October, most beautiful month – most painful month...
It was indeed a blissful month, as all Octobers in South Africa always are. Perfumes fill the air, colours in the fields become more prominent on a richer green and birds are breeding and may already have hatchlings.
Yet, Papa was in his autumn years, gold, gold gold. He was a bit groggy as he had shingles just before winter began, suffered all that pain, and even contracted a bit pneumonia. Papa has hardly ever been ill in his life, and it has hit him a bit on the psychological side of things. I was happy to be home in the south and could be there for Papa.
(I am still amazed at how things happened that I remained home that time.....)
End August saw me helping my daughter moving into her new home and afterwards I’d spend a week with my Godmother (Papa’s sister) and then daughter and granny girl would join us there for the weekend. And that fine Sunday we went back to my daughter’s place and she would take me home to Papa the following Sunday.
Monday 25 October Papa phoned me on my mobile and told me he bought three packets of cheese and placed in the cabinet where we’d mature the cheese. He still asked me if it was okay. I was a bit agitated to speak to him that day, I wanted to cut our conversation short and mentioned also that the unstable mobile connection can disappear at any time.
(I felt terrible afterwards, yet, when I think, we had time to say goodbye that day before the connection might have disappeared and we’d never have had to opportunity to say goodbye. I was in any case going to be home that Sunday and we’d again talk as much as we wanted to.)
On 27 October I was not feeling too well. I had something that felt like an angina and got a bit anxious. I decided then I am not going to worry and rather relax. I had some wine and took even more, ate small lunch and went to rest a bit on the couch in my daughter’s lounge. I actually slept.
I woke when my cellphone rang and recognized the number (otherwise I won’t even bother to answer). I answered and this chap simply said: “We have problems.” I asked what problems and he repeated. This went on three times then I just said to him “What problems, speak to me.” He then replied: “Your Father is dead.”
I was horrified, thinking this is a sick joke but he insisted and then asked me who the undertakers are. I was in shock and couldn’t even remember a single thing and the first that came to my mind was the name of Papa’s second wife’s undertakers.
I became like a zombie, walking up and down, lighting one cigarette from another, still not believing what this man told me. He was always so nice to Papa, how on Earth would he just say “Your Father is dead” ????? It just didn’t make sense.
I phoned him later again, I really thought it was a sick joke – yet he simply just confirmed. He said again that “we” have problems, the Police didn’t want to give him the key of our home and Papa’s car and that he couldn’t arrange anything with the undertaker because it was not the same undertaker as I told him.
(Logically the police won’t give him anything, he is not next-of-kin, why would this man have wanted the car and house keys? It seems then, this was the only problem he had, definitely not “we”.)
Later that same day I received another call from a Police Officer who informed me with tender respect about my Father’s death and that I should see him when I am back. Only then did I know, accepted what happened. Papa was in this world no more.....
Agony followed, I phoned my daughter at her work, I just wanted her to get home immediately. She was also shocked but kept a very clear head and said that there is nothing we can do for the moment, it is late and it is best that I have, or try to have, would be a good night’s rest and that she’d take me home the following day. It was already nearer five ‘o clock in the afternoon and we’d be at my home only after dark.
My daughter still had work commitments and it took a slow city rush hour for her before she’d be home. Bless her soul for the strength she had that day. I don’t know what I would have done without her.
I won’t forget the Dettol soap I used while showering, I washed and washed and washed myself as if I want to wash this reality away. I kept the water running over me, trying to rinse this horrific truth as if it never existed.
Early the next day I packed my daughter’s little Peugeot with things I had at her place which she won’t use anymore to take back home.
(At the time I also rented an additional tranquil two roomed apartment where Papa and I could spend peaceful hours together, where we hadn’t had a worry in the world of anyone interrupting us. I decided that I could use those items there. I was so confused, I wanted to believe that Papa and I would still be together.)
(My Godmother also visited there earlier, it was easier for her to move around there. She still said that she wanted to spend some time with her brother, especially after Papa had pneumonia and was hospitalized – in case she might not see her brother again.)
(She was very concerned, those two were true buddy siblings, dynamic together since they were kids in a home of 10 children.)
(photo of them shortly after Second World War)
(All the lovely memories we’d share those days were fantastic…..)
Oh God, it is hurting so much, but I am so thankful for those blissful days, the last seven months of Papa’s life, that we could have been together.
The missing will never go away, it still hurts badly. Each time I make food, each time I brew my coffee, I miss this great man of my life who’d greet me in the mornings with “Hallo Mrs Coffee” when the aroma of my early morning java floats around.
October is beautiful, it is also the month the Almighty chose to take Papa home. Praise the Almighty for how He decided to choose.
My music began to play so loud - less than a year afterwards, so strong as if even Papa is also conducting this gift, cheering me on.