Re(d)latives: February 2012 Archives

In Memoriam

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The light slants through the windows above. Their arches are tell-tale clues that this was once a church. Now it is an art gallery, but sacred once again. I leave my sisters at the door and walk forward, suddenly frantic to find him among all the others.

I scan along the walls and spot him against the front wall. It is a close-up of his face, but it does not quite look like him, which, in a way, is almost a relief. I can’t place my finger on what exactly it is that the artist did not nail. Is his nose too crooked? The shape of his eyes a little off? Yet, with a few violent brush strokes, she had skilfully managed to capture enough of his essence to create a recognisable likeness of my late brother-in-law. It is an impressive achievement, considering that she never met him in person and only had a photograph to work from. There is no denying that she is extremely gifted.

Later, during the exhibition’s opening address, we learn that these fifty individual portraits of my brother-in-law and others form part of one work. Fifty; because that, according to officials, is the amount of people that are murdered in South Africa on a daily basis. However, some say that 150 murder victims a day is a far more accurate figure.

On February 18, 2011, my vibrant, jovial and strong brother-in-law became part of those statistics when he was shot to death at his farmhouse in the middle of the night while trying to stave off a gang of intruders. My sister and then 7-year old nephew witnessed the entire horror.

A year and a week later, I still cannot grasp – and don’t think I ever will – why this awful thing had to happen to my beautiful, kind sister; my sweet nephew and my darling little niece. I don’t know why a decent, honest, hard-working man, who meant so much to so many people, had to die at just 44 years old. Why he won’t get to see my nephew and niece grow up; grow old with my sister...

He will forever have the dubious honour of being the first farmer to be murdered in this area. Thankfully, his memory has not been eclipsed by his headline-grabbing death. The way in which he lived his too short life was so much bigger that the horrible way in which he died. It speaks volumes about his character that many of his friends – large, burly men – are still unable to refer to him without breaking down and unabashedly sobbing like babies. He was not famous, yet he has had a street named after him in a new development here in town. (To be more precise, it’s a ‘Way’, which is hilariously appropriate, because – as I joked to my sister – he always got his way. Adding “Street”, “Lane”, or “Boulevard” after his name simply would not have had the same ring to it.)

However, he would have loathed all of this attention. He was a man of deeds, not words. We always knew he was generous, but not even my sister was aware of how often he helped others, because he never boasted about it. It was only after his death that we began learning how often and how much he had done for scores of people.

Less than eight weeks before his death, and just a few days before Christmas ’10, he was held up at gunpoint at a friend’s restaurant while making a delivery. Luckily he and all the other victims emerged from the experience physically unarmed. Two days after that, he gave me a ride to his beach house where we were going to celebrate and spend Christmas weekend. In the car, he told me some of what happened. I told him how glad I was that he was okay, and he laughingly patted my arm and said: “So you’ll miss me if I’m no longer around?” I pulled a face at him and said: “Maybe. Just a teeny tiny bit.”

Now I can assure him that all of us miss him desperately, every single day.

Hello my scores of darling imaginary readers! (Yes, I know, there used to be only three of you, but I have decided that,  since you are imaginary, I might as well go all out and pretend that there are billions of you!)

I feel that a formal salutation is in order. I was going to just start and pretend that this chasm of blogging inactivity spanning three months (to the day!) didn't really happen. However, since that is a long stretch of blog silence, even for the likes of me (The World's Official Laziest Blogger, seven years running), I realised that trying to casually brush over it might not quite cut it.

I suppose now you want to hear where I've been, right (demanding beasts that you are)? Well, apart from Taiwan six months ago (which you know about and will continue to hear about soon, I promise), a brief sojourn to the beach for a long weekend during December, and apart from currently being Out of My Home Town... the answer is, rather sadly: nowhere.

So what have I been doing, I hear you ask? (My, but you guys are curious! Quit interrogating me!)

We have moved from my sister's farm (an undertaking which, I'm convinced, was more epic than the Afrikaner's Groot Trek itself). My sister and the kids are now living a block from my tiny, crumbling little hovel in a beautifully restored house which I'm hoping will eventually feel like home for them as well.

The move was horribly traumatic. While we were all still staying on the farm, it was easy to get stuck in denial; to ignore the terrible truth and pretend that last year's tragedy didn't happen; to stubbornly keep believing (hoping?) that my brother-in-law would come strutting back into the house at any second. The day we finally shut that front door behind us and drove away, I sobbed so much that I had to pull over for a while.

It feels strange not living with them anymore, but when I'm in town (which is most of the time), I'm still over at theirs almost every night, having supper and reading to my nephew. But I'll tell you more about how they are doing in another post - honest. (Probably in about two years' time!)

In the mean time, I'm back and you'll hear from me a tiny bit more often from now on. And yes, I do realise that this is a scary prospect indeed...


















about
is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)

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comments
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Terra: YES! Wait... you didn't think that I would be this possessed to post for NO REASON, did ya???... [go]
  • Terra.Shield : OH! ... [go]
  • Marco Author Profile Page: Be a bit like serving drinks at AA?... [go]
  • Marco Author Profile Page: I personally think it is a mindset that has been cultivated over the years, and one, if not stemmed,... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Ms. Crazy Cat Lady Pants!!! Squeeeee! Sooo good to see you! (I thought NO ONE was bothering to read ... [go]
  • Ms. Pants : Kitties don't get enough credit sometimes. (All times, if you ask me, but I'm a Crazy Cat Lady.)... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Hey Tamara! I know, right?? That is a tough act to follow indeed. I adored that dentist. He used to ... [go]
  • Tamara Tipton : Well, I am not sure how any dentist could live up to that standard! LOL! I hope your appointment was... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: I'm really really glad that I'm not the only one, Po! Sometimes I drive myself mad with all the what... [go]
  • Po : Those questions run through my heads for various times in my life too, that is for sure!... [go]
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