My father was not the most reliable man. Much like our Liam James who may go out to buy milk and see you in a week because the opportunity to go to the coast (ten hours away) came up between home and the buying of said milk. It sounded like a plan and off he went only to return in a few days, fresh as a daisy. I would have had Liam chipped if that was legal. My Mammie says my father was a Liam. No ocean too deep, no mountain too high.
A car accident took the life of a 30-year-old, white male at 19h00 on 14 December 1984 – my father.
My eleven-year-old self did not believe my father actually died. An assortment of visitors began arriving. Non-stop people. He was clearly loved. So many tears. In my mind, my father may disappear for a while, but he always comes back! It never felt him not being there was something to forgive. My dear Mammie never hinted at anything negative about his behaviour or him as a man and neither did my Oupa Mike and Ouma Chrissie who raised me. If the love of Christ was people, they were my Grandparents. Nothing was too much to forgive.
Leading up to the funeral on 19 December 1984, a lot happened. It was very confusing. My Mammie was broken in a million little pieces. I had rarely seen her without model makeup so when I was faced with her white, ghost-like, gaunt appearance, it made a huge impression on me.
At some point, we had to go and buy clothes for my sister and me for the funeral. It was not a time to push your likes and dislikes. I guess my Mammie chose my dress. It was white with small purple flowers around the front. I had not developed my love for purple as yet but it seems fitting. Apparently purple was a suitable funeral colour. I know it had a bow around the waist. It was a fine dress, however, it was my reasoning that it was a funeral dress. The dress I would wear to my fathers funeral. Never to be worn again.
There is great detail in my mind regarding the day they buried my father. I don’t want to go into that today, except to say that I was stung by a bee…. and I hated all the fake flower arrangements in those domes. I’m sure the people gave them in love, I remember thinking my father can already not breathe and now you cover him with flowers that can’t breathe either. It was like toilet covers in the Afrikaans community I grew up in. Uncomfortable and bloody unnecessary.
Fresh from the platteland, a few months later I was now living in the City with my Mammie and my sister. There was an occasion for which I needed a dress. I remember my dear Mammie telling me to just wear the white one. For most of my life, I had only seen my Mammie on weekends so I was quite weary. That lady takes no prisoners. Except, there was no way I would wear that funeral dress again. I don’t remember what happened but I never saw the white dress with the purple detail around the front again.
Today, I adore my Mammie. Having been a single Mom, I too, take no prisoners. You did good Mammie. So good. I love you so very much. My gratitude and respect are unending.
I’m 46 years old now. I am still waiting for my father to come back. He remains dead.