There are few words; sentences; paragraphs which I hate to have written, but, truth must be faced, and time cannot be denied. My wonderful aunt, a true lady with a cut-glass heritage of some seven decades of service to both her religion and her calling, which was to be a teacher; does not even remember who I am, she does not recall the sounds of my voice, the names of my adult family, or even those of my four grandsons: all has passed her by.
She has reached the age of ninety-six, is frail but still outwardly healthy, has limited vision but retains the inner vision which made her so special; she needs constant care, but tries to remain independence. With the distance of six thousand miles between us, and also with the fact that I cannot leave my own wife with ease of mind; I cannot make the trip to say my final farewells, even though she would not recognise me at all.
Teaching in the convent schools of South Africa for over sixty years, with a few years in America, she helped to shape the minds of a small portion of young Africa, inclusive of black, coloured and white pupils who passed through her classes. She is and was revered in the minds of many influential Christian South Africans, so much that when my late brother, on a trip to visit my aunt, mentioned the relationship, he was treated as a very honoured guest.
That razor-sharp intellect, which could converse with ease both with illiterates and with an American President, is fading from this life: it is time to say ‘Farewell’ to the last surviving member of my late father’s immediate family.