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In Memory of My Parents by Tafadzwa

It all came about rather suddenly, my father was 69 years old and
to me, he was my hero. He was Superman. The strongest, most
accomplished man I had ever met. He worked hard and was eternally
devoted to his family. Never in my wildest dreams, did I ever
consider he would become sick in any way .He started to forget
things and his personality began to change and it broke my heart.
One day he drove off and got lost and had no idea where he was, I
called him on his cellphone and he kept telling us the wrong
thing and then we heard someone talking in the background and we
asked dad to give the other person his phone and he did...and we
asked that person where dad was and he told us..thats how we
found him. Suddenly dad needed to be babysat as he would walk out
of the house and then start calling out that he was lost, it
broke my heart to witness how his confusion terrified him and so
drastically there was a reversal of roles as I had to take care
of him and he could no longer father me.

When he went in for surgery on his prostate I had a hunch he
would never get up again and he indeed never got up again and
eventually died on the 4th of May 2005 a month before his 69th
birthday on a Wednesday afternoon in my mum's arms. He was the
family's pillar and was the breadwinner not only for his family
but his siblings' families as well as my grandmother so it was
devastating and a very heavy blow to me since I was his favourite
child I think because we were so alike and I suppose because I
was born when both he and my mum were old and in their forties. I
relied on my dad for affirmation and was pampered and spoiled by
him so much , he never forgot my birthday, right now I still have
the old birthday cards he bought me and the expensive silver
watch he bought me when I turned 21 because he couldn't find a
21st birthday key. Although I handled my emotions well after the
funeral, I fell apart a few months later.

The one thing I am grateful for is though daddy lost his sense of
times and places he never forgot who he was or forgot his close
family and because I was out of work that time I had an
opportunity to take care of him and honour him for the way he
showed me love .. Fortunately the time he died I had started
working so I bought him a beautiful white casket to go home in.
The funeral went well; we buried him in his home village in
Chiweshe on a mountain where his ancestors and forefathers are
all buried. There were so many people it was unbelievable that my
dad made such an impact on people's lives, I listened to their
testimonies of my dad's generosity and kindness and cheerfulness.
Being such a staunch Anglican my dad's funeral went the way he
would have wanted....there were swarms of people in blue and
white uniforms, His parish priest even came all the way to the
village for the funeral and so we had a mass and holy communion
before he was laid to rest. I felt so proud to be his daughter
....He was such a special man.

My mother's death hit me harder, I think. When mum got ill with
Meningitis this year in 2006 in the month of April, watching her
in pain was difficult...because sometimes she would cry out in
pain and my sister and aunts would run and attend to her while
I'd just cover my head with my blankets because I couldn't stand
to face what was happening. As a result of the meningitis she
lost her hearing and sight and it pained me when she wouldn't
recognise me and we couldn't communicate but the last evening I
saw her alive, she couldn't hear me then I prayed that God would
intervene and we managed to talk, she even remembered me then and
asked me that 'how come I managed to hear?' She then promised me
that the next day she would be better after her bath. And truly
the next day after her bath, she sat up and talked and
miraculously recognised all the people who visited her that day.
That was the last day I saw her alive because I live and work in
a different town. She then got worse the following week and later
died in her sleep, I was at work during that time. I think she
left me with a wonderful memory of her temporarily recovering her
hearing and sight and being able to sit up and chat to her

During mum's funeral I couldn't cry and was so out of touch. I
still can't cry up to now. Although my mum was a quiet and
unassuming woman, I was amazed to see the number of people who
came to pay their last respects to her and even when she was ill,
she had many visitors, I remember when she was in hospital my
dad's cousin Joseph Msika who is the Vice President of our nation
Zimbabwe visited her and everyone at the hospital was shocked
that's such a humble woman received such an important visitor
who at that time was also recovering from liver surgery and yet
he visited my mum in his poor state of health.

Mom died in her sleep on the 17th of May 2006 at the age of 61 on
a Wednesday like my dad and exactly a year after him, she looked
so peaceful in her casket like she was sleeping and had a feint
smile and was buried in her Anglican Church 'Mother's Union'
uniform. There were so many people who came to pay their last
respects, and because she was a nurse in the Mazowe district for
almost 30 years there were senior Ministry of health officials
and many nurses in uniforms. When we were going to bury her the
nurses in uniform were marching in front of the hearse with
burning candles and then the Anglican Church 'Mother's Union'
ladies in uniform marched behind the nurses. At the graveside
the nurses again made that Florence Nightingale Nurses' Pledge
(that they make when they qualify) and lit candles in honour of
my mum and then handed over to the church to conduct the burial.
The amazing thing is my mum was a very simple person and very
humble I never thought she would get the accolades and honour she
got....but now I realise she not only touched our family's lives
but many people through her job and her humility.

I'm not sure what the true test of life is, but death is truly
one of the exams. I have learned so much, and regretted so much.
I have reflected and pondered and am still at a loss. When my dad
died, I had lost a parent. When my mom died, I lost a family....
Mom was the one who kept my siblings and me together, and made us
feel like we still had a home, and a parents love and in a way
was the link to most relatives. When she went, so did that
feeling. Confusion and loneliness is an understatement. It was
terrifying. Someone said that "when we lose a parent we lose part
of ourselves, we lose our childhood, and our youth is behind us
forever. This is a Grief in itself." The death of a parent shakes
the very foundation of our lives and the death of both parents
means having to stand alone...as a fully fledged adult.

Losing both parents has become a spur to review my priorities and
values. Suddenly wealth and possessions are not the be all and
end all to me, having family, being rooted in the Lord, doing
things I love to do like reading a good book with a glass of wine
by the side etc are the most valuable things now.

I still think about them everyday. I still yearn for their pride,
their approval and just assume it is there. I want to do well and
make them proud. It hurts though that they will not be there to
see me get married, celebrate the births of my children and my
children will never know them. My parents will never be there to
share my successes and failures and future joys and sorrows. I
know they have become heavenly spectators and are looking down on
me with a tear in their eyes spurring me on to keep running the
race....because that's just how parents are.

Copyright © 2006-2008 All Rights Reserved Bev Swanson