My father is my mother’s friend. They shared a complex relationship and I came from it. He says he always loved her. Had since the day he met her. Then they were married in the Moravian church on the hill in Carmel. He loved her he said because she was feisty. He met a woman who loved her children, because before him she had four, though one had died.
Together they had seven more, I am the sixth of that seven, the second to last one. When I was growing up I felt secure in that group of seven or the bundle of eleven or it could be fifteen, depends on where you are looking at it from. Me the second to last child who ate out of blue utensils because that is the colour she assigned me to reduce the constant contention because there needed to be rules in that group of seven or, crowd of eleven.
I knew him as a quiet man with an explosive anger who would beat if he was pushed. We learnt to watch for his arrival. The dogs helped us to navigate his steely discipline, they always arrived before him to warn us to get off the road, to go home. To look busy. Take up a book. Do something except look idle, he didnt trust our inactivity, he called it idleness. Something must be there to be done, find it. I made sure we didnt make eye contact until Sunday evening.
Sunday evenings were a destination that I arrived at with much flourish. There was Maas Aaron on his Honda 90 and a box of ice cream strapped to the seat and the promise of joy if Mummy could rustle up some money to buy each of us a cone. There was also youth fellowship and games at the church. But more than anything else it had this different Daddy, relaxed and He would sit on the front step and take his shirt off, and we would help him to remove red back, grass lice and silver ticks and we replaced them with us. I thought he was the most beautiful being. On Sundays he was everything I wished for, we could ‘tek step’ and ‘pass our place’ and he forgot to be the disciplinarian and allowed us to hug and kiss him.
He is 90 years old now. The last time I visited he cried because he thought he wouldn’t see me before he died. He said that. Just like that he said those words. I have been remembering Sunday evenings and this man. My father, my mother’s friend.