share your story of heartache with mary monaghan

Mary, your article in the "Rooi Rose" magazine helped me to understand and accepted a little better what happened to my relationship with also the love of my life Though so! After 37 years. He also wanted a gap for a while and just became longer and longer untill I had to find out he had this young girl in his life as old as our daugther and money that we did not have was being spent on her! This after I had our second child adopted (as he did not stand by me) covered up for him for years as not wanted anybody to dislike or speak bad about him! I believed he was always honest with me even what he did and where their for him. Know he won’t speak to me contact the grand children very little and stopped supporting me. At 56 I am working again for cosmetic counter in retail renting a small cottage, still with a lot of debt he left me with feel better and see light ! It is so strange that they can wipe out everything you shared together and have a new life with new people? Is this a mind change or what? So glad you made it and is happy and well. I am still on medicine to help me cope and sometimes real difficult but will get there! Regards Dina Flynn.


In my 50 years, I had never left South Africa, and this was the perfect opportunity to have an adventure. John invited me to stay with him, so I didn’t have to worry about accommodation. My decision was made and I started making plans. The Visa application went well and I kept telling myself if everything went smoothly without any hitches or problems, then we are meant to be. The 40 day count down began and my excitement mounted. Our relationship continued to grow via sms’s, facebook messages and phonecalls. I purchased my ticket, and two weeks later my Visa arrived.

“The” day finally dawned and I was off to the airport. My very first long flight. My son kept asking me, “are you nervous yet?”. The strange thing was that I never got nervous at all, as I was so sure that I was doing the right thing. My friends arrived unexpectedly at the airport to see me off and we all chatted excitedly. It was finally time to board the plane. We said our goodbyes and my adventure began.

As I sat on the plane waiting to take off, I said a little prayer, that all would go well and that in 12 hours I would be with this man I had falling so deeply in love with. My anticipation at seeing him again after 30 years was almost overwhelming.

The flight was uneventful, and I passed the hours by staring out the window looking into the night, watching the moon and the stars, and the lights of the ships way down below as we flew over the sea. Morning arrived as we flew over the White Cliffs of Dover and on into Heathrow, where I was met by my friends, who took me home for coffee to pass the 5 hour stopover.

Back to Heathrow and onto a small plane to Manchester. Due to unforeseen circumstances, John was not able to fetch me and asked me to catch the train to Doncaster where he would be waiting for me. Suddenly I felt very independent at having to do all these things that I had never done before. Catching a shuttle to the station and then the train to Doncaster. The trip was beautiful and I enjoyed every minute of it. It gave me time to just relax and enjoy the ride, and appreciate the scenery.

Next stop Doncaster station. I hauled all my luggage off the train and suddenly felt his arms around me. I turned and my arms flew up around his neck. My life’s search was over, I was home. He kissed me and and we held each other, neither wanting to let go. I knew that we were meant to be together. From that moment on we were inseparable for the next 30 wonderful, blissful days. As his friend drove us back home he held my hand, and I felt safe and secure with him.

He ran my bath and made me something to eat. I climbed into bed and as I drifted off, Cape Town and my life seemed a million miles away. I was with the man I loved and I had never been happier.

I was woken the next morning with a kiss and a cup of tea and we fell into a routine from day one. Either he brought tea or I did, whoever was awake first. We spent hours talking about our lives and what had happened since we were at school. We talked about our likes and dislikes and found so much common ground. We shared so many interests, views and dreams for our future together.

The process of discovery was amazing. The realization that this was “it” and we were finally together, was overwhelming. Even though we had exchanged hundreds of messages over the past 7 months, and so much information, we still had so much to share. Our love for each other just grew stronger and more intense by the day.

Our time together was wonderful and we enjoyed every moment of being together. Catching buses, walking in the Moore’s, exploring the countryside, having coffee in numerous little coffee shops, shopping, cooking, cleaning and loving, plenty of loving.

The weeks went by too quickly and before I knew it we were driving back to Manchester airport. My head was buzzing, I did not want to leave, but I missed my kids and family. My heart was ripped in two. I couldn’t bare the thought of leaving John behind. But as we said goodbye I knew that it would only be for a while, and we would be together again soon. The holiday was over, and our life together had just begun.

It’s been almost three months since I returned home, and we are still counting the days till we can be together again. Only this time it will be for the rest of our lives. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing that your search is over and that you can just relax and be comfortable in the knowledge that your life has come full circle and that your love will be home soon.


Have you ever wondered why your path has crossed with someone who seems to have no significance in your life? Well, they say “everything happens for a reason”, and sometimes we are lucky enough to find out what that reason is.

