Farewell to my wingman

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Written By Maya Cantina
It was on a sunny day of summer around the pool that I knew the end was near. There was music and laughter and children running at play; biltong on the table; and a twisted boerewors cable making delicious smoke on the braai. But my younger brother’s cough would not go away and I knew a lifetime of smoking had caught up with him. ALSO READ: What holds key to the future Benadè lasted another 1½ years and died from lung cancer on 9 December, aged 62 – far too early for one who enjoyed his work, beautiful women, fast…

It was on a sunny day of summer around the pool that I knew the end was near.

There was music and laughter and children running at play; biltong on the table; and a twisted boerewors cable making delicious smoke on the braai.

But my younger brother’s cough would not go away and I knew a lifetime of smoking had caught up with him.

ALSO READ: What holds key to the future

Benadè lasted another 1½ years and died from lung cancer on 9 December, aged 62 – far too early for one who enjoyed his work, beautiful women, fast cars and an assortment of braai spots in a lush garden.

He loved his family and Ferrari, not always equally or at the same time, although Ferrari sometimes let him down.

Benadè was a mining man. He started underground and worked hard to rise, right to the end of his valiant fight with cancer. And he was our family joker.

We lost our father as boys and had to learn together how to be men – but he kept his sense of humour.

When our mother cancelled the family holiday because Benadè had not mowed the lawn, he did it that night in the rain, wearing a raincoat.

When he lingered too long over a few beers one night while on leave as a first lieutenant in the Air Force and realised he wouldn’t return on time to his base, he clocked 180km/h in an 80km/h zone.

He laughed heartily at the ease with which he left the traffic police behind – until he was caught in a roadblock.

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But the magistrate did not share his sense of humour and sentenced him to two years in prison, or R2 000 – and Mom deliberately waited until an hour before he had to start his sentence before paying the fine.

As a little boy, he once rescued me from a bully, with the help of a handy cricket bat.

Years later he did the same against a karateka threatening me at university. At 1.93m and over 100kg, he was an intimidating opponent.

I returned the favour by helping him out on occasion, including with a Kroonstad lawyer following a spectacular street fight.

Today Benadè might be diagnosed with ADHD, but his own cure was to be busy.

He designed and built his own beach buggy; single-handedly built a beautiful home in Honeydew; and transformed a dilapidated Bethulie home into a holiday Eden.

My brother is now beyond jokes, regret and sorrow. But we have our memories of him – and our love. You will be missed, brother…

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