The life expectancy for men in Angola is 51 years (so I have beaten that) and for women, 53 years.
I have always found it amazing that statistics prove women out live men in Africa yet they generally suffer lives of servitude, hard labour both of the physical and maternal kind, all kinds of abuse and are generally considered as second class citizens.
Well they are not second class by any measure. Africa, generally a basket case of violence, exploitation and corruption would collapse completely if it were not for its women. If it were not for women, the men would simply starve to death. The fields would not be tilled. There would be no water to drink let alone wash or cook with and the crap would pile up on unswept yards. There would be no informal markets so no razor blades for the men to shave with and no clothes would be washed. The very first thing a girl having mastered the art of walking learns, is to carry a heavy pot on her head. Six year old girls already know how to carry water and wash dishes. Nine year old girls not only know but are expected to make funge, the staple diet made from manioc paste requiring a muscular effort to beat the mix that even eludes me. At fourteen the men consider them eminently fuckable. It is a hard life bereft of anything we in the developed world would call a childhood.
Marcia's mother has beaten the odds by a long way. She is 69. By contrast my mother is 76 and still going strong and although frail and complaining, my grandmother is still alive and in her very late nineties.
Alex loves Marcia's mother, his Granny, because she spoils him rotten. Every now and then, Alex would demand to be taken into the city so he could spend a few days with his Arvo (Granny) before returning completely full of himself. Three or so days at his Granny's required a week at least of retraining so much licence did she give him.
I am a lot older than Marcia so sadly know what it means to lose someone close. My father died too young. My nephew died indecently young aged only three when he fell into a neighbour's pool. I have helped bury a lot of people in my time some of whom where colleagues but experience doesn't make it any easier, especially when you know what the main mourner is going through.
I love Marcia so much. Apart from my two boys I have never loved anyone with such intensity. If only it were within my gift to spare her such pain.
Marcia's mother is dying, Marcia is with her now in hospital. I am babysitting Alex, dusting off my dark suit and polishing my shoes. I really wanted to be with her but I agree with Marcia, perhaps it isn't such a good idea to let a four year old watch his Granny die.
Hippo ~ a moving post today. Our thoughts are with Marcia and her mother.ReplyDelete
Oh dear. Look after your boys. Then hug Marcia when she comes home.ReplyDelete
Give my very best to marciaReplyDelete
You need to take care of yourself me thinks after a blog like this...
The best to all of you. And be kind to yourself.ReplyDelete
Ive tried to call but you live in the jungle..Jesus I am sorry for you , marcia and alex...just got back from Taksim Square..reporting on the issue of Erdogan..his relationship to control, party politcs..and Syrian intervention...ReplyDelete
....three lines in your Blog and I hit the ground of true reality..personal, painful, feelings and guilt faster than a metro.....the world should truly be limited to those around us...lost too soon and taken for granted...
Kiss them all for me..drink a slow and deliberate shot..smoke a cigarette .....and know what you have around you...it´s your life.....its valuable....
my thoughts are with you tonite...as on many other nights...
I love and miss you all ......Tristan St James
This time I shall not reply to you all individually but Marcia and I thank you sincerely for all your kind words.ReplyDelete
Tristan, you worry the shit out of both Marcia and I doing what you are doing in Syria and all those other Godforsaken places. For God's sake, keep your head down or at the very least as we used to say, KLMF (Keep Low, Move Fast). I want you to come to my funeral, not the other way around.
Hippo, I am so very sorry. As the youngest grandson on my father's side, and with both parents having seven brothers and sisters, I am also familiar with death rites. We were blessed as a family that both of my grandmothers lived with us until they died. My Uncle Bill collapsed and died while giving the eulogy at my Aunt Carol's funeral.ReplyDelete
Please give Marcia our deepest condolences, knowing full well that the condolences of a stranger may not go very far, but still... and hug that boy tight.
I was a tad younger than he when my Father's Father died - I don't remember him, but I know his stories and love him dearly.
You all are in our prayers.
I was seven years old when my maternal great grandmother died.Delete
My maternal grandmother is great grandmother to my brother's daughter and great great grandmother to her daughter. Last time I was in Germany, there were five generations sitting around her table. Actually, I lie, the fifth generation was crawling around the floor under the table and puked up on the rug.
