I have been thinking of you so much lately Kev. The thought of “the anniversary of your death” rolling around in a few weeks fills me with absolute dread. Its a funny thing: I usually balk at people taking it upon themselves to commemorate awful occurrences; constantly bringing up all the old hurt and feelings of grief. But then again, the healing process is a very personal one, and who am I do judge another person’s methods of closure?
I am still spinning at the realisation that just under a year ago I became an only child. The how and the why don’t really matter. What matters, is that at the end you were loved, Kev. A piece of me died along with you that day. The piece that is made up of the careless days we wasted away together, drinking half-litre cokes and eating salt and vinegar chips while playing endless hours of “Asteroids” at the Greek cafe on the corner of our street. Chewing chappies till our jaws ached, and blowing enormous bubbles. Sitting around talking absolute rubbish and laughing till we cried. The thousands of memories that defined our lives as siblings, as best friends growing up. I still cannot believe that you are actually gone, I still hope that my phone will ping with some nonsense message or joke from you. I still check your Facebook page to see if you’ve posted any new rubbish. How sad: life for you just stopped, while everything around us just carries on.
You left an impact on so many people’s lives. Saying goodbye was so hard, and it will still seem unreal for a long time to come. Maybe even forever. I could not even properly mourn the death of our father just 11 days after you died, siblings are supposed to rummage through the deceased’s stuff and reminisce about their childhood aren’t they? I cannot bring myself to go thru any of dad’s stuff, even now, almost a year down the line. It’s still too hard.
So, this post is my way of commemorating the most awful of anniversaries. The anniversary that I can’t (and don’t really want to) comprehend. (Even though I don’t really buy into the whole “commemorating bad events” thing.)
These are the words that I spoke at your memorial:
KEVIN ROBERT JONAS 24 April 1970 – 18 March 2018
Kevin was my first friend. The lucky recipient of a brand new baby to play with at the ripe age of three and a half. I am told that it was love at first sight, and that he took his roll of big brother very seriously. He used to love helping mom with “his baby” and apparently took great delight in covering me with way too much baby powder.
And I simply adored him from the moment I laid eyes on him.
One of my Earliest memories of Kevin, is when as young children we still shared a room, and every night he told me another installment of the “one day while I was swinging on the lights” stories, which usually started off by crashing through the bedroom window and embarking on some fantastical journey. He would take us on wild, hilarious adventures in our imaginations. Our stories were usually cut short when dad came in to tell us to be quiet based on the laughter coming from our bedroom.
We formed part of the “26 Bruce street” gang, in the block of flats that we grew up in, where we were constantly playing in the courtyard downstairs, or in the street, riding bikes, roller skating and generally raising havoc. There were close to 20 of us, kids of similar ages, and the noise that emanated from us could rival a nightclub. Kevin and I did everything together. We used to walk to the Hillbrow swimming pool on hot days, and explore the storm water drains in the Pieter Roos park on cold ones. We would play tennis on the pavement, and throw paper planes out of our parents’ bedroom window onto the street below.
We always had each other’s back.
Kevin loved to play practical jokes as a kid. I would often come into my bedroom to find my Barbie dolls stripped naked and placed in provocative positions. Or have a peanut butter laden piece of bread slammed into my face as he exited the kitchen. One of his more revolting pastimes, was called “catch the egg”, which involved screaming “catch the egg” while hurtling an egg towards my bedroom door. It never ended with me actually catching the actual egg, and I was always left to clean up the mess. And let’s not forget every teenage girls nightmare, coming home to a lounge filled with teenage boys watching some dodgy German porn that Kevin had acquired by picking the lock of my dad’s video cabinet.
Kevin was very creative, and he expressed this in both sketches and writing. He also used to love building cities out of grey plasticine, and painstakingly constructed tiny buildings, houses and motorways out of small strips of clay. They really were quite something to behold. The fact that he would then declare war on these cities and destroy them with little bombs made out of lion matches and sulphur purchased from the chemist is besides the point. Another of his favorite pastimes was making small tokoloshes out of latex, a glass bottle and a cloth “cloak” and scaring the bejesus out of our long suffering housekeeper.
Music was always a backdrop to Kevin’s life. He looked like something straight out of a Duran Duran video in the early 80s, including the peroxided coif and mullet. His teenage bedroom was wallpapered with Iron Maiden posters; wherever you looked, Eddie stared back at you with a macabre smile. Kevin taught me to love Metallica, Megadeth, Queensryche, Rammstein and Van Halen, among others. In the later years, out of school and able to grow his hair past his shoulders, he was the quintessential metal head. He wore ripped jeans and a black trench coat and thought he was super cool. But he actually loved any music. Okay, not Kylie Minogue or anything but you get the drift. My father used to make video tapes for us with music videos recorded from TV programs such as “pop shop” and “hot hits”, and they were Kevin’s most precious possessions.
Kevin once created a fictional rock band, called “Trouble in the chains” and even created a gold record for the band by spraying an old LP with gold lacquer. It hung on his bedroom wall for many years. He even wrote a collection of songs for the album.
Kevin adored poetry, both reading it and writing it. He wrote thousands of limericks. He had a particular love for the macabre romanticism of Edgar Allen Poe. One of his favourite pieces was “The Raven”.
When Kevin learned to drive, he acquired my mom’s old beige golf, and used to drive it like a bat out of hell down Louis Botha avenue, with some or other thrash metal blaring out of the radio as a standard. He taught me to drive in that old jalopy, and made me inch up hills in reverse gear to help me learn clutch control. Years later, when we both worked for Edcon, we went hurtling along Rivonia road in separate company cars and we ended up having a bumper bashing. We both got out the car and said “are you okay?” at the same time and then burst out laughing. If I remember correctly we were on our way to meet Nathan for a drink, so we promptly got back in our cars and carried on. And then blamed Nathan for the accident. It was, um, interesting explaining the damage of two company vehicles to our managers on Monday morning.
After Kevin moved to Cape Town, he would often come and stay with me in my townhouse in Sunninghill, and my house would acquire what my housemate and I referred to as a “Kevin smell” which was pretty much garlic and beer, given his love of garlic smothered food and black label.
Kevin loved animals, and he was responsible for bringing home both our first cat and dog. The white cat he named “Kitty”, was a gift from a girlfriend at the time, and then later he got the German Shepherd he named “Tequila”, who became my dog when he moved to Cape Town. He loved his huskies Neo and Kira, and often sent me selfies of him and his “fluffies”.
Kev loved his friends. He loved to socialize. And his friends loved him for his bizarre sense of humor, his morbid jokes and his inappropriate comments. Kevin didn’t really sugar coat his opinions, and as a result often got involved in many heated debates. So many of his childhood friends, that he has kept in touch with, in some cases for over 40 years, have reached out to me to express their sadness at his passing. If Kev was your friend, he was a friend for life.
He loved horror movies. The more blood and gore the better. Once again illustrating his warped sense of humor. But then again, and he’s probably going to be furious at me for saying this, he also loved Mary Poppins.
Kerin, you were the apple of his eye. He loved you with all his heart, and I know he will always be with you.
Watching my own children grow up reminds me so much of the wonderful bond that Kevin and I had growing up and I’m going to miss him like crazy.
I will leave you with these words from “the Raven”
“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”