25 November, 2010


As I witnessed the image that I thought was God, I cried out hysterically, “Why him?”

A burning desire was in my throat and I felt suffocated by fear. Just then a hand touched me.

“Girl, wake up. You havin’ a bad dream.”

Grandma sat unsteadily on the edge of my bed and gingerly wiped the sweat from my brow. She slowly caressed my shoulder as my breathing slowed down. Just then the alarm went off. With that look in her eyes, I knew it was time.

My Uncle James was on my mind a lot. Being the only father figure I knew, he impacted me in so many ways. His jokes could give Bill Cosby a run for his money. When faced with the ball of adversity, Uncle James just picked up his bat like Jackie Robinson and cracked it into the atmosphere. So when he got news that he had “The Disease” he somehow knew that he would eventually strike out.

“Slow down girl! You gonna run us off the road.”

I came back to reality. On the long trip to Uncle James’ house, daydreaming was my brain break. Grandma volunteered to watch over Uncle James while his wife went to work. I agreed to drive her to and from his house. On my days off, I would watch their interaction. Grandma would sit next to him on the bed and talk to him, sing, pray and hold his hand. And she would look into his eyes the entire time. Most times, he was too weak to talk, but that didn’t bother Grandma because somehow she seemed to know what he was thinking.

“Time’s drawing near.”

“What do you mean?” I shifted in the driver’s seat.

“He won’t be with us much longer.”

“Don’t say that.” The urgency to get to Uncle James overtook me.

“Slow down, I said. Listen Angel, James is dying and we are gonna have to face it. You know, when he was little, I felt his hurt when he hit his head on the monkey bars at school. I called them before they could get me. Don’t ask me how. A mother just knows I guess.”

“But, if we pray for a cure, then God will answer our prayers. He can’t die this way. He’s got so much ahead of him to do. He‘s gotta see me graduate. He’s gotta walk me down the aisle. Who’s gonna do that if he’s gone?”

“Suffering is no way to live. Besides, there is no cure for his kind of cancer. And there won’t be one before he passes.”

“You are giving up on him.”

“Listen chile, sometimes you gotta stop praying for his life and start praying for his soul.”

The tears clouded my vision but I held on as I gripped the wheel and my pulse quickened.

I had to talk to him. Tell him the latest joke so he could laugh and return the favor. I glanced over at Grandma whose eyes were closed and she was smiling.

“Yes, baby. It’s alright. Go on now. Don’t be afraid.”

“Grandma! What’s wrong? Grandma.”

She opened her eyes that were moist and looked at me with a stare that was so familiar but strange. I abruptly pulled onto the shoulder.


Those eyes again.

“No, that’s not true!”

I put the car in gear and sped towards my Uncle’s house with Grandma begging me to slow down. Faster I went as I screeched into the driveway. I didn’t care that Grandma was trying to keep me in the car. Nor did I care that his wife tried to block my entrance into the room. I needed to talk to him one last time. Tell him a joke. Have him return the favor. As I faced his bed now serving as his cooling board, I looked into his face. His eyes locked onto me. That same familiar but strange look that Grandma had in the car. How could this be? I felt a chill run through me as I heaved and found it difficult to breathe. Then darkness overtook me.

The struggle to accept a loved one’s death can be overwhelming. I discovered that my selfish reasons for wanting my Uncle to stay around did nothing to keep him on this Earth. I also realized my own mortality. My grandma showed me that in cherishing the time you do have, by soul sharing, you have the strength to handle life and death. Through my grandma’s and my Uncle’s eyes I witnessed the unspoken love that existed between a mother and her son. Their souls were connected in this life and the next. I learned to accept death that day not as an end, but as a beginning.


                                                                            (Photograph Courtesy of South African Broadcasting Corporation)

Erkurhuleni, South Africa, joined cities and nations throughout our global village in observing International Men's Day on 19 November 2010 under the theme "Our Children . . . Our Future".  The event was attended several government officials which included, The Honorable Collins Chabane, Minister in the Presidency and The Honorable Lulu Xingwana, Minister of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities.  Further information about South Africa's observance of 2010 International Men's Day can be found at the following link:


It is very easy to condemn and criticize. The most difficult tasks seem to be promoting unity and becoming more understanding. It is very easy to destroy someone’s reputation or gossip but it seems very difficult to praise someone or build a positive movement.

What is your purpose in life? Are you a builder or destroyer? Are you self-centered and interested in promoting yourself or seek to improve the lives of troubled persons and assist the less fortunate?

Persons promoting and spreading International Men’s Day have endured criticisms, insults and weak arguments. Persons, including myself, know about unreturned telephone calls, unanswered emails and faxes. Blank stares, apathy and negative responses are a normal diet for many of us involved in International Men’s Day.

But there is another side of the story. A positive side. The intense daily activity on the internet strongly suggests-- the benefits outweigh the negative responses. There is hope and change occurring in our world. The high numbers of visits to websites dealing with International Men’s Day, indicate a search for solutions to solve problems and the continuous spread of this Day. Since its inception, IMD has blossomed into a movement which promotes goodwill and positively transforms the lives of many persons. Every year I am overjoyed to witness and read testimonies of persons who genuinely believe that the observance of IMD has resulted in greater stability in their lives and guided them from darkness into light.

There is considerable joy to receive a telephone call or email of someone who agreed to assist mobilizing persons in their state, province or country. Such responses as ‘How can I help?’ and ‘Yes, I support International Men’s Day and will encourage others’ are the passports needed to be involved in this worldwide campaign of change. Now is the time to decide on your priorities. Maybe it is time to reshuffle your priorities and this could lead to a better life for you and others. IMD needs you on its team !!!

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(;             Many of the 7.6 billion souls who occupy this space and place we know as ...