ZAffer's funeral

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ZAffer's funeral

Post by gabz » Sun Oct 12, 2014 5:56 pm

I’m sorry this has taken so long but I thought you all would like to know how ZAffer’s funeral went and I couldn’t find the sticky to post there. Ironically for a man who always said “Little dots on the screen can’t hurt you” I think some of his closest friends posted in this place – or certainly people who understood the quixotic man he was.

It was a beautiful day, filled with love and friends. A whole group of people came from the township and others from the Hillbrow house. We had dug his grave on a small hill overlooking the river. Not where he wanted it – the place he chose was right on top of the mountain with no road going to it. It was a deep hole with a huge boulder right near it and he wanted the boulder pushed on top of the grave – which would have taken a bull dozer and I had visions of the funeral cortege dropping from heat exhaustion as they climbed the hill with the coffin. Instead he was buried on a small hill right by Dassie hoek – the place where he used to take the dogs and throw sticks for them twice a day. It’s a beautiful spot and everyone chooses to have their weddings or hand fastings there, or to have fires at night when camping and I thought he would like the company. Like always I guess I gave him what he wanted but not in the way he wanted it. People came through from the township the day before to help dig the grave even deeper and to clear the site. When they brought the casket from the funeral parlour I put in his army hat, his glasses, his radio, his cell phone, his diary and a pen, whisky (First watch) and cigarettes (Voyager) I think he would have liked the names. Our daughter was able to see him to say goodbye since she had just flown back from France on Tuesday to be there. He was buried in the kilt he had made for our wedding – the Robertson kilt, and an old Democratic Party T shirt. He had had written this is a very old T shirt on the back.

A close friend of mine Nomonde – a lesbian gender activist and actress who is also a Sangoma – offered to do a ceremony. I felt he would have loved having a very beautiful black lesbian activist do this. Her ceremony was before the funeral and it was very simple and beautiful and only for a few people close to him. She took Bhuti (who has worked for us for ten years) and I into the room where William died. Bhuti got very protective at this point and demanded that she speak in English not Zulu so “Mr William” as he always called him would understand what was happening. Then she lit a candle and spoke to William’s spirit, telling him what had happened to him, that Bhuti and I were there, and that it was time to let go of his angers and troubles and move on and become an ancestor and that there were two strong women waiting for him to guide him – his mother and my mother. Then she led Bhuti and I, our daughter and one of my closest friends Anastasya (A Russian artist, anarchist and animal rights activist) to his grave telling him that this was where he would be staying and that he must remain the guardian of Smoke and the protector of our daughter and I. As his name William means resolute protector this seemed so right.

Then back to where the friends and people were waiting. Our daughter read the following note from William’s sister.

"Sadly, I'm not great with words, but you have to know that my heart is indeed heavy to say goodbye .... My special younger-older brother - my most vibrant memories of you seem to be filled with your escapades ... the first ... a Friday night. a little after midnight and a loud tapping at my bedroom window (2nd floor.. arduous roof climb) - to discover you to be the tapper. Let you in, we snuck downstairs, pushed my car out the driveway (so not to wake the folks) and took off to Northway (in Durban North), where you had wrapped your little car around a lamp post. While I took on the cops who were wanting to arrest you, you rescued the alcohol bottles and music from your car and transferred them to mine. After handing over MY details and pulling a "he's in shock" drama routine, we left the scene, returned home, put you to bed, then woke the folks to take over. You never did get arrested (nor did I) and I never did find out exactly how you managed to get home (granted it was only 2kms but must have seemed like 100kms in your condition!) or how on earth you climbed the roof to get to my window! Clearly an indicator of the years ahead? You were always the supporter of the 'alternative' argument & I would have loved to have been blessed with even half of your intellect, particularly your unfailing ability to start and win an argument. The miles between us never did break our bond. Fly high brother bear ... until we meet again."

Cody said a short moving speech about how he had been a father to her and she loved him.

Then I spoke:
“ William always said Funerals are for the living not for the dead which is partly why this funeral has not been a traditional one. Because he was not traditional.
William’s name means resolute protector and that is exactly what he was to Cody, Smoke and I.
21 years ago I became engulfed in Cyberspace. There was a South African network called Chatnet - with one on one discussions, arguments on the nodes, all the joys of technology. Facebook before facebook, and people didn’t do the cyber thing much then. I entered this alien territory, a Cyberspace virgin, Green meat, immediately got hooked and started nodedancing with a vengeance. I had no-one in my life, finally more stable for the first time in what seemed like months, and more than anything else, hungry for new ideas, new minds. Ripe for plucking in other words. And I met quite a few minds I connected with.

