Why moms should run the world 

The title is misleading because while it reads ‘moms should run the world’ I believe women in all shapes, sizes or forms would do the job brilliantly but for now I feel like moms, especially me, could run an organization, or country, more effectively than any man.

Last night while we were having supper Emma accidentally bit down on a loose tooth and groaned a little as to how sore it was. A few minutes later she goes to the bathroom and Ben and I carry on eating. 

Next thing I hear “mom I’ve got the biggest surprise ever!” Dear baby Jesus and Bloody Mary don’t tell me she’s started menstruating already I think to myself! She comes running through, blood on fingers and aforementioned loose tooth in hand. “Double you, tea, eff!” I exclaim! “How did that happen? Was your tooth THAT loose?”

After much excitement and Ben telling her to pull more out so she can cash in from the tooth fairy we Skype, or as Ben calls it ‘skydive’, Mark and the topic is mainly around Emma’s tooth and that Ben really shouldn’t moon his dad, aunt, uncle and cousins whilst skyping.

And then I remembered the last R10 and R20 I had on my person was given to our gardener for transport (he usually comes in on a Thursday but thought Sunday would be as good a day as any). I also couldn’t leave the house to draw money, leaving  the kids at home alone, or them coming along and possibly one of them realizing something was up. I messaged my ‘village friend’ aka neighbour but her phone was off for the night! What to do? What to do! 

Everyone knows this in a corporate environment would be referred to as crisis management, where quick thinking and proactiveness is essential. I watched as Emma placed her tooth under her pillow, read a bedtime story and watched them fall asleep, having to shush them every so often as they discussed how and where the tooth fairy gets in the house, and if she’s so small how does she carry all that money? 

As soon as they were asleep I grabbed a pencil and paper, and some glitter because glitter makes everything better, and penned a letter to Emma which went along the lines of:

Dear Emma

Well now, isn’t this a surprise? I really wasn’t expecting your tooth to come out so soon and at the moment I’m on holiday. I checked in with the tooth mouse to see if he could help but he’s apparently also sunning it up somewhere.

Talking of being away, i know your dad’s in England at the moment too and I figured you would probably want to show him the tooth, especially that it’s one of your last baby teeth. So this is plan. I’m leaving your tooth with you so dad can see it when he’s back. Keep it nice and safe until then. (Oh, and I’ll be back from my vacay around the same time.)

In the meantime this letter is almost like an IOU, as in I owe you R20! Keep the letter and tooth safe and I’ll see you soon!

Yours in fairy dust 


XOXOXO glitter glitter XOXOXO

Emma was thrilled with her letter. Ben didn’t question (yet) how it had arrived if the TF is supposed to be on holiday. Neither noticed (yet) that the tooth fairy’s handwriting looked remarkably like mine and they both loved how considerate she was for thinking that dad might like to have seen the tooth before it was taken away…

And this, dear reader, is why women should run the world! 


Celebrating Mother’s Day motherless 

I came across this on Facebook this morning, and it resonated with me in such a way that I felt I could finally write about celebrating Mother’s Day without my mom.

The problem I’ve been faced with, for example, is mentioning how I miss my mom on a social platform and someone responding with “what about us whose moms never loved us?” I can’t answer that but I know the relationships we have with our mothers are complicated, even when you’re close. 

You can be close to your mom but never see her. You can be close and close by. You can be close by but not close. Get what I’m saying? 

This is the post:

“With tomorrow being Mother’s Day, my heart feels especially sensitive to my friends for whom this holiday will be hard.

Friends who will be standing by gravesites. Friends whose moms haven’t been a part of their lives in many years. Those who have challenging relationships with their moms who try to navigate Mother’s Day with grace but some necessary distance.

And then there are those who are still aching to be called “Mom.” Those with arms longing to hold a little one of their own.”

I remember just after my my mom passed away I went to fetch Emma from a playdate and my daughter pulled one of her “I don’t want to go home! I want to stay!” I tried to stay composed while explaining to her that I had missed her the entire day and would love to spend some time with her and have our now customary bedtime snuggles but she wasn’t having any of it. And I just crashed and burned. 