So sorry to hear this Hippo.ReplyDelete
I hope you and Marcia and little Alex can feel the good wishes of all your blogging mates coming to you from afar.
Thank you HelsieDelete
I can't go to funerals anymore. I can't stand there and listen to people talk about how good they look in their coffin. They look dead to me. I can stand by the bedside and hold their hand when they're dieing, but I can't sit and listen to how they will always be with us in spirit or we'll see them again on the other side. There's nothing anyone can say or do that will make dieing easier for those of us who now have a void that our grandparents and parents, brothers, sisters and friends once filled. It is like the age in our bodies; we just live with it until hopefully some day, science makes this tragedy go away.ReplyDelete
Still until then, all we can do is say, I'm sorry and please know, it comes from the heart.Delete
My late Father's instructions were to put him in a dustbin bag, bury him quietly somewhere and to keep on claiming his pension.Delete
Most of us parents want to leave something to our kids. Sounds like your Dad wanted to leave a gift that would keep on giving. I would have liked him.Delete
My kids probably would have liked him better than me as well since I'm planning on taking a somewhat considerable amount of their inheritance to have my body put in a tank of liquid nitrogen.
And then, David, in a few decades time, your frozen, shattered and completely useless remains will be dropped into bin bags and disposed of.Delete
I have asked to be disposed of at sea but the Angolan authorities say that is illegal.
bummer! Guess you can have them fill your coffin with salt water.Delete
As for my remains, that is what my oldest son says too. When I was a boy, I picked cotton by hand and my Mom cooked our food on a stove that used firewood for fuel. What is, and what is not possible, has changed many times over the course of human history.
It is said (rather obviously) that the last people to remember us is our grandchildren, so it's quite important that grandparents leave a good impression. Alex is very lucky in that respect; he'll always think kindly of his grandmother. I didn't know any of mine.ReplyDelete
My very best wishes to Marcia, and all around her.
Thank you Cro. I never knew my Father's parents. My maternal grandfather, a successful architect, died a slow, miserable death after a stroke. My maternal grandmother is still alive and I dread the phonecall summoning me back to Germany.Delete
It's a horrible process and there's no way to make it easier, all you can do is to make sure that for a while the other crap of life doesn't intrude as well.ReplyDelete
Starting life and ending life seem to be such odd things to do - quite unfathomable.
My sympathies and empathies to Marcia, and best wishes to you.
My Grandmother has had a couple of practice runs at shuffling off yet suddenly made a miraculous recovery so while there is life, there is hope.Delete
Death is a very important part of life, although it's damn difficult to appreciate that when it's someone close to you, and to watch them suffer a slow and sometimes painful decline. I hope your family find the means to deal with the inevitable when it comes. When it does there is a rather comforting poem of which this is the first line:ReplyDelete
"you can shed tears that she is gone, or you can smile because she has lived".
Quite. At least when my Father died he was doing something he enjoyed and was dead before he hit the floor. A fitting way to go for an old soldier.Delete
Marcia is certainly going to need your great love Hippo.ReplyDelete
Give her our care and heartfelt hugs
When your mother dies, you really feel an orphan in the world.
My mother has been dead for 42 years and I still miss her.
My mother is still alive and so is my grandmother. It's the men who die early in our family.Delete
So many comments above, all saying good things. Love and best wishes to you all.ReplyDelete
As an aside, I was in the living room with my kids last night and said, "I never want to live in a vegetative state dependent on some machines and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug" They got up, unplugged the TV and Skybox and poured away my gin. Little bastards!
