The past week of work and life aboard the yacht in West Palm Beach, Florida, has flown by in a dull haze. I’ve been distracted and inseparable with my iPhone to stay updated with news on my Grandfather, Frank. He had been frail for some time but had another stroke last weekend which was the final blow. (I keep writing ‘has’ then edit to ‘had’ *deep breath*)
My family visited him daily in his final days and described him as comfortable and peaceful. He responded to visitors with a smile when he could. His mind and soul had started to float away yet his body remained.
I was dreading the inevitable news which came with multiple beeps on my iPhone at 3.30am on Friday morning. My iPhone woke Rich, below on the bottom bunk, who woke me up to silence my phone. Instantly I knew that the beeps were the dreaded news from home in South Africa (7 hours ahead). Needless to say I didn’t sleep after that.
Yesterday was a very difficult day trying to hold the tears back and get through the work day. I used every travel app on my iPhone to find immediate flights home. I didn’t care how much they cost or how many hours the flights were. I felt guilty and selfish for not being home in Cape Town to support my Mom and Aunt who had just lost their father. Here I am working and dedicating all my time to another family while neglecting my own (I know it’s not really like that but that’s how I felt).
It is heartbreaking being on the other side of the world when someone you love passes away.
After chatting to my family on the phone while provisioning with sunglasses on in Publix, I felt a bit better. My Mom, Dad and brother were having dinner and toasting Grandpa Frank’s life. He had a really good innings (aged 93) and passed away peacefully and satisfied as all of us hope to do one day. Listening to their words soothed me and helped to close the distance of being continents apart.
My Grandfather, Frank Joubert, served as an Aircraft Technician (2 Sqn SAAF) and proudly wore his Africa Star with the 8th Army Clasp; indicating that he saw service at the Battle of El Alamein in WWII. I received an email yesterday from the MOTH (Memorable Order of Tin Hats) who are hosting his memorial service/ wake on 17 March which would have been his birthday. They wrote:
Moth Frank Joubert answered the Sunset Call earlier this morning. Frank’s Sunset Call came on what would have been the 94th birthday of his great friend, the late Moth Bert Johnson.
How apt – Gramps and Bert were best friends who met every Friday for lunch and a few toots. They were those best friends who you see depicted on greeting cards. The two elder gents were mischievous, fun and always had a good laugh. Bert passed away late last year. It softens our hearts to know that he was welcomed into heaven by Bert, my late Granny Peggy who was Gramps’ true love, their pet dog Gigi as well as his five older brothers. They must be having a good time up there on the other side of the pearly gates.
The day before I flew back to Florida, USA, at the end of January; I went to visit my Grandpa Frank. I bought him some shortbread which he loved and we chatted while sipping cups of tea. He asked me where my favourite place I had traveled to was and told me about how his late Mum had painted the illustrations framed on his walls. She had painted water colour scenes of her travels on the back of postcards – Venician waterways and Egyptian ports. I guess that’s where I get my travel bug from. 😉
When it was time to say goodbye, he gave me a hug with all the strength his frail form could muster and gave me that cheeky little smile. He didn’t want to say goodbye and we had another hug or two. I guess we both instinctively knew it was our final goodbye. I will never forget that final smile.
Rest in peace Grandpa Frank. May your beautiful, kind soul rest in peace.