I literally broke into a million pieces, right there, in front of this poor woman. She had no idea what to do or say but she suggested Emma stay a bit longer and then be dropped off later. A few weeks later I saw the same friend again and she mentioned that I was looking better than when she saw me last. She then went onto say she had no idea my mom’s loss had affected me as much because I never really mentioned her, I didn’t spend a lot of time with her, even though we lived close enough to. 

Even if is she was here today there’s a very good chance I wouldn’t spend the day with her. She would be with one of my two brothers, or both, with their wives, and I would be the ‘shitty’ daughter. I’m sure there’d be comments about my absence and she would sit quietly, saying nothing, maybe even agreeing in order to keep the facade. But she would know why I wasn’t there. 

We would have spoken on the phone or via WhatsApp voice notes – my mom had recently discovered them, and let me just say she loved the function – I would have wished her a happy Mother’s Day and she would have done the same. And then we’d say goodbye, tell each other they were loved and go about our day.

I loved my mom dearly and I know she loved me. But she wasn’t perfect and there were some things I wish she had done differently. There are days my entire body aches for her, just to hear her voice. Other days I am so angry with her and then feel guilty that she can probably feel the rage. 

There are moments I wish for one more conversation, so I can tell her that all is forgiven, that I understand why she did what she did and didn’t do what she should have. I would do anything to hear her say my strength matched hers and she did things the way she did because out of everyone, she knew I would cope best. 

At times I think it would have been better if she had died when I was younger, when I was going through my ’emo’ years. Maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t have missed her as much. But none of that matters. The ‘what if’, the ‘if only’, the ‘I shoulda, woulda, coulda’.

What I do know is the day she died my world came tumbling down. The moment I became motherless I truly felt alone. And lonely. It was when I had to finally become  an adult. And that hasn’t changed. I hate ‘adulting’. Regardless of our relationship, there is no replacing my mother’s love. No one can take her place. She is truly irreplaceable.

My mom ‘got me’. I didn’t have to tell her when things were crap, she knew. She loved me even though I was broken beyond repair, she loved me when I was unloveable and I miss her everyday, every hour, second by second. 

Mom, here’s to your first Mother’s Day in heaven. I hope it’s everything you dreamed it would be .

I love you. I miss you. 

Death wish 

I have always lived life on the more morbid side of the fence. When all the girls around me were sprouting perky little boobs and their hair was something out of a Timotei advert, I looked liked Robert Smith with coke bloat! 

While my gorgeously gorgeous friends strutted their stuff at places like Caeasar’s Palace or Qs, I lurked in the shadows of The Doors, hoping to bump into someone accidentally so I could say I got hit on! 

Nowadays I think I’m a bit more positive and giving of my time, affections and advice, where possible. So here goes.

Make a wish list 

Tomorrow my mom celebrates her first birthday in heaven. I get to spend time thinking about her, the good, the bad, and even the ugly. The fact that she’s dead doesn’t make her a saint. She had her flaws but she was my mom. And she loved me. I think. I hope. I guess so. 

To this day I don’t know what is in my mom’s will. In fact I don’t even know if she has one. And I don’t care. No worldly goods will replace her. I know she has some extremely valuable jewelry which is at my younger brother’s house and quite frankly I don’t give a continental shit if I ever see a piece of it or not. There is no diamond or vaulable stone that’ll bring her back. 

But there is something I would have loved her to do. I would have loved for her to put her wishes on a piece of paper or in a book. 

Like what she wanted done with her ashes. At the moment, as far as I know, they’re at my older brother’s office, on his desk. I’m sure my mom’s loving it there! No one knows what to do with them. I asked for some of her ashes on various occasions and have been ignored so I’ll find another way for me to celebrate my mom’s life. After all she isn’t what’s lying in that urn!

We recently got someone in to change our wills slightly, mine and Mark’s. We’ve changed who Emma and Ben will go to if anything happens to both of us. We’ve asked that all money and valuables left to them are only given to them when they’re 25 or thereabouts – unless it’s for studying or travel. Until then there is a person who will ensure they have everything they need.

Did I mention to make a wishlist?

But more than my will is my wish list. Here it is in black and white and it’s what I want done sans the politics and bullshit that goes with death and families.  

1. I do not want to be buried. I want to be cremated. With a lot of popcorn kernels that pop furiously as my body burns. At my memorial service feel free to serve boxes of popcorn with a a tag that has something very politically incorrect on it like ‘thanks for popping by’ or ‘kernel believe she’s gone!’

