Random reflections during a highveld winter
Driving my daughter to school the other morning I saw a person sleeping on the sidewalk under a bright red blanket. Couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman. The night had been bitterly cold, frost all around, and I had slept in a bed with a warm duvet and an extra blanket, but still was cold. I can't get my head around that.
On my way to church this morning passed a man who looked very old, but was perhaps not really so old, wearing a threadbare shirt and over it a jersey with holes all over. The jersey might have been brightly coloured before but was now a dull grey like the shirt and the trousers held up with a piece of string. In the car I was cold with three layers of relatively new clothing on. I struggled to get my head around that.
A special visitor
A few days ago a beautiful brown headed kingfisher came and sat on the wall outside our kitchen. A beautiful bird with bright blue edgings to its wings, a blue tail and a long, strong-looking beak. We are a long way from any large bodies of water. The bird and I looked at each other for some time. I wanted to go and fetch my camera to record this amazing event, but I knew that if I moved, my lovely visitor would fly away. After we had looked at each other for a few more minutes I thought to myself, what the hell, I'll go and fetch the camera. Of course, as soon as I moved, the lovely kingfisher flew off. I still can't get my head around that.
This afternoon I was with my daughter watching her ride her bike in the late afternoon sunshine up and down the roadway of the complex in which we live. At the very top of a tall leafless tree nearby I could see a bulbul, his feathers being ruffled by the wind up there, while he sang his flutelike song of four or five notes, over and over, such a lovely limpid sound. My daughter rode by with her long hair blowing out in the wind of her movement, looking like a veil of spun gold. And then she fell and hurt her ankle. How does one get one's head around that?
The lizard in the sun
The other afternoon in the pale winter sunshine a fat lizard was sunning itself on the brick wall of the carport. Beautiful he was, with a golden strip down either side of his fat tummy, his jet black eyes ever watchful, as he turned his head this way and that to keep alert to danger. I could see his dainty little feet clinging onto the face brick of the wall, and wondered how such tiny feet could hold him up there. It was a beautiful little scene of no great import. Then I moved and he disappeared so fast I could not even see where he went. I puzzled about that for a minute or two, then realised I would never get my head around this little mystery and so started the car and went on my way.
Yesterday we heard that my wife's mother, a lovely, vibrant, creative 70-plus lady, has some potentially cancerous growths in her face and neck. Esme Pollard is a loving, generous, artistic and expressive person with so much to give the world. It's very hard to get my head around that.
Update on Esme Pollard, 30 June 2010
Today we got the frightening news, the news that everyone fears - the growths in Esme's lung and lymph nodes are malignant. We are not yet sure of the extent and she will go for more tests to determine that tomorrow.
Chemo-therapy starts next week.
I'm struggling to get my head around this news.
Of course Esmé died. The chemo didn't work and only brought her what to my mind was needless suffering.
Esmé died on 14 December 2010, just days before we could get to Cape Town, and so we did not see her again.
After her death we had two celebrations of her life - one at church and one, less formal and perhaps more moving - at a stone cottage in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.
In the cottage we sat in a circle, we who had known Esmé, and spoke simply about what she had meant to each of us.
The flowers in a bottle and the candles which burnt while we spoke were eloquent testimony to Esmé's essential humility and simplicity.
- Facing Death, Embracing Life
Death comes to us all in one way or another. My daughter is facing death, not her own, in a rather acute way. A beloved teacher has just died and her grandmother is dying. This is a reflection on death occasioned by these sad occurences