May the 16th 2002 was our day of incredible loss.
Bruce, our youngest son left us after a bad bout of Flu had
infected his heart.
The loss of a child brings up a strange anomaly in the english
language; The words Widow and widower are there for wives and
husbands whose partners have passed on; Orphan is there for
children who have lost their parents… Yet there is no word for
a parent whose child has passed away.
Our Bruce was born with a “uni-ventricular” heart (only 3
chambers). After two open heart operations at Red Cross Childrens
Memorial Hospital, he thrived until the bad bout of Influenza at
the age of 15.
Bruce was also born with a severe Club foot. At the age of only 6
months, a paediatrician told us the best was to remove Bruce’s left
After much intense thought on this drastic measure, we decided to
manage the issues and not remove his foot until he was old enough
to decide for himself.
So, until the age of 12, Bruce had several foot “straightening”
operations and wore a rather ugly calliper boot. I don’t think it
bothered him much until, he started High School and the awareness
of girls starts to whip up the hormones.
That is when he started to talk to us about getting a prothesis.
We explained that once his foot has gone, that’s it. It can’t be
put back! and the healing of his stump will take time.
Bruce was still keen, so we introduced him to a few people who were
using prosthetics and even the legend racing driver, David Piper,
who lost both his legs in a crash during the filming of Gran Prix.
Bruce was delighted with his first prosthetic. He chose it to be
constructed with funky, stripy neon green, blue and orange colours!
At last he walked with hardly a limp.
It wasn’t too long and he was soon running around, riding his
bicycle, kicking a ball and scateboarding! Like any ‘normal’ young
lad. He even used to go Wall Climbing at Cavendish Square with his
buddies! Apparently one of the instructors told him he was the
best climber for the day. That is when Bruce showed the surprised
tutor his prosthetic foot!
We have also heard the story when one day at school, he frightened
the life out of his teacher. Bruce had pretended to fall in the
class room. When his teacher rushed over to help him, his left
foot was pointing backwards! We’ve heard the teacher went pale and
Bruce was great at helping me with outside cooking and loved
helping getting the braai fire going. Then he would ask to put on
Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix or a Goon Show. The only thing was he
could recite word for word his favourite Goon Shows! and steal the
bloody punch lines!
Potjie cooking was his favourite and he was getting so good at it,
I think he would have been able to do it without any help if he had
lived just a little longer.
A dear family friend, Kevin Johnston was Bruce’s god father. It is
thanks to the love of Kevin, Bruce was constantly given lots of
motor racing memorabilia. Like, many Ferrari posters, caps and a
specially signed cap from Jody Scheckter (SA’s only F1 World
Another of our friends who was very fond of Bruce, is Tom Arnot.
It was Tom who jumped in and arranged Bruce’s Memorial function.
He organised to take over the Killarney track and Clubhouse for the
morning. Had many Ferrari’s, Porche’s, Lotus’s and piles of racing
cars taking Bruce’s school buddies around the track. As Memorial
functions go, it was fabulous! and Tom gave Julie and I the all
important gap we really needed to get to grips with Bruce’s
Bruce, this is a tribute to you. We all miss you boykie!
If you would like to read Bruce’s previous Birthday blog – click on
blomkamp-our-late-son/ Posted : April 8, 2016
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Barry, Julie and Ross Blomkamp