Sunday, November 26, 2006

Was it so long ago?

Truly hard to believe that it's already over 10 years since my Granny passed away after a long battle with cancer. It was an incredibly difficult time for all of my family. Nothing we could do would help this wonderful woman as she fought a losing battle against this killer disease ...

Alone as I sit and watch the trees
Won't you tell me if I scream will they bend down and listen to me
And it makes me wonder if I know the words will you come

The first 3 'deaths' that truly affected me all somehow involved Gran. It was on her porch in 1991 that my mother told me that a close family friend in Istanbul had been shot down by Dev Sol militants. Andy Blake, a young father of 2, was gunned down in the prime of his life for no good reason. All I can remember was the shock, the difficulty of dealing with the fact that his two young children would be fatherless. To this day, I still find it extremely hard to look at the few pages in one of our family albums that has articles about his death. Only a year later, I would seek comfort from Gran as I dealt with the loss of my great grandmother, Nonna Lea. 'Alone' in England, I only felt comfortable breaking down with her - she would console me and assuage my fears that I hadn't taken advantage of having this woman in my life for over 12 years.

And I know I'll never see you again

It was a few weeks after my Bar Mitzvah (early 1994) that my Granny discovered she had cancer. I struggle to remember what exactly I was told - but even as a 13 year old, I knew that her time was limited. It didn't stop me from praying every night though, begging for a miracle as I contemplated a life without a woman who's mere presence put such a smile on my face. Granny was a special special woman - full of life, always smiling and helping. We spent hours watching cricket (Still remember going crazy with her after Jonty's famous run out of Inzamam Al Haq during the 1992 Cricket world cup), tennis and any other sport that was on the Telly . She would always have her cabinets stocked with my favorite treats, be it fudge, meringues or peppermint crisps. It was her, along with Gramps, Nonnou & Nonna, that made Cape Town what it was to me. It just couldn't be taken away from me ...

You see I'm tired of feeling this pain

No matter how difficult this was for me, I can't possibly even begin to contemplate what my mother went through. She was extremely close to Gran - talking to her daily it would seem. Gran was one of her 'pillars'. I know that Gran would always comfort my mom with regards to her worries about me and my 'problem child' ways - she had faith in me and I know that helped my mom (raising me must have been a right pain!). How can I even try to put into words what my mother was going through? The pain must have been unbearable - but credit to my wonderful mother; she managed to still raise 3 kids in another foreign environment while dealing with the situation ...

Does he realize he came down here
And he took you too soon

Leicester, 1996. My cousin's bar mitzvah. The effect of the chemo had left Gran exhausted but yet again, she showed her strength of character by making the 12 hour flight with Gramps to be with all of us for the occasion. The only thing I remember about those few precious weeks were when we said goodbye. My mom, dad, sister and I were crying. It was extremely difficult to say goodbye. And in this moment of sadness, my little 8 year old brother innocently asked, "Why are you all crying?" We all smiled despite our drenched eyes ... As we drove away, I knew I'd never see her again ...

I lay down with memories of you keep that keep me going on, going on
It makes me wonder as I sit and stare
Will I see your face again

October 14th, 1996. I awoke on Monday morning to the sound of my sister crying. That's all I had to hear to know she was gone. Seeing my mother that day was difficult. I don't remember her crying or anything, obviously just as strong as her now departed mother was. I don't think my mom has ever 'truly' been the same. While I can't see it as my mom has remained the same loving, happy, caring mother she's always been, losing such an integral part of your existence obviously changes you. I think in death, you can tell a lot about how a person lived. Nelson Mandela once said, "When we were born we cried and the people around us smiled. Live life so that when you die you are smiling and the people around you are crying." At least I know she's smiling from up above ...

(All the quotes are from Hootie & the Blowfish's Not Even the Trees)


Becky said...

Thank you for opening up. I can totally relate to you on the one hand, and only begin to understand you on the other. Since my grandfather passed away (I was in Israel at the time and did not make it home for the funeral), the nature of our family has completely changed--much as you describe your mother changing. Our feelings and memories run so deep, right? Sometimes we don't even realize how deep until some time has passed.

Elaine said...

Avram, thank you for your posts. I read them regularly and am amazed and in awe of your insights.

Thanks for conjuring up such vivid memories of Sonia. My memories of her are just as warm, vivid and wonderful. More than a mother in law. She was my friend.

love Elaine