There's something about a very late or very early phone call that immediately spells trouble. I don't like late night or early morning calls... it makes my heart jump and my ears perk on high alert to hear if anything is out of the ordinary. When Mother's chatting on the phone in Afrikaans, I know she's talking to one of her many siblings, just a few more minutes into the conversation and I'll figure out exactly who she's talking to.
Mother and her family are weird like that. Their first language (mother tongue) is Afrikaans yet every single one of them converse with their kids in English. So when they talk to each other, they'll speak in Afrikaans, but the minute one of them addresses one of their children, nieces or nephews - they switch to English.
Back to unwelcoming phone calls. It's always bad news. On Wednesday, my aunt (mother's sister) was taken to hospital and diagnosed with lung cancer. She's only 48 years old. Now I've lost various members of my extended family suffering from various ailments over the past two years, people I've known... people I've been "close" to... but the prospect of death has never been this close to home since I lost my Grandmother in 1994. Mother's family is quite close, so this is different than the other aunts or second aunts or grand aunts I've lost before... not that we've lost her yet.
And not that she cares. Mother's family don't do grand emotional displays... or should I say, they're very strong so nothing really cripples them emotionally. Looking at her in her hospital bed, she complained about the TV and the remote and joked about how dying would be easier than watching all the crap on TV. And when Mother called her yesterday to ask whether she should visit her in hospital she said in Afrikaans "Save your energy for the day you need to bath me".
Still, I can imagine it must be difficult for my Mother to watch her older sister - the sister she's been close to for many years - laying in a hospital bed with lung cancer.
It made me think about my own life and my own sisters. I don't want them to be all sad and maudlin. I want them to remember all the times I complained about how much I hate this effing world, quote a few of lines from Chris Tucker's movies, laugh, make dua (pray) for me, let it go and LIVE their lives to the fullest.
I suppose it doesn't hurt to plan for the inevitability of death, no matter how depressing it may be. So if anything should happen to me, I've asked my sister to delete both my Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as this blog. There's nothing worse than looking at a deceased person's profile and reading their last words and trying to analyse their timeline, wondering if they had any indication that they'd be dead within a week. It's just plain spooky and disrespectful. I definitely wouldn't want my words hanging in the air, waiting to be plagiarised or desecrated at someone's whim or fancy.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.