A number of years ago I wrote an article for The Natal Witness, our local newspaper in Pietermariztburg, South Africa where I lived with my family for several years. Here is an intro to the article which centres on the death, and aftermath, of our neighbour Sibongile (Gladness) Nsele, mother of 3 boys who were very close to our family.
It was a task no one if prepared for; to tell three boys that their mother has just died. It was early on a Sunday morning when Moira came knocking on our back door. "Mfundisi, Sibongile passed away last night, you must come with me and tell the boys, I can't do it alone. Those boys, they only lost their father three weeks ago."
We went to their door in the room house where they lived next door to our home in central Pietermaritzburg. All three boys, aged 10, 12 and 19, stumbled out into the hallway, just waking up from their shared blankets on the floor. I had know these boys as neighbours, as best friends of my son, and as faithful participants in church activities. As the tears crept to my eyes, I said, "Boys, there is no easy way I can say this; last night your mother died." Overwhelmed by the unfathomable future of these boys, there was nothing more I could say at that moment.
Siblongile (or Gladness, as she was also known) had worked long, hard hours as a cook in a city hotel for a number of years. Her absentee husband worked and lived in Johannesburg with a new family, and had been estranged from his wife and boys for many years. She led a life of struggle and survival that is typical of the city's underclass of working poor.
the rest of the article can be read here...