Best wishes...and hopes to you all there...parents die; it's very hard and sadReplyDelete
When my Father died I thought, 'How the hell am I going to survive without his advice? What on earth am I going to do without my Father?'Delete
It's a difficult one. My sister-in-law let her two children visit and then later see the dead body of their great-grandmother, when they were about 5 and 9. Again when their grandmother died when they were a little bit older. It made them deal with the deaths better than my own daughter who, because of sheer geographical distance, was not able to visit or witness both those deaths. I didn't see my first death until I was about 24 and by then was quite anxious and scared of what I might see. I think children cope better than we give them credit for, but you know your son better than any of us, so you have to do what you think is best. So sorry for you all and especially Marcia.ReplyDelete
“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”ReplyDelete
It is never easy. But it is always wise to let children view the dead. They cope with it much better than adults and it is much healthier for them to see the reality of death. Much damage has been done in past times and some cultures by refusing to allow children to process the reality of life and to participate in the material act of grieving.ReplyDelete
I never took either of my sons to see anyone who had died. Unlike me, they are perfectly normal.Delete
When I was a child (probably 5 years old), I was taken to see my Grandmother's cousin. I remember it was awful and when my sons were born I knew I would never put them through that.
Someone told me once if you never see someone you know as a corpse, you will always remember them as being alive. Otherwise you will remember how they looked when dead. This is true!
I agree with Addy and Roslyn. In today's misguided attempt of trying to 'protect' our children we have come to sanatise their world. When is 'old enough' to see a dying person, a dead body? I was eight when the woman I love most in the world (my maternal grandmother) was on her deathbed. She was only 67. To this day I remember that moment when I knew my heart was going to be broken. She asked my mother to not bring me back again. I believe not just for my own good but for my grandmother's too. We were so very close. I'd have gladly sat with her for the remaining 48 hours. And I am so very grateful to my mother for taking me to the open coffin in chapel.ReplyDelete
One of the worst things ever said to me and, frankly, I could have punched that woman if it hadn't been at a funeral, was when she reprimanded me for taking my then, can't remember now, say, ten year old son to see his paternal grandfather (brain cancer) just before the curtain fell and then to the funeral. You know what she said: "I'd never done that to my two children." Well, yes, I thought, f..k you too.
Anyway, this is not about any of us: This is about Marcia, Alex and you. I am not a religious person but do love the sound and meaning of "... in the midst of life we are in death..." And we are. And the more all of us remember that, Tom, the better.
You have a point. When my father died, I never knew you could go and view the body. I was mad as hell and felt betrayed, having driven all the way back from Germany that my mother viewed the body and had the coffin closed without giving me a chance.Delete
It's never easy to say good-bye to those we love, even if we believe we shall see them on a distant shore. And it's never easy to see those we love suffer when a loved one goes or is going.ReplyDelete
I hope the tide ebbs easily and as painlessly as possible.
As usual from you, Megan, a sensitive comment.Delete
Whatever you're doing, I'm confident it's the proper thing for you family. Love will get you through.ReplyDelete
I find your comments about the women very interesting, confirming things I've thought from afar. I participate in Kiva, which makes small business loans all over the world, and I often choose women, either small farmers or ladies starting their own small business, to receive the money. I hope this is actually a helpful thing to do. Do you have any observations on that, or recommendations for alternatives? I don't mean to bother you with this at such a sad time, but perhaps you can think about it and answer at another time.
Micro loans to women were the best idea ever.Delete
Most women in the world are little more than slaves. They are used to very hard labour and, like all human beings, long for something better. Micro loans empower them giving them the financial means otherwise unavailable to them to use their willingness to work and create their own sustainable future. Men tend to think short term, women tend to think long term so will work hard to pay back the loans, improve their credit rating and expand their business. I am talking developing countries, not the developed world where both women and men are just interested in the latest fashion and will hock themselves up to the eyeballs just to get it.
I know it wasn't actually a micro loan, and since she is my wife it wasn't even a loan but I gave Marcia a quarter of a million dollars and she has turned it into a running business with real estate alone worth well over a million.
Micro loans release the enormous potential of fifty percent of a currently under-utilised working population. Women.
I have never heard of Kiva. I shall look them up now.
To every time there is a season...Big hugs for Mr Hippo and family at this difficult time.ReplyDelete
Thanks mate. It's just hard to see Marcia suffer so much knowing there is fuck all I can do except give her a hug. At least my Dad did the decent thing and died quick. For Marcia watching her mother slip away so painfully must be awful.Delete
Is there any change in her condition?ReplyDelete
Sorry to hear that. It must be hard to loose a parent. I'm very close to both of mine and my wife is to hers. Give her a hug from me.ReplyDelete