Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy 91st Dad, my 2016 update

Photo: Famadihana
The turning of the bones in Madagascar
The Malagasy people of Madagascar have a famous ritual called
 “Famadihana,the turning of the bones.” 
Once every five or seven years, a family has a celebration at its ancestral crypt 
where the bodies, wrapped in cloth, are exhumed and sprayed with wine or perfume.
 As a band plays at the lively event, family members dance with the bodies.
 For some, it’s a chance to pass family news to the deceased and ask for their blessings
 for others, it’s a time to remember and tell stories of the dead.
I cannot do this for my Dad as he was cremated,
however, this is my version of that ritual
and some introspection...
Happy Birthday Dad, you would have been 91 today.

You certainly gave me a good grounding in a variety of life lessons.
Having spent 36 years with the same company,
 you could not understand my reasons for me changing jobs every couple of years!
Having said that, he only enjoyed the first six...
the next thirty were just to keep a roof over our heads,
and food on the table.
I remember calling him the day after he retired and asking him how he felt
about handing back the keys and walking away...
He told me that it had been the best day of his life!
That aside, he was always supportive of what ever I undertook...
He believed that I should have a "proper" job to fall back on,
just in case my chosen life path did not work out.
Hence my doing an electrical apprenticeship,
which has stood me in good stead when times have been tough. 

This Hybrid succulent at our front door was planted in your honour.
It usually flowers every year on the anniversary of your death.
This year the flowers the biggest display in 12 years.
I was hoping that would last until your birthday,
the last one disappeared just before Christmas.

 Dad, you would be so proud of what Jayne has achieved.
She has been instrumental in my return healthy eating and exercising.
Not only that, but the work that she is producing for deaf children
 is astounding...
She has become a confident, proud and caring young woman.
With a work ethic that she inherited from you...
Apologies for the moustache Dad,
I grew it for Movember,
a month dedicated to male health awareness.

Jayne spent some time with Caro and I in Johannesburg,
always great to have her "home".
Even though she calls Cape Town home now.

Slava Snowshow
Dad, you would have LOVED this show.
I know that you always hankered to run away and join a circus.
Not certain if you have been a clown though.

I remember how you disliked speaking publicly.
I suppose that I am the opposite.
I was pleasantly surprised to be invited to talk
 at a travel conference early in the year

I added another tattoo to my collection.
This is a phoenix, because I keep re-inventing myself.
I can sense your disapproval,
but it took me four years to decide on the design and where to place it. 

I finally got the scooter that you and Ma would not allow me to have!
Well, not ACTUALLY a scooter, it is a bicycle, that LOOKS like a scooter.
 It does have a small motor that can be used to assist my pedalling.

I got to travel to lots of exciting destinations...
One of them being this memorial where the Battle of Blood River took place.

Caro and I ran a 5km race together...
Well I ran and she walked and then we finished together.
It was a first for us both.

I suppose the biggest change was that Caro cut her hair.
After me begging her to do so for 12 years,
she finally capitulated and I think that she looks awesome.
That is all for this year.
I love and miss you every day.
I hope that you are having a wonderful birthday surrounded
 by those who are currently with you.
I will end off, as always, with this poem
that was read at your memorial service.

by Canon Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room.
I am I, and you are you,
Whatever we were to each other, that we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way you always used.
Put no difference into your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as you always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me…
Pray for me.
Let my name be the household name it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect,
Without a trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant,
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolutely unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of your mind, because I am out of your sight?
I am but waiting for you for an interval,
Somewhere very near…
Just around the corner.
All is well!


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