Six years ago on this day,the 21 Ramadan I dropped my parents off at the airport for their trip to Saudi Arabia. They were to spend the last ten days of Ramadan between Mecca and Madina.
My father was extremely excited,as this was a dream for him. To experience Ramadan in Madina and Mecca.
Just the night before he told us all about how special a place Madina was. And how lucky one would be to die there. So close to the Prophet (SAW) grave. To rise with him on Judgement Day.
At the airport we said all our goodbyes. All the grandchildren getting their last kisses.
His last words to me that day was how happy he was that I was his daughter….I found it so strange that I called him on my way home. He just brushed it off saying that I had helped my mum cope better with her recent diagnosis. And he was just grateful.
The next day I waited for his call to reassure me that they had reached their destination safely. My dad called me all the time. Before I had any time to worry I received a call from a fellow South African to say that my parents had been in a car crash just outside Madina. Mum was ok,but my dad was being rushed to hospital.
I spoke to him that night. He said I shouldn’t worry. He will be fine.
We were concerned for my mum,she had just been diagnosed with cancer and was on chronic medication for diabetes.
My brother and his wife flew out the next evening. By what can only be described as a miracle they got visas and flights at this very busy period in Saudi.
When I got home that evening from the airport,the South African contact called us and informed us that my father had been put on a respirator.
I knew in my heart at this time that he was never coming back. His fate,his death was in Madina.
My brother called me from Dubai Airport very early the next morning saying that they were still waiting to hear if they could board their flight. I just prayed that they would get there in time.
But it was not to be…at approximately the exact time their plane landed in Madina my father passed away.
24Ramadan 1428.Such a special month…I am proud to say he was my father. I am proud that he lays in Jannatul Baqi. The cemetery of the Sahaba.
His final wish was granted. His funeral prayer ( jananza) was read in the Haram. Thousands of people prayed for him.
He may be gone but he will never be forgotten.
My last words to him on the phone that night were…I Love You.
The picture shows his grave.
She spent the day at my place a week before she died. I fetched her early that morning.Helping her to the car. Each step was an effort.
She spent the morning watching Shrek with my daughter. They lay on the couch happily chatting and comforting each other.
That afternoon I had a friend and a cousin over…she barely touched her food or tea.I could see that she was not well. Uncomfortable even.
Yet she told us all stories about her life,how most of it was spent cooking.
When I dropped her of that evening she promised to come over more often. Every week she said.
Who new at that time that in a week she’d be gone.
This is a picture of a well in Malawi that was sponsored by my brother in my mum’s honor.
She would be so proud.
A few years back,before I had kids I worked at a mining hospital in Johannesburg. My dad and I travelled together during this time. As he worked not to far away.
I picked him up in the morning and drove us to work. He’d read the paper and listen to the news.
When we got to the hospital,I would say my goodbyes and he’d go to work. Picking me up at 4:30 every afternoon. It was an excellent arrangement. I caught up on sleep on the drive home.
What I do remember about that time is one hurried morning. I can’t remember why my nerves were so frazzled. But I do remember getting out of the car at work and locking the door as I got out.
The keys were still in the ignition with the car engine on. It was an old Mazda.
Just at that moment I realized what I had done.
The keys were locked inside!
I am not calm in these situations. But my dad remained calm all the time. He asked one of the security guards to find help….and surely a guy came along and opened the door with a hanger.
Thirty minutes later he drove off to work as if nothing had happened.
I know that if someone had done that to me,even my kids. I would have freaked out first before finding help.
I’m hoping patience…and inner peace comes with age.
My mum and I really did not have much of a relationship whilst I was growing up. I now realize that there were a number of factors involved.
I tend to withdraw if there is something troubling me. I mull over it in my head like a nut. And only speak about it after I’ve really reached boiling point. Not a good trait!
The other may have been the age gap between my mum and I. Not much in today’s terms but in those days most woman had their first daughters at like 19 or 20. My mum was close to 30 when I was born. There was no mother daughter clique..or connection. We were just parent and child.
My parents were also extremely close….there were no real secrets between them.My mum was never the one giving me advise about growing up….maybe that was not the norm at the time. Also I didn’t have any sisters. The one thing I do remember is her telling me that I needed a sister. I always thought it so strange. As I had no power over that one. I know now that she wanted a confidant for me…someone to relate to. Something she had and hoped for me.
I think alot changed when I got married and had kids. I started seeing her differently. Appreciating her more. Understanding her circumstances even.
And when my father died our relationship changed completely. She relied so much more on me. Her health was failing and at times she was just so broken.
Even though it was so heart breaking I am glad that I had that time to bond with her. I know I have said this before. Those five years is what will define my relationship with her forever. Not my youth and its trials with my parents. But those five years…where we found our connection.
I told her in those years that I didn’t need a sister. I have found woman around me that fulfill that role more than adequately.
Relationships change,they grow,they falter…..yet certain ties will never cease.