Henri Kruger lived from 1938 to 2006. He was my grandfather and the day that he died I immediately knew that I had lost the only other like me and I immediately regretted the time we never spent together.
There is a careful balance between being strong and being strict that he had mastered. When it turned out that my own father, his own son, was not worthy of the name, he did not attempt to make any excuses. He was strong. He stood by me, acknowledged his son’s faults, and comforted me, praising me for having stood up against what were very real abuses. And when we were under his care and we transgressed, he would reprimand us, not physically, but by means of a concise explanation of what we had done wrong, and why it was wrong.
In a time and culture where questioning was discouraged and frowned upon, he read books that his friends described as “dangerous”. He had a thirst for knowledge and he was not ashamed of it. My own curiosity and thirst for knowledge was nurtured by him and the example he had set. Thus, today, everything that I am proud of being, I can link directly to him. And yet it feels like I never really knew him. Even in my desire to create things with my own hands I feel a link to him, as that was his passion.
In my tendency to be considerate and long-suffering I know it is the best part of him living on inside of me, even though such characteristics are regarded by some as a weakness, I am proud of it.
Maybe I could have made a greater effort to spend more time with him, but I still would have been left with the same feeling of regret and time lost, because with individuals like that you can never give enough of your time to soaking up their experience.