I take my drymac jacket and open the door out onto the balcony…
Take a pointless “in-hale” and zip up, I smile to myself slightly annoyed, it is simply getting to tight.
My dad bought it before I came. In his simplicity, the thought of sending out a child into a world that you know nothing about and couldn’t control, could not be reconciled by words alone. So, he gave me a rain jacket, a pair of shoes, a knife, fork and spoon clip in set, six packets of soup, and a pocket bible that has all the important phrases in. He was never a religious man, which makes the act so much more significant and moving. We all needed something to believe in.
I fiddle with the broken left pocket and lay my hands on the lighter. Fighting the wind, I finally inhale.
Lifting my face, I feel the rain and drift away… remembering our September spring rains… where you could smell the rain hours before it came.
He was always in the garage when I use to go and visit. Always packing, cleaning and sorting. Thinking back on it now, I suppose it was therapeutic, because for as long as I can remember, the garage always looked like we were moving. When there wasn’t enough space, he would build some more. He just used to fiddle. Today, I wish I could just go and fiddle in the garage with him too.
Hold up a pipe or hammer a nail. Throw a spade into the ground to open up the rows, where our self-sufficient corn is suppose to grow. Or just jump on the bike, without a helmet or shoes and find a mud-puddle to drive through. Pumping up the old tractor tube and go and jump in the river, floating down stream, just to run back and do it all again. Go and chase the geese. Whistling to the dog and taking a walk, through the long grass passed the wind-pump and that fat, lazy grazing cow. Always coming back to see if he has managed to find that washer that he was looking for. Finding he is chinning Vincent for not hanging the hammer in it’s place. Silently giggling, cause it was me who left it there on the old oil can.
Now, I call on Saturdays, he always says we don’t talk enough. We say our “I am fine’s”. I never say how I miss them so much sometimes I could just die. I tell him am so so busy, but, but I get by. He never tells me he is in pain. He tells me to listen to the sea in the background or even the rain. Tells me of how the other day, his friend Fritz called to say that they fixed the old DKW engine – that he made him listen to it. How it gave him goose bumps. I would smile and know that at sixty one, he’ll always be a boy. He would name ever person that I know and tell me that they are fine, followed by a brief summary of what is going on. I will do the same. We’ll each send our regards. He’ll say life is short – enjoy every second, grab every moment. Then as we have done for years, count to three and put down the phone.
Today, I need to sit on the stoep with him… no need to say much.. just sit.. and feel warm, as if there is in effect, a lot in this world that makes sense and can be solved..
I am wakened to my reality by the ambulance coming down Nether street .. I sigh and look at the car parked in front of our garage door – it’s that asshole from number four!!