Harry was my British grandpa who arrived in Capetown to fight the Boers, only to find the war had ended during his trip. He chose not to go home.
It was in The Army (a different kind now) -The Salvation Army – that he met my grandmother. After they married, they worked tirelessly in the slums on the Cape Flats. My Nan had faith in God and life after death because of miracles she’d seen in the slums. One night she was doing a deathbed watch at the side of an old man, dying. Suddenly, she saw a tendril of wispy light withdrawing itself from his forehead, which she had been recently bathing. It slowly detached itself and wafted up, very slowly, like a smoky plume to the darkened ceiling of the little hovel. It hung there for a few moments, gathering itself together, and was gone. She was convinced she had watched the soul leaving the body – it gave her faith – for life.
I think Grandpa and Grandma learned about love and compassion by working in the slums. They spent their lives helping those less well off than themselves. God was their companion. I don’t remember Grandpa being spiritual or religious, but he must have turned a neat phrase or two as he was a popular lay preacher.
But my grandmother’s faith deepened and changed in her old age. I think she and Grandpa went on divergent paths.
My other grandparents were school chums from the Isle of Wight. Grandpa had married someone else though, and immigrated to Natal, South Africa. When his new wife died very soon after their arrival, he wrote home to grandma, his old school chum, offering her marriage and a ticket out. Surprisingly she accepted. She must have either been courageous or absolutely desperate not to be left on the shelf!