Sunday 14 December 2008

An enigma of a man; really: yet his life somehow could have been said to have partly caused my return to faith

(Journey in a Broken World)

Article by Marc Aupiais

He was a socialist, not politically, but a family member said he believed in a sort of socialism: not a communist, though I have a book of his on communism. Communism is evil, and perhaps that is why he hopefully rejected it. It is fair to say that almost nothing can be surmised about the man. He was a Progressive Party (Now called the DA) politician in Welkom, during Apartheid. The Progressives believed that one's vote should be based on education, not race: they had an interesting group of ideas. He never won of course: the police sent in twins to disrupt their meetings, posters were torn down, and stomped on: the phone was tapped, and a portion of my family went on the run: the security police even tried to kill them. Another segment of this extended family had to leave the country, but these were also their own fight.

He was important to me, and still is: even as the last words I remember speaking to him were a lie. He, along with the saints, his priest, a Catholic youth leader, and many miracles are just a tiny part of my complex reversion to the Faith of my ancestors!

You see, the man: my grandfather: he was an oddity beyond odd: he believed in things like equality: and had inter-racial church meetings at home. He disliked policemen, and taught his children to distrust these. He was a doctor: and in the SADF (South African Defense Force), he was considered a man's man. He also helped with the efforts to create mine safety: much of the lives saved by regulations, even by ideas like spraying burn victims with cold water: were due to him. Still, many keep his ideas, and try to create good working conditions.

At his funeral, the National Union of Mineworkers (prior the anti-religious communism creeping into some of the unions) placed their flag on his coffin, and the Irish Regiment of the army played bagpipes to honour him. It was odd; some people seemed there out of political reasons, not to look bad. It was odd, I was at his Catholic funeral, yet I did not believe in the Catholic church, not as I do now. I called it "God's Church", yet thought it had lost the way deeply. I was wrong, but I thought that. I did not like the fact that people who we never knew were there, with high-class suites: and cellular phones.

I found it odd: the priest had been utterly sure to inform us that my grandfather obeyed the church until death: that he was in fact a Catholic. The priest also enjoyed the Catholic funeral: I did also: Catholics were a cause of mine; I even called myself one: despite what I thought!

I read his ancient bible at night: a Douay Rheims bible, thick and large: yet many of the books of his, and works of his I have: are not Catholic: he even has a pamphlet from Watchtower: from the Jehovah's Witness sect.

The first hint that Catholics had a different bible was his funeral: a relative wanted to read from the book of wisdom, another thought it a depressing passage: I had thought there was no such book: I searched my protestant bible at the time and found nothing.

At a time like this: I began to return: and started to read his odd, large, ancient bible. In the first pages were accusations of Protestant tampering with the bible: including accusations about books now in their bible. Later it would be verified: the protestants removed, and added back some of what they removed. Revelation, or Apocalypse: is not naturally the last book of the bible.

I do not know the man, I sound like Saint Peter when he sinned by denying Jesus, but I am not denying Jesus, nor anything about anyone: I am not denying my grandfather: my perfectly human, normal, yet striving grandfather, nor associating him with Jesus, that would be wrong: rather, I am being honest. I hardly knew my grandfather: I heard the stories, of this highly respected doctor, and his before his time treatments, and his wild differences with parts of society: how he got ten percent of the vote when standing in Welkom, an Afrikaner stronghold: against Apartheid.

It was not only him that changed me: much did, but he played a part, and later when I reverted more fully, his bible was eventually given into my care. It is odd, reading his pamphlets, or the books he liked: From Augustine, to Vatican II, to books on Kenedy, to things written by protestants, or Jehovah's Witness peoples. He was an odd man: entirely odd, entirely amazing.

I don't know if he is in heaven, or purgatory, or where: I know, however that his life altered mine. Yet his death all the more.

I never cried when he died, I was fine: nor later, at least for a while. I cried when one of my animals died, I cried over a girl I truly loved, over not being with her, because I loved her, I cried for my stupidity over a girl who is still alive; yet not when my grandfather died. The best advice I remember from him alive was either to not let school "educate" me, but to love nature, and be creative; or else his health advice. I could make a clicking sound, and often felt I needed it: it is in fact a manual control of pressure in my ears: I don't need to chew gum to feel safe in altering atmosphere.

An so: my Catholic grandfather had passed away, and I was there: I chatted with friends and relatives I largely did not know: some brought spouses, or girlfriends etc. I think I may have been called out of school for the funeral. I think also that I went off my strict diet: which I am on for my health: and ate things bad for me. In fact, I think that the whole funeral event was moving over me: not much, something: but not of note.

Odd then: that I had decided to attend his church allot; and still odd that his priest is my confessor, and church verified spiritual guide: whom I sometimes listen to; I listen also to my Patron, and saints, and others: especially one person, yet his priest is one of my favorites, and a human being I bounce off questions on things I cannot ask some others.

So, I don't understand my grandfather: no one did; though perhaps some had a small understanding. He was a doctor who would lie down on the grass, I think outside the hospital, and may have ridden a bike: yet he was the best in his field, and missed by many: in tropical diseases: he was a genius.

And so; not knowing him, I read what he did, and pray the rosary, he probably inherited from my great grandmother: and much else. Somehow I am intrigued by this dead grandfather: and still; it is not sadness, but interest that causes me to see what I can see about this man: this odd creature, whom I hardly knew, yet was always connected with: mystery intrigues: yet I do not expect him to be this or that, only assume some things, small things.

How much more must we not test God: by wrong predictions of what he should or should not be. He is Whom He is: and he is as predictable as love: he is love. Let us serve God as our mystery: because he is far greater than any mere man: yet with our grandfathers: we love them and seek to know whom they and ancestors were. How much more the source of all men.

Really, life is not straight forward: even so: by morality alone, and seeking truth: do we who walk and breathe: survive!

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