I lost my beloved mother in 2004. She left behind two young sisters. Because of distance and accessibility (from Harare), the aunt in Bulawayo naturally and effortlessly filled the void left by my mother. Note, I do not say “she tried to…” She acquitted herself well in the new and obviously exacting role. For, she was a mother in her own right. We, therefore, knew the additional “burden” her warm heart and broad shoulders were inheriting.
The pictures above show her saying her final farewell to my mother. Yesterday, Saturday April 29, 2017 she breathed her last. She sent me an SMS at 7:41 am. It was a normal SMS asking about her nephews and niece. But it seemed to hint at another SMS. She wanted to know whether I had seen it. I had not. I put the same question to my entire family, namely, my children and siblings. Nobody saw it. Two hours later, I received news of her passing on via my daughter’s phone. I am stupefied, completely befuddled!
This is an attempt to remember a woman who rose to the occasion, a woman who subordinated her own well being to that of the extended family now under her care. She answered the call. She bravely took up the challenge.
She selflessly stayed the course! Today, the entire family is in awe of a woman who did not have the words “busy” or “unavailable” in her vocabulary.
There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief (Aeschylus).
Life is a great sunrise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one (Vladimir Nabokov).
Pain and pleasure, like light and darkness succeed each other (Laurence Sterne)
She tried to explain the loss of other family members. With love, compassion and patience. Prayer was irreplaceable. Psalm 91, the Psalm of Protection (Qui habitat), was her shield. It was her armour. We found it difficult when she used King David’s experience in 2 Samuel 12:18 to exhort us to rise above bereavement. More important, she said, was submitting to the Lord’s will.
But she did not explain the death of my mother, of my children’s grandmother. With love, compassion and patience, she took us all into her huge embrace. She gave us reassurance and direction. She was our shade.
With single-minded dedication, she sought only the best for us.
Yet life would deal her a heavy blow. Her son, Mduduzi (the comforter) was crashed into a shop building by one of “those careless drivers” in our public transport system.
With time, Mdu became part of her lessons on fortitude, rising above life’s cruelties and reposing one’s faith in the Lord Almighty.
When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, “is the child dead?”
And they said, “He is dead.”
So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshipped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.”
And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:19 – 23, KJV)
Difficult lessons, perhaps, implausible!
As her health deteriorated, she still found the strength and joy to play with her grandchildren. She amazed them by being among the few who understood and shared their love for pets.
Of her, we can boldly declare “Mam’omncane, Gogo, (Mother, Grandmother), Queen was your given name, “you fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4: 7 – 8).
As we prepare for the final separation in this world, our hearts desire your simplicity, humility, love, mercy and the unwavering faith.
We need to redeem the times. Evil are the present days wherein our children are ranged against those bloated with oversized egos and an astounding self-sufficiency to self destruct! They call it fun; you called it wrongdoing, disrespect and sin. May all the children in your extended family hold fast to your words.
Your life taught us that we are yoked with Christ: we will continue to trust Him to look after all those you leave behind. In this number, I include your loving and shaken husband, uTata uMashengele.
May your dear soul rest in eternal peace Mother, may your soul rest in heavenly peace Grandmother.
We can already hear the sad strains of Missing You by Diana Ross:
As I look around
I see things that remind me
Just to see you smile
Made my heart fill with joy.
Our sincere love always.