Though I had started work again to kill time, the week had not started well at all. Oscar had passed away but that was the calm before the storm as I waited for him to come home, a dear uncle of mine Godfrey who had been fighting lymphoma for most of his life had now been hospitalized. Godfrey had been my dad’s closest friend from since I can remember and a father to me since I was a kid. He always used to buy me chips each time I visited his house and took me wherever he went with his son. He was a sound person, stuck to his values and lived the law to the book. How could he not, he was one of the greatest lawyers to ever grace our country. He had been admitted to hospital on the weekend before I went back to work and his situation was deteriorating. In all my confusion and denial I had not taken time to go and see him. The Wednesday of that week found me having found resolve to go and visit him during eleven o’clock visiting hours. As I put my desk in order to leave the office for the visit I got a text message from my mom, “Uncle Godfrey Has passed away.” I sat back trying to think why this was happening really, first Oscar and now Uncle Godfrey; it just wasn’t fair! I just called it a day at work and went home to be with my parents. Soon enough we left to go to my uncles house to pass our condolences to his wife and family. I remember sitting at the back of the car as we made our way, thinking how unfair life was, this season death was in our household. We got to my deceased uncles residence and went in, greeting crying people along the way. Ray, his oldest son had managed to come back from school abroad a day before his father passed away. We had not seen each other for 2 years and to see each other under such circumstances was not at all ideal. He knew Oscar too and was deeply shocked by the news but with his father’s passing I would not have blamed him for not focusing on it too much. I did not know whether to cry or to just crawl under a rock somewhere as the situation proved a bit too much for a human being. Of all things I regretted not being able to see him before he died, part of me was stuck in a loop because of my brother but for a man so important to me I should have made time to see him before he passed away. It’s an uneasy situation, without defense or justification; just the element of human nature that gets easily overcome by emotions of grief. We left the house just after ten o’clock at night having discussed all the preparations for burial. However a situation had now presented itself that was horrid in nature. Oscar was due to arrive on Friday for burial on Sunday and now we had to travel out of town, some two hundred kilometers to bury Godfrey on Saturday of the same weekend. I doubted that we could do 2 funerals in one weekend and the mere concept of it horrified me. I spoke to mom in the morning and she too felt it was not achievable yet it was unavoidable. Strangely my aunt called with some bad news as she would have termed it. “We are no longer coming on Friday, the booking agent mixed up the flights. They booked the body for flight on Friday but forgot me! We have re-booked and will be arriving next week Friday.” We almost breathed a sigh of relief as it meant we could just have one funeral this weekend.
I went to Godfrey’s house Thursday night with my dad. The morgue was bringing his body to his residence to spend the night before he was to be transported to his burial place in his rural home which was about 200 kilometers out of town. I remember the hearse arriving and backing into the yard and remembered all too well that the most painful moment for me was still to come. His casket was beautiful, didn’t expect any less from one as wealthy as he was and as it was carried into the house i just remembered evidently how short life can be at times. I spent the better part of the evening talking with Ray, all i could sense from him were moments of regret, wishing he had spent more time with his dad. He had wanted to come home to visit on each semester break but his dad told him to stay abroad until he was done studying. I guess in all things Godfrey would have regretted not giving him and his son that chance but in all things i knew he loved his son dearly and as stubborn as he was as a father it should never have been interpreted as lack of affection for his children. Godfrey’s wife called me over and asked me to take one of Godfrey’s cars and go and pick up a lady at the shopping center near by. I had no objection to it so i got the keys and drove to the shops. After many trials to contact the person I was suppose to pick up i failed to achieve anything. Ray called for me to come back towards the house to pick him up so he can help me. I did so and soon enough he was in the car with me and we scoured the shopping center but failed to find the person. We returned home empty handed and were greeted by a nasty surprise. I disembarked from the vehicle before it was parked because the garage was a tight fit to get out of if you were on the passenger side and man in his mid thirties approached me and said “you two should not play with that car!” I turned to look at him in shock, i starred him down in the eyes and said “Best you shut up if you don’t know whats going on. My aunt sent me in that car to pick up someone who i failed to find and thus i am back. There is nothing special about that car, here are keys to my car parked right there and i could have driven it without a moments notice. I have no need to play with cars as if i don’t have one. Best you step away and go sit by the fire or something because your mindless comment has just irritated the hell out of me.” My dad heard my response and called my name, he didn’t want me to come to him but he wanted me to back away. If at all he knew how very irritable i was of late. I left the man standing in quite a shock and Ray had a huge grin on his face, i think he enjoyed the show! I could understand clearly what was going on, Godfrey was dead and as sad as elements of lazy people in our culture were, people where already thinking of what they were going to be given off the estate. My culture dictates that each relative of significance gets an item from the deceased. Whether it be a car, or clothing or whatever, it became evident to me that people where now thinking of the succession run more than of thinking of burying my beloved uncle. I nodded my head in disbelief, just looking at Godfrey’s cars, none of them where cheap on purchase or maintenance and i began to wonder why people where rather childish in wanting to attain items they could not maintain. I laughed to myself, “laziness at its best” but i knew deep down Godfrey was one calculated man! He had a will and i am pretty sure the will would not tolerate people intentions for succession. Time would break peoples hearts without a doubt and i knew i was in for a laugh! He had 2 son’s and a wife, one of the sons just barely a year old and in all seriousness they should keep the deceased estate after all he did work for their upkeep.
