1995

I received a phone call in the late afternoon just as the sun cut through the big grey gum trees. Someone I didn’t not know said he knew me. He said he was called in at Thomas’s house in Johannesburg. He said Thomas was running through the traffic and was nearly run over. He said someone was trying to shoot him. He was cowering at that moment in the bushes in the neighbour’s garden. He put him onto his cell phone and I spoke to him.

“What’s going on Thom?” I asked

“Meg, someone was in the ceiling and he tried to shoot me. He’s gone now. He will come back for me”.

The unknown man said he was a doctor and could give him something to calm him down. I asked him to put Thomas on the next bus to Ixopo, to come and stay with me for a while.

10 hours later he shuffled in. He walked to the windows and closed them, and leant across the couch looking up to the fence, looking exhausted and weary.

“Is the alarm working?” “Can you hear that?”…All I could hear was the distant barking of dogs, He hears a woman screaming.

His tall frame was clothed in a large coat wrapped around him. Coarse voice passing through rusty cello strings. “Meg, please, is this radio working?” (Farmers band) . “Please check” – Moving stealthily along hugging the walls. Acute angle glances across windows.

Ironically our small ‘coloured’ neighbour of nine years ran into the lounge “There are men coming along the railway lines with balaclavas” – “My dad said I must tell you.” He scampered back through the fence.

The terrors of transition South Africa – farm attacks. Out my armed husband goes to check, but he does not see anything.

Thom cannot sit long in a chair. Never in the centre of the room, always hugging the walls, hugging his coat, hugging the house – A strangling death hug – fatal.

My home schooled, connected family man the entrances. They see and understand with their incredible loving sight.  This man is in distress, he is not in touch with reality right now. Sam, of infinite wealth and wisdom, gives up his room, again. Love like warm honey.

I fasted and prayed for three days. Deep in an interchange with the Almighty, listening. “What can you tell me?” Give me the keys to this person stuck on replay. Schizophrenia. Bipolar.

I talk to his psychiatrist; she says he must go into an institution for the rest of his life.

Not on your life. “Give me three months“I say, I beg. I am sure he has been sent to me. What he reveals, he can heal. “Okay” she says.

It is my mother’s birthday. We gather around my huge table in the hallway central room. Everyone dresses up. We ache for her to feel the love. The table is decorated in glittering candles and shinning glaze.

Thomas is being unmanageable. He is sure the demon is about to burst in. I call in Joe. Joe is a fundamentalist from a Zulu mission church. He comes immediately, in his Germanly ironed spotless jacket and tie. His white hair forms constant waves across his head like a synthetic hair piece. He sprints up the stairs. He is a David coming to tackle Goliath. He takes off his jacket and folds it inside out and places it on the couch next to him.

“Hello” he says undramaticised.  “Hello Thomas. Come and sit here please.” Peace descends and occupies the room.

“Thank you Meg” he says. I am dismissed. Goliath feels like he is occupying three chars. He huffs and puffs. He warms. He apologises. He is humiliated. He is wretched, but he must be vigilant!

“Thank you Lord for this your son. We know we have nothing to bring, nothing to claim. Your word says we may bring you our needs and we request that Florence may have a good evening tonight. We ask for your peace. We ask that all darkness be banished to where it belongs.”

Palpable peace fills the space. It feels as if it moves right to the openings of the room and seals them.

Joes` eyes twinkle. All knowing, he shakes my hand. His hand is strong, rough, farmish, very firm, very sure, very authoritative.

“He must come to the mission”, he says.

“As soon as possible, for prayer, tomorrow.”

The party is lovely. Speeches are made. The children sing to Granny. They scurry in and out with pots of sensuous dishes, glossy pudding, Pomegranate ruby sparkling glasses. Granny laughs and smiles. She adores the kids.

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