In 1974 at age 14, a boy with a “Kiwi”accent arrived at our school. I was taken with his wild nature and outspoken manner and cute accent. I developed a teenage crush on him for awhile, but he did not stay at our school for long. For the next few years I ran into him at parties, disco’s, movies and other venues around town, but never really got to know him. Once or twice over the years I thought of him and wondered where in the world he had ended up.

Now, approximately 30 years later, I discovered facebook. As I sat in front of my PC trying to recall names from the past and searching them online, his name came to me and I searched for him. When his name popped up with a photo, I immediately felt the excitement of that old teenage crush. I was nervous and excited to make contact with him again. My finger hovered above the “add friend” option, as I hesitated to click on it. Finally I just thought, “Oh what the hell”, added a short message which included my maiden name and clicked. Well, now the ball was in his court, he could either accept my friend request or ignore it. The next day I couldn’t wait to get to work to see if he had responded, and there it was, friend request accepted, and he had attached a message. He remembered me….

Apparently he had only recently joined facebook a few months before. So that was the first act of fate, that I should have thought of him at that time and not before he had signed up. We began to send the odd message to each other, only sharing the very basic’s of our lives over the past 30 years. Then suddenly he was not answering and I noticed that there were no more posts from him for about two weeks. He had told me that he had been very ill and had been receiving treatment, so I thought that he had become ill again.

The panic and desperation I felt at not being able to contact him was overwhelming. I found his mother under his friends list and contacted her. But she had not heard from him either. I left a few messages for him and then one day he was back. The relief I felt when I saw a message from him was so comforting. He was blown away that somewhere out there in the world someone cared enough to worry about his absence. From that moment on, he began to share more personal details about his life. The things he told me about, where he’d been and what he’d done with his life, scared me a little, as I had lived a very conservative life.

He on the other hand had lived, what he calls a “very colorful life”. Apparently he wanted to see if once I knew the truth about his life, if I would forget about him and move on, but I persevered and wanted to know more about him. He began to trust me as he realized I genuinely cared about him. Soon our messages became more intimate and much more frequent. We were falling in love. As we shared more and more about ourselves, it became evident that we were somehow connected. We shared so many likes and dislikes, opinions, and our outlook on life was mirrored, along with the way we felt about many things, and about each other.

We have been corresponding for 5 months now, are totally in love and committed to each other. I live in South Africa and he lives in the UK, and I am planning to visit him in three weeks time.

I have spent a small fortune on my phone contract since January. In the first few days once we realised that we were meant for each other, we exchanged more than 100 messages in 4 days. Later we sent approximately 500 messages or more per month, while we were learning about each other, which would be over 2000 messages and emails. I have no idea how much he has spent loading airtime on his phone and also having the internet installed at his house. We both feel that what we have found, one cannot put a price tag on. It has been a wonderful experience for us, as we both felt that our time for romance was over. I had been married three times, and he had been separated from his wife for 16 years. Within a week or two of our cyber relationship beginning he started divorce proceedings, and I ended a 6 year relationship with my partner. We suddenly felt the need to cut all ties to enable us to be together, and to begin our future with a clean slate.

I know now, without a doubt that he crossed my path as a teenager to plant the seed in my heart, and it has taken 30 years for our lives to come full circle, that we may experience this love. His life experiences, and mine, have prepared us for this relationship. As I look back now on the things I had to endure in getting to this point, I realise why I had to go through all that. It was to teach me to be understanding of all the things that he has experienced. Had I not been through so much I would have been naïve and not been accepting of the life he had lead and things he had been involved in during his younger years, and I would have walked away. The experiences I have encountered have taught me not to be judgmental, and to be more patient and tolerant of others. One never knows what hardships they have lived through.

I am now eternally grateful for every relationship and every situation that I have experienced along the way. The saying “everything happens for a reason” finally makes sense as I look back and all the answers to “why” become evident.


I’ve been logging on from time to time with the real intention of writing something, but every time words fail me.

It is only now, having covered some personal distance that perhaps today, I’ll find the words to put together my ‘tale’ of personal discovery. I’ve been married for 7195 days and for about 6935 days, I’ve always wondered what if? Married too young, pregnant immediately and found myself ‘truly’ stuck in this relationship… Or so I thought. Only recently, being presented with a good reason and opportunity to free myself – low and behold, I could not do it. Naturally, came up with a 1001 reasons why I could not cut my losses and move on. Kids, money, parents etc. After some considerable personal struggle and plenty of self talk (professional help included ha-ha), I came to the realization that I’ve been fooling myself for too long.

