Once upon a time, a South African missionary couple moved to the beautiful country of Zimbabwe. In total, they would come together three times to recreate the miracle of life, determined that their children should grow up amidst this precious Jewel of Africa, raised within an environment of love and joy. Alas, this story does not end with "…and they all lived happily ever after"; the first in a series of many tragedies was to strike in 1989. Merle Ann Jeanette Seligmann (Kilroe-Smith), a devoted mother and loving wife, began to experience double-vision unexpectedly whilst driving. After going before the usual procession of doctors and specialists, a neurological diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis was finally made. As is typical of the disease, the initial symptoms disappeared not long after they presented, but the ever-present storm clouds could now be seen looming on the horizon, a Sword of Damocles inescapably threatening to drop down sooner or later.
The next in the series was to strike in 1994. Karl Johan Seligmann, a devoted father and loving husband, made the fatal decision to advance his return home to Zimbabwe from South Africa by one day; while driving through the area near Messina, another driver lost control of his car, causing a collision between the two vehicles. It would later be determined that while all of the identifying information provided by the responsible driver (ID, vehicle registration number, and so on) was fraudulent. Johan was rushed to Milpark hospital, where despite having sustained a dangerous head wound, he showed great promise of recovery. However, in June 1994, Johan passed away from a pulmonary embolism caused by a blood clot that travelled into the lungs; physicians had been hesitant to safeguard against such an event through the use of anticoagulants, due to the risk of reopening the equally dangerous head wound.
Meanwhile, time had passed on, and the world with it; the family chose to move to South Africa at the end of 1994. Merle's disease continued to progress; along with various other sensory malfunction, her ataxia began to intensify until she could not drive, nor walk, nor even crawl any longer. Throughout all of these experiences, the bonds between the remaining family members continued to grow and intensify, rather than showing any sign of weakening or fracturing. The ultimate test came when the decision was made to move Merle into a nursing home, as continuing care for her at home was no longer practical. This resulted in the physical break-up of the family; the children went to live out their lives with various different relatives. The bonds between them remained strong as ever, however; and they soon began to show their true capabilities as they began to carve out lives of their own, despite the adversarial odds they were faced with.
This chapter was finally concluded in June 2003; Merle passed away due to MS-related complications, an intact personality and intelligent mind trapped within the prison of her own body, and even her own brain, unable to communicate at all with all but those closest to her. Left behind were the ultimate product of her incredible yet doomed marriage union: their three beautiful and brilliant children, Tristan, Tiffany, and William.