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Scattering The Ashes

Probably the most significant part of this journey is the support of friends. I am deeply touched by the number of telephone calls and messages from far and wide. Seeing the familiar face of someone you truly love arriving at your Father’s celebration of life, having travelled more than 360 km to just be with you is beyond comprehension. A feeling of such deep connection, of being affirmed, loved.

There has not been much time alone to truly mourn the loss of my Father. In fact, there has not been much time to even comprehend what this means. I realise what a close family we are, how often we saw each other or speak on the phone. It has just always been like that. We took it for granted that this was the way we connected.

This morning I went into my Dad’s garage. His motorbike, helmets (he had about six), riding gear, gloves, and boots. All his LP records are in a box, his tools. Whenever he went riding, he would phone my Mom at every stop. Literally – every time he would stop he would phone her. Today she sat with her phone in her hand. I asked her if she is ok and she said “All the time I am waiting for him to phone”.

My Mom’s siblings all came to Witsand to be with us, as they do, thirty of us in total. I make breakfast, and we laugh and chat about old times. While I stand in the kitchen I can see his bed. The hospital bed is gone, his old bed is back. He made that bed himself, long enough so he could stretch out comfortably. A steel construction, solid like he was.

My dearest friend Sara and her partner John stayed the night in Witsand after coming to the celebration. We have lunch together at the Anchorage restaurant, sitting at the same table I have sat with my parents on many occasions. Sara and John both have had a tough time with their health, yet they made their way to Witsand to be with me. I cannot help but think that soon I might be celebrating one of their lives. We know that time is running out. We know that our deep connection is unbreakable. And as Sara always said, we just spend lunch together. Perfect, in time, in the Now. As one does. My entire being aches at the thought that we might have to part ways forever. But for now, the mussels and sh cakes are good.

So today we will scatter his ashes. The day is grey. After not sleeping well again I manage to sleep late. Somehow the idea of my Father being reduced to a little box of ash is just strange. Today a week ago we brought him home. I washed his body, rubbed him with gentle cream, cut his nails, and kept his mouth clean. Last week this time we sat with him, turned him every two hours and changed his incontinence wear. Now he is reduced to a little box of ash. Grey as the day.

At least there is no doubt about what should happen to his remains. He again gave clear instructions to scatter his ashes on the fourth tee on the Heidelberg golf course. My Mom, sister and brother and law and I go into town to do this in the late afternoon. We had spent so many wonderful times on this golf course as kids – Sunday braais and parties where we kids had the most wonderful times. I have not been down to the course for over thirty years if not more. It is beautiful. Green, lush.

As we get to the fourth tee it starts raining. I can see the Old Man smiling, he loved playing the fool! We get wet, and in silence, we scatter his remains. “How strange is this,” my Mother says. How strange indeed.

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