01 October 2011 – My Mother’s Funeral
Writing It For Me, Means Feeling It.
Feeling It Might Make Me a Bit Sick, Emotionally.
But Hey, Nothing I Cannot Handle. She Used To Say That To Me, When She Knew, I Was Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place..
Nothing My God Cannot Handle On My Behalf..
Ps: and for what it is worth, the illness, that dark cloud (emotions/depression/immense sadness) crept up on me by last week Thursday and I embraced it, I invited it in to visit and I lied around the whole Saturday and Sunday morning, I said, thank you for visiting, but it is time for you to leave, we will meet again if it is meant to be.
Psalm 91v11 – 12: For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. NKJV
It was a Saturday Morning,
It was the morning of my mother’s burial.
I cannot remember whether it was evilly cold, hot, or just okay.
What was the chances, in a place where you experience four seasons all in one day?
Being back in town for a while now after a lot of years, I think it was most probably cold and it got warmer later in the morning, or sunnier, and after the burial I am sure the wind braced us with its presence.
An old myth of this town is (not sure if it is true) whenever a known grown up of this town pass on, the wind have to say its final goodbye and blow that person’s footprints away. So I am sure the wind was present later that day. My mind has failed me here. My mind has just failed me period on this day. Grief I suppose.
I was constipated as hell and it was painfully uncomfortable (I hear stress can do this to your body) – apologies for the graphic description,
I was heartbroken as hell too, felt like real physical pain,
Almost like someone was twisting a rusted old knife in my heart deeper every time I would breath, and one needs to breath all the time, (so imagine that feeling) and I can’t recall if I even slept a bit,
Felt like having a panic attack every other minute, and I am not saying this mildly.
I witnessed a colleague once suffer from these, it was not a pretty sight, thus I relate to it.
Shock can be confusing to one’s health.
I was tired,
I was numb,
Numb, Numb, Numb and Numb…
Real Real Numb.
I would have out of body experiences all the time, I cannot blame any medication on that feeling, because I refused to take any, unless someone slipped something into something I drank, (obviously with the best of intentions) because eating too was overrated.
There was this big lump in my throat, you can hardly get words pass it, let alone food.
Stress is the best diet ever.
You want to lose weight, invite stress into your life.
Because the house was really crowded,
My brother’s house, I shared a bed with a good friend of mine, (female) and my little niece, who were still very much in love with her aunt by then, she is a teenager now, and fell out of love with me meanwhile.
People came from everywhere to the burial, but up to today, I only remember one or two faces.
Most of my friends/colleagues made it; I know that because I had dinner with them the previous night.
But thinking back now, I cannot recall seeing one of their faces at the burial, that is how emotionally distraught I was.
You think you will never live to see that day, that day that you will bury your mother, but at the tender age of 29 I lived to see that day.
I was the last borne and I am not saying my siblings did not feel it (they don’t even know I blog so chances of them reading this and catching flights is minimal), but I do say, I maybe have felt it a bit more than them, much much more, since I lived with my mother permanently under one roof for a very long time, whilst they left the nest and found themselves their own families, so me and mum was a family. Just the two of us. And we did’nt see my sister and brother too often, due to them living in other areas of the country.
I was there when she would go to bed, when she would wake up, when she was ill, when she was happy, when she was sad, when she would go to work, I would pick her up from work. You understand, my life revolved around her, and vice versa.
I am not saying we had this magical beautiful relationship, I know I irritated her with my introvert personality, and she irritated me with her OCD, but hey, she was my Mamma. I loved her regardless and vice versa.
I think it was the only day ever in my life that I did not plan my outfit.
Yes, I always plan my outfits.
I am very sure I did not wear makeup, because what would be the use if you would end up looking like Liewe Heksie, with mascara all over your face.
I am sure my hair was dirty, since I went to a hairstylist and she claimed to not have any openings, so I had no other choice to rock the dirty do. Not that I cared much.
Baster tradition has it that the body comes to the house for a while before the actual memorial at church, in Afrikaans it sounds better, (‘’jy word uit die huis begrawe’’) the body off course in the casket and also it will be opened for a specified time for viewing, for those who would like to see the body in that dead state.
