Think about that
In the year 2000, my uncle died. I was 10 years old and I did not (and still do not) know what death all meant. I remember I was deeply unhappy and all I could do was join everyone around me in tears. He was my mother’s youngest brother. She still misses him. Once, we had watched a really frightful Nigerian movie and I was particularly scared of a character called ‘Andy’. My uncle would send me to ‘go get him something’ in the room, and when I had gone far enough, he would howl hoarsly: “Aaaaandyyyy’. I would scream and come running towards him. I have some pictures with him. I don’t remember his voice anymore. I remember he loved me very much.
My paternal grandfather spent his last days with us. Everyone says I look a lot like him. I have seen some of his picutes. I think it’s true. And, from all indications, we are a lot alike. My mum says we laugh and walk the same way. She found him pretty terryfing- that he always sounded as though he was scolding. That was his natural voice. I know because unless you know me personally, you would always think I am scolding at you. He was really tall too.
Just before he died, he wasn’t very well. He was about 100 years old. My father took care of him. . He wasn’t very sane anymore. In his life, he had worked hard and taken care of many people. He was a very generous man. My father fed and bathe him. I watched them talk for hours and saw the father become the son of the son. I was about 12 or 13. I did not know what that meant.
The first time I saw my father cry was when he died.
I now know what it meant.
My father’s older sister spent some time with us before she died. Her kids too lived with us for a while. The relationship wasn’t very smooth. My mom really wanted everything to work out. Unfortunately ( or fortunately?) she’s just human. My aunt eventually left after a while. My cousins and I don’t have childhood memories to share. I remember my aunt was very softhearted and that she loved her children very much.
I am sure they miss her. My father clearly does.
The second time I saw my father cry was when my mother’s father died. I don’t have much memories from my encounters with him. What marks me about his generation is that they worked really hard and they raised really great children. I know because ALL of my mother’s sisters and brothers reflect their respectful, humble and righteous upbringing. My mom still sleeps in her room when she goes to her father’s house. And, you can’t be a naughty kid around her.
During the last christmas vacation, my cousin from Germany said my granddad had once let him shave his head.
” I was really scared”, he said. My granddad had smiled and told him in pidgin:” No fear”.
Don’t be afraid. He trusted his kids and grandkids. And he loved them very much. From my mother’s upbringing, what I can certainly confirm is that he never spared the rod. He has no spoilt children.
I remember my father tearing up a little during the funeral. He quickly went away. Maybe he thought had not seen him.
My mom always talks about about my granddad. About his bicycle (Iron horse) and farm and how he worked on his cocoa farm everyday until he had a stroke that rendered him less mobile.
There’s a picture of him carrying my younger brother at home. This was after his stroke. My brother is pissed. He is crying and trying to run away. I guess he is scared of him.
I can see the pride and love in my grandfather’s eyes.
Last Friday, my father’s mother died. She had a heart attack. We were not very close but I bet she loved us very much. The night I received the news, I had a dream a friend of mine died. I don’t have premonitory powers( yet) but I know that was my subconscious coping with the news. My brother and I went to Kumba the next day. We met our parents at the park and sat for a while in the shade. They had been drinking for ‘refreshment’ purposes. My brother and I took a drink too.
That was the third time I saw my father cry.
Three days ago, a 36 seater bus carrying students from the Pan African Institute for Development, West Africa (PAIDWA) on a field trip collided with private vehicle. 11 people died on the spot.
8 of them were students.
My friend Brian lost his younger brother in that bus.
Casualties are currently at the Buea regional hospital. Two more people died today raising the toll to 13.
I want to call my friend and tell him I am sorry for his loss.
I don’t know how I would feel if my younger brother died.
Fact: we will all die. So, what matters now is: how did we live?
Death sucks. Seriously. But, I think death only sucks for the living. I cant’t picture my uncle and grandparents saying:
” Man…I wish I was alive…”.
I don’t know anyway. I lost my ghost whisperer powers.
Steve Jobs summed it all:
“Almost everything, all external expectations, all pride ,all fear of embarrassment or failure,these things just fall away in the face of death leaving only what is truly important”.
What IS truly important?
I have no idea.
I know this post is pretty melancholic. I won’t exit with a smart sentence that makes you see death as a best friend.
Death is not your best friend but whether you embrace the concept or not, it is coming. It is inevitable. No one is too young or too old to die.
Death WILL come.
PS: Life is here too…don’t think about death and forget to live okay?