But what could be fun would be to have a legit looking coffin with a mannequin inside, dressed to look like me. And somehow it topples over with me falling out!

2. I am an organ donor. Mark knows this and I have told him that every single part of me needs to be used. Those bits that aren’t usable can be turned into earrings, key rings, evil eyes, whatever, but he needs to make sure there is hardly anything left of me. Use my bones as a dinosaur hunt for the the kids at the memorial service. Who knows? My ovary could make for an interesting looking ashtray. 

3. As miserable as I am I want my death to be a celebration – whether it’s a celebration for some of you who loved me while I was alive or a celebration for some of you who might be glad I’m finally dead! Make sure there’s food and drink (gin, tonic, champagne). Bring your children, let them run and play and be who and what they are

(At my mom’s service Emma and Ben’s behavior was ‘despicable’ because they were squealing with delight, having scored a ride on a golf cart. Deep down I know my mom would have been in hysterics)

4. If by the time I’m dead and they still do things like order of services please please please ensure that it is proofread by a professional or five. I will haunt each and everyone of you who allow a grammar, typo or punctuation error

5. Invite people, like you would for a party. Even if it’s a ‘rent-a-crowd’ I want lots of people there. Not really 

6. I do not want a service inside a church. Make sure it’s outside, close to running water, so all the guests need to pee during the service. I’m also thinking a picnic type set up would be fun. With people laughing, kids screaming and yelling. Get a stand up comic if you must, there must only be love and laughter

7. Please play a few of my favorite songs – anything by David  Essex. Lou Reed’s Perfect Day, and Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. There has to be a carpool karaoke with One Direction or with Sia. And there HAS to be a song performed by Tumi and Emma and if there’s a chance to squeeze in one other let it be  ‘you are not alone’  by the great Michael Jackson 

8. I want everyone to say something about me: good, bad, or funny. Just make sure it’s not dull.  Tell the people there that I was incredibly generous, giving my last cent to a beggar or someone needing it more than me, but also feel free to tell them I was so bad with money I never had more than a cent to give. My smarter friends can read a Walt Whitman poem or something from Sylvia Plath. Those smart friends know who they are

9. Plese allow Emma and Ben to speak at my memorial and let them say whatever they want – do not censor them 

10. When everything’s over, have my ashes there, even it’s a year’s worth of cigarette ash, but let each person take a handful to do with what they like. Except snort it. It’s not pleasant. How you remember me and the things you liked about me will give you an idea of what to do with them. If you want to be a real bitch you’ll sprinkle them on William Nicol. 

My biggest regret is not traveling enough, so if you’re an adventurer please take me with and sprinkle me around. Just not warm baths or a gym. Please!

11. Talk about me often. Think of me with love. Laugh at my irritating little habits like not putting the milk back in the fridge and if you decide to get in touch ne using a medium or physic just know there’s a good chance I’m not going to be answering her spiritual phone call. As it was on earth, so too shall it be in heaven xxx

Oh and shrink my head – could be a great Xmas decoration to  pass down the generations 