No pun intended.
Day 2 of writing this…it is not easy..
Who in their right minds would do that?
It is the worst kind of thing you can do really.
To force someone to view a body by societal pressure.
My mother liked those kind of jokes, forcing a person to go view dead people in caskets when we would go to funerals together, I always refused.
Do not get me wrong, not because I am scared, I was a cop, I would pick people’s brains and body parts up from accident scenes, I would attend autopsies. So I am not scared. I just have a vivid imagination, I would never get that picture out of my mind, and that is something I just do not like.
Another baster belief is that you need to view the body in order for you to make peace.
Nonsense I tell you.
Let me not get basters in my hair now.
I remember the casket came and people crying, looking, and feeling uncomfortable and staring at our reaction.
I do not know who carried the casket into the house, that is another major ‘’thing’’ as per tradition.
My fiancé was there too, but our relationship has expired by then, actually a day or two before the burial, like as if a girl needed all that heartbreak, but it was long overdue.
Was I wearing his ring still then, I cannot remember.
I think it took me a while to not wear it no more….
You see, I was almost made an honourable woman once.
I can just imagine how my aunts was most probably gossiping about it. Saying hush hush, shame she is not wearing her ring and she is burying her mother. Or shame, he left her yesterday and today she is burying her mother.
Family can gossip I tell you.
I remember arriving at church for the memorial service, I saw an Uncle from my father’s side and my dad crossing the road. He too now, has passed on.
I remember walking into the church, I have grown up in and this time I had to use another entrance, the side entrance, that side is used for funerals mostly, the entrance is bigger, I think I was one of the poll bearers then, or was I one after the memorial service in church. Memory Fail Again.
In the funeral programme booklet it would read – ‘’from hearse to altar’’ or ‘’from altar to hearse’’
Someone came to hug me and hold me, I still remember her scent, she was a good friend of my mother, she said, so she also decided to leave me behind.
People can be selfish, trying to make her pain bigger than yours.
Not that it is a competition but a word of advice if you do not know what to say, just keep quiet, sometimes your presence is all that is needed.
As I lifted my gaze up, I saw someone at the organ, and she attempted to sing a solo, but she failed dismally at the second word of the hymn,
Sorrow overtook her I suppose.
And I suspect she also felt that lump in her throat, so the words she was uttering in song, were caught by that lump.
I did not blame her, she was the last born of a big family that is related to my father, and my mother was present when she was born, if my memory serves me right, mum literally caught her…
I remember the Bishop who conducted the memorial service, he confirmed me and I was very fond of his sermons, but that day, nothing came into a soul of mine. It was pitch black.
I kept staring at my mother’s picture, which was placed strategically on the casket, and I think I had conversations with her in my mind. I did not shed a tear.
My church’s way of doing things can be a bit blunt and without emotion at times – (hopefully I do not get shunned for this) so the memorial was over soon.
My siblings then decided that I get the honour of driving in the hearse with my mum to her final resting place (this is so difficult to write yazi)..
I am always very opinionated, but that day I just accepted their decision.
I actually felt my sister who is the eldest should have that honour, she flew in for the burial, and she lived in South Africa at that time.
I accepted their sincere offer but I insisted that my car drive directly behind the hearse, which caused a bit of mayhem.
The distance from church to the cemetery was not far,
But in a hearse, with a casket,
And the contents of the casket, that has the only person who loved you unconditionally inside.
Makes it one hell of a long ride…
And the undertaker just drove in 1st gear, he did not even attempt to make small talk the man was used to his work, he knew how to sit next to pain every weekend and shut his mouth.
If he had dared small talk, I most probably would have choked him or something.
I wonder if he was wearing a tailcoat suit.
I always have this picture of undertakers wearing tailcoat suits in my mind.
The only thing I thought about was not to leave my hymnals of church in the hearse.
I kept saying to myself in Afrikaans: ‘’Anke: moet nie jou kerk sak met jou kerk boeke in die kar vergeet nie’’ x 100 maybe (Anke, don’t forget your church bag, with your hymnals inside the hearse) x 100 maybe.
