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By Kabelo Mollo
What you want is for your loved ones to live forever. Not their memories. Them. In person. You want to be able to call them as and when the desire arrives. You want to fire them a funny thing you saw on social media. Or to send them a funny meme.
Of course that’s not how life works. Instead, life demands you cherish all the great memories you have. When loved ones fall Ill, especially of the elderly variety you really find yourself walking down memory lane. All the while crossing fingers that a miracle from up above will come down and do the incredible.
There are guys who are lucky in life. They have been raised by two parents in a nuclear family with lots of love and care. They have been afforded opportunities and given things that they not only need, but also want. I know, because I’m one of them. My parents are role models and my older siblings are my heroes. I’ve taken parts of each of them and moulded my own character accordingly.
My old man is one of my favourite characters on the planet. A blisteringly quick wit, loud bellowing laugh and wisdom beyond belief. A raconteur of note with a penchant for the finer things in life. In my late twenties I had a pair of Hugo Boss sunglasses he wore in the early 90s.
Twenty odd years later and those things were still relevant. His sartorial genius was endless. When we went to buy my first suit-a grey linen pin strip effort- he kept reminding me “elegance over fashion”. He said a classic cut never goes out. I love that suit even till this day! I wore it to the Durban July one year and a well to do guy who knows his stuff said “this suit is for the bosses”. When I told him I’d bought it with my old timer he said “ja, I knew it was for a boss”. Some compliment.
My familial bond is really quite special. My parents have worked hard to foster a strong bond amongst us, our wives and extended families. One Christmas we were all together as ever at the folks house in Ha Thetsane. We had guests who were the folks old friends and the lady commented how lucky my mother was. She said it wasn’t to be taken for granted that we all came home for the whole holiday, and made merry. It wasn’t until that point that I recognised that indeed mine is a special family. We are close knit, loud, boisterous and fun loving starting with my old man.
My father was something else. So much guy in one guy! I called him anything from Mr Joseph to bra Joe. Anything to keep him young. Those who know him, know he was a mean dancer whether it was the formal ballroom variety, or the “get down” party stuff. He moved like the music was part of his body. He enjoyed his wine and tells a great story of his boss, then Prime Minister Leabua encouraging him to go buy his best wines so he could entertain a foreign envoy. Morena Leabua who was a teetotaller topped off his encouragement by praising him for his sound knowledge of the grapes of the vine. I can’t tell the story as well as my old man, but you’d laugh from the belly hearing it from the horse’s mouth.
There are too many stories to tell about that old man. A self deprecating, humble jokester who was as sharp as a needle in matters geo political and diplomatic. Even late in to his 70s he would challenge my siblings and I on world happenings. It is surreal writing about him in past tense but perhaps also cathartic. All those who knew and loved him-and there were many-should take heart from a life incredibly well lived.
To my mother who was my old mans partner for a full 49years, I say Thank you! Thank you for everything, and keep going. The two of you were peas in a pod, but you also both existed as strong individuals. Keep being our pillar of strength and support, and keep on keeping on. To my siblings, I suppose it’s time we counted our blessings. How fortunate have we been to have had a mentor and father figure like that? To the grandkids, your grandparents love for you All, knows no bounds. You will live great lives that will pay homage to both your grandfather and grandmother. And to all his close friends, associates, drinking buddies (Sparrows, Ouh La La, Lancers, Maseru, Inanda and Wanderers clubs) and colleagues, thank you all for the part you played in the legends life.
My sister said of his passing “being a protocol guy, he knew to let QE II pass before him” and that about sums the old guy up. The Big tree has fallen. Long live the big tree.