Thursday, June 25, 2009

Oupa Goewies

His name was Hubertus van Goeverden. To me, and many others he was simply Oupa Goewies. He passed away almost a month ago after surgery. Oupa Goewies was a fireman, and proud of it. I remember as a small boy being put on the fire-engine and my Oupa would arrange a courteous sounding of the sirens. On Wednesdays they used to spray foam in the ambulance parking lot - a fantastic place to play hide-and-seek.

My favourite time was spent boxing with my Oupa in the quadrangle. If more people were like Oupa Goewies, we would not have a tenth of the world's problems. Did he love God? Yes. He loved God too much to belong to a church. It sounds strange, but you would understand if you knew him. A humble man, filled with love, but having no time for lying, cheating, laziness or hypocrisy. The depth of his faith and the level of his reasoning would certainly entertain great minds such as Barth and Bonhoeffer.

As news reached me of Oupa Goewies' passing, one thing struck me. There was still noise coming from the highway near our house. Horns were blaring, traffic was moving, people carried on with their lives. One of the greatest men that I have ever know had just passed away, but the world carried on as if nothing happened. What a pity.

So are all our lives, I suppose. We are all but dust. The things we regard as important are not always so. Working 18 hour days won't help the world to remember you. What do people remember? Things like sitting on top of a fire-engine, sparring in the quad, playing hide-and-seek in foam, taking walks in the park, helping to fix a flat bicycle tyre, nursing a wound, wiping a tear, celebrating life, taking time to listen.

I hope I can be even half the man to my boys as my Oupa was to me.

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