Rondebosch flower seller dies of Covid

Naomi Ward

Rondebosch lost a little bit of its colour when Naomi Ward, 86, who sold flowers in the area for 55 years, died of Covid-19 on Sunday February 21.

Ms Ward, who worked outside the Riverside Centre in Rondebosch for most of her adult life, lived in Parkwood. She started selling flowers with her mother at the age of nine and started doing it on her own when she was older.

Her son, Leslie Joseph said: “I would fetch my mother every morning at 6.30am and drop her in Rondebosch. Her heart and soul belonged in Rondebosch.”

He said he would often argue with her to stay at home when she wasn’t feeling well but her remedy for her own wellness was to sit at her flower stall and talk to the people passing by.

“My mother always said that for as long as she has the strength to work and sell flowers, she will be doing it until she couldn’t anymore.”

He said he felt comforted that his mother had not been alone when she died.

“My mother did not die alone because the doctor was holding her hand as she left. This was something fortunate for my mother because there are so many people who are dying alone in hospital,” he said.

Louise Adams who is Ms Ward’s neighbour in Parkwood, and who also worked next to the flower stand for 20 years, said: “Naomi who we also called ’Oemie’ was known for her beautiful personality and was a mother figure to all that knew her. She always had a smile even if she wasn’t feeling well. She didn’t make a lot of money but just being able to serve her customers was enough for her.”

Ms Adams said the little money that she did make would still be shared with the homeless people and even the birds. The homeless would sit with her and talk to her during the day as they had great respect for her and saw her as their mother.

“Selling flowers was her life. Even the winters couldn’t keep her away from Rondebosch. She was a true legend and will be missed by all of Rondebosch,” she said.

Ms Ward’s niece, Nolene Fortune said: “Nobody could stop Mrs Ward from going to work, she looked forward to seeing the people who greeted her every day. School children who would pass by every morning would ask where she is when they didn’t see her at the stand and they called her ‘Ouma’,”

“Selling flowers was her passion and she particularly looked forward to selling the flowers on special days such as Valentine’s Day,” she said.

Ms Ward lived with her niece Sulaila Hendricks who cared for her for more than 20 years.

Ms Hendricks said the community of Rondebsoch believed that she was the positive light in the area.

“She was the breadwinner of the house and she was the mother of all,” she said.

Ms Ward’s funeral will be held tomorrow, Friday February 26 at the Uniting Reformed Church in Parkwood, at 10am.

Anyone who would like to honour Ms Ward’s life is invited to lay a flower at the flower stand in Rondebosch on Monday March 1 at noon.