Here I was with enough ammunition to call everything quits. Everyone will understand and be supportive. And yet … Finally, I get it. I love him. I really do. I don’t want to spend endless evenings wondering where he is, what he’s doing, who he’s with… I don’t want that life.

He finally gets me (after 19 years and 8 months), he gets me. He knows who I am and what I need. And yet … here I was always thinking I wanted something else, someone different and never ‘happy’. What a lie….!

I’m married to a quiet & gentle man. He’s got so many good qualities that I’ve overlooked for too long. He is an amazing father and a good loving son to his parents. Most of all – a supportive husband that rarely gives his very ‘demanding’ wife grief. A good man, that’s been neglected for a long time. OK, from time to time, needs to show that he’s the man of the house, but overall allows me to do my own thing, give me the freedom to ‘succeed’ & grow and understands when I need to break out.

I’ve neglected this marriage and if ‘real’ happiness was missing, I’ve come to realize that I’m the driver in this. In my search for ‘realness’, romance, happiness and ‘whatever’, I’ve very nearly lost my true love. My first love. My only love.

Nice thing though – I’ve got a second chance to get this right. I’m taking it.

Thank you Mary – for being there when I needed it. Me talking, you listening – was part of my discovery.


By Judi Moreo
A gorgeous 6’ 2”, blond-haired, brown-eyed photographer was actually standing in the doorway to my office, laughing and smiling, saying, “Come with me to South Africa.”
I had never been outside of America. And I had a modeling agency to run. I hadn’t taken off for a holiday in 6 years. His invitation was tempting, but I didn’t feel I could take the time for a vacation or holiday. So, I thanked him and shrugged it off. Perhaps one day I’d have time for holidays.

My secretary came into my office and asked, “Did HE just invite you to go with him to South Africa, visit his home country and meet his parents?” “Yes,” I said. “Wouldn’t he be surprised if I actually went?” Then, the idea struck me. “Buy me a ticket,” I told my secretary, “And get me the seat next to his. It will be a wonderful joke. After we show him the ticket and see what he says, we’ll cash it back in.” She bought the ticket. The next time he came into my office, I showed it to him and, sure enough, he was surprised.

“I invite everyone to come to South Africa,” he said, “but no one ever accepts. I will call my mother and have her make arrangements for you.” And out he went.

What great fun! We had called his bluff and were thoroughly enjoying our little joke. About an hour later, my secretary came in and said, “I think the joke is on us. I didn’t realize I bought you a non-refundable ticket.”

What started out as nothing more than a joke ended up becoming an ultimate vacation.

I met my South African photographer friend, Vimmi, at the airport and within an hour, we were on our way to South Africa. I couldn’t recall ever having been so excited. I must have asked him 100 questions in the first hour. He explained to me in no uncertain terms that he was going home to see his family and had no intention of entertaining a foreigner by doing touristy things and sightseeing. Once we changed planes in New York, he took a sleeping pill and went to sleep leaving me to my excitement and questions. I read the literature that my secretary had collected for me. I learned about Johannesburg, Pretoria (the capital of South Africa), Durban , Cape Town, and Sun City (a gaming resort in what is called “a homeland”). I watched movies and talked to the people who were seated around me. It was a 10-hour flight from New York to Johannesburg, so there was plenty of time to meet the other passengers and get to know them. Many of them were from South Africa and others had visited before, so they gave me pointers and sightseeing tips.

Vimmi’s mother, Marty, met us at the airport in Johannesburg and they drove me to the Landrost Hotel, downtown, where she had made a reservation for me. It was a beautiful, old, historical hotel with dark wood paneling, high ceilings, plush furnishings and Persian rugs. I felt like royalty. Once I was checked in, they left and I went to my room. I was alone. Not only was I alone, I was alone in a foreign country about which I knew nothing except what I had read in those brochures and learned from the people I had talked to on the plane. What was I to do?

Early the next morning, I went down to the lobby and consulted the concierge who told me a tour that day was not possible as you had to make a reservation on the previous day. But, he said he would arrange tours for me for the next three days. Today, he recommended, I should put my money in my boot and my camera in a paper bag and take a walk around downtown. The idea of the paper bag was not to look like a tourist. It wasn’t long until I figured out that my disguise probably wasn’t working as my flaming red hair and brightly colored attire were really out of place in the business district of Johannesburg. Everyone I passed wore grey, black, or tweed business suits. I noticed one man in particular as he was dressed in black and white; everything was stark, beautiful, tailored, and expensive. He was more striking than Tom Selleck at his peak of popularity; he smiled as he passed me. I was lingering and looking in store windows, noticing the architecture, going in and out of stores, looking at tourist treasures and didn’t think too much about it when I passed him again a while later. Once again, he smiled and nodded.

