Wat is ’n huis sonder ’n moeder? the cross-stitch in the oppressor’s language told me every time I walked past my gran’s fireplace. Neatly framed, like apartheid.
But here’s the thing: mothers are a universal language. Mothers are the glue – and I, maybe for the first time, cry over mine.
She died 13 years ago; mad as a hatter. She didn’t know Hubby, my kids, my brother – but she lit up when I walked in.
Never said much, just adored me with her eyes.
She had Alzheimer’s, they told me then. That’s how they diagnosed all people who made their life smaller because they just
couldn’t cope with it.
Now I read about dementia, aggressive Alzheimer’s. It doesn’t matter: they are all, like my mother, just mad.
And that’s the reason for my tears: a block from me, a 58-year-old mom living in her headspace opened her gate before six and disappeared into the sunset.
Some door was unlocked; some gate.
The cry went out on community groups and I, normally a stealth observer, jumped out of my armchair. The boys were commanded to drive street up and street down.
I, sans mask and shoes, jumped at every – sometimes scaly – suburbanite, showing the mom’s picture.
It’s getting dark. It’s getting dark…Word comes through that she is found and the boys look at me with wonder.
We are standing in the kitchen and I realise I’m crying. I apologise. But I shouldn’t.
My mom also walked out of a “secure home”. My dad just “had her committed” when she opened that security gate and … walked.
My dad’s raven-haired beauty, my “she’s strong but a bitch” mother walked down Mabilongwe Drive in peak hour traffic – and nobody missed her.
The people who loved her should’ve, but I was too busy fighting my dad for having her committed; he was too busy forging a new life without the woman he spent 54 years with – and the home, quite frankly, didn’t care.
But one man did: on his way home in a crowded taxi a nurse thought he recognised her and stopped the world in its tracks.
I wasn’t there, but thank you. Thank you for gently taking her hand and bringing her back to us.
She’s my mother. And I love her.
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