I adored my paternal Grandparents. They were wise and loving people who gave their best to their six children, and grandchildren to come.
My father was 29 when he died of thrombosis, and it almost killed them. He was their favourite. My grandparents lived about an hour’s drive away but not long after, when I was about 7, they were posted from the Transvaal to the Cape. From then on until they died, I saw them only once a year.
When they moved they wanted my mom and brother and I to go with them. But my mom decided that it would be best for her to try making it on her own. The only thing she accepted from him was money for a gravestone, which we visited once.
When I was a child, and reasoned as a child, I deeply loved them. Initially, we would drive the 14 hours to visit them but when we got older, we went by train. My grandmother would read Dr. Suess’ books to us. She acted it out till we held our stomachs laughing. The only time I ever saw her angry was when we, with my two cousins, made a game of jumping from a bedroom window into her daisy bushes. Her garden was her pride and joy.
When I was a teenager, and knew everything, I loved them still. But I did not have much time to spend with them then. I had parties to go to, friends to hang out with and boys to meet.
They never reproached me, or asked me why. They quietly accepted it with all the love they had for my dad. Their love was not the gushy, kissy kind. It was a love that brought me my favourite breakfast in bed every morning. It was a love that wrote to me often, exhorting and teaching me. It was a love
that wore out its knees for me in prayer.
When I became an adult, and thought like an adult, I wanted to spend time with them because I loved them deeply. I caused them joy when I chose my God, or rather, when He chose me. I was 23 when he died.
I had my grandmother for another 14 years before she too left me.
Ouma, I want to be like you. I want the kindness, patience, forbearance, joy, peace, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, laughter and love
that made you so beautiful. I want to be able to give of myself as unsparingly as you did. Thank you for your letters and books. For the phone conversations, I wish there were more. Thank you for your faith.
Oupa, thank you for the arm of protection you folded around us when we were a little family adrift, you owed us naught. Thank you for providing for me so that I had a good start in life. Thank you for your wisdom in allowing me to make mistakes.
I so look forward to the day that I shall be with you once more.