As I stopped for the light before crossing the street at the corner of Coetze and Kline, I happened to look up and see a small outdoor café on the second floor of a building across the street. The cafe was located on an outdoor terrace with many colored umbrellas shading the tables from the sun. I was thinking how beautiful it was when the Tom Selleck look-alike walked up behind me and said something that I didn’t understand. So I said to him, “I’m sorry. I only speak English.”

“I was speaking English,” he replied in a heavy accent.

“What did you say?”

“I said that I’ve been running up and down this street for a half hour now trying to find out if anyone knew you so they could introduce me, but no one did, so I figured I’d better introduce myself before you get away. I’m Jeff Hoffman.”

“Well, nice to meet you Mr. Hoffman.”

“Would you like to have a coffee?” he asked indicating we should go to that charming café that I had been admiring. I saw no harm in sitting in an outdoor café, having coffee with the most handsome man I had seen in many years, so I agreed to go for “a coffee.”

Mr. Hoffman turned out to be divorced, a few years older than me, a successful businessman, and he was very interesting. He offered to show me around Johannesburg, but I explained that I had tours booked for the next few days. He then suggested that he drive me back to my hotel. I said that if he’d like to walk me back and point out the sites of downtown I would be happy to have him accompany me. So we walked, talked, and arrived at the hotel a couple of hours later. He invited me to dinner and I agreed as long as it was in the dining room at the hotel. After all, I was in a foreign country and didn’t know him at all. After dinner, he said “Good night” and that he would call.

The next day, I took my first tour. I had fun talking to people that I probably never would have talked with had I not been alone. I met people from England, Australia, and Asia. We saw the city, watched a performance of African dancers, toured a gold mine and even panned for gold. As the bus pulled up to let me off at my hotel, I saw Jeff Hoffman standing on the curb.

“Hi,” I said. “What are you doing here?”

“I’ve come to make sure you get a good dinner,” he said. Once again, we had a fabulous meal and enjoyed talking with each other about our different cultures and our lives. He explained to me that he was from Rhodesia and when the communists took over his country, he had moved to South Africa with his family. I was fascinated with his life and he was happy to share his experiences with me.

Each evening, as I returned from my daily tour, he was standing at the bus stop waiting to take me to dinner. Then I went on a three day tour to the Kruger National park, where I photographed animals in the wild. Everyone on the tour slept in round huts with thatched roofs called rondovals. In the Kruger Park, all eight of us who were on the tour ate our meals together and had cocktails called “sundowners” in the bush as we watched the sun go down. We even had dinner in the bush…a fabulous dinner served on folding tables with white table cloths, china, and even candles. Later we observed the night creatures as they came out of their daily hiding. What a wonderful adventure I was having.

Sure enough, when the tour bus pulled up to return me to the Landrost, there he was again. He said he figured that by now, I would need some clean clothes. He had come to take me to dinner and pick up my dirty laundry. He said that I should not pay the high hotel prices for having my laundry done, but give it to him and he would ask his maid to do it for me. Then, when we were together on Friday evening, he suggested that on Saturday he would take me to the Indian market. Surely, I could trust him enough by now to get in his car. After all, he had returned my clothing!

So Saturday, we went to the Indian market, shopped, ate exotic Indian foods, laughed, walked, and shopped some more. He invited me to his home for dinner.

On Sunday morning, Vimmi called wondering where I had been. They hadn’t heard from me all week and were beginning to worry. He said he was also feeling guilty that he had dropped me downtown and left me on my own to fend for myself. I told him I was having a wonderful time, but he insisted that he and his mother were going to Sun City, the gambling mecca in Bophutaswana, to see an entertainer by the name of Julio Iglesias. Julio was not yet known in the United States, so I had never heard of him, but I felt it would be fun to travel and see a bit more of the country. I packed up my bags and went off with Vim and Marty to see Julio’s show.

Marty had forgotten to fill up the gas tank in the car which caused us to run out of gas half way to our destination. So I called Jeff and he brought us some “petrol” for the car. Marty invited him to join us on our trip but he said he didn’t want to impose; after all, he had a business to run.

We were late arriving in Sun City and had missed most of the show. We made our way into the showroom in our traveling clothes, just in time to see Julio sing his last song. Marty was very upset. The tickets had cost her a lot of money and she had really wanted to see Julio’s show. Not knowing who he was and being from Las Vegas, I said I was sure that we’d be able to go backstage and meet him. So we marched up to Stage Door 4 where a group of ladies were screaming and jumping up and down. I walked right to the front of the crowd, with Marty in tow, presented Las Vegas modeling agency business card to the security guard, and said, “Please tell Julio that I’m here.” Before long the security guard came back with a gentleman who asked us to follow him.