And if I stopped saying that to myself, the casket rolled on the stretcher forward; it made a screeching sound, off beat every other minute, and for a moment I thought mum was trying to get out… I know, I know, imagination and too much tv.
Grief is another monster. It can drive you to insanity.
I almost thought mum was going to fall out of that casket, or get up alive.
I managed not to forget my bag.
Maybe the fiancé took it out of my hands.
For control, I left him and he did not want to hear nothing about it, so he was still around.
The next thing I remember was standing at my mother’s open grave.
It was horrible, writing this I shortly have to get my ish together….but as I have said, if I write it, I feel it, and I need to feel it… It has been 7years now.
There at that open grave, sorrow also overtook me completely, I know for a split second I forgot that I was unfianceed(new word), and I searched for him in the crowds, but he was nowhere I heard later he was trying his luck then with some yellow bone who was also my neighbour imagine, and meanwhile, I was spilling my guts cause of sadness. Men have no shame, or some of them at least.
I remember my brother reaching for me and embracing me and comforting me and in a split second the grave was closed with sand and people were decorating wreaths on it. I wanted to throw them with bricks. But hey, they did nothing wrong.
But I am violent also sjoe…
Just like that, my mother’s life was over, in a casket, in a grave, kapish. 59 years of life.
Life is fucked up.
Could she not have lived longer?
She was not old; her body was yes, but not her spirit.
Let me rather not go here.
I do not wish this upon my worst foe.
The pain is just too unbearable.
For 3yrs after this horrendous day, I tried to keep my shit together, in a very unconventional way and I survived, the other 4 yrs. my son kept me sane, and filled that void.
Why did I write this?
I wrote this because, it was the most painfullest thing I have ever experienced in my life, and it has changed me immeasurably, hopefully in the long run for the better, and I could not have shared what I wanted to share without going visiting this experience but the main reason for writing this is, the irony behind it all.
The Saturday I gave my mother’s body back to the earth via a burial and the next day, a Sunday I had to celebrate Thanksgiving Service at church.
I celebrate Thanksgiving once a year as a New Apostolic Christian. (I am not promoting my faith here). Thanksgiving is celebrated the first Sunday in October each year.
And I quote: ‘’Thanksgiving Day is an outward expression of thankfulness. “But we know that this should not be limited to a single day.” This feeling was to become a defining attitude of the soul and of our lives. Many people take a moment on this day to express thanks for that which the Lord has laid into the natural creation. “But our perspective goes beyond the natural. We rejoice over many more things which we know and feel the Creator has set into motion.” Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber.
Our Thanksgiving always has a theme, and with that theme, we decorate the altar (e.g. the altar will be decorated with only fruit and vegetables, or bread or whatever the theme seams fit just as a token of celebration the day before the service. Memory fails me here as to what the theme was for Thanksgiving 2011. After the service, the décor will be divided among the less fortunate.
And this again, sparks another trail of thought.
My mother was a doughty spiritual woman.
She would nag you to get up and go to church.
Whether you just got home from a wild night, it was your issue.
Ask anyone who has ever visited; you will go to church with us on a Sunday morning.
Months after her passing every Sunday morning, I would imagine hearing her voice waking me up for church.
One never understood back then, but now I do that I am a mother myself.
And as so many people comment on me being active in church activities, many of them who were raised just like me in the church, I tell them, that is the only thing that fuels me, that drives me, without my spirituality, I would have withered and died.. I am not saying I am better than the next, but due to being weak, I try to stay close to his warmth and tenderness.
The eve that my mother drew her last breath, she asked me minutes before that to pray for her.
I thought it such a weird request, she would normally pray, she would instigate all spiritual activities in our household.
Now years later I pray in the household to instil the same discipline within my son.
I started praying, and I didn’t stop and I remember my words till this day, I said Dear Lord, where we are entering the month of Thanksgiving, let us remain thankful, for the good and the bad.
And I heard her sigh, and when I opened my eyes, she was gone…
The month of Thanksgiving gave a new meaning to my spirituality back in 2011.
This coming Sunday we will be celebrating Thanksgiving again.
Let us remember to give thanks for the good and the bad, because there is a lesson in it all.
Below find a link to how the decorated altars look like.