Friday, July 25, 2008

Angels on earth

Ah, how quickly a week dissolves. I stick up a picture on this here blog hoping that’s enough. Zambian Shop Art. I love those pics.

Its been a week of life. Of death.

We lost dear Jo-Jo. Just when we thought the battle was won. She died waaay too young - she was only bloody 30 - but was one of those distilled, concentrated people. You know what I mean? Like VERY nice, and VERY bubbly, and VERY positive and VERY beautiful and VERY, well, just fabulous. I did not make it to the ‘celebration of her life’ in the UK but I hear a friend of hers there said that ‘Life is all about quality and not quantity’. Aint that a fact.

When someone like that dies it almost makes sense, you know? Like yes, you came here, you touched our lives, you were almost too good to be true. Those angles up there missed you and wanted you back. I know people always say this sort of thing when someone dies; say all the positives but in this case its really true. This chick was special. Chin chin my dear, chin chin.

I wanted to put a picture of her up here. To celebrate her, the gorgeous gal. But I don't think its my place to do so.

And now facebook? What do I with her on Facebook?

But its also been a week of laughing. Of joy. Of life. Of best friends and chuckling children. Of food and teaching and reading and learning. Of enjoying and breathing and LAUGHING. We must appreciate these things. Oh yes we must.


This week I also wrote about my grandfather who, too, touched people’s lives like nothing else. Another one of those angels-on-earth. It was his birthday and I wrote a story about him. To him. But didn’t post it. I’m not sure why. Ha! I mean post it on the blog, not post it in the mail to the Afterlife. Heh heh. Maybe I will post it (you know what I mean). I want the world to know him. Yes, bugger it here it is. We called him Bonkar (a mixture of grandpa and bwana Carr, I think. One of those names that children make that stick)

Happy birthday Bonkar. I hope you are enjoying life on The Other Side. What’s it like there? I’ve only glimpsed it once when Quentin called me that time in my dream. It looks pretty cool. Do you see Johnny ever? Oh and thanks for sending mom back when she died on the operating table. She said it was an amazing feeling An “Oooh, I seeee, I get it” kind of feeling. That it was such a relief. She said she saw you and you stepped out of the light and told her to go back, she wasn’t finished. I wanted to thank you for that.

I still really really miss you – we all do - but am enjoying life very much so am happy to wait a while longer until I see you.

You made such an impact here. You are still talked about. Everywhere I go in Zambia “Oh, you’re Norman CARR’S granddaughter? Ay he was a great man. You are lucky to have known such a man. I remember……” Everyone has a story to tell. A good, happy, positive story about you. Of course people remember you because of the lions. But they also remember and talk about the contributions you made to conservation, safaris and the people of Zambia.

My memories of you are somewhat less grand but very funny. Like you sitting in your little wooden house, COVERED in insects, with plastic bags tied around your feet, instead of wellies. You were not a man for luxuries.
That time the hippo chased you and you ran, LAUGHING, and leapt over the wall. Sprightly for 70!
Teaching me how to cut bread straight
Your whisky and soda’s in the evening.
Your wicked sense of humour. You hung on until April Fools Day to die. Was that on purpose? Your second favourite joke (after the cats eyes) How does the Eskimo steal the polar bear’s food? Kick him in the ice hole.
Your new-word-a-day for us kids
Your “what’s that bird call?” “what’s that track”

I don’t get a chance to go and clean your plaque (you know, on your grave, not your teeth!) so often now that I live in Tanzania but the elephants still go past there every evening and when I do go I always see bushbuck and banded mongoose scurrying through the leaves. And the baboons, of course.

Oh and I saw an old Kakuli at Lupunga Spur when M proposed. Was that you? And the rainbow? You’d approve of M. He’s your kinda guy. No nonsense. He also carries a notebook in his pocket, like you told us to. He’s good to me. Kind.

Tam wrote about you today too. A lovely post. You should go check it out

And you know this, coz you wrote it in one of your books – its what Tam read at your memorial. But this one is for you. For Jo-Jo. And for Johnny.

I have sat in the shade of a magnificent evergreen trichelia on the banks of the Luangwa River and watched the impala come down to drink, materialising from the shadows one by one on the fasr bank as though by spontaneous creation; I have watched a skein of sacred ibis, in perfect arrow formation, flying down a river which the setting sun has turned to a shimmer of molten gold; I have seen a magnificent kudu bull on an anthill, silhouetted against a dawn sky; I have smelt the fragrant scent of the wild shrubs at sundown, when the world hesitates before handing over to the lords of darkness; I have lived with the night noises – the eerie plaintive call of the hyena, crying with the pathos of a lost soul in purgatory, and the music of the King of Beasts proclaiming his undisputed rule over his domain; I have seen a pure white impala.

All these and many more idyllic memories return to me and I cannot help but contrast them with the turmoil of Regent Street in the rush hour.

I know I have no regrets.


Ernest de Cugnac said...

Looke NC up on Google - he has an entry in Wikipedia. Not bad! I presume that's him in the pictures with the lions? Wonderful shots. Obviously a great guy. Not surprised you remember him fondly.

PS sorry about your friend.

lorix5 said...

Bless your friend Jo-Jo,your Bonkar and you. This was truly lovely.

Ernest de Cugnac said...

Actually that's "looked up". Why don't I proof read before I hit the bleeding button???

Chimera said...

I am so sorry about your freind Jo. A close death makes one unsteady on ones feet sometimes. Your blog was lovely, meloncholy and hopeful and just lovely,
Wonderful photos too.
You take care love,
Tanvi x

Miranda said...

Ernest - yes NC was an amazing fellow! Those pics are of him. Some background for you - Janelle's dad and my grandfather were business partners of the old gentleman's handshake variety so we all go waaay back.

Lori - thanks for the kind words

Tanvi - thanks to you too! I know you know what this is like. I'm glad you're back - we missed you!

Caroline said...

One of my very earliest memories is of watching a film about your grandfather on a clackety old projector, had to change the reels etc,in some hall. I met him at last in the Luangwa at some gathering at the Pope's when I was in my 20's but was very tonguetied: being a gentleman he put me at ease by complimenting me on the fringe on my linen shirt. Sigh. None of his ilk now, more's the pity.

Dumdad said...

What a fabulous blogpost this is. Sad because of your friend's all-too-early death but full of life and hope as well.

Your grandfather sounds like a great man.

Lovely pix: I've just shown them to my daughter; she LOVES animals.

Janelle said...

oh ok. you did it....schniff schniff schniff....snail trails and everything.

so beautiful mo. so beautiful.

you skinned the writing, girl...

love love LOVE you

Caroline said...

just read it for second time this weekend and made me all tearful. again. Lovely and sad.

Miranda said...

Hi Caroline! Thanks for the visit and comment. Yeas, Norman was good at making people feel at ease. Glad you have fond memories of him....

Dumdad, thanks! Glad Princess P liked the pics!

J, thanks dolla. Haha.

Caroline, again, thanks!

Nik's Blog said...

So sorry to hear about your friend. Very sad.

But what a marvellous post. A real gem.