There is nothing in this world that can prepare you for the day you’ll see your parents get older, I mean I know it’s supposed to happen because that’s how life happens, but still the process messes with you mind. It took some time to understand that my grandmother couldn’t do anything for herself anymore, like all my life I’ve known her as the stubborn woman who always did things herself, quite pedantic to be honest and loved being clean. She was a ruler and militant as well, one of her best thing was to wake us up on a Saturday to clean the house and make us smell the fresh air before it gets polluted. By the time 8am came around everything was done, including eating and bathing. At that time I didn’t understand why we had to move to my grandmother’s and I thought my mother’s relationship with her mother was perfect until I grew up and then I picked up the hostility between the two.
My mother was not raised by my grandmother because she had to work in the city to provide for her, while she stayed behind in Magaliesburg to finish school. When she eventually finished school and moved to Johannesburg, she couldn’t stay with her because my grandmother lived in hostel which didn’t allow kids at the time. So she lived with her cousins in Tembisa, where she wasn’t treated well from the sound of it and she was often reminded that that was not her home. When she was in Matric she fell pregnant by her high school sweetheart – my father. My father’s background is the opposite of my mother’s, my father came from a well-off family that had built a name for itself in the township. My paternal grandfather was someone important at the council or something like that, but it was called Peri Urban at the time. My father was the last born and he didn’t have the pressures his older siblings had and therefore how he raised us was slightly different, he was involved in our lives – fully. He was an entrepreneur and on his not so busy days he would pick me up from school and get me Nando’s or Something Fishy. My mother worked at Pick n Pay till her last days, she knocked off around 7pm every night.
There was never a time when I believed that my parents didn’t love me. I was very naughty as a child and I got a hiding from my mother almost every weekend, I was called weekend special because every weekend I would do something to annoy my mother. My father gave me a hiding once and it wasn’t even my fault that day; a neighbour had bought a bike and told he was gonna collect it, only to later found out that he had stolen it. That day, I knew that crime was not for me, because how could I even fall for that lie nje?
I grew up in a big household because my father, being the last born, was to inherit everything from my grandfather. Our house was filled with cousins during holidays, at times my mother would be upset about the arrangement and would ask my father to buy his own house, well I didn’t mind really, but I understood where my mother was coming from. To be honest, I had a really happy childhood and my expectations of the world is built from that and at times I am naive because I have hope in love and relationships; it’s all I know from home. Growing older, you realize that not everyone has the same background therefore their outlook is different.
The one thing I admired about my mother was that she always supported us, even when she didn’t understand what we did or our talents. I played soccer, did athletics, swimming, drawing and graphic design. My mother was tiny but fierce with her mouth – she was feared by my father’s family because apparently if they got her upset she spilt family secrets. She wanted to build the home that she never had growing up, with her only having met her father for the first time in the late 90’s, she appreciated that we had an involved father in our lives. My mother tried to protect me from the worlds pain because i think she saw how naive i was and how sheltered i was. My mother was not good with regards to speak about the things that has hurt her and she has found a mechanism of surviving this world and after my father passing her main focus was raising us and making sure that we have the things we need to succeed. My mother kept a lot of things away from us even in her last on earth she protected us as best as she can, tie this day i don’t know how she did it.
My mother began to get sick and she lost weight, but I don’t pay much mind to it because she was my mother, she would bounce back, as she always did. She got better and I’m like thats my mother. The focus was always my grandmother because now she was on her death bed, she would leave us at any time and I thought I was prepared for it as we had spoken about it with her all the time. Nothing could have prepared me for the next few months and the events that took place in our household.
Writer: George Gladwin Matsheke