Of Coffee And The Untimely Visitor

If you were having coffee with me, I would say it is a pleasure having you here. I may not tell you enough or at all that when you drop by for a visit and we chat; sometimes you say a word or two sometimes I do all the talking; I appreciate you.

g0agdOne must always let people know how much they are appreciated because…. Life has a funny way of unravelling even the best laid out plans. That’s life, It Happens and it goes on……

fragile things

Fragile things

God’s a connoisseur of fragile things and decorates His cloudy outlook with ornaments of finest glass

Dr Sleep, Stephen King

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that I have just come back from my friend’s funeral. It is hard to bury a friend, but even harder to watch a parent bury their child. A parent’s grief is heartbreaking.

My friend was one of those outgoing people who easily made friends with people and so the funeral was well-attended; considering burial was at an out of the way farm they recently resettled to. Getting there was quite the adventure, since we didn’t know the directions and the driver and conductor of the bus we took; had never heard of the bus stop we would get off….

By a stroke of luck strangers also in the bus, going somewhere else, happened to overhear our conversation and knew my late friend’s family; they weren’t going to the funeral, hadn’t even heard of the death. They gave us directions, of where to and how we would walk when we got off the bus. We left them quite distraught that they couldn’t come with us and asked us to pay respect on their behalf.

If I learnt anything, it’s that things have a way of working out, our life is littered with many coincidences, maybe its fate, destiny, karma or simply The Lord’s mysterious ways.

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that my friend used to joke that they would rather have a party at their funeral and liquor to poured on their graves than have tears shed for them. So we had a colourful send off as we paid our last respects. If it wasn’t for the coffin sticking out as a stark reminder of the untimely visitor who waits for each of us at the end of our path….one would not have been faulted for thinking people were singing and dancing at a party. A few feathers might have been ruffled as the older generation felt the younger generation was hijacking tradition and turning what’s supposed to be a somber affair, into a circus and that the liquor might have been flowing a little too freely, but all in all I think everything worked out; it usually does.

If you were having coffee with me, I would tell you that I was shocked to learn of the death of Chester Bennington from the Linkin Park Band. I heard the news in a car I got a lift from; coming from my friend’s burial, death never takes a vacation….

I have been a huge Linkin Park from when I listened to their debut album Hybrid Theory almost 17 years ago; and it was an escape and an outlet for all the words inside I had never said, and now, now I write.

Chester Bennington’s death was a suicidal hanging after battling addiction and depression. Mental health awareness is something that must be spread people, are out there fighting a darkness within and no one ever realises it; not until its too late.

Once upon a time I wrote this: Of The Strong Silent Man

#RIPChester

#RIPChester

Linkin Park has launched a tribute website Chester.linkinpark.com with links to help you; In case you or someone you know needs support…

If you are in Zimbabwe Click here to  see a post with local places you can find free support and counselling

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that you must always be reaching out to your friends because you never know, a simple “hello; how are you doing…” could save a life.

~B

PS The first thing I did when I got home was to check my garden I have gone for a couple of days and I kept wondering how the plants in my garden were doing since I wasn’t there to  water them…. I guess they are growing on me…

onions and carrots

 

 

Photocredit: chester.linkinpark  Dj Khaled

Of My Father’s Watch

My Father’s Watch

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My father had a watch, a Seiko Kinetic automatic watch, stainless steel with 17 jewels. You know the kind you don’t wind up, and as long as you wear it regularly, somehow it self-winds, and ticks on and on and on…. It came in a black velvet box with a warranty card that declared a lifetime guarantee, I have always wondered how long a life time guarantee lasts, whose lifetime do they mean when they say lifetime guarantee…….

My father had a watch a Seiko Kinetic; he wore it every day from the day he got it, a Christmas present from some duty-free shop at some airport somewhere. I do not know how much it cost but I am sure it wasn’t a price one sneezed at… He wore it so much that the skin beneath it was lighter toned than the rest of his arm. When I try to remember him, I remember him wearing that watch. He never did but  I can imagine him saying to me “Son, a gentleman must always know what time it is, you do what needs to be done, on time, when it needs to be done, in time, and then after,  you can do what you want with all the time you have left , but first you do what needs to be done…”

The only time he was without that watch, was when my little hands were throwing dust to dust and everyone was crying.

My father had a watch a Seiko Kinetic, he made me a promise that when I could tell the time like a grown-up he would get me one for my birthday. But death, the untimely visitor came knocking, knocking down even the best laid plans, just like that….. If he could have given me a last present he would have given me that watch for my birthday; I dont remember if he was the sort of man to give grand speeches, maybe I was simply too young to have really known him or had proper father to son talk but if he could he would have said

“My son, we have only life, love and time in this world, The Creator gave you life, you can find love all by yourself and as for time I didn’t start the clock, no one can turn it back, I cannot give it you, only this clock to watch it tick away……..”

