Have you ever had someone change the game on you? I mean, like change the rules while you're in the middle of a game, you’re leading and someone changes the rules? Doesn’t that just freak you out? Well, this is what I imagine Charmaine must have felt like. The rules had been flipped on her and she was not going to be a happy puppy.
Following from my previous article, the second thought that entered my mind, was, “Oh my GOD, Charmaine is going to be so seriously “pissed”. I say this because we were extremely close as siblings. In fact, we could be described as very close friends, and as a close friend would, I knew how much her only child meant to her. She had discussed the many plans she had in mind for him and not being able to live out these plans would most likely drive her insane. You see, I know Charmaine well enough to know not to piss her off.
The third emotion I vividly recall was of untold grief and pain throughout my entire being, emanating from the centre of my chest directly below the edge of my rib cage and above my stomach. I believe they call it a Chakra point. I remember this because it was the first time I had felt such deep agonizing pain. I could only allow myself to entertain this feeling for a few moments, since I had work to do. After all, I knew the feeling would return to pay me many more visits in just a little while, just as soon as the proverbial “dust” had settled and life forces one to return to normality. I refer to it as my constant companion and it only leaves when it is ready to do so. We have no choice in that decision, it’s just the way it is.
Needless to say, this was all the preparation I could afford to allocate to the looming exams ahead commencing the very next morning. Amazingly, I passed the exam after three hours of painstakingly managing my concentration, and controlling my wondering mind one question at a time. After this task, it was back to dealing with the practicalities of the new reality facing me. I refer to preparing funeral arrangements, dealing with deceitful and opportunistic undertakers, and completing police reports and affidavits.
At some point one has to make a decision and set a date for the funeral which was set for two weeks after Charmaine’s pasing while wheeling and dealing with a newly appointed undertaker to take over from the previous one. A hint to deal with unscrupulous undertakers are to threaten them with the rules set out in the Consumer Protection Act, refer to clauses they have transgressed and they may elect to adjust the costings and fees. Failing which, you may have to seek urgent relief from your local Magistrates Court to force them into submission. In most cases that should do the trick and they elect to scurrile away in their makeshift hearses in search of the next victim.
Yes, we need a complete reform in the funeral undertaker industry in ths country. But this will only happen when enough stakeholders join together in one voice, and say “No longer will this practice be tolerated by our families, our country and its people, this is enough”. The industry shall respect our deceased loved-ones, our families and allow them to die with dignity.
I share this sequence of events not to demonstrate my own strength, or to seek your sympathy. I share this story to point out how quickly your life, and of those closest to you can change. I mean literally overnight. This could happen to you, as it did to me.
I recall laying in bed that night and realising just how much my life was about to change through no deed of my own. I had become a father to a two-year-old boy, without the benefit of nine months of pleasant anticipation and planning. I had to become a source of comfort and support for my parents and family, without the benefit of Charmaine’s council and support.
Finally, I had the responsibility to honor Charmaine, my dear sister and friend, with a dignified sending off. The night before the funeral while driving home from the venue where the funeral were to take place the following day, I was informed by the newly appointed undertaker, that due to delays of the autopsy which had to be performed before releasing the body from the state mortuary, the body would not arrive in Cape Town in time for the funeral. Ever thought of having a “fake” funeral with a couple of sand bags in a coffin? Well I admit that I did. As you know, people need to be able to “connect” with the one who is deceased, so they can find closure within themselves to carry on. Anyway, I figured that was not going to work. I then moved on to make a few changes to the procession and had no choice but to settle for a memorial service. The official funeral took place a few days later, (no sand bags included of course).
This was an experience I later came to value and appreciate contributing positively to my character as a man in business, a husband and a dad.
That’s said, where on earth is the Paper work???