by Zuanne Joubert
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I had to admit, he looked good! 6ft 4, proverbial tall, dark and handsome. Black jeans, tight fit, the red sport jacket, narrow at the waste, a symbol of aggression, sexuality and passion.
Communicating the essence of youth he swung his one long leg over the bike. He loved to ride, it gave him the feeling of freedom he so enjoyed. He does not make my heart beat fast like he did back then, life was an endless guessing game with him, and I did not enjoy playing it. Yet I noticed that he was handsome, still strongly resembled James Dean, from the full lips, to the smoldering eyes, even the damn cigarette, and bike helmet. A true “Rebel without a cause”, and icon of the rebel image.
There is a scene in the beginning of Rebel Without a Cause, James Dean cries in grief and fear at his bickering parents, "Stop it! You are tearing me apart!" An emotionally chilling childhood turned him into a creative soul curdled by parental neglect.
Astounding similarities in back ground, some minor changes. Estranged from his abusive father, living with his mother his moral and ethical moorings had become dislodged. She lived a hard life, which she considered “good”, had many lovers and drunken nights at bars with her sons. His mother passed away aged 52 after she became very ill. She never understood her 4th born child very well or had anything good to say about him, yet she loved him and he loved her.
He had many dreams, and the quote by James Dean certainly applied to him: “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today” He died today - killed himself . Maybe ‘killed himself’ is not the right expression, but riding a bike when you drunk is suicide afterall.
Thirty Two years old…. almost. That’s if he waited six more weeks to mount his bike under the influence of one more bottle of Brandy. Another quote from James Dean: "The gratification comes in the doing, not in the results." He lived like he died – fast.
An utter bullshit life. “A life worth living for” he said, but was it worth dying for? Alcohol, drugs, parties and woman. He loved them all. Being the centre of attraction, depending upon others for reinforcement of his self-image was the only way he could rid himself from insecurities. He had unique qualities and the amazing capacity to learn new things in an instant, he absorbed information like a sponge, and held it captive in his mind. Because of this ability he could hold a good conversation on many wide-ranging subjects, was surprisingly knowledgeable for one who never really held down any particular job for longer than a few months at a time.
Occupied with his own attributes, he knew what effect he had on woman. He could seduce a granny if he wanted too, make her believe she’s the one for him. Some one wrote this about James Dean: “Dean had an ego. He knew what he wanted and how to get it. Dean was a user. I don't think he was homosexual. But if he could get something by performing an act....” the same applied here. Many fell for his charm, a survival skill he used for money, position or some other gain, like a car or a place to live. "The Immoralist." - “but beneath that pose was a sad and terrified boy frightened of his emotions and the world around him, of who he is and who he might become.”
Not once did he try to convince me to take him back once I married again. Infact he became very good friends with my new husband. Maybe it was the booze, maybe the similarities in their personalities and childhood past. They had amazing instant rapport with one another and as a result became friends immediately. They talked for hours, staring at the fish tank, watching the little fish swimming round and round, the same way their conversation was going, hour after hour, while they got drunker and drunker.
They had fun together, telling jokes, waking up the peaceful neighborhood, when they got home late night, splashing in the pool in the midnight hour, and visiting illicit places. I hated their togetherness. It left me lonely.
Also did he not marry again after our divorce. Yet he had a woman I’m sure he adored, but did not treat very well. A restless traveler, he was never home. Living here and there, and everywhere, they had very little time together. It seems that every time they were together, they made memories come alive. In a space of 5 years, she gave life to 3 little ones. The eldest is 4, the middle one looks just like him, and the only girl… well, she’ll one day be able to tell all who wants to know that she lost her real Dad at the tender age of 3 months.
You should never say bad things about the dead. This is not about bad mouthing him, this is about what he could have been if he had put his energy into the right things. He had such potential for success, and now it will be buried with him in a coffin. He was the one person, I thought, that would turn from the devil and love God with all his heart, with the very same passion he had for the wrong things in life. What a testimony that could have been!
Last week, while listening to a gospel song, he was so, so sad. Highly emotional, he was like this, he had widely varying moods. Encouraged by a friend to go to church, he said that he was “wrestling with God”, not yet ready to give in or give over. “Why did he ignore the calling of God?”
During this week he had been to visit us all, alienated family members, ex-girl friends and other friends he had mistreated. Having just come back from Cape Town after spending a year there, we thought nothing of it, believed it was for the children’s sake. We all hoped he would finally settle, get to know his children, get his life right with God.
Satan cuts no deals. If he knew would he have listened? His death left a sad emptiness. Not because he died, but because I was unable to convince him to change his life, to live for God. I failed.
“God, did he have the time, to call Your name? He was the devil himself here on earth, but he had a hell of a childhood, and a sorrowful life. Could a little boy know how to love a Father when the pictures in his mind of fatherly love is distorted like the splinters of a badly broken mirror? Is it too late? May I beg Your mercy, please consider taking him in, and loving him like a Father. You are our Savior, the only hope, My God, forgive him!”
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