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ignovanniekerk.com

5 Toring Avenue, Spitzkop, Bloemfontein, South Africa

 

Email: igno@ignovanniekerk.com

These pictures were taken on the road to our farm.

Whenever I travel on this road to the farm, I am reminded of a specific weekend.
My dad was 78 years old and suffering from diabetes. After my mother had passed away, he stayed on the farm alone. With time came the regular ailments that haunts one during old age. Dad’s generation however have been a tremendously strong generation, often standing with legs stretched on both sides of the grave they escaped the grim reaper’s sword through sheer determination.
That weekend, it was different.
On Sunday afternoon we were supposed to go back home. My wife and I decided to stay a bit longer. It was just gut feel. Dad looked really really tired.
Dad always told us that he wanted to be “thoroughly used up” when he died. It was from a quote by Bernard Shaw,which he had read long before. Well, he looked really “used up” on that Sunday afternoon.
On Monday morning I went to his room early. He was lying on his bed. As I entered, he pulled himself upright against the cushions. His eyes were tired but there were still sparkle in them. “Dad, we’ve come to say goodbye,” I said.
“I’ll come and say goodbye at the back door.”
“But dad, you can hardly walk…”
“I won’t say goodbye to my grandchildren from a bed. I don’t want them to remember an ill old man. No, I’m coming to the door.”
“But dad…”
“Simon!!…” he called. As if from nowhere Simon was there. He knew what dad wanted. Like a trained nurse the strong, sinewy farm worker put his arm gently under dad’s arms and lifted him from the bed. Dad thought he was walking. His legs moved forward, but Simon kept him ever so slightly in the air. And then a moment I’ll never forget.
Simon looked down at dad. Whether it was encouragement or mere conversation, I don’t know. But as he looked at dad, he commented: “The old man is getting strong.” And at that moment I realized that being strong and being thoroughly used up is exactly the same thing. As dad arrived at the back door, courtesy of Simon’s strong arms, he waved to the kids. Then he asked Simon to assist him in going to the rainfall indicator. As he turned, we drove away.
That was the last time I saw my dad alive.
That night my brother knocked on our bedroom window. As I woke up and heard him, I had one question. “Is it dad?”“Yes,” he replied. “Dad has passed away.”He was used up, I thought. What a legacy.
Every time I travel the road to the farm, I remember the motto. It becomes a responsibility. My responsibility. To be thoroughly used up when I die. To laugh as much as I can, to appreciate as much as I can, to live as fully as I can. And to take breaks as often as I can.
An more about breaks next time… 🙂

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2 Comments

  • How many of our parents had a Simon or Liesbet in their house that was more than just an extra pair of hands?

    When I lost my parents, I was not surprised to find Liesbet and not family-members, being the one helping me. She was the one who helped me pack the house, told me what was of value and what she thought my parents would have wanted me to take. At the same time Liesbet was also mourning the loss of two people in her life, her employers, people that she knew for more that fourty years. She also had to deal with the fact that she now had no job any more…

    This just made me wonder how much do we really appreciate the Simon’s and Liesbet’s in our lifes?

    Anonymous 04.07.2008
  • Dankie vir die voorreg om vandag die geleentheid gegun te word om terug te kyk, en te dink aan ‘n persoon of persone wat mens help vorm het. As ek so deur al die pragtige fotos kyk, verlang ek terug na die Oos-Vrystaat, ‘n plek waar ek ook groot geword het. Vandag het ek weereens tot die besef gekom dat, dit nie net mense is wat mens inspireer nie, maar ook die prag van die landskap,en natuur asook mooi gedagtes van kindsbeen dae…

    Soos ek na die fotos gekyk het, en die mooi landskappe van die Oos-Vrystaat en Fiksburg omgewing sien, is daar een persoon wat onmiddelik tot gedagte kom, en dit is my oupa van my ma se kant af. As ek aan hom dink onthou ek ‘n man wat jonk van gees was, en wat ek dink tot op die “groot” ouderdom van 93 altyd gesê het dit gaan goed. Hy het nooit gekla nie. En in my laerskool dae toe hulle nog in my ouerhuis gebly het, het hy altyd tyd gemaak om te “speel” of dit nou ‘n pot finger-bakke-tel, ‘n sessie rummy of Jukskei was, hy het altyd tyd gemaak om met my, sy klein seun te speel… Ek dink dit is as gevolg van sy jonkheid van gees, dat hy soveel jare vir ons gespaar gebly het, hy is ongelukkig nie meer vandag met ons nie, maar sy lewe is ‘n helder beeld wat terug kaats op my. Ek kan slegs hoop en bid dat daar eendag iets van hom deur my is wat ‘n positiewe weerkaatsing en invloed op iemand anders se lewensreis sal hê.

    Om sy jonkheid van gees te komplimenteer dink ek nou aan Picasso wat gesê het: Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”.

    Ek dink dit sal maklik wees as ons opnuut na als kyk deur die oë van ‘n kind. Ou-goed lyk nuut, en ons grootste probleme kan dalk nie so groot wees as wat ons dink nie.

    Vandag dink ek aan oupa, Hermanus Johannes Petrus Steyn. Sy verjaardag sou wees die 20ste Feb 3 dae van nou af, en 2 dae na myne.

    Igno hoop jy het jou dag geniet! Baie gelukkige verjaardag!

    Groete en mooi bly!
    Herman

    Herman Booyens 17.02.2009

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