I got word from Hamish yesterday that my mom has passed away. It wasn't entirely unexpected. Born in 1940, she was suffering with Parkinson's Disease and had had a few falls, which left her wheelchair-bound this past year.
Hamish is flying down to my hometown, Port Elizabeth, for the funeral on Saturday morning. George will be travelling home too. I'm glad they'll be together for the occasion. We're all worried about what will happen to my sister, Yolande. She hasn't been separated from my mom for well over 30 years now.
I think I have a different view of death from most people or, more to the point, how we behave at the death of a loved one. For me, the only reason there is to hold onto ashes or a gravestone is for the comfort of the living, if that kind of thing comforts them. To me, no part of our loved ones remains in the ashes or the grave. If I were Hindu, for example, and believed in a second, third, fourth life, after death, the last thing I'd be concerned with was the treatment of my body. The same goes for the Christian belief of Heaven. You die and go to Heaven, a place of perfection. Your concerns aren't with your body, though perhaps more with the loved ones left behind. Thinking through the various belief systems, I can't find a reason for special treatment of the remains. In the end, what is worth holding onto is the memories. I would much rather go through a photo album of the loved one on the anniversary of their passing, than to visit a cold, empty grave. Just my thoughts... Having said all that, I've asked Tat to try to ensure that I'm planted (pardon the pun) upright at the base of a tree when my time comes. I may as well be fertilizer and I can't think of a better place for my body to 'rest'.
I'm so grateful for the love of my brothers. Coming from a family that was very divided, it is so good to be in touch with them and see them getting together to do 'family' things. Both had to travel really far for this funeral. I wish I could be there for them.
I didn't manage to finish this blog earlier. As it turns out, George wasn't able to go to PE for the funeral. Hamish went and was able to track down my sister, Yolande. That is another story entirely. In short, the funeral and cremation are over and the ashes scattered. Yolande will now go home to Jhb with Hamish. She couldn't be in better hands.
Back to my earlier subject... The events of the past few days have had me thinking a lot, naturally, particularly on the subject of death. Yesterday, as I was walking to the student, I was wondering why I felt as I do about death and the 'commemoration' of death. I thought back to the deaths of those closest to me over the years. I didn't see my grandfather after he died, so couldn't judge by that, but I do know that Gran used to say that he is now 'watching over me'. I remember just being puzzled about that. When Ceiwen died, I knew, not from the physical signs, but because I felt the sudden emptiness. The same happened when I went into his room and found Jurgis' dad... The room was empty... empty of life force. When Fel died, a mutual friend asked me if I can feel her close by. I desperately wanted to, but there was nothing, just memories and my own sorrow over her passing. I think that is why I don't attach any significance to the physical 'mementoes' of a person's death. They're gone. There is only emptiness remaining. There is no life force or spirit attached to the ashes or the grave. It's just an empty shell. Their spirit or life force lives on in my heart and memory.