On the banks of the river I sat near the house, under a tree. Close to the water, but not close enough to get wet. I watched Oupa Mike with an old, dirty hat shielding him from the sun on a canoe, chipping green paint in colour, drifting in the middle of the river as he fished.
The sky would change colour. occasionally he would shift position. He sat in that tiny canoe for hours and I would observe him and smile. It was wonderful and he was beautiful to me. Even as a child I appreciated solitude and bored was not a phrase I connected with. I never really gave much thought to my sitting watching Oupa, it is just what I did. I was safe, happy and we were alone – but together. Eventually as night came, he would make his way to the bank. I would help him carry his gear back to the house and he would pull the canoe out the water. We didn’t need words. We smiled and walked back towards the house.
Tonight as I sit here on my bed in a house I am not sure is my home anymore, in a life which feels intensely complicated and confusing at the moment (except to know I am loved), I wish I was back on that river bank watching the man I worshipped and adored. I crave the silence and simplicity. I want to help him out the water, carry the fishing gear and walk towards the house. I want to look up and smile at him and I see him smile at me.
I wish for another moment in time, but it would be a selfish wish, for one moment would never be enough and I would have to wish for a million more. So much has happened since we last spoke. I have so much to tell, so many questions to ask, many ideas to run by him while craving to just sit…. be with him and know who we are, as we are.
It is not with sadness I write this tonight although I assure you the tears are running onto my chest as I write this, but with gratitude. I experienced a love so pure, beautiful, loving, caring, forgiving and unconditional. It is with a heart overflowing with thankfulness and wonder that I remember and not with regret, nor sadness – only joy for a life well lived.
Although I miss my Oupa Mike in so many more ways than anybody truly knows or understands, nobody can take what I have inside me and I realise that many have never experienced such a relationship at all. I think I realized for the first time in my life tonight, that my relationship with my grandfather was my first true experience of friendship.
I am truly blessed.
I took this picture on 9 December 2007 on the day I went to say goodbye to my personal giant. I knew it would be our last day together and I was okay with that. He had believed he had been playing in injury times for years already and very peacefully died on 12 December 2007 of old age. Leaving behind a legacy of a man who truly loved….. and lived a life in abundance.
‘We’ll meet again, I don’t know where, I don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day’, as sang by me on his 80th birthday and again at his funeral. I hope I did Vera Lynn justice.