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A Memory from Don Beukes / Art by Marie Massey

Red Creek, by Marie Massey

(Image: Red Creek, by Marie Massey)


(In loving memory of Johanna Rosetta Marsh Beukes)

Despite a solid foundation of faith and a collective family moral

compass of forgiveness, faith, hope, love, mutual respect and

tolerance, nothing could prepare me for my own deep-felt loss

of a beloved mother, lost from this natural world – I remember

briefly popping in the previous day from work just to make sure

I could see her sweet smile and hear her gentle voice like

molten honey in that bleak alien hospital room where even the

air smells of doom and gloom and despair, but it was probably best

to let her recuperate there – I even had time to give her some soup

as she growled about the inexperienced young nurse trying to do

her best. I just calmed her and urged her to rest whilst I held vigil

at her bed.

Not long after, I was stunned when the machines bleated and howled,

and shocked when the nurse calmly adjusted something to quiet it

down and my mother was gently touching my hand, looking at me

with her caramel brown eyes – if only I had stayed, but other duties

called me away. At least my sister held the fort.

When I did rush back I met my dad in quite a mute state; he could

not even look at me, whilst my sister just shook her head. So I knew –

that same nurse calmly gave some details but all I could hear was

white noise blocking out what I feared most in this life...

I felt nauseous as she told me I should take the bag of belongings

to the opposite room where my mother lay to say my last goodbyes.

I obeyed with zombie feet not knowing who or what I would find –

I could not even comprehend, as she seemed so serene, as I

remembered her last touch, her warm comforting hand, and her

lingering smile. I found myself momentarily ceasing to exist,

not able to cope, so I just clutched that bag, sat down and with

a sober mind realised that this was it – this was that moment

we as human beings fear most, no matter what our color, faith,

or state of mind. Time itself seemed to stop in that very instant

as I heard myself challenging God in a desperate plea:

“Dear God, if all I believe in about your existence and Jesus and the

Apostles and the life hereafter is true, and if my mother is in this

room here with me now, let the water flow from the tap in that basin

against the wall...” and instantaneously the miracle I asked was

granted as water gushed out – for a millisecond – then stopped as

the sound reverberated in my ears. I just smiled, thanked God for

answering me, confirming me, comforting me, saving me.

To this day I cling to that heavenly revelatory miracle, knowing

I would be reunited with my loved ones, as the years that passed

also took away dear sisters, a father, uncles and aunts. So you see,

although I miss their voices and the golden moments shared, and

carry them all in my heart and soul – I thank God that I walked beyond

that spiritual cul-de-sac...

© Don Beukes

Don Beukes is a South African and British writer. He is the author of The Salamander Chronicles (CTU) and Icarus Rising -- Volume 1 (ABP), an ekphrastic collection. He taught English and Geography in both South Africa and the UK. His poetry has been anthologized in numerous collections and translated into Persian, French, and Albanian.

He was published in his first South African anthology, In Pursuit of Poetic Perfection, in 2018 (Libbo Publishers). He is also an amateur photographer, capturing nature scenes.

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