This last week has been miserable at our house. My mom was admitted to hospital, Doctor said when he was admitting her ‘it is for observation’ because her high blood pressure was quite high. He said two days maximum, but now we are finishing a week without her here.
The reason she is sick is that, after my father came back from dropping my son at school on Friday last. He met their neighbor waiting for him at the gate, the lady neighbor told my father to tell my mom that Aunty Noma (full name- Nomathemba); my mom’s longest and very good friend passed away through heart failure. For some reason she did not want to face my mom when she passed this message.
My father was still surprised when he blurted the news to my mom. She was having tea but my father could not finish what he was saying, her tea cup fell and broke, not without spilling hot tea on her lap. She was overly leaning to the front as if she was going to fall. In the process of trying to stop her fall, I hugged her and whispered ‘It is not her’, remember she is in Cape Town to the wedding of her cousin’s daughter.
She opened her eyes, as if to say ‘yes I remember’.
This was very true to me. Only two days earlier I dropped her at the airport. She was meant to take the bus, but her daughter Thandi (Thandiwe which directly translate to Beloved) was worried about the distance and because flights are normally quite cheap around this time of year, she bought her a return ticket. The daughter and her three sons were to drive later in the week to the wedding.
Because our airport is quite small, one can see their loved ones when they board the plane and wave. So myself and Thandi waited to wave her off. When she was at the stairs to the plane door, she could not climb them. She laughed a little, I guess feeling embarrassed. I thought maybe we should have asked for extra assistance for her.
One of the plane hostesses tried to help but she failed. We went to the security to ask if we could help. They only brought her back to the Assisted Passenger office where we rushed to check. She smiled back and said, ‘it’s my legs, they swell for no reason these days’. I looked at them for the first time. They were huge and shiny. I told Thandi we should have taken her to the doctor first before the flight.
I was saying this because I remembered a colleague who died on the plane because of deep vein thrombosis. I did not even know of the existence of such a disease until I heard Lusindiso died from it. People said she should have taken an asprin before flying. I thought of offering my mom’s best friend the aspirin, but then I thought what if it thins her blood too much.
In anyway, they got her into a wheelchair and uplifted her up the plane. We laughed when we told my mom about the inconvenience her friend caused. She just said it was old age like her. With her, I know even as I book the plane that I must ask assistance. Not because she will not be able to get into the plane, but because she gets easily disrupted. I always worry that she would be confused and get into a wrong plane.
When we heard that aunty Noma landed safely, we moved on with our own preparations. She called my mom in the evening to tell her how beautiful the wedding dress was and how she thought the groom was made to pay little lobola. They talk about everything together. Sometimes I feel what they talk about most of the time is unnecessary.
So in the morning when she called to say she was tired she would not be driving around with the wedding planners to view the venue, my mom said she must take time to relax because when the wedding comes she would be asked to do so many things that could tire her.
In the evening they all went out for dinner with the family of the groom. Later I heard my mom giggling and laughing on the phone, I knew it was her so I asked when she was done, ‘what was the gossip about?’ She told me my aunt Noma was making fun of the groom’s father who did not have teeth.
When my father came in with the bad news, I kind of knew it was not a mistake but I needed my mom to be in doubt so she does not lose herself. My father too was not believing what he was saying so when I placed the doubt, it all made sense to them until the phone rang and a scream came from the other side.
It was hectic from there, my father slumped in his lazy chair and my mom fell on the ground. They knew when they heard the scream that it was Thandi and what they heard from their neighbor was true.
My mother was getting weaker by the second so I dragged her to the car so we could go to the doctor. I first shoved down her throat high blood pressure prescription tablets. Then shouted at my father to move. He was also in a world of his own, dazed.
We all drove to the doctor, but my mother insisted she wanted to go to aunty Noma’s house first. When we approached we saw droves of people going into her house. That is common where we live. Everyone gathers at the house of the deceased to make sure of what has happened and comfort the children. When we got there, Thandi and her siblings had still not arrived. She was still at work when she called our house to scream. There was aunty Noma’s husband, already prepared with his bags to travel to Cape Town with his children to the wedding.
He seemed confused when we arrived and asked my father, ’which Noma are they saying died today?’ my father could not respond and he continued ‘these people must not delay us we are driving later today to Cape Town’. I heard my father asking ‘for what?’ He said ‘wedding of course’. He giggled and said ‘shame you were not invited hey’. They are both 72 but my father looks a little older than him because he fought and defeated cancer in his sixties, that took some good health from him.
My mother was struggling to breath by now so I decided to take her straight to the hospital not the doctor’s rooms. She is still there as I write this. The doctor said it will be two days maximum but today is the seventh day. Her church friends shout at her when they visit ‘don’t cry like someone without hope’, ‘don’t give up like someone who does not pray’, ‘you will meet her on the last day’
She is sad, very sad. But she is sick too. She keeps asking what the doctors said was the cause of her friend’s death. Heart failure we tell her. With confusion she wants to know the difference between that and heart attack.
Yesterday was aunty Noma’s funeral. My mom could not make it. The doctor declined to give her pass for it. I had to go for her. Everyone was talking about their friendship and how it is going to be hard for my mom. Most people call them twins. They were friends since they were babies because their mothers were friends.
All I kept praying for was for good and long health for my mom. I knew it was hard for her but we are still here. Unlike Thandi and her sibling who no longer had a mother. I know how much she was close to her, but I hoped she would not give up on life because of one loss.
We love her too much and we need her always.
They were blessed because they knew each other for all their lives which is almost 70 years. All of us knew her less years than Noma did, but all those years we knew her no matter how few, they were all the years that we lived on this earth.
I went to see her after the funeral and she said ‘I think we were lucky, me and Noma. Few friendships lasts that long, yes we were blessed. Those who met will meet again’. This is one of comforting sayings in my language. How was her funeral she asked ‘the best’ I told her.
‘I spoke on your behalf, Thandi and her brothers needed to hear from you, I was you and I hope I did not misrepresent you’. I would not have spoken even if I was there, I don’t think I would have had the courage, you did well, you were going to speak even if I was there. She said.
Sometimes, some people are blessed to have the soul mate in their friends and their husbands. That they are separated through death even with friends.
I wish I could be like my mom and aunty Noma and be able to keep friends that long.
Rest in peace beautiful aunty Noma, till we meet again