I was asked by a friend about my late wife. Where did we meet and what was she like? Sometimes I forget that you reading here and of her in my books, would not know her personally. I did not think it was important so I never really explained it before but will try to do so now. I can easily write books about her so let me try to be as brief as possible.
In the future, for I am busy now with other things, I will write a book called "A Year with Mom." It will feature my late wife a lot because it is basically our story. In short, I resigned as a senior legal advisor for a very large multinational company on 15 December 2010. I resigned for reasons which are unimportant now but the right decision at the time (I still believe that and would do the same today no matter what the consequences financially). I believed, as a legal expert in both Nigeria and South Africa, the two powerhouses of Africa, I would be able to find a new job soon enough. I also had colleagues making promises which they could not and did not keep. Their lies left me stranded, divorced and flat broke. I am sure many of my enemies thoroughly enjoyed this though I am not complaining. A few lessons in humility are always a good thing. They will get their chance as the wheel turns.
I went from a fairly successful, wealthy man to nothing for you can only survive that long of savings and then you go down. There is no real "dole" system in this country - you lose your job, you die. Between then to now I have struggled mightily to survive and I doubt if many would get what I just wrote. When Melissa found me, I was so broke I had no fridge, no microwave, two chairs, a bed, a laptop and my hundreds of books. Even the television was only there for show, it did not work. There were many days when I had nothing to eat and I learned that you can actually get a serious headache from hunger. I have lost every "friend" I had except for a handful who kept me alive with food parcels now and then. Often a week would go past without a single human talking to me, for I lived alone unable to go out. I also made sure to hide the truth as far as I could. My car was overheating constantly despite paying thousands to have it fixed. I seldom wish anything bad on people but I wish everything which is horrible in the afterlife on those shysters calling themselves mechanics. Because of them I could not drive more than one mile without standing next to the road and these things only happen when you cannot afford to go to another mechanic. That is life for you.
Now you may not understand this but having no reliable car in South Africa is close to a death sentence for a professional man. There simply is no public transport as you may understand the word. And you need money for that too -you can walk only that far and getting a lift when you are down (not out, there is a big difference) is almost impossible. I learned the hard way that a poor man has no friends and is treated with contempt by those fortunate enough to still have a job or an income. You are looked down upon, abused and accused that you made the wrong decisions...you pissed God off and now you are here in the gutter where you belong. Yes, there is a hell heated thrice waiting for such people; they will be condemned by those very same words. If I have learned one thing it is never to judge. With being broke comes great compassion and understanding. Unless you were there you have no idea to what this means. You just don't really get it.
Then on 15 December 2011 I received an email. I was on an internet dating site for three days, the free membership one for I could not afford anything else. Why I cannot recall for I had no business trying to date anyone when unable to feed myself. Paradoxically, when I have money, all will testify to you I am kind and generous to a fault. I give and I never expect anything back. If I have to count the people who owe me money or legal fees I would be a millionaire today, perhaps I am one in heaven where it counts? Even the lack of the fridge is an example of this. When the going was good, I lent mine to another fellow who was suffering; he had a family so I could not ask for it back. Hence I stayed without which is difficult in a hot country. However, here I was on the website heading for further disaster as you just cannot win under such conditions for you are prejudged. Let me explain.
Two dating things come to mind when a man in reduced circumstances (what we educated men say when dying of hunger) try to reach out for love. Scammer and green card seeker, you are immediately accused of that. Both, of course, well merited and we all heard the stories. You get such men and women, no doubt, it ain't me though. I don't fit the profile and is not nearly attractive enough to even try my luck. When I have money, I pay for everything as it is with my generation. I was not looking for an American woman and most certainly not one with a high security clearance for I have been refused entry to America before for reasons I still don't get. They accused me of being seen with "unsavoury people" which, of course, is true; all lawyers are in that category. Until this day, eight years later, I am waiting for the local US Embassy to tell me who these unsavoury people are. This would bedevil our love more than anything else and I advised Melissa immediately, I have all the emails, to report me to her people. Yeah, I do fit the bill for a Muslim terrorist being a true Christian and clean shaven and not linked to any Al-Qaeda organisation. Perhaps they should read my book on counter-terrorism and see why they are losing their war on terror in Africa. Worse, I also knew I would have the devil's own time to explain to a girl why an educated professional man is reduced to what I described above. And then states his intentions are entirely honourable. Unless she is the one, she will not believe you.
