What could go wrong on a morning when all the traffic lights are out?
Well, I packed some hot dog rolls into a Woolies shopping bag together with some cheese grillers and set off to gym. Stay with me – the hot dogs and gym visual is true.
The plan was to give the food away before it expired without my husband finding out. Long story…
I never quite made it to the gym (no surprises there) but I decided to sit down for some scrambled eggs instead. Just before I picked a spot, I saw someone I could give the food away to. The man sells Homeless Talk, a newspaper that I have seen a million times but never bought.
As I sat down at the cafe for my breakfast, I reached for my wallet to put the parking ticket in the spot where I always put my parking ticket and that’s when I realised that my wallet was in the black hot dog bag! The plan had been to stick the empty shopping bag into my gym bag, that’s how my purse ended up inside. Note to self: forget gym.
When I related the story to my children later that afternoon, sure I added some drama but essentially:
I had no cash to get out of the parking lot and had to make some decisions quickly.
So I asked the parking lady for a free pass. Sure, she said.
The cafe owner said that I come could totally have stayed for a free breakfast.
I opened my banking app to see if there had been any transactions. Cancel Cards/Not? Pause, I decided.
As I drove up the road towards the Homeless Talk seller, I saw him holding out the Mykonos blue purse with a look that said, “………..!”
The kids screamed “Nice hot dog lady!” but the man’s face really screamed “dumb blonde!” I was guilty as charged on both counts.
But here’s what this story is really about: people people, people.
We are all just people who need people. And that’s how we all get by. By needing people and by allowing people to need us. Barbara Streisand was right.
P.S. I couldn’t find much info online re Homeless Talk but the lovely guy selling his is at the garage near St Davids in Inanda close to Summer place:-) Didn’t catch his name. Don’t tell him you know me.
My mom’s sister who died quite suddenly. It was the first week of lockdown in South Africa when she passed.
We got news of her death around 9am and all we wanted to do was rush to the family home to be with her children and her 80 something year old husband, from who she really was inseperable. They were married for 60 years or so.
I was so sad but I could park that. All I really wanted was to see my loved ones and offer support. I remember when my own mom passed, those people who just turned up on the day and DID were a Godsend. I felt I could be that kind of person in this instance.
Being the absolute nerd that I am, I managed to convince my husband that we should pop into our local police station to ask them what we needed in terms of permission in order to make our way to the family home on the otherrrrrrr side of the world. We had seen visuals on TV and social media of the army, of cyclists being arrested and I must be honest, the general air of fear and tension was palpable.
“Good Morning” I said through my mask to the two policemen at the door. They were tense too, but they listened to my story and immediately decided that yes, I should definitely jump on the highway and make my way to the bereaved. “Family” the one guy said “Family”.
“So, I dont need a permit or anything to go there for a prayer service or for the funeral?…” I tried to add, knowing that my Catholic family would want to get started on the prayer asap, particularly for a woman like my aunty who loved her faith.
Screeeeeching from the other side of a room I did not even see someone flying towards us.
“Back home!” she spat. “What do you think this is? A party? Do you know what lockdown means? There is no travelling! No partying. No walking around and shopping….”
Everyone was stunned by the absurdity of the statements.
The two policemen looked down. I thought I was dreaming.
“Umm, no mam, I have just lost my aunt…literally a few hours ago and I am her next of kin, so I was asking about what I needed to…”
“I don’t care!” she said “No means no”
“L O C K D O W NNNNNNNN she said mockingly. “It means you go noooooooowhere, my dear”.
Now my tears were beginning to come. The floodgates really opened when I made eye contact with the two policeman. They were looking down and shaking their heads. I only realised then that they reported to her. She was their boss and they were not going to be able to do anything for me.
I was sobbing. I could not believe that another human being was speaking to me like that. In a room full of other people. When I had just been shot in the heart with grief.
My husband, who had said nothing up to this point had the look. I know it well. Gentle Giant was giving her the who the fck do you think you are talking to look, narrowing his eyes and tilting his head slightly. That look only comes out once every like 12 years.
“Umm, tell me something…” he said, towering at least 100m above her head. “Did you hear the part where my wife said she had just lost her mother?” (In his culture, my aunt WAS my mother. No lies there).
“I don’t care what story she has” the woman said.
“Ummm sorry, mam? We are just here to …”
“Wait, love” he said. It was a firm and gentle, but gosh it was full of conviction.
My husband looked at the two men. Heads bowed in shame. He looked at me. Put his hands on his hips.
There was a long silence.
“Are you feeling okay?” My husband said, looking the woman directly in the eye.
Two more officers arrived. The air changed from an emotional one to something that my intuition told me could easily escalate into something ugly, where we were perhaps thrown in a holding cell and handcuffed, or worse.
That’s when one of the two officers became human again and said to my husband “I think it’s better if you guys go, my brother…”
He didn’t mean that we should GO to the highway and GO to the funeral home and GO be with our loved ones (which is just what we did, masks and all). He was firing a warning shot to us, to say that if we did not get out of there, there would be trouble. I took my husband by the hand and pulled hard.
Heartbroken, disgusted and defeated we arrived at the funeral home. That’s when something magical happened. As I entered, I felt this incredible Light. I walked into the funeral home filled with a Spirit of compassion, love, strength, empathy and support.
That strength did not come from ME, and that’s really what this long story is about.
Friends tell me that strength is The Peace that Passes All Understanding. In my culture, the Holy Spirit. In yours, your Higher Self/God, perhaps?
Trust me it will come when you need it leaving you, the spiritual being here on earth to have a human experience, in awe. And, in my case filled with so much GRATITUDE.
These are the moments, friends. These are the moments!
The first time I heard the phrase“the peace that passes all understanding”I was sitting at the one end of a fabulous lunch table, casually popping a chunk of ice into my glass of Chardonnay. I had just lost my mom and someone asked me how I was coping.
Taking a big gulp of wine, I tried to explain to her that although I was utterly distraught about the void she had left with her sudden departure, I had this incredible sense of CALM that had come over me. “At first I put it down to shock. You know? A kind of inertia that my BODY had gifted to me in order to cope with the loss. Isn’t the BODY amazing like that?” I said with a genuine appreciation for the hormones that I believed had carried me to that place of peace.
“That’s the holy spirit” she replied matter of factly as she slowly dipped her piece of bread into a mixture of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. “I guarantee you, that is ONLY the holy spirit who can do that!”
Now, as the beneficiary of a lovely Catholic convent education (With a tonn of experience of telling fibs inside the Confessional. Judge not!), one would think that I would have been quick with something rather Bible-ly to say to her in return. Alas not.
The only thing I could manage was “I am so grateful!”
And truthfully, I still am. Grateful for the wine, grateful for the peace, grateful for being in the presence of someone with such unwavering conviction. God knows, that’s the kind of faith that moves mountains.
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