens.
we land sometime in the early hours and head straight for soweto to watch madiba’s release on tv with friends of john’s. it is momentous! the man walks out, taller, more charismatic than anyone could have imagined. larger than life. a survivor of the seemingly impossible.
i don’t have many heroes, but madiba, you are my ultimate hero. you are a man who has taken whatever has been thrown at you in this life, good and bad, and you have synthesized it into something better. i could not have hoped you would still be here with us, almost 20 years later, but i’m grateful you are.
happy birthday! may you live forever!
(i went into my garden this afternoon and hooped in your honor!)