Back stage, reporters from around the world waited to interview Julio, as waiters in black tails and white gloves served champagne and hors d’oeuvres. Needless to say, we were a bit underdressed in our traveling jeans and t-shirts. I even had a chocolate drip on the front on my shirt – the result of having eaten a candy bar in the car after it had melted in the sun. Julio entered the room with my card in his hand and said, “Judi, how nice of you to come.”

“This is my friend, Marty,” I said, “She so wanted to see your show but we ran out of gasoline and were late and missed all but the last song. Please will you autograph her program?”

He not only autographed the program, he took Marty’s face in his hands, kissed her on the cheeks, and sang her a song. She was blown away! He then greeted the press, thanked everyone for coming and when we finished our drinks, we said our goodbyes. Marty and I were like teenage girls as we went outside and sat on the patio, giggling, not believing that we had managed to get in backstage and that Julio actually sang to her and kissed her cheeks. She swore she would never wash her face again.

The following morning, we went out to sit by the pool and Julio was already there. He called to us, “Judi…Marty…come and say hello.” We were ecstatic. We spent the day swimming, parasailing, and waterskiing. We ran into some friends from Las Vegas who were now dancers in the production show at the Sun City Hotel. It was such a glorious day; it was incredibly beautiful there and we had such a wonderful time.

When I got back to my room, there was a message to call Jeff so I did. He asked if upon my return to Johannesburg, he could take me to out to a small town about 50 km outside of the city to meet his father, sister, and her family.

That, too, turned out to be a wonderful outing. His family members were all so nice and asked many questions about America and my life there. They served a wonderful meal and told me about their lives.

Vimmi then decided I should go to Cape Town to the beach for a few days with him and Marty. It was the most beautiful place I had ever seen. Vim and I laid on the beach in the sun and watched gorgeous people walk by; everyone was friendly and they all smiled at us. I was sure they were smiling because they somehow knew I was from America. Vimmi swore they were smiling at him. We enjoyed granadilla popsicles at the beach, ate out at the Greek restaurant on the corner down from Marty’s apartment, and drove around the Cape giving real baboons rides on the hood of the car around the downtown area. I was fascinated by how the baboons would wait on the side of the road for cars going out to the beach, jump on the car and ride one way; later, they’d jump on a car to ride back to the edge of the city. Imagine….hitchhiking baboons!

Jeff called every night and when we arrived back in Johannesburg once again, he was waiting for me. I only had two days left before I was to return home. We spent almost every waking second together…sightseeing, shopping, we even attended his son’s cricket game.

When the day came for me to return home, Jeff drove me to the airport to say goodbye. We stopped at a restaurant near the airport to have lunch. As we finished lunch, this wonderful, stylish, kind man with dark hair and dark eyes pulled out a small box and gave it to me. I opened it and discovered a beautiful, handmade gold ring set with a champagne diamond. Jeff smiled at me and said, “Come back to South Africa and be my wife.”

Editor’s Note: Jeff Hoffman died two months before they were to be married. Judi moved to South Africa anyway and remained there for 8 years.


Hi Mary

As promised I said I would email you when I had finished reading your book. As you have probably guessed I couldn’t put it down and read at every conceivable moment. What is it with the Irish? I could relate so much to your life’s story being married to a charming Irishman and knowing and having lived in all the places you mentioned.

Just to quickly mention that I was his 3rd wife (met him 6 months after his divorce to number 2) and he is now on his fourth marriage and living in Wynberg. I can understand your persistence in trying to find him and I did the same. Once I had received closure I was happy to let go.

It was easier for me as he appeared on a visitors list at Kelvin Grove and I was doing the registering with a friend. I told her I wouldn’t help her as I was really dead beat after the busy week. She said I think you would like to as your ex is on the list and there is only one ‘Barklie’ spelt the same as you in S.A. I hadn’t had contact with him for 10 years but at least I had been divorced from him.

Anyway enough of me and I am sure you get a lot of people trying to relate their own experiences to you. You have been through so much you deserve to be happy. You know that they never forget and I am sure John’s conscience pricks him every day of his life. They live in an existence of pretending they are happy but that is never the case.

I enjoyed reading your book and found it very inspiring. If anybody survived and did it with the utmost dignity – you have. Thank you for giving me a new lease to life and proving that there is hope and a life after John, in my case Adrian.

Best wishes and a pleasure meeting you.


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