The Lotriet household has not been a pleasant place this week. My wife lost her grandfather on Monday and it breaks my heart to see her in so much pain.
Yes, she realises that it was a great privilege to have her grandfather for almost 40 years. She knew he was old and expected it to happen sooner rather than later. And she knew he was in a constant battle with his health, but nothing can prepare anyone for such a devastating loss.
I can’t fault her for placing her grandfather on a pedestal. When I met him eight years ago, he was well dressed in a jacket and tie, he had a perfectly clipped moustache and his shoes shined like two mirrors.
But it was only when I looked into his eyes that I realised the elderly man in front of me was a true gentleman.
Anyone can dress well, but integrity and honour come from within. And this man had loads of it in him. He devoted his life to a superior standard of values, morality and conduct and it was impossible for anyone who knew him to not acknowledge it.
“Do you want to see what I wrote for him in his funeral programme?” she asked.
“Read it to me,” I said.
She read her words while tears streamed down her cheeks.
“Do you remember that day when I, as a small girl, was lying on your bed and we were talking,” she wrote. ‘Listen to what I have to tell you today,’ you told me.
“‘I love all people. You have to love all people. There is no other way to lead your life,’ you said.”
He spent his last days in a bed in our local hospital, exactly 19 paces from the door of the maternity ward where little Egg was born more than four years ago.
Birth and death are normal parts of life, but that knowledge doesn’t soften the blow. Death remains the cruellest reminder that our existence is temporarily.
I realise virtue and respectability have become a curiosity. But I have embraced them. I want to live honourably, just like my wife’s grandfather did.
Life is filled with hate. I will, in my remaining days, refuse to be part of it. Because, as a true gentleman once said, there is no other way to live life than with love.