If I happen to change my mind along the way I’ll amend accordingly 

Gratitude – it’s a verb

Yesterday I dropped Emma off at her BFF’s house – Tyra and Emma have known each other since creche days, probably around 2 years old or so, and even though they’re at different schools now and don’t see other regularly, they’re the embodiment of what true friendships are all about.
I don’t think Tyra’s mom had mentioned Emma was coming around so when I pulled into the driveway and Emma jumped out the car, it was just too much – they give each other the biggest love, comment on how beautiful the other looks and Tyra, without pause says:
“I  am so lucky! Today my best friend’s here and my other friend is coming another day and on Sunday there’s an Easter egg hunt in the complex and next week I’m going on holiday I am SO lucky! It’s like the miracles just keep coming today!
It was at this moment I decided a new to (re)start my gratitude diaryand while most of my entries will be in a journal, today is online because I need to mention a few people in particular. If in this entry, your name doesn’t appear, it’s not because I don’t value you, but it’s more to do with what has happened in the last day or two –
Itumeleng Malatsi – I am grateful that you haven’t only accepted me, warts and all, as a friend, but that you have shown so much love to my Emma and Ben. So much so that in the time spent with you I think they found a new peace within themselves…
Kagiso Msimango – while I sometimes find your NO BS approach a little hard to take, you are also, in your own way, teaching me to take my power back, one small step at a time. Through you, I have learned that saying ‘no’ to something isn’t a personal attack nor is it going to be the death of anyone…
To my hairdresser, this morning, who not only gave me the biggest hug, and somehow managed to sense I’m pretty broke at the moment, didn’t charge me for my fabulous cut
Bumping into Claire Pacariz, by sheer chance, and having an open and honest chat about moms, death, dying and all the pain that comes with it. Thank you xxxx
Buying a pen from Typo, for my written journal, and having the sales lady notice my mom’s old ring I happened to be wearing. Not only did she comment on how beautiful i is, she also acknowledged, when I needed it most, that my mom will always be there
This is a tough one to be grateful for but in a way I am, because it has freed me from relationships that has been so toxic for too many years, but because it’s family, and blood is thicker than water, apparently. It turns out it isn’t.
Thank you for finally telling me what you think of me. Thank you for finally finding the balls to tell me how much of a disappointment I have been, for as long as you can remember. Thank you for not responding to my request for some of mom’s ashes so I can do something for her and I this week, for her birthday. In your selfishness, piousness and ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude I have come to realize that with everything I went through, with everything you put me through, I have come out the better person.
Here’s to finding gratitude in the most unlikely of places…

When the dead come calling 

The older I get the more I know that truth is stranger than fiction. 

Yesterday a rather large moth landed on a cushion on our couch. Mark and Ben suggested it was either Mark’s mom or mine, popping into visit. 

My response, usually far more upbeat, was that I don’t think it’s my mom because I just don’t feel like she’s close to me at the moment. 

And then last night  a friend of mine, and my mom’s godchild, sent me a link out of the blue about the calling cards our loved ones leave when they visit. She thought it was weird that one of the examples used the name Emma and wanted to pass it onto me. 

There and then, once again, was not one sign that my mom is always close by but three. 


What grief really looks like 

Grief is a family standing in a stark hospital room trying to process that a loved one has died. It’s wanting to cry because that’s what people do but you’re in shock and the tears won’t come. 

In order to protect itself your brain goes into survival mode and you simply function on autopilot. It’s hearing your mom has died but still being able to get into your car and drive to the hospital. Alone. It’s arriving at her service and saying a few words that aren’t quite what you wanted to express. 

I still regret my eulogy not being heart wrenchingly sad. I want a do-over so I can bring everyone sitting there to tears. I want to be able to collapse in a pile and have everyone rush over and make sure I’m ok. But my brain doesn’t let me. I don’t get to rewind that day. What the guests at my mom’s memorial service remember is me being cold, distant, aloof, speaking words that would make a pastor look good, a grieving daughter not so much.

I want to redo her service. And make sure that everyone who loved and cared for my mom is there. She was incredibly loved by everyone and I know for who she was and what she did her memorial service was empty. The 40 or so people there did no justice to the lives she had touched, and although very much appreciated the guests present didn’t reflect the life my mom had led.

Grief is weeks and months (and years too, although I’m not there yet) later still wanting to phone her. It’s not deleting whatsapp messages and calling her cellphone in the hope that it’s off just to hear her voice (mail message). It’s thinking to yourself you haven’t spoken to her in ages and you really should phone her.

It’s seeing her in the shadows and feeling her just over your shoulder. It’s not about sweet dreams with a smiling image of her but rather horrid nightmares that keep you from falling asleep. 

It’s gaining weight around your belly area because your cortisol levels are abnormally high and you’re in fright or flight mode all the time. It’s being in a state of hyper-arousal, which has nothing to with my libido, but rather that the slightest noise or incident has me literally jumping out of my skin. It’s your hair falling out from stress. And from you pulling it out literally. 

It’s being so tired but not being able to fall asleep. It’s having too much energy to sit still and do something productive but being too exhausted to do it. It’s being happyandsadandangryandirritableandyelly for no reason at all. It’s snapping at our husband when he’s been the only one around and it’s shouting at your kids, who are your only real source of happiness.

