FINDING PAPA WILLIE

Whether we believe in Christmas or not, it is the time of year when we look at forgiveness, especially in our own families, or in other personal relationships that have gone sour.

Here’s a story of the relationship between my father and his father…

I didn’t know my Papa Willie at all. He split with my granny – known to us as Mama Oakes – long before I was born, and my father didn’t say a word about him, obviously blaming him for the break-up of the marriage.

Then, my brother Kevin, was hit by a car one day, and for a few weeks his life hung in the balance.

One Sunday, my Father, mother, sister Ronnie, and I were walking back to catch a bus from Groote Schuur Hospital, when an old guy on a bicycle passed us.

My father, casually, said to Ronnie and I: ‘That’s your grandfather.’

We didn’t know it at the time, but Papa Willie had heard about Kevin and had come to visit him.

My mother, who didn’t know Papa Willie either, retorted: ‘This nonsense must stop.’

It did.

And for the last few years of his life, I had my second grandfather.