Its been a whole week since we had Dad’s send off at his best friends farm. It was a long, emotional weekend but it was good too. It marked the beginning of closure for us who loved him best.
When we arrived there on the Friday afternoon it was good to see my Dad’s best friend Jerry and to just talk nonsense and get a few strong loves from him. Jerry and my Dad had the most amazing friendship spanning over 37 years, they would often lose contact with each other but when push came to shove they were there for each other, no matter what. That bond never broke and it showed in the work that Jerry had put in in clearing a spot beside the river for us to carry out Dad’s wishes and how he immediately told us his farm was available for us to take care of Dad’s last wishes.
Saturday the sun rose and the day was a beauty, just the kind of day that my father loved best. Hot and sticky with not a cloud in the sky. I could see him in my mind’s eye sitting on the stoep with his shirt off and catching a tan with his ciggie in one hand and a cold beer in his other, telling us he loved us. He did this so often when I was a kid growing up… it was so his kind of day. He would have loved it and gloried in it.
It was very hard pouring Dad’s ashes into the calabash Mom had bought. My sister, cousin (my father’s brother’s son) and I just had tears rolling down our faces as we poured what was left of his body in for us to scatter in the Crocodile river.
There were plenty of people from Dad’s past (Selous Scouts, Army buddies and Rekke buddies) who came through for the memorial. One thing I know for sure is that my Dad was well respected and loved by his fellow service men. The stories they had to tell of him were wonderful to hear. It was a part of him that probably only my Mom knew, his war days are days that he only alluded to in humourous terms to my sister. But at the heart of it war is not fun. War is scary and these men who served with my Dad got to know a part of him that we briefly got to view through their tales last weekend.
When the time came for us to say goodbye to Dad, it was hard, emotional and many tears were shed by those of us who loved him best. But most of all we all remembered the good times and there was a lot of laughing and smiling and we truly celebrated my Father in a place he would have just loved.
It broke my heart to hear my Mom having to say goodbye to her best friend.
As we walked down the steps to the river to pour my Father into the river, the guests who had some to pay their respects heard a Fish Eagle cry.
It was a perfect day.
My heart rests easy now Dad to know that you are traveling with the river along the banks of the country you loved so passionately. The sun beats down as the Fish Eagle cries and you are home.
Sala Gahla Baba. (Stay Well Father)