While many of you may hear about the power failure, I must point out that in his last hour, his nurse, who had only just started that evening climbed into bed with my father, stroked his face and held his hand to comfort him.
Johannesburg, South Africa – Ruarri Rogan penned a heartbreaking open letter about his father’s passing after a local power outage in Craighall Park cut off his oxygen.
Ruarri is hoping to share an inspirational message through the heartache. His father, Mack Rogan was a revered orthopaedic surgeon in Morningside Clinic and shunned negativity. Part of his father’s mission in life was to make people see the brighter side of living in South Africa and to quell negative banter.
Read the full letter below:
“My father, Mack Rogan, passed away after a local power outage in Craighall Park cut off his oxygen supply at 2 am in the morning.
About a year ago, doctors told Mack that he had a condition called ‘idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.’ From the time of his diagnosis up until about a month ago, he was able to live an independent and otherwise ‘normal’ life, and he only started to depend on oxygen in the last few weeks.
While my sisters equipped his home with a power inverter – the length of the unannounced power outage combined with the high electricity demands of his upgraded 10-litres-per-minute oxygen concentrator exhausted the back-up energy supply before the paramedics arrived.
As a result, it pains me to say that, ultimately, he suffered unnecessarily in his last moments.
Even though he was terminally ill and in the care of Hospice, his time came sooner than expected and more painfully than he would have wished. The unfortunate events of his last day prevented him from seeing his brothers, Peter and Allister, who landed in Joburg from London and Cape Town respectively seven hours after the power failure; and many other friends and family were unable to say goodbye properly.
Mack was a proud South African and loathed travelling overseas.
He lived in, and loved, Johannesburg his whole life. He participated in his local council, paid close attention to local politics, and paid his rates and taxes. His sudden and painful passing is a reminder that municipal mismanagement, incompetence, and corruption, are not victimless crimes.
(PLEASE READ ON!)
Even so, Mack was never one to dwell on the negatives. He did not like simplifying narratives. He detested the ‘single story.’
Therefore, there is no doubt that he would disapprove of me sending such a message and remind me that the weather today and yesterday in Joburg have been perfect highveld weather and that one can’t ask for more from life than pleasant weather (he never understood how I could choose to live in London, Amsterdam, or New York).
My father was a contrarian and, no doubt if he could read what I wrote above, he would point out that people in Florida nursing homes may pass away earlier than expected due to power outages caused by tropical storms without Americans blaming the country or losing hope. He would be sure to note that whether we are in Africa, Europe, or America, or anywhere else in the world, we all exercise limited control over the ‘circle of life.’
For those of you who knew him well, I think that you can almost certainly hear him then conclude with a flip comment about how he would rather die because of a power cut in Joburg than ‘natural causes’ anywhere else in the world.
The reason for including so much detail in this e-mail is because I know that some of the details about a ‘power failure’ will have already slipped out.
My father would hate such simplistic gossip to add fuel to the negative cocktail party “this is Africa” banter.
In order to respect my father’s nature emphasise the positive, I urge everyone not to emphasise the story of the power failure. While it is a part of the story – the truth is more complicated.
While many of you will or would no doubt have heard about the power failure in time, whether I told you or not, I must point out that, in his last hour, his nurse, Kabelo, who had only just started and just arrived that evening from Soweto for the first time, climbed into bed with my father, stroked his face, and held his hand to comfort him while my sister scrambled in the darkness to call paramedics and see why the power had gone out.
No matter what happens at the higher levels in this country – my father kept commenting over the last two weeks how moved and touched he was by the amount of warmth, compassion, and kindness he received since people knew that he was not well.
What I have seen in the past two weeks, right up until his last hour, is that there are countless individuals with abundant compassion and love who care for one another in South Africa. While the electricity may go out from time to time, the compassion is such that, even in the darkness, a stranger may come close to you, hold your hand, and stroke your face and tell you that everything is going to be okay.
While the power may have failed on the morning my father passed away; there was no shortage of love and compassion.
It is important that you all know that, and it will be important to my father that you tell other people as well.
We are all responsible for not allowing dinner table conversation to devolve into hopeless negativity. South Africa may have many faults, but it is still a country full of love.”