Grief is achingly lonely. I’ve read how support is important when someone has just died, but that it’s even more important 6 months later, and a year down the line. I wouldn’t know. I didn’t get the support then and there’s none around now. 

I can count on one hand the friends who have said they’re sorry about my mom dying. I don’t mean on Facebook and via WhatsApp messages, I mean face-to-face. And I don’t need all five fingers to count how many have asked how I’m doing since. 

Grief is everyone moving on because “she had a good life” and “didn’t suffer”, but life standing still to the day you got the call and when you saw her lifeless body under the sterile hospital sheet. 

It’s dreading every celebration because they’re no longer that but rather a very painful reminder of what is gone, and what’s left behind. It’s hoping to speak to someone else who has lost a parent because they’re the only ones who get it. 

Grief is hanging onto every memory you can remember but looking at photos and not knowing the person looking back at you. It’s putting meaning to coincidences in the hope there is an afterlife and that she’s watching over me. It’s people who you thought were friends avoiding you. It’s late night sobbing when everyone has gone to bed because you don’t want them to see just how raw the pain is. 

Grief is who I am.

Six months

The 28th of this month was 6 months since my mom left. I say ‘left’ because tonight I’m pissed off with her for going. For not staying around a little bit longer. For not preparing me to cope with the enormous empty space she’s left. 

Tonight I’m heartbroken. I’m shattered and I just want my mom back. I want to tell her how much I miss her. I want her to know that she is loved, was loved, will always be loved. But I am pissed off with her for leaving me with a dad that’s an emotional cripple. I am pissed off that without her I am absolutely alone. Yes I have my husband, who I love and I have my children too. But my mom was the only one who knew me inside and out. Who, even when I thought she wasn’t ‘in tune’ with me or wasn’t sophisticated enough to ‘get me’, she was. She was the only one who did.

A few days back I spoke to a clairvoyant and she said my mom is happy where she is. She’s pain-free and floating around in her 35 year old body. She’s surrounded by children, including a baby (I hope mine, the baby  I lost) and a cat. I have no idea whose cat it is, or was, we never had one growing up. 

She also told me my mom spends a lot of time with Emma and Ben, in their room, so guess where I’ve been spending time? But nothing will bring her back. An hour session with a psychic isn’t the same as a 10 minute chat on the phone with her. It’s not the same as a whatsapp conversation or a chat over a cup of tea. 

I miss my mom. I miss my life before she left. I’m an adult. I’m almost 45 and I have never felt more vulnerable or alone in my entire life. I miss her. I want her back. My mom was the glue that kept the family together and as f***** up as we were there was still some semblance of kinship. But not any more. I phoned my dad this evening, after a few days of not speaking to him and to be honest it feels as though he doesn’t even like me very much.

Christmas Day was spent with friends, while the rest of my family was together. I mentioned to my dad that it was Ben’s birthday on the 24th of this month. “Oh!” was what I got. At least my mom would pretend he was interested in my children. Now even that facade has fallen. 

I just want my mom back! 


Angels walk among us

I have a very simple philosophy, based on something I heard years back. I don’t remember exactly where but I am hoping that I’m not basing an entire blog post on Alanis Morissette ‘What if G!d was one of us’.   I like to treat everyone the same, and how I would like to be treated. So if I like the idea of being greeted then it makes sense most people will like that too. Where I can give, I do, because I’d like to think someone will help me out if I should ever need it. I think it’s something I got from my mom. My mom had no airs and graces about her and wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone. To quote a cliche – she thought it would be nice to be important but she knew it was more important to be nice. To anyone. To everyone. Anyone who needed some kindness, my mom had the ability to sniff them out and do what she could.

When she was ill in hospital the gardener, who works next door their house, must have called and messaged 10 to 12 times a day to find out she was doing. He was devastated when he heard she had passed away. That was the kind of person my mom was. I once asked her why she was so nice to everyone and she simply answered, “What if that person’s an angel, checking up to see if I’m a half decent human being?” and from that day on I try to approach people the same way. And the type of person I strive to be each and every day.