It got late and i left the residence with my dad. We drove home at a boring pace, discussing peoples actions especially on the issue of succession. My dad knew the deal and all he could say was “all these relatives are in for a very nasty surprise, He had a will and it is not pretty!” We got home and i dashed off to bed instantly. I needed to wake up early and meet up with Ray as we had to drive to a school out of town to pick up one of our cousins who Godfrey had been paying tuition fees for. It would not have been right for him not to attend the funeral. I met up with Ray and drove to school, it was not a great distance and we debated how we would tell him. In the end Ray just said “Just tell him he is wanted at home. Don’t tell him my dad has passed away, try to smile and act natural!” We found him and got him released from the school. We talked in the car like nothing was at fault, I felt sorry for whoever would have to break the news to the poor guy. Ray dropped me at home and continued with our cousin to Ray’s house where inevitably the news would be spilled. Thankfully i would not be there!
My Friday was lazy, quite lazy but we were due to transport Godfrey’s body to its resting place that day. My dad left early to go and process all the transport arrangements as well as as buy all the food for the funeral. As i was accompanying my father to Godfrey’s rural home i had the very dubious honor of driving the car that carried the food! The shopping list from the relatives of the deceased was at all ridiculous, twelve dozen loves of bread (who eats so much bread?) and the list ragged on. My dad applied common sense and cut some of the things as he shopped for the items and around five in the evening on the Friday the car was fully packed and i was in the drivers seat braving a dangerous road that was not advisable to drive at night! My dad, well like the food was a passenger and gosh was he drinking. I lost count of how many lagers he downed on the three and a half hour trip. Its nice i guess to have a driver in such situations. I got us to Godfrey’s village home where he would be buried next to his mother and father safe. The hearse had arrived moments before i did as well as all the funeral guests and relatives. It was just after ten o’clock at night as i backed up the car into my parking spot and pulled out the sleeping bag. I had not anticipated how cold Godfrey’s rural home was, it was one step closer to a fridge! I struggled to get much sleep because of the cold but found a few ounces of it. I woke up and warmed myself at a large fire that had been built and found myself just wondering around. Morning came about gracefully and I helped Ray and a bunch of other guys set up the public address system that was going to be used during the funeral procession. I was called by my dad as i finished my task to take the car and drive ten kilometers to a shopping center to buy soft drinks as the ones he had bought seemed not enough. I did as he asked and soon enough i was back. I got back in time to hear the last few speeches and the best of them all was by a old man called Wonder who knew my dad and Godfrey. “I wish Godfrey’s children would inherit this mans brains, he was very intelligent. I also wish that these children do not inherit his stinginess, this man was very stingy same with his best friend (my dad). He was a Bateleur Eagle, he would never drop his feather for someone else to pick up”. I remember the wave of laughter that erupted at the funeral, it was funny and true, those 2 were quite stingy and i guess that stuck them together as friends.
As speeches ended body viewing started and i went with Ray to see Godfrey. Its funny when you look in retrospect and you realize that most of these things we fuss over in life are not so important as life itself yet in our ignorance we place such importance on them. Body viewing ended and the burial started. He was carried to the grave and was put on the stand that would lower him slowly into the grave. As he started going down in the grave i was so easily reminded about how i am not crying now but in a week to come i would be in tears. There was great song and cheer as people celebrated the person they called their hero. In all truthfulness, he was stingy but he had helped a lot of people in different ways. I guess as people we measure stinginess with respect to ones material wealth but should we not also see what he does outside of his wealth because i believed Godfrey was more giving than most at his age or on his position in society. He settled at the bottom of the grave and soon enough the sand started being shoveled in. Again i was reminded, inevitable as it was. The grave filling soon enough was done and Godfrey had finally rested. The lawyers who worked with Godfrey had arrived with the last will in testament in hand . I smelt fire and ash in the atmosphere and with good foresight they refused to read the will in public. People mentioned in the will where requested to come to the lawyers office for its final reading. The funeral was over after that, and I mad my way back home. My dad took the car so he could return his mother to her home which was quite close to where we were and so i had to use one of the hired buses to find my way home. It was no problem, just a bit longer on the road than if it were me driving but i had enough to think about so driving probably would not have been best. After three hours i was back in the city and i got a taxi to take me home, I got home and immediately went to bed as i was dead tired. My dad arrived hours later and i knew i would see him in the morning so there was no need for me to wake up. Morning came and my dad and I found ourselves cleaning the car we used as well as the cooler boxes we had used during the funeral. It takes moments like those to realize how love is important and I was reminded that my dad though he still lives could one day be in the same boat and i must appreciate him together with my mom so i do not have regrets.We shared with my mom the proceedings of the funeral and passed the day sitting outside in the sun. This was better than solitary confinement because Oscar’s thought was one that was very painful to bare.