Dad’s memorial service was at the old Montclair Methodist Church. There were a few familiar faces but most of the people we had grown up with had either died or moved on. Our neighbours from Rolleston Place were all there looking very sad and shocked.
Wilf had been one of the healthiest seventy year olds we had known. He jogged well into his sixties, only ever had All Bran for breakfast, loved salad and fruit and hardly ever ate junk food. Every now and again he would spoil himself with a chocolate. I never saw him indulge in anything. A couple of years earlier, he had a mild angina attack but because he was so healthy and strong, it didn’t do much damage.
Dad had mentioned a few times over the years that he wanted a Dixieland band to play at his funeral. We got in touch with some of his old jazz-band mates and they were happy to dust off their instruments to play for Wilf for the last time. They walked in slowly, playing, “Oh when the saints go marching in.” They looked so old compared to how dad had been. They were coughing and wheezing and could barely blow their instruments. I wondered how dad could possibly have gone before them.
It was interesting to see how differently my siblings responded to dad’s death. It was clear by our speeches that each of us had a unique relationship with him. Sue and Dave knew him before his conversion, I saw him during his conversion and Pete only really knew him as a Christian dad. There was quite a bit of “damage” done with Sue, but much healing and forgiveness had taken place between them. He had been overly protective which had come across harshly. Dave was shocked to hear that dad had been married before. He found that out on dad’s deathbed. It took him a while to let that go. Pete was the baby and “mommy’s boy.” Sue and Dave called me “dad’s favourite”. I could never understand why they thought that. Maybe it was because he loved me because I was the “good” one.
I had given my life to Jesus when I was thirteen so I hadn’t given him trouble in my teenage years like they had. When he died there was a sadness I couldn’t explain. I knew I would miss him, but it was more than that. There was a quiet realisation that his subtle “favouritism” may have been based on my goodness. It started to feel that it had been conditional. That feeling made me think that maybe God’s love for me was also conditional. Was it because I had been a “good girl” and stayed on track? Did that have something to do with God’s love for me? Would dad have treated me the same if I had been a “bad” girl? I needed some time to settle those things in my heart.
Mum flew back with us to India to stay for six weeks. She didn’t want to stay by herself in No 28. It had been so rushed and chaotic getting her a visa and cleaning the house up. We arrived at immigration in Delhi and I was so relieved to be home. Tony and the girls were waiting outside for us. It seemed to take forever to get to the front of the queue.
My passport was stamped and the officer opened Jordan’s. He scratched and searched for ages. He looked at me over his glasses and asked, “Madam, where is visa for baby?” In all the chaos and rush, it hadn’t entered my mind to get an Indian visa for Jordan. There was a big tamasha with lots of officers discussing my case. Fortunately I had his birth certificate which, they finally agreed, proved that he did actually belong to me. The officer stamped Jordan’s passport with the proviso that he was registered within five days. What a relief and what a miracle.
I had a smoking, swearing “angel” with me all the way to South Africa, and there was a Hindu one waiting to help me at the Indian Immigration counter in Delhi. How funny.