Normally Fredo and Janey arrive with great enthusiasm at Rooiberg Cellar near Robertson. It has become our regular stop on the road to and from Cape Town. We always buy some wine, have a light meal at Bodega restaurant and enjoyed the company of all who work there.

This is how we found out about the pet pig called Bekkie – and the two young bulls who replaced Bekkie when the pig became too big and therefore ended up on the table of her owner.

Above all we met Freda Stevens, the owner of Bekkie and the Bulls and learnt so much about her and her community. (Read Bekkies becomes Brekkies – our Travel section)

This week we stopped at Rooiberg again eagerly waiting to catch up on Freda’s life. With great sadness we learnt that Freda passed away after a motor accident about two weeks ago.

Her colleague Neville Olckers had tears in his eyes when he told us what had happened. Around us the restaurant staff, Freda’s colleagues, stood in silence – the loss of Freda was clear for all to see.

Neville Olckers at Bodega

There were tears in our eyes too! At first very shy, Freda, over time, came out of her shell. When we arrived, although she was mostly in the kitchen, Freda would come out to greet us. She and all the other staff enjoyed our blogs about Bekkie and the Bulls.

Freda, only 34, died so suddenly, so early in her life, without seeing her dreams come true.

She left a little three year old daughter behind – now being cared for by her husband and mother. Little Michaela will grow up without the love of Freda and the whole Rooiberg community is poorer for that.

Freda’s Muffins and Scones

From Neville we learnt that he and Freda were responsible for all the baking and pastries at Bodega. “She would come in early and we would bake – Freda loved her Savoury Muffins and Marmite Scones!” We looked at the display of bread and pastry for which Bodega has become famous. We never knew that Freda played such a key role. Neville told us that Blatjang, or as some call it Achtar, made from peaches and onions, was another of Freda’s favourites. We enquired whether we could see those recipes, but knew that Neville will not easily share them – they are too precious.

He says that Freda frequently uttered the word DANKBAAR, which simply means being thankful. Freda was always thankful for her life, for her little girl, for her house and family and for her friends. She brought joy to them all and that is why there was such a feeling of sadness amongst all of us there around that table this week. She loved her animals which she kept to support the family.

We suggested to Neville that there should be a special corner at Bodega to remember Freda. Two labels should be on the shelves where the bread and pastries are sold – for Freda’s Savoury Muffins and for Freda’s Marmite Scones. When we go back there again, it will always be with sadness at losing Freda, but we will now also particularly go there to taste Freda’s Muffins and Scones. “They better be there when we get there,” we told Neville.

We are sure that in our Ranger there will be a special bag for little Michaela. Clothes, for winter, sweet things that all children like, some toys and a nice Teddy Bear to which she can snuggle up when the lonely times come.

Freda enriched our lives with her stories about Bekkie and then the two young bulls. How she had to run around the house with the playful young bulls in full pursuit – how she had to make the tough decision that Bekkie should become Brekkie.

Above all Freda is an example of so many colourful people who live along the roads we travel every day. It is up to us to stop, pause a little and give them a chance to enter our lives. They will reward us with their great stories, their warmth and help us to make sense of our lives.

Neville says Freda will not be replaced soon. We get the impression that Neville has also lost a sole mate – as did all at Bodega and Rooiberg.

Freda’s Muffins and Scones – and little Michaela – is all we have to hang on to. To ensure that Freda stays in our lives. The memories that will never fade as long as we keep walking on this earth.