She was only part of my life for a short five years, but Sarah Widman knew my pain of the past (losing both my grannies in the span of two years) and my visions for the future. It was a sunny autumn afternoon much like today when I heard someone calling from our school gate:
“May I come in?” she asked.
“Ummm… It’s a school, there are some rules.”
“I know it’s a school, silly. I have been hearing the children laughing and singing from my retirement home next door.”
I let her in, with the principal’s consent, and Sarah would keep coming for the next two years every Friday afternoon. She would read to the children or put on little puppet shows.
They called her “Gogo,” meaning granny in Zulu. This brought tears to her eyes.
“I always wanted to be a granny one day…” she said.
Sarah carried a dark secret. The loss of her husband decades ago left her scarred and afraid.
“We were robbed on our plot. He died protecting me.”
Her dreams of having children were replaced by hours of entertaining others. She found theatre as a way to deal with her grief and anxiety.
Sarah means “princess” in Hebrew. She was a princess in all my students’ hearts. She taught them to sing, dance, be confident and never be afraid to love, even when you lost it all.
Sarah, my only regret is that I had waited so long to see you again.
Your last words to me over the phone: “Have you forgotten me?”
After moving to another school with much more demands, I could not go see her every week.
“No, Sarah, I will come soon…”
The elderly often feel forgotten, cast away. After losing her sister, Sarah was not the same. She was quiet. After losing her best friend at the home, Dr Ebedes, she drifted into her own world. She also fell, breaking both her arms. She asked me to leave when I visited her then. She was too proud to allow me to see her so vulnerable.
Sarah had become my adopted grandmother. I envision her today greeting my biological grandmothers, my paternal one born in the same year as her… All three had an incredible zest for life and an incredible impact on who I am today.
I dreaded this day. I tried my best not to attach myself too much. But I couldn’t help it… Sarah was like a soft morning breeze that comes through the window, unnoticed at first, but so refreshing. She left this earth in much the same way, in her own peaceful way.
I will cherish you always, my dear friend. Shalom.
My previous post about her: