27 May 2017

Oom Botha

One year ago, we lost two important members of our family. …one lost we expected…the other came so suddenly that it shocked us.  And we are still struggling to find our feet and trying to learn how to live without him. On 19 May 2016 my grandmother, Ouma Trudie, passed away.

One year ago on 27 May 2016 we lost my uncle, Oom Botha.

Oom Botha was my mothers’ youngest brother.  He grew up on the family farm “Groenfontein” in the Eastern Cape.  From a young age he was interested in farming and took over the family farm.  He was very successful with his farming but it took hard work. My Uncle was married and he had three children.

Growing up we saw Oom Botha and his family regularly.  We visited the farm at least once a year.  I have so many memories from this time:
  • ·         Swimming in the cement dam and later the pool
  • ·         Riding horses while sitting with Oom Botha
  • ·         Waking up on the hard floor after Oom Botha deflated our air mattress
  • ·         Handing out the presents from under the Christmas tree
  • ·         Jumping on the trampoline
  • ·         Watching Wimbledon tennis while matches sitting in front of the fire place
  • ·         Waking to loud music playing in the house because one should get up early on a farm
  • ·         Playing table tennis
  • ·         Watching the grown-ups play canasta
  • ·         Going for drives in the field on the back of the bakkie
  • ·         Being called “Dolla” (Oom Botha’s nickname for me)
When I reached high school the visits to the farm were less often.  We still saw my uncle regularly when he visited my grandmother in Hartenbos.  Oom Botha loved swimming in the ocean.  In 2011 or 2012 or around that time my uncle decided to hand over the farming to my cousin and to travel more.  He loved camping and spent a lot of time in different national parks around South Africa and Namibia. 

While searching for photo’s for this post I realised I have very little photo’s of Oom Botha.  I then realised that even in my childhood memories I remember Oom Botha taking photos or filming us with his video camera.  He was always busy taking photos and was almost never on the photos.

More recent memories included:
  • ·         Oom Botha busy taking photos or videos
  • ·         Looking for a bargain for camping equipment/something
  •        A phone call early on the first mothers' day after my son was born 
  • ·         Learning how to use a computer after getting a digital camera
  • ·         Regular phone calls to us after my husband was diagnosed with cancer
  • ·         Spending lots of time caring for my grandmother when she got ill
  • ·         Making new friends wherever he went
On 26 May 2016 the family was gathered in Hartenbos for my grandmother's funeral.  Then on 27 May 2016 Oom Botha came to eat lunch with us at my parents’ house.  He went to say goodbye to my cousin and then he and my aunt drove home to the farm. Near Willowmore they were in a car accident.  My aunt survived the accident with only minor injuries but Oom Botha passed away at the accident scene.

Only one day after my grandmother’s funeral we lost another special person in our family.

It is strange how life works.  Earlier in the year my uncle discussed how he wanted to be buried with my cousin.  He wanted to be buried on the farm and on 3 June 2016 we drove to the farm for the funeral. 

On 4 June 2016 we said goodbye to Oom Botha with a service in the NG Kerk Tarkastad and then the burial at the farm.  His coffin was taken to the family grave yard on the back of his red bakkie “Vlam” while “Wheels” by Billy Vaughn played.  After a prayer by the minister we my mom and other uncle placed my grandmothers ashes on top of Oom Botha’s coffin. Mother and son were together again.


As my cousin and other family started to cover the coffin with the sand and one by one friends and family reluctantly walked back to the farm house.

In the cement dam on the farm in 1984 with Oom Botha hiding behind me

Oom Botha with his mom, brother and sister (my mom)

Visiting the farm in 2006

With Oom Botha at my wedding in 2012

Visiting the farm in August 2012
Oom Botha and his red bakkie "Vlam"

Behind the camera making a video at my sons Christening in 2014

We were lucky to have Oom Botha with us for his last Christmas in 2015
Unfortunately this is the only photo of him from that day

Last family photo with Oom Botha
Taken at my grandmother's funeral the day before he died.







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