Thursday, the day before my mom’s memorial service I went to one of the shops where I get my party things. I had a party on Saturday, the day after her memorial, and I knew I wouldn’t be in any kind of mood to shop on the Friday. As I pushed the trolley towards my car a car guard asked if he could help me unpack, and I said I would love that. As he was unpacking the trolley he asked me how I was, and I don’t know what happened but I just burst into tears and told him that my mom had died,  that it was her service the following day and I wasn’t good, at all. He stopped what he was doing and gave me this bear hug. As small as he was, it felt as though I had been wrapped up in a warm blanket; that’s how comforting his hug was. And we stayed that way for a while. That was Thursday, the 4th of August.

This Friday, almost 3 months later, I stop at the same shop. I run in, grab what I need and run back out, and as I’m pushing the trolley to my car I see the same car guard. He comes over to me and starts helping me unpack, and he asks me how I am. I say I’m fine. And he asks:

“How are you doing? And did your mom’s memorial go well? I’ve kept you in my prayers”

I was stunned that he remembered me. He’s probably seen over 10 000 faces since he saw me that Thursday. I suppose it does help that my meltdown was pretty epic, and chances are that that happens to him often is slight.

I posted this little story on my facebook page and the responses were heartwarming, with everyone saying what a special soul this car guard is. Some mentioned him being an angel and maybe even sent by my mom. I smiled at that, feeling a little closer to her for a moment. And then, Pat, one of my mom’s dearest friends posted a comment:


*the post above is the kind of story I’m looking for you to send me. Nothing hugely personal, but rather those ‘a ha’ moments; witnessing a miracle, big or small, or getting an understanding that brings you peace. The little project has been inspired by my mom and I really want to do this, so please email your stories through to me***



The Time is Write

For the longest time people have told me I should write a book, that I have a great way of telling stories. And I know there’s a book inside of me somewhere, but there’s also a frustrated actress, model and millionaire.

2002 – first psychic tells me I need to write a book

2003 – next psychic tells me to write a book

and so it goes. 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015. All the same messages. All the damn time. But what do I write about I ask one or two friends? Your story they say. [insert profanity] I’m bored of my story. How many times can you tell a tale of sadness, issues of abandonment, infertility, adoption?

Fast forward to 2016. My mom dies and so I start making contact with psychics again.

Psychic #1 – ooooh you need to write a book. Your story will help people heal

Psychic #2 – I see you signing books. You need to tell your story. It will help people, women and children heal.

Back to psychic #1 – sjoe, you really need to write a book. You have an amazing story to tell. 

“Yes. Apparently! But I have no idea what to write about.”

And then I made an appointment with psychic #3 and she said, “I see you signing books. Yisseeeee you’re a born writer.” When I was leaving she said to me that I could possibly write the next best seller, like Harry Potter”Nope,” I said, “I don’t have enough of an imagination to come with up all of that.”

Back to psychic #2 afterwards – your mom really wants you to write a book. She needs you to tell your story. And once again I say “I have no idea what to write about!” and she says “your mom will show you!”

On Tuesday when I poppped in to see my dad, there on the dining room table, were the piles of books there have been there since we started packing things up and away. But in the middle of all the piles, there was one book, on its own. I don’t want to say ‘lit up’ but if it were a movie there would be dramatic music and a glowing light around this book, simply called ‘Cup of Comfort – Classic Edition’.

I started reading through it and I just knew. It’s a collection of beautiful stories that tell of miracles that are found in the smallest places, and the tiniest ray of hope where you’d think it was all but lost. It’s written by every day people and compiled by the ‘author’ with a bit of editing along the way. This is the book I can write! 

I sat down on the chair next to my dad that Tuesday and told him I had found the book I was going to write. He asked me where I had found it and I simply answered “mom left it on the table for me!”

You see, as a fairly ‘in touch’ 44-year-old I know my strengths and weaknesses. Often the weaknesses more so. I am not a creative writer but I am good at taking a situation that has actually happened and rewriting it in an engaging way. I could never come up with enough engaging stories to fill a book but I can take your story and rework it in a way that touches someone else. 

And that’s what I’m hoping to do. In my mind this is the kind of book that will heal. This is my way,  with your help, of helping others. It might be a fly by night idea and just a silly spur of the moment thing but like a friend of mine said ‘there are no coincidences’.

So if you feeled moved to share your story with me please do so. For now it will be safely filed away and should I collect enough and be able to put a book together I am hoping to offer you, for your story, a small monetary fee, and an author credit. 

