About 3 years ago DH, against all family rules, took in a man from the street and gave him a job as a gardener.
He said he 'just had a feeling about this guy' and with that I had to be satisfied.
The feeling turned out to be right on the money
And Manuel became a Saturday regular, arriving bang on time, rain or shine: beaming with bounding joy, skinny as a rake, but full of energy.
A Malawian, he understood no English or Afrikaans at first; is only a little better now.
But DH and he have found a way to communicate and there is a real affection between them.
Manuel had no work, family or friends here when he arrived.
And yet, somehow, found a way to survive.
The sheer guts of the guy, and the cheery way he dealt with the difficulty of his life left me breathless with admiration.
Later he got a job as a dishwasher in an upmarket restaurant at the Waterfront, working nights in addition to his Saturday job with us.
Over time he managed to put together a home with a tv and the necessities of life.
At this point he told us, almost hopping with excitement, that he was bringing his wife from Malawi to join him.
He brought her to meet us. She was tiny, looking like a child. And knew no English at all.
I remember feeling so sorry for her, wondering how she would fare amongst the community where they lived.
I blogged about her a couple of years ago
Because she died suddenly
We were shattered.
She went to the clinic on the Friday, not feeling well.
They looked at her and told her to come back on the Monday.
She died over the weekend; young, away from home and all things familiar.
I know he would have been devastated but in the brave African way, he never spoke of it.
But suffered a double loss because his little daughter, aged 8, had to go back to Malawi when she lost her mother.
He brought her here to say goodbye.
Sad eyed little person, not saying a word.
We gave her a doll, wishing we could give her her world back.
Why all this today, you may be wondering?
Well, my heart is like a stone because it looks as though its all going to happen again.
This time, to him.
You may have noticed a mixture of tenses earlier in the post?
Thats because, although Manuel is alive, he feels 'gone' to us.
He is suddenly, a very ill man: he has been to the clinic and they told him he should go home.
That, to us, - and, I think - to him, says it all.
He came this morning to say goodbye, accompanied by his young son and his brother.
Two weeks ago, he was his normal smiling self
Today, he could hardly walk, thin thin thin -
But he came all the way from Gugulethu to say goodbye.
I think he knows that he is a dying man, but smiled bravely as we wished him well.
And he left quietly, uncomplaining - a gentleman to the end.
We are both sad beyond what we could have expected.
You find quality people in the most unlikely places, don't you?
I can't help wondering what Manuel might have contributed to society if the world were not such a graunched up place.
Who he might have become . . .
As it is, he stands, to us anyway, as an example in many ways. We feel richer for having known him.
"Walk softly, faithful servant -