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Sunday, July 17, 2011


When we did our Mandela Day thing for 67 minutes yesterday, we found ourselves in the car with Mother and with a bit of time to kill. We discovered that we finally had an opportunity to visit Father's grave. It must be more than a year since I have been there. Mother never goes alone because it is remote and quiet; very dangerous. Not long after my father's death a long time friend of his was brutally murdered in his house with his wife on their property which is exactly opposite the graveyard.

Luckily we had located some petrol at a filling station on the way to Mother's. In case you don't know, workers in the petroleum industry are on a wage strike and fuel has become a sought-after commodity. Add that to brutal crime, AIDS, corruption and unemployment and you will know what kind of country we have right here. Don't get me started.

Anyway, we were amazed to see how full the graveyard has become. My fear of you-know-what always flares up under these circumstances and I find it very hard to get my mind focused elsewhere again. It frightens me that one day, there will be no one to remember the people whose names are engraved in the stone. No one to remember my name.

At other times, especially after the rougher than usual week at work last week, I wish I could be the one sleeping peacefully under a bushveld tree the way my father seems to be.

We were all glad to see that the headstone was standing upright again; the last time any of us had been there it had been tilting at an alarming angle because roots from the tree behind was slowly pushing it over. I had helped Mother draft a letter to the local Municipality, and, to our wonder and amazement they had actually sorted the problem out.

The design of the stone is a personal one. It was meant to have been carved from snow white marble, which was what we paid for. In the end, Valrie Tombstones erected the stone in an odd-looking granite that is definitely foamy cappuccino instead of plain white. In addition to using the wrong material, they also messed up my father's date of birth. It should have been 9 March 1949, not 3 September 1949. Maybe it makes sense across the Atlantic.

Come to think of it, we were all so shattered after my father's suicide that we most probably gave them the inverted date. It is unbelievable that time has the power to take the edge of those wounds. Just a little.

Still, I think it is a lovely old-fashioned romantic stone. I would love to have one of those, hopefully some years down the path.

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