Remembering

I must admit, I’ve been lucky.  Until now, non of my friends or parents have died.  I do not know death very well.  My grandmother died when I was 4 and her funeral was enough for me to decide that I want nothing to do with the whole dying business.  Dying sucks big time for me.

Then last Sunday, my uncle died.  We are a small close-knit family and now there’s a hole in it.  Later the same Sunday, one of our university-day friends died.  A friendship of 22 years gone.  So, if you will bear with me, or bear me for that matter, I’m going to tell you a little about them and what I remember.

First, my Uncle.  His name was Isak, an Afrikaans version of  Isaac.  To the world in general, he was a non-entity.  Only a few people knew of his existence.  After he retired, he lived in a small flat and he loved his little space.  He loved watching TV, reading the newspaper, doing crosswords and puzzles.  He was never married.  Sundays he would get in his car, and visit my parents(he was my father’s brother) and my aunt(her brother too).  A Sunday meal is our family institution and food is one of the ways my mother tells people that she loves them.  He would talk about what he has seen on TV and read in the newspaper.  Although his living space was small, his world was big.

I think what I remember about him the most was his loyalty en dependability towards us.  If I were to ask him to drive me to Cape Town(about 800 miles), he would do it.   He helped out whenever he could.  He always took meticulous care of his car.  He never complained about his life.  He was  someone solid that you only notice out of the corner of your eye.  Never in the spotlight.  Soft spoken.  Smoking a cigarette.  Loving a beer.  Only 11 people were at his funeral.  As I’ve said before, nobody really knows that he is gone, but for us his family,  Sundays will never be the same.

Her full names were Jacqueline Judith.  To her friends she was Jackie.  To me, she was Jacks.  I cannot remember how we met, but the friendship was instant.  I introduced her to her husband(my roommate).  He was a kind of a loner when it comes to the female species.  Then one day I grabbed him on campus and told him to come with me.  I wanted to ask Jacky something.  We went and after a while I noticed a connection between the two.  I told them I had to go to the bathroom and … left.  About 7 hours later, he came back 🙂 They were married 2 weeks before Anette and I were married.

She was a pharmacist and a very good one.  While they were living in our town, we never went to the doctor.  We just went to her and describe the symptoms.  She gave the correct medicine and health returned.  She was meticulous.  She could do a lot of things at the same time, but there was an order to it that’s hard to explain.  She broke stuff down into understandable and doable bits.  She was also wise.  The wisdom and the order combined , had a calming effect on people.  She could listen to people’s ramblings, put her thoughts into it and suddenly you knew what to do.

She was funny.  Sometimes she only caught on at the end of a joke and then it became hilarious.  She could laugh.  She made music.  Played keyboard for church get-togethers.  She played golf.  Sometimes better than her husband, which led to comical bantering for days.  They did triathlons together. 

She was brave.  Got cancer about 12 years ago.  Sometimes, she drove alone to get her chemo treatments.  She was beautiful even with no hair.  They could not have any children.  They would have been great parents.  But they had each other and that was enough for them.  Of course there were 2 dogs, one which only has 3 legs.

A year ago the cancer came back, this time in her skeleton.  6 Weeks ago, it was in her brain.  Even when she could not eat or sit straight by herself, she gave you half a smile if she recognized you.  She died in her bed at home.  It was a good death.  Her husband thanked God for the time they had together and he gave her to our Father and then she was gone.

Today a week ago was her funeral.  Lots of people came.  Her husband did not want a traditional funeral, but there were lots of family from the more traditional religious background, so it was mostly traditional.  I was disappointed.  I think we could have celebrated her life “better”.  (I have issues with funerals also 🙂

She loved Jesus. She was not afraid to die.

I will miss saying Jacqueline Judith.