The older I become, the more often I study the obituaries in daily newspapers, just in case I come across someone I know, or know of, who has suddenly died.
When I was younger it was only “old people” who died. But now they are getting younger and younger, probably because I am getting older.
Often the deceased in the dailies are even younger than I am. Not that I am a spring chicken. I sometimes even have these visions of opening the obituary pages one day, only to find my own face staring back at me.
The older we get the more death seems to weigh on our minds. We know that is where we are heading. It is just a matter of when.
So how much of our lives is left? But even more importantly, what are we going to do with our remaining years?
Instead of being obsessed with the lives of celebrities or the morbid fascination we have for mindless reality programmes, catching a glimpse of other people’s “glamorous” lives, I rather delve into my own soul to see what will I leave behind when I turn to dust.
What will the most important people in my life remember me for, and pass on to the next generation?
I do have something of a list, if only to amuse myself. There’s my sporadic wit and sense of adventure. Then there are the stories I told my children when they were much younger, and am now telling my sister’s little ones.
I show them the scars on my knees, and tell them little white lies that one I got when the crocodile bit me and the other was caused by a shark attack. Not to mention the two bullet wounds I have (yes, that is a true story, not a white lie). Great stories to tell, with at least one to remember one by.
Most of us also have a bucket list with dreams that many will never realise.
Grandiose dreams of travelling in space or owning that Maserati.
Fortunately I have always been a cheap date. A sunset on the great expanse of the Karoo while a chop is braaing over the coals is enough to keep me content.
So what are people really going to remember me for?
The human race is actually quite fickle. Long tears are cried after a death and memories are shared for a short period of time, but then we move on.
So actually, when I die I reckon my friends and family will remember the character that I created, and shortly afterwards they will continue with their lives, and rightly so.
But there is one incident that occurred a few years ago, one that I will always remember, which simply showed me that I was human.
One Saturday afternoon I heard someone scratching in my outside wheelie-bin. An absolute irritation because so often a mess is left behind by these “bin-trashers”.
Just as I was about to confront them and throw my toys out of the cot, I came across a young black woman. It was an icy winter’s day and she had on very worn-out shoes, which barely covered her feet, short pants and not much of a tattered jersey.
I asked her what I could do for her. She told me her house had burnt down in Mbekweni. She and her family had lost everything. I could see in her eyes she was telling the truth.
I told her to wait. I grabbed what food I had in my fridge to give her, ran to my room and blindly flung clothes and shoes I had not worn for a while into a bag. When I handed her this rather large parcel she left with tears in her eyes.
I never saw her again. But a few days later when I returned home from work there was a small bunch of yellow daisies protruding from my post box.
I was rather confused by this.
As fate would have it, the next day I had to drive through our local “township”, past an area that one could see a fire had recently ripped through. People were rebuilding their homes with whatever building material they could lay their hands on.
Among the debris and the scantily clothed children playing in an open field were patches of weeds sprouting what looked like a yellow daisies. The same daisies that had been placed in my post box.
So if I had made someone’s life a little bit better, even for just a moment . . . that is the only memory I would like to leave behind of myself when it is my time to go.
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