For Catherine, it was the most ironic thing for anyone to ever comprehend. The pistol - that saved many prisoners of war - would ultimately land up being the instrument that would kill her husband in the end. When the telegram arrived from Constable Smith, she fell to the floor, crying hysterically.
Philip was alive this whole time, sending threatening notes. Her husband was shot and killed at the hands of his best friend, then turned the gun on himself and died immediately. Constable Smith stated that Herbert first fell into a coma, only to die a few hours later in hospital. She had sent Susan a telegram to her parent’s residence in Beaufort West. She never received a reply.
Many people attended the funeral, for Herbert was much loved by everyone he came across and befriended. Catherine knew he never wanted to go to war, for he was not the fighting type. But honour demanded it and she blamed the world for her sorrow. Not Hitler. Not Mussolini. She blamed the whole world for their greed and spite.
She did not attend Philip’s funeral, which took place two days before Herbert’s. She had learned later on that Susan had taken on a lover during the time their husbands were fighting in Italy and had a child out of wedlock; a very scandalous affair in society, so she decided to stay out of the eyes of the public, but Catherine knew in her heart Susan didn’t care anymore and wanted nothing to do that had ties to Philip. James was sent to a boarding school in the Eastern Cape and rarely came home. He grew up and became a plumber, but never married nor bore much love for his mother.
Amanda grew up and became a beautiful and strong-willed young lady, who was courted by many suitors. Had Herbert lived, the men who wished to marry his daughter would have had a hard time winning his approval, Catherine thought sadly.
Adrian became a successful architect when he finished school and helped greatly with the development of many building projects. Since his father’s death, he never thought again of becoming a soldier. As he grew older, he realised that being a hero wasn’t an easy path and when he was old enough to understand what his father went through, he realised those were pretty big shoes to fill. He decided to rather help build the world, not tear it down.
Catherine never remarried. She thought back on the days spent with Herbert and where she was; in her own state of mind, during the time he was with her before the war, then when he went to fight and finally to when he came back a changed, solemn man.
She also thought more of his friendship with Philip and how it turned from being one of the strongest friendships in the world to become the complete opposite. The Fates surely had their destinies worked out, but it was to no one’s satisfaction, she thought bitterly.
The war not only changed men but also changed families. The men may have had to do the fighting, but families struggled in their own ways to survive. She concluded that everyone had their own battles to fight.
But this fight was not between countries; it was between two friends who became twisted by the horrors of the things they had seen and experienced. Things she would never know, as Herbert rarely shared with her what he had seen and heard.
Looking at the tombstone of her husband, she would, for the rest of her life, know that this war between friends would be a resonance that would play in her mind until her last breath on earth.
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