I saw Melissa's profile and I thought, hallo, I know you but when I read her profile she said "she did not want anyone who is not nearby and she is an atheist." Like most of us, I run towards God when in trouble and I did not fancy the last part. Here life proved me wrong - we should be mixing with atheists so they can come back to the Lord and she did, by the way. So I moved on and never pressed the send button for the very nice email I wrote to her. Unlike most, I actually take the time to read the profiles and I am able to have an intelligent conversation. I am the type of man who falls in love with your brain first and foremost and Melissa was a smart as a two trees full of owls. Her IQ was way above mine and I loved that most of her - she was super smart. Her degree was awarded summa cum lauda, mine, well; let us say I never failed. Furthermore on the internet date site, I do not believe that your soul may be in the next county or street. She may be anywhere and the world is as big as the aeroplane ticket you bought to see each other. This explains the difference between being broke and poor. I was still thinking I would somehow, one day, be able to buy a ticket, I am not poor, I am broke. I just needed a break and we would be back again.
Her first email to me was something like that "K, don't you recognise me? It is me, your soul! What is wrong with you?" She always maintained until the day she went to heaven that she knew it was me, her soul. You have to wonder what guts such an email to a stranger takes. It explains her very well, once she decided this is what she wants, she would act on it. I replied and we spoke for four days nonstop. Really, it was like it was meant to be, like in "ok, what were you up to since we last met." It was very exciting and every time I saw her, or a picture of her or heard her voice I felt in love. This is still the case.
I was married twice before and so was she. Those spouses were good people but they were not us. I have since come to the conclusion that soul mate love exists. There is a love between humans which is beyond words. I have written close to fifteen full length books in my life but I still have not enough words to describe how we loved each other. It was magic and that is how we met. On an internet dating site and totally unexpected for both of us though she kept saying that "she knew I was out there." I can tell you, if she did not write that first email I would have made an end soon after. I had enough of this.
You ask what type of person she was. She was wonderful. Kind and had what Americans call "a great heart" always trying to help others. I am a proud man, I am educated beyond what is normal and don't easily accept help. Why should I? It is never for free and explaining to your soul you are reduced is really not easily done when you first meet - as you grow closer it becomes easier. It took her a week to figure out I cannot afford to eat more than once a day on good days, a terrible thing for a diabetic. She offered to help and I flatly refused. I was a good lawyer at some stage in my life. I have never once lost a case, but she floored me by asking very sweetly that "if things were different, would I help her?" That became the second rule of love I wrote about in Better Men. To do whatever is needed to keep the other half happy, the first rule is never to do anything which will hurt the other half. Privately we referred to this as "flashing our ring" meaning you have to stop your crap (pride) and listen. And when the time came, I did return the favour. There was not even a question about it; I sold my car and everything else I had to help her and would do so again. Not a single royalty payment on my books went to me; it was redirected into her accounts. I did what I could. I live in a country where a white man of my age has a 93% chance of not finding a job because he is white. You are on your own, unwanted, unappreciated and basically expected to die quietly in a corner. In other countries we would be honoured as "veterans" for all of us served with honour in our youth. We all have medals and stories. Here, we are looked down upon because we served with honour. Apparently we should have run away and hid in London. I say again as I did in other books, I have no regrets serving.
I can give you many other examples of her kindness and great heart but that can wait for the book. I can tell you about her ample love for me and that she made me feel good. That she made me write which is why you will always find me thanking her in every book I wrote under my own name. In the others, well, there are codes in them which only she gets. I will never stop honouring my wife like this. She never once cared that I may be a green card seeker as her friends (no friends of mine, I assure you) immediately warned her about. I asked what I would do in America. My degrees are in South African law and my knowledge is in Africa. I have lost nothing there except her and the place never featured high in my plans, being banned there for no reason I can think off. If I wanted to play the green card thing Australia or New Zealand and even the UK would have been the logical choices. My degrees are worth money there, the legal systems very familiar and they have large Afrikaner emigrant populations. No, it was plainly ridiculous but caused her much unnecessary anguish. We even went on a short break because of it but you cannot keep souls apart. It is useless to even try.
I will leave this subject for now afore I get boring but she was my "American Patriot" as I started to refer to her in my books. I have yet to meet anyone who cared more for her country than she did. When she was here, we saw a tattered American flag at a five star hotel. She made me stop, confiscated the flag and took it home to be properly disposed of. That my friends were my wife, fearless, loving, cute, sexy and my soul mate. She has my soul and I have hers in my heart. I will conclude by stating there can be no greater honour for me than to hear her flatly stating "K is my husband." No matter what I achieve in life, that is what I want to be remembered by. I was Melissa's husband.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. During his police years, he was awarded the South African Police Medal for Combating Terrorism twice besides lesser awards. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a commercial law attorney for eight years. These days he is the owner of JKLS Africa and Associates, a specialist legal consultancy which specializes in hostage survival training and reducing legal risk in Sub Saharan Africa. He wrote several books on business, law, counter-terrorism and security issues. At times he is asked to participate on the Voice of America regarding legal forensic matters. Koos is a widower and lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.