We saw mother crying in the kitchen. Jos was concerned and asked, “Mum, why are you crying?”. “I’m expecting another baby, I want no more children”, mother told Jos.
I was sad to see mum this way, but I was also joyous. This is a wonderful thing is it not?
Our baby brother was born, and mother seemed happy after all.
But it wasn’t long, before mother set up a makeshift bed in the lounge room. There, my dying father lay, wasting away, in pain and agony. His feet, constantly swollen, needing the doctor to stick needles into him to drain the fluid.
There were five of us kids, running around the house all day long, as kids do, but we were not permitted to bump the bed even slightly, without inflicting further pain onto him, and we were to keep well away.
Daily, father would drink a brown liquid, supposed to heal him. “This stuff tastes vile,” he would complain. I believe a well-intended person recommended this “life-saving” potion to him.
One day, as usual, coming home from school, skipping, running, pushing and shoving, we thundered into the house, and Dad was no longer there, never to return.
Mother told us that it was too distressing for kids to attend funerals, and a few days later a great number of people flocked into our lounge room, eating sandwiches in hushed voices.
I never shed a single tear, yet I was old enough to understand the gravity of the situation. My pain to this day is still acute.
I withdrew, shielded myself from sorrow and hurt. My father’s face reflected before me, my love undaunted, but something within me had changed.
I spoke to the Lord and asked the same question my mother was asking. “If God is love, then why take my father away?”. But the Devil tried to infiltrate my entire soul. Horrified, and during the night, I could feel the demon present. Even in my intense fear, I fought against the evil. I would not relax, sleep or submit to the horror.
Reflecting, I realise now how strong I was, yet I was shy, lacked confidence, and shunned any friendships at school, my only friend my younger sister.
They summoned my mother to school. The teacher asked if there was a problem that inflicted me, as I would stare out of the classroom window, and not take part. “Was it possible that the death of her father had any influence on her mental health”? The teacher asked. “No, not at all,” said my mother.