Friday, January 31, 2014

You never really get to unpack forever in this life ...

For days now I have been thinking about that inevitable time when Number 11 will no longer be home.

My family moved here when I was 7 years old.  In June I will be 50.

My grandmother died here.  My sister too.  And then my dad.

In the time in-between - when I lived elsewhere - I have spent many hours thinking about Number 11 and dreaming about a time of innocence that now all but seems to be fading. 

I idolized my youth inside its wall.  During the heyday of apartheid it was a safe place.  A radical place.  And a place of escape for more than just my family.

This morning a kind administrator at a local hospital looked across the reception desk and asked me: "Who would be your closest relative to call just in case we can't get hold of you."

I thought for what must have been a very long moment as the young women waited patiently.

"I really don't know.  There is no one left except the two of us.  Is it OK if I gave you the number of mom's best friend?"

"Of course it is," she answered punctuating a hanging reality that the only family I have left in this world is my moms.

And so it is.  The course of life runs and for moments - even decades - we think it will always be so.

And then the creep.  First the doubt and denial.  Then the inevitability of that precarious and final of all balances.

I got to thinking late this afternoon that maybe we should leave Number 11 before it holds only me.

But then I also thought that it would be a betrayal of the closest my small family has come to having a semblance of roots.

I settled on the recognition that the course of my life has taught me that you never really get to unpack forever.


PS: See Deborah Orr's "Clearing out my parents' house for the final time brought a certain serenity" (Guardian, January 31).


Aasia said...

sigh, i want to give you THEE biggest hugs.xoxo

Salaams to mom

Ridwan said...

WSLM Aasia:

Thanks kindly my sista.

I feel your hugs.

Miss ya,