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I have a watch, a Seiko Kinetic, it used to be father’s now I have it and I watch it ticking. The hands of every watch, are clippers, trimming us away tick tock tick tock. The hands of time an illusion lulling us into believing we can tame time, control it even, but every second used is discarded,

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Discarded

rushing off

slipping from my palms,

through the gaps

in my fingers like a leaky jar…..

TIME

never stopping in this moment

 

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What happens

to all the seconds

tipped into the bin of the past?

Discarded

then gathered up into a tapestry of memories and history……  

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I have this watch, a Seiko Kinetic, I don’t know if they still make them like this because today marks the day I have watched it tick for 21 years, before that it was my father’s watch. I look at it and I ask myself how much time do we have, not how many hours or seconds in a day but how much time, do we have….

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……The watch keeps on ticking and it doesn’t care how much time we think we have because in the end, it is never enough, it always runs out….. That’s what gives life meaning to know that time runs out…….

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My father had this watch, this Seiko Kinetic, I have it now, I watch it tick and I make every moment count………….watch.jpg

~B

Of Fifty Strands Of Grey

Titanium pearl
Metallic graphite
Silver dusk
Ash black
All shades of grey and counting

                                       How many grey strands do I have in my beard?

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50 strands of grey that’s how many I counted from my beard before I stopped counting…… The thing about counting your greys…, you know how a witch’s spell is spelled, the way naming it makes it real, it is just like that.
From the day you look in the mirror and discover your first grey, then you pull at it, all nonchalant, thinking it’s a strand of linen or an errand fabric, that has no business on your person, only to discover it hurts when you pluck it (you never forget that day when you realise you are aging) and you count it ONE. You panic a bit and then eventually kid yourself into forgetting about it, that it was a special limited, one-time only freak of nature, a once-off.

Every morning you spend longer than you normally do, starring at your reflection not because you like the way you reflect….. and just when you relax and start to think, “Phew! Dodged that bullet”…. and then there were THREE and then NINE and then 27 progressing in some weird exponential curve increasing every time you count the grey ones…….

It’s all perfectly natural and happens to everyone at some point in time……. You age you get greys….. Except only when you get grey at a time way to early, I mean don’t we learn in biology 101 how you get grey as you age and die…. OH NO!!! Does this mean I am dying ?????Yes we are born then we die but in between all that, life happens..the thing is I am too young to die and too old to die young……..Its like having midlife crisis at half the age it normally happens… OMG quarter life crisis

I discovered my first grey(s) in my late teens when I was still struggling to grow the fuzz on my face that I called a beard….

I used to pluck out the greys with a tweezer, until I discovered that it is also like counting them, for every ONE you pluck a new crop of grey will pop up in an arithmetic progression that boggles the mind……. at that rate by Christmas my beard would have been so snow white, I could cast for Santa Claus minus the big tummy of course….

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Suddenly other people notice it too….. It is so cute(not) how someone will ask you “hey do you know your beard is grey?Erm oh really I hadn’t noticed…… Or “How old are you…?” It is so hard not to be insecure when you are self-conscious about your “uniqueness

And then someone introduced me to dye…. The beauty of synthetic colour…. For a while I had the vibrant rich colour as advertised on the pamphlet, but only for a week and some change and then would need to dye it again…. I was always careful not to swallow any dye, to avoid dyeing slowly on the inside you see… but I ruined more than one good tshirt with splashes of colour. This one time I accidentally dyed my beard a most curious shade of blue, the instructions on the bottle are in Chinese so, yeah that……. It was hilarious watching people trying super hard not to stare, stealing glances at me..

Ladies who never step outside without wearing make-up….. I get it now….
I even discovered a handy use for a mascara brush, well I think that’s what it`s called the one, some ladies use to brush out their eyebrows or is it eyelashes??, to look like maybe they were born with it….. anyhoo that brush is handy as a dye applicator especially when you are going for that pencil thin beard that looks like its painted on….2014-04-02 13.59.46.jpg
….But unfortunately just as the spell, as counting and as plucking, when the dye wears off, you wind up with even more grey (or maybe it seems that way). So eventually I took a leaf from page in my mum’s book….

