An Antique Heart

scar*let By scar*let, 17th Feb 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Relationships

The death of a family member necessitates a trip back to Durban, as well as a voyage of a more personal kind...

99 red balloons...

The past five days have been an odyssey back to the province that repeatedly broke my heart. I'm not sure who broke who this time but I cried through the flight, spoke at a funeral to remember my gran, who lived close on a century (ninety nine and a half years to be precise). Her blue eyes, the way she did everything: calmly. gently. Two words surfacing repeatedly as I sat at my desk with the cats, like black scarves draped across my shoulders, to write her eulogy. Not one for written speeches - they feel contrived, overly formal and weirdly narcissistic: a speaker's desire to sound slick and witty and wise. So, I gave up. Took down quotes to begin. And end it. Circled in to speak directly to the congregation.

I'm not fond of churches - one too many dreadful funerals and a jaundiced view of religion. Those who twist ropes of power around the throats of those seeking truth. Opportunistic predation - on the grieving, the joyous, the lost. Like vultures gathered beside the corpse, they feed off suffering, wrench strips of flesh from mourners and say they want to save your soul. Funny that freedom comes at a such price - vindication. I find it sick, but this time, it was ok. The priestess, Frankie, was as gentle as my gran with the same blue eyes of sea washed glass. My uncle, usually a drunken mess of neurotic self loathing, spoke with surprising dignity. And there were surreal moments of reconciliation and beauty - wounds forgotten and looked past. Enemies embraced. Three generations sitting in black on a lawn of green, remembering the fourth...

next day we watched rugby

The springboks thrashed the blundering English. Nadal beat Murray. My brother and I watched 'Cinderella Man' bonding the way we do, cinematically. A final time before he leaves for the US, studies finished and ready to leap for the unknown. A last coffee with my mother at the new airport in Durban: a farewell to my personal babylon. I had my shoes shined, I did not turn back. The book closed, gently, and ahead the horizon burns blue...

landing in Cape Town heart soars at high volume - home! Into the car, stereo loud with Wintersleep, I drove toward the sea. Flouncy skirt and raccoon eyes, I slipped into Wembley Square for the opening of my father's show 'Memory and Desire'. And his anthology launch. The usual marauding crowds, hungry fans, old friends, critics and envious artists. I hadn't seen him since the last exhibition. He slipped me an antique french album, photos from a lost childhood, years where I did not really know him. Inscribed with his poem 'vlees en bloed'*, he was engulfed by the starving masses as I stood at the back, listening to speeches from a safe circle of black sleeved arms. Lilac and black, I snuck to kiss him goodbye, signing his books. He smiled as he introduced me to the usual comment on my jaw as I jumped free...

(* trans: 'flesh and blood')

back home

...with my cats. Bon Iver sings. The photo album rests beside my computer. And I am writing. A little. Today...


Album, Anthology, Bon Iver, Cape Town, Crying, Durban, Eulogies, Exhibition, Funeral, Grandmother, Photos, Reconciliation, Rugby, Tennis, Wintersleep

Meet the author

author avatar scar*let
A reformed chartered accountant and corporate groupie, scar*let was forced to reassess her career (and life priorities) after a swift blow to the head heralded the need for change...

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author avatar D in The Darling
20th Feb 2011 (#)

My condolences. Death is one of us in this life and when death calls, when we meet death, no one is clever to escape coz that's our destination. So, We're all waiting for our turn.
All the best to you. Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar Denise O
21st Feb 2011 (#)

I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my nana in 2004, she was 100 years old and I know I was lucky to have her for that long, I still miss her, she was a hoot up untils he passed in her sleep. Hugs to you my friend.
Thank you for sharing.:)

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