I am so looking forward to receiving your mails. And I think my mom is too. 

My email address is melinda.connor@gmail.com. Just write ‘my story ‘ in the subject field. 

My mom’s final gift to me

It sounds strange to say but we always thought my dad would pass away before my mom. He was in a horrible accident  when I was in standard 6 and the aftermath of that has been with him ever since. In fact, the doctors had said if he hadn’t lived such a healthy lifestyle – no smoking, no excessive drinking – he wouldn’t have gotten through all the surgeries way back then.

He did. But recently his age has caught up with him and earlier this year, when he had a health scare, I was convinced he wouldn’t be around very much longer. So much so that I was talking to my brothers about where my  mom would stay once widowed, whether we should build on at our house so she could move in or start looking at retirement villages.

But my dad got better and my mom and the universe had different plans. My mom died end of July this year, leaving my dad on his own. I’ve been saying to anyone who cares to listen that it would have ‘been easier’ if my dad had died first. Only in that my mom would have been able ‘to carry on’, albeit with difficulty, she is more social, has a bigger circle of friends and keeps herself busy with loads of little hobbies. My dad, not so much.

He’s always been quite anti-social. More so now. He’s never suffered fools gladly and certainly suffers them even less. My mom was his link to the outside world because all he really needed was the comfort of his own home and the love of my mom. They have been together for 47 years and in that time have spent very little time apart.

And now he’s alone. Straight after my mom died he stayed with my younger brother and his wife. They’re also in the south of Joburg, which is closer to my dad’s house (is it feels wrong to say ‘mom and dad’s house but it also feels just as wrong to refer it to as ‘his house’) and the hospital, where he goes for dialysis twice a week. Where my mom died.

I’ve been going to their house often to pack my mom’s things away and have invited him out with us a few times. He’s agreed once. But other than that he’s turned down my offers. I get it. It’s a long drive from Bassonia to Fourways, he doesn’t like leaving his doggie alone and at the moment I think he just wants to be in his own space.

It’s been hard seeing him like this. Losing my mom, his wife, has left him a broken man and he’s literally aged 20 years. On Monday I didn’t see him. It’s dialysis day. But I popped through on Tuesday and my heart just sank. Without him having to say a word I could see he had moved back home and was staying alone. I cleaned up where I could, washing dishes, cleaning the bathrooms. I made his bed, making sure I left my mom’s side untouched. As I moved through the rooms I could hear him quietly sobbing from the lounge. He does this a lot.

Later that evening I called to see how he was and said I would pop through the following day. My dad would always say traveling from my house to them was unnecessary. That it’s too far. That the traffic is horrible. Even when my mom was in hospital he would put me off going too often. But this time when I said I’d see him the next day he simply said ‘ok’.

I arrived in the morning and made my way inside, put my bag down and walked towards the rooms to start cleaning, but my dad said “just sit a bit”. And I did. We sat like that for ages. Occasionally talking, occasionally not. Him doing his soduku, me reading a book of my mom’s I had found. We’d chat about something arbitrary and then sit quietly again. He asked me about work. And about the kids. He asked about something else. Every now and then his eyes would well up with tears and I would fight back mine. But for the first time in forever my dad and I just spent time in each other’s company, my mom not there to buffer our interaction.

And then it hit me. My mom’s last gift to me was time with my dad. We have never been very close. His very being doesn’t allow for that. Few people get my dad, including me. I’m just too sensitive around his rather brash ways. But I suddenly understood that where it would have been ‘easier’ to have my mom around as a bereaved wife, my relationship with my dad would have been as distant as it has always been.

My mom, in her wisdom, knew I didn’t need time with her on her own. But this time with my dad has been precious. Time I wouldn’t have had with him. Time I wouldn’t have given him.

I miss my mom. With every part of me. I miss her from the time I open my eyes to when I put my head on my pillow at night. But I am so grateful for this, her final gift to me. A gift I didn’t even know I wanted.


*the post above is the kind of story I’m looking for you to send me. Nothing hugely personal, but rather those ‘a ha’ moments; witnessing a miracle, big or small, or getting an understanding that brings you peace. The little project has been inspired by my mom and I really want to do this, so please email your stories through to me***