Reader’s letter: When your children leave you behind


Wendy Smith writes:

Following the article by dr. Sulette Ferreira on “those who are left behind”.

Everything is indeed as it was described. I agree.

People always look with relief at those who are “left behind” and say things like “it’s so much better, because there is no hope in the country, it’s better for your children”.

Every time I hear it, a fire rises in me that wants to engulf the words. Because I still live in this country, I believe there is hope, I believe if more people stay, it will get better. If we could stand together like every ancestor or warrior or whatever, our culture and our language would not die.

I believe in the power of families. It is precisely the very tactic used in wars to force a country to its knees – destroy the family. And that’s exactly what emigration does. It destroys families, it steals the stories that grandmothers and grandfathers could tell their grandchildren. It deprives parents and grandparents of the divine privilege of being able to share in human lives that they helped shape.

It is horrifying to me to know, one day when the person who taught you how to walk and talk, when they are vulnerable old, that someone else will move them back and forth like a mannequin. And just one day will call (or leave a message depending on the time zone) to ask who is arranging the funeral.

I will forever refuse to accept that this is good for anyone. And I will forever wonder which stranger will take me to my final resting place and if someone would at least make sure that what was valuable to me was not thrown in the garbage truck. I would, and I think everyone left behind, would just like a little dignity.

When children leave you behind, you always wonder about your value, your own humanity that was not enough to teach them how important family really is.

And I’m mad at everyone who says it’s better, because it’s not.