I stayed in the car while she put wild flowers on her grandmother’s grave. It wasn’t a planned visit. We were on our way to breathe fresh air in the hills on a blue sky Saturday, to escape the mad bustle of the city, the claustrophobia. It was unseasonably warm, despite the storybook snow-capped peaks in the distance. She had told me stories of her grandmother in the car, love-laden, childhood reminiscing, perfect for an open-skied, back route road trip.
It was an unknown experience for me. Not the graveyard, but visiting someone I ‘know’ in a graveyard. My mother is a social anthropologist and is fascinated by graveyards so I spent hours as a child trailing around behind my parents in any graveyard we happened to pass by. My family, however, are of the cremation variety.
It was a typical small town South African graveyard (I am, due to the above-mentioned fascination of my mother, a well-seasoned graveyard connoisseur, for lack of a better word), slightly dilapidated, a mix of small, simple headstones and huge granite monoliths, all with heart-wrenching inscriptions. I watched her walk slowly between the graves to her grandmother’s and lay the wild flowers on it. I was taken aback by my rush of emotion watching her bend down at the grave. And then I just felt privileged. To have been allowed to be there.
Sometimes it’s the tiny transluscent moments that make one step back and look properly.