May 20th, 2015
It is about 9pm and I am tired, more emotionally than physically. I went off to a funeral this morning about 9:30 and only came back about 4:30 this afternoon. It was a special funeral because I knew Gerard, the one we were burying, as well as his whole family and cousins and uncles and aunts, etc. etc. etc.
He inherited a bad gene from his ancestors that slowly but surely destroyed his kidneys. His mom died from that as well as his brother. His sister lost her kidneys but was able to get a donor. Gerard discovered that he had that the kidney problem came to roost in him as well. He had been on dialysis for some time now. But, as I understand it, when he came home from his dialysis session last Friday (maybe Saturday) he said that he had a headache and was not feeling well. That sometimes happens after dialysis so he didn’t take it as anything special. But, in fact, it was a stroke coming on. By the time he was taken by ambulance to the hospital, not far from his home, it seemed that he had an embolism and would have to be transferred to another hospital for treatment. (I am not sure if I got all this straight). However, the ambulance had to turn back after a long way because there was no oxygen in the second ambulance. So, by the time they got what they needed and headed back to the other hospital, precious time had been wasted and that lead to a death that most likely could have been avoided. Very sad.
The funeral was today and I have never seen a funeral like it. I arrived at the church around 9:30 thinking that the Mass would start at 10 but it was going to start at 11.00. When I arrived, there was a queue of people going out of the church and into the yard to have a last look at Gerard. That queue continued for the next hour and a half, a steady flow of people whose lives had been touched by Gerard. He was only 62 yrs. old when he died. I first got to know him when he was 14 yrs. old. A long time ago. And I have been somehow a part of the family since I first arrived in South Africa. At the Home Mass for the family (I thought) the night before, there were several hundred people who crammed into a tiny house. And today, the church was full, as well and the courtyard and, I think, even going out into the parking lot. Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Muslims, every faith and no faith. All had been touched by Gerard. His children paid him great tribute. He was a loving father, husband, brother and friend to all. But what moved me the most was the thoughts that his wife shared on the back of the pamphlet. It is so beautiful, I want to share it with you. I know well, and love her as well, his wife Gail. She is a woman of deep, deep faith and trust in the Lord which, I believe, is helping her to cope with this tragic and sudden loss of a deeply love one. Here it is. Oops, I don't know how to make an attachment here and because it is a PDF file, I can't copy it so I will just have to type it out for you but it is worth it. However, I won't do it now as it is getting late for me but in the morning.
I have left out many other things that have happened in the past three weeks. I know that you have been reading about the xenophobia. It is shameful and not one African that I know does not think so and is also, like me, ashamed of what happened. Some of it, yes, was a small minority of small minded people who show their prejudices and small mindedness, but some of it, too, was criminals who took advantage of the situation to attack, kill, rob, etc. But I will leave it at that for now. Good night. Cas.