I met Uncle Harry for the first time in 1995 when my husband, Neil took me to Lenasia, Johannesburg as his girlfriend and soon to be wife. The lunch that Uncle Harry and Aunty Pam arranged for us felt like it was our engagement party. I met some of Neil’s cousins for the first time, his brother Terrance, sister Chantelle and went on to meet Neil’s middle brother, Regan, and his wife, Sharmy at their home.
Uncle Harry, my Father-in-law was a man of few words. He always wore a smile. He was the biggest Liverpool fan. And most importantly, he loved cake. That was something we shared in common. Uncle Harry and Aunty Pam were present at all our special occasions. Whenever we’d make a visit to Gauteng we’d be invited to their home for family lunches. When our children were old enough to travel on their own by air, they were collected by their grandfather and taken for a few days to spend with them.
Through the years I got to learn more about Uncle Harry. He was the exact age that Neil was when he had his first child, 25. Neil and his father were soccer mad. They would call each other after a Liverpool or Spurs game to discuss the outcome. The love of their sport was a deep connection they fostered through the years. Watching movies on TV was another thing going for them. They loved nothing more than vegging in front of the TV, nodding off in a seated position, pretending to watch a movie 🙂
In January 2013, Terrance surprised Uncle Harry and Aunty Pam with tickets to visit us in Cape Town for a week. Uncle Harry woke early, showered, and waited for Neil and me to get back from our morning runs. He’d ask how far we’d run and whether we’d enjoyed it. He was always interested in what we did. He asked about my writing, curious about what I was working on. And when I spoke, he listened, truly listened, the way Neil listens to me all the time. When I’d make meals, he’d dry the dishes or help lay the table. He’d play board games with our children, a highlight of their time together.
Uncle Harry was a religious man. He was a humble man. He did not show he was religious nor did he prove he was humble. He just was. You could see it in his character, in his quietness, in the things he didn’t say, in his kindness, in his goodness. I never saw him angry, I never heard him speak badly about anyone. He had an ocean of patience and a heart of utter goodness.
They say each person should leave behind a legacy for the next generation. Uncle Harry left behind his legacy in the form of his beautiful children. When I look at Neil I see Uncle Harry. When I speak to Warren I hear Uncle Harry. When I am with Regan I feel Uncle Harry’s warmth and goodness. When I see Terrance smiling, I know that’s Uncle Harry smiling too. And all that bubbliness in Chantelle, Uncle Harry has a lot to do with it.
I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to you Uncle Harry. I shall miss our calls, and all our talks. I would’ve liked to have given you one last hug. Until we meet again… Neil loves you, I love you, our children love you. We shall always miss you.