For the third time in my life I have lost a father. When I was alone with oupa Collin this afternoon, I said. “Daddy, I have an invitation for you. The King of love has sent for you. You must go!”

His spirit was already there; only his body was lagging behind. A short while afer we saw his face turn ashen. With his beloved wife, daughter, sister and the three of us around his bed, holding on to him, stroking his head and hands, I started singing one of his favourite songs:

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.
Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come. Tís grace has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing His praise than when we’ve first begun.”

He was looking up, seeing something we could not see. Mom carried on: “Praise God, praise God…”and with that he heeded the call from the King of love and went into His arms.

What a glorious send off. God is great.

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Met erkenning aan Robbie Wessels, wat ‘n weg met woorde het:

“Ek sing ‘n liedjie sonder fancy woorde oor ‘n man wat ek nooit ooit sal vergeet nie. Hierdie woorde maak ‘n prentjie van ‘n man wat van sleg dinge niks wou weet nie, en as ek aan hom dink, dan word ek stil en ek verlang weer na my se pa. Met sy “wampie” aan en velhoed op maak hy grappies, en die waarhede op die punt van sy tong laat my besef hy was ‘n pa vir ons almal. Dis die woorde van ‘n man wat nooit wou afbreek maar wou bou. En as ek aan hom dink, dan word ek stil en ek verlang weer na my se pa.”

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It is after 2 in the morning. Normally I don’t sleep like a baby, which means I sleep really, really well, even if I do sometimes burn the candle way past the midnight oil. Wake me up, shake me, ask me “are you sleeping?”and I’ll grunt, smile, and turn over to sleep yet again.

Not this night. Apart from the stifling heat – which I should be used to, coming from the Little Karoo – the wind has picked up and is howling. I start worrying about things: Wipe Out, wiped out (again)?, Dianne’s birthday gift which still needs to be assembled before the day begins in all earnest, the cost of a tank of fuel (R600 to fill her up now), the men’s camp (will it rain out – yet again?),  a colleauge that does not smile like she used to… And my dad.

Yes, that’s it. It has become an obsession: what, why, when, how, and again – how…

I literally feel the logisticts and emotions overwhelm me. He is being discharged today.

How will he/we cope? Will he suffer much? Will we be able to handle him delicately enough so that he is comfortable in the circumstances? Will there be time for me to tell him how I love him with an indescribable love? Will he be coherent enough to put his hand on my head and bless me with an impartation of his gentle spirit? Will he go gasping for every breath, as my biological dad did? Will he lose his mind, like my stepdad did? Will he go gently into that good night, as Dylan Thomas so eloquintly put it, or will he rage against the dying of the light?

I don’t want this good man to go without a fight; I want to see him hold on to life. For Jeanne, for my mom, for us… But then I want him to go. To be at peace. To go peacefully and gently into the light – not that dying light, but the bright light that is God’s presence.

I am reminded of the epiphany I had last week. Do I trust God FOR His way, or do I trust Him IN His way?

As the minutes tick away, I hear Erwin’s song over and over… God will make a way; He’ll make a way for me. 

In my spirit I tiptoe to his bedside, kiss him, and release him to the Father to go towards the light; to go into that good night.


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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As my ma hand-op-die-hart gesê het “hygend hert”, en haar oge hemelwaarts geslaan het, ek ek altyd gedink sy hyg omdat haar “hert (hart) moeg is.

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I saw the face of death

I am overcome with gratitude. To sit with a person who is in the throes of death and see such peace and – dare I say – eagerness to be with God: that is truly humbling.

To ask a man at death’s door “what can I pray for?” and be told “please pray for my wife and children (their grandchildren, actually, because their young daughter had died from cancer recently): that is truly humbling.

To hold his transparent hand and hear his laboured breath while he praises God: that is truly humbling.

To be at the ceremony where his life and death in Christ is celebrated: that, dear reader, is truly humbling.

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Sjoe, kan so ‘n Masbiekervrou vir jou dig. Sy’t my in amperse trane gehad.

“Was dit my ma se ma se ma se ma se ma, of haar pa se pa se pa se pa se pa…?

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I know someone…

I know someone who…

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AntieDol en darling Pat

Die heel, heel eerste keer dat ek in VCC ingestap het, het ek haar gesien: antieDol se doppelgänger, right down to the twin set, hair do and pearls. Ag, sy is sooo sweet!

Woensdag, by die ontbyt, vra Zénia of ons onlangs iemand begrawe het (nee, nie my neef nie, en ook nie Andrew Murray-Bates nie). Sy vertel van die oom en tannietjie wat altyd lang haar in die kerk sit, maar sy sien hom die afgelope twee weke nie meer nie. Sy sweer hy’s dood. “Die tannietjie sit altyd en slaap, shame…”

Nee, die tannetjie sit toe nooit en slaap nie. Haar kop is net te swaar vir haar dunne nekkie.

Toe ek Daan Vrydaga fisio toe neem, sit hulle daar: Al en Pat. Hy is 80+. Sy nader aan 90. Hy praat nie ‘n dooie woord wanneer dit goed gaan nie, en nog minder wanneer dit sleg gaan. Sy borrel absoluut oor in haar hogere Ingels. Hy lyk daai dag so bietjie grys in sy gesig. Ek weet van sy siekte, maar hy het ‘n besonder gepynigde uitdrukking op sy gesig.v

“I fell off the table…” Ek vra nie, maar hy volunteer die inligting. Hy is besonder spraaksaam. Nie ‘n sweempie van emosie op sy gesig terwyl hy vertel – staar net reguit voor hom uit op my naeltjiehoogte.

Gloeilamp. Geen mens jonger as hy in sig. Klim op tafel. Te laag. Klim op nog iets. Tree agter-uit om als te beskou. The rest is history, soos mens sê.

Ek stel Daantjie uitéindelik aan hulle voor; hulle hoor nou al 5 jaar van hom en hy van hulle. Met die uitstap staan hy stil by ‘n mooi orgidee. Dit bring my by vanaand se storie.

Ek gaan loer vanmiddag na werk by die twee oues in, net ingeval Al weer deur die gier oorval word om op ‘n tafel te klim en af te neuk. Daar is vensters oop, maar niemand antwoord. Ek skryf ‘n mooi briefie in duidelike drukskrif. Vanaand kry ek die oproep. Lang storie. Hulle is hartseer dat hulle my gemis het. Ek is hartseer dat ek hulle gemis het.

“Every year a friend comes from Paris (nie Vrystaat) to visit his mom – three times a year – and every time I get an orchid. So every year I give them away after he’s left because I cannot take care of them. I would like to give your husband my orchid. It was most endearing to see him touch that flower the way he did.”

Sweet, darling Pat.  Die ou lyfie kan nie meer die sware, elegante kop ophou nie. En wanneer sy – noodgedwonge, soos nou – moet bestuur, loer sy net-net oor die dash, soos antie DikPiet van Calitzdorp destyds oor die Merc s’n geloer het.

AntieDol het 102 geword. Ek hoop regtig die Here kom haal Pat en Al sommer so saam-saam. Ek dink Hy gaan suffel pret met dié unlikely pair hê.  Daar sal Pat na hartelus orgideë kan kweek sonder dat hulle vrek, en Al sal nie nodig hê om gloeilampe om te ruil nie.

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Lang-arm met Louis

Mens droom vreemde goed.

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