My mum has had rich shiny Silver hair from the first day I became aware that this woman gave birth to me…

ma

She embraced the genes she was created with and carries her uniqueness like an armour; small wonder, even now, some people actually ask her what dye or tint she uses because her hair is that striking, she laughs and always says “I was born with it.” Her hair started going grey when she was in her teens and I guess oh those genes passed on to me…..2015-04-19 15.51.25.jpg
I shave and I trim but I don’t dye it back, I walk around with wisps of grey on my chin and I feel sophisticated. There is an old wives tale about how if you start to go grey early, it is a sign that you will die, a wealthy man…. Some people do a double take and ask me my age and say “aren’t you too young to look that old” and I smile and say “I have wisdom far beyond my age, I am simply an old soul remembering all the things I forgot…..
It’s still weird, when someone compliments me and asks what kind of dye I use on my beard, I am not used to being noticed I am normally a wallflower, watching, but am getting used to the shift from looking at, to being looked at…


Its my birthday today, I looked in the mirror and noticed I have way more grey than I used to but that’s ok, I’ll wear my grey like a badge the color of wisdom, I feel sophisticated ageing gracefully on my way to becoming ME

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whats a birthday but an excuse to eat cake?????

What is this, on my beard why that’s lil bits of wisdom far beyond my years.

~B

 

 

Of remembering the dead

R.I.P.

Funerals are more an affair for the living than for the dearly departed, a closure (of sorts) and a start, at healing (never completely). The place they (the dead) lay in the ground to sleep or dream (do they dream, the dead?) or whatever they do for all eternity, well it might be just a hole in the ground, but it is an anchor you can go back to, to remember, to heal, to accept.

My family always makes it a point to remember, we go where our loved ones rest, fairly regularly and make sure its looking decent, weeding and fresh flowers (can artificial flowers be called fresh, Anyone?)

My sister (bless her soul, its been two years now) is buried at Warren Hills Cemetery…

Recently we were there, as so do people go to commemorate their fallen heroes on heroes day, and couldn’t help remember, some previous visits.

The first time I went back there, after the funeral, I had the most unpleasant shock, I could not find the graveside, the whole graveyard was overrun with weeds and I could not find the little sign post, (which some enterprising entrepreneur had charged me an obscene amount of money to put up, on the day of the funeral…) We finally found the site with help from the caretakers who “work” there, and who found the graveside by a mixture of sheer luck, guesswork and some weird extrapolation involving date of death.

I was absolutely appalled at the state of the cemetery, you wonder how people neglect their dearly departed, but it might not even be intentional at that, one would think these caretakers would you know take care of the mundane details (maybe they do not get paid enough or they just hate their jobs or both)

I remember on the day of the funeral, the same individual who I paid to make the sign post, also told me that “For an ‘extra fee’ they would keep an eye on the graveside, weeding, watering the flowers and would take my number in order to call me, if ever a ‘situation’ happened, such as vandalism (which does happen) or a cave in, or any unexpected event.

Zombie stuff

Unexpected event: zombie stuff

You never know with dead, I guess I have seen enough the movies and have a healthy imagination a tad overactive (you know when you say rest in peace to the dearly departed you are just basically saying in fancy way “hey, No Zombie Stuff

We all agreed, that this seemed like a good arrangement and we pulled our resources and added the ‘extra fee’ for the peace of mind.

Well they never called me; so I assumed it was all gravy in the navy.

Boy was I wrong.

After the ordeal of locating the grave, we discovered; the vandals had struck, which is why, it had been extra hard to find the place. Vandals might be wrong word for them more like thieves, because everything was gone, stolen from the bricks lining the grave, to the flowers and ornaments, even the signpost that marked the site, (who steals from the dead? one just has to wonder I was informed they resell all the stuff back to new clients, bereaved families saying goodbye to their loved ones, whom they will probably steal from again to sell yet again and again, enterprising criminal  entrepreneurs)

So all that was left was just a mound of earth, completely overrun with grass like some abandoned wilderness….

…I had no words…

If I did not have the caretakers with me, confirming the numbers (apparently the graves have numbers like a post office box hahaha it was either laugh or cry so I laughed instead) I would have sworn it was the wrong place.

Anyway we eventually tidied up everything, including paying for another set of stones to line the edges of the graveside. As I was leaving one of the guys who had been helping us out says “Rasta, make us a lil something to buy a couple of cold ones and I will keep an eye out for vandals and water the flowers; flowers I am going to plant, immediately, as soon as you leave…..

Sounds like some organised extortion racket, but I gave, in after the shock, I had had, paying seemed the logical plan. We all agreed, again.

The next time I was there, there was no sign of anything having been planted or any other work done, fortunately the weeds weren’t bad, being after the rainy season. The very same guy walks up to me, before I even say “hello” says to me “Ah Rasta about those flowers, nothing grows in the winter season not even the weeds so will take care of it in summer, anyway make a lil something…”

A few days ago marking the second year of her passing we went to lay fresh flowers, to accept and to heal (never completely)

and Life, well it goes on….

~B

Ps If you want something done right; you do it yourself, no truer words have been spoken