One of them gloried in the name of Willie (God that name! I got him to drop it as soon as possible. He liked it because it irritated people) He also logged on as God a lot And Willie lived in Durban. After chatting for a while on the net, Wills needed to come up to JHB for a weekend - I offered a room at the house, and this Grey/green eyed Roy Shneider, grey haired, bearded and BRIGHT arrived on my doorstep. We spent every second of that weekend together. In mitigation, you have to like someone who when you ask "How are you?, replies "OK for a Man", and once owned four goldfish named "Control", "Alt", "Delete" and "Space bar". He went back to Durban, and on the way down to Durban, phoned from a public phone booth on the side of road (No cell phones then) and asked me to marry him ...

I said ... "um... maybe..." Thought about it, not particularly rationally, I admit and then went into cyberspace to say "YES!" In Capital letters. With Five Exclamation Marks!!!!! A sure sign of incipient madness.

William moved into my house, life and bed the following week and he never left.
He was a Complex complicated creative, crazy man with a crisp mind.
And challenging.

I hate shopping I always have but one of my best memories is of a crowded shopping centre, and me going Celtic with the crowds and the stress and Wills calmly getting into the shopping trolley with Cody and getting me to push them through the center shouting “Women driver coming through.”

Then there was the time he took my brand new washing machine and used it as a dishwasher. Every plate and cup we owned was broken. But it did make perfect logical sense is a William kind of way.

You did have to retune your brain to radio Wills when you were with him. Once I told him I was taking his crate of beer bottles back to the bottle store for returns. He said “They’re not my beers”. I took a deep breath, thought about how he had drunk all twelve bottles, then rebooted brain: “William,” I said I am taking the castle brewery beer bottles that contained the beer that you drank back to the bottle store” And he nodded.
Another time I was having lunch with my producer and production team and he joined us and handed over a package to me. Naturally I opened it burbling happily to my team about how lovely he was, pulled out what was inside and showed everyone. It was a BDSM leather outfit that required an engineering degree to untangle.

A friend told me to "Marry for nice". in my family we chose interesting. I was never bored when I was around him. Infuriated, furious, confused but never bored. I called him Loki – the Norse god of misrule and disorder. The trickster and that is what he was. He was an alpha male and there is no one who I would rather have gone into Survivor with as my ally.

I loved the man deeply.

I loved the man who told me why he loved Smoke so much, and pointed out the mountains “See that’s you. That curve there, that’s your waist, that’s your breasts. That’s you sleeping. Every time you’re not here I go out and look at the land, and then you’re with me.” The man who spoke with frogs all night on our honeymoon in Zimbabwe and turned our pool into a frog hatchery. The man who saw the potential of Smoke when all I saw was 57 acres of blackjacks. The man who brought Cody a box of darkness from Zimbabwe when she was 6, (God the disappointment on that little face when she opened it up and found nothing and he told her she had let the darkness escape) and then waited 10 years to pay off the joke with a box of books of philosophy and literature and poetry in an ammo chest that he gave her calling it a Box of Light. He had underlined relevant passages in the books to send her a message. The man who called me She who must be Obeyed, and my one car Foo Fighter. The man who would go outside and cry and howl at the moon as he had flashbacks his days in the army. The man who flew a Palestinian flag over Smoke. The man who moved rivers, herded land and trained our dog Spike to ride on the roof of the bakkie when we were driving it causing consternation on highways. The man who loved cemeteries and took me away for a dirty weekend in Parys (and WHO thinks about having a dirty weekend in Parys?!!) and took me for the whole day to the cemetery. The man who had the record for the most caning at school in his senior year and they couldn’t do a thing with him because he didn’t give a shit. The man who when we lived in Hillbrow came home every day at lunchtime from work to check on our pig Francis Bacon because he was so worried about her and who peed on cars parked illegally in our driveway from the wall. The man who had six near death experiences, wrapping his car around a lamppost, crashing into trees when skydiving, being set fire to by my mother, having the tendons of his arms chewed out by dogs, drinking sheep dip…The man who resolutely, crazily, creatively protected Cody and I for all of his time with us.

William we were completely incompatible.
I spoke Irish you spoke Scots
I spoke story you spoke IT code
I spoke art you spoke budgets
I spoke poetry you spoke plumbing
We should absolutely have not worked but we did we made smoke and we made Cody and you would be so proud of what she is today. So now you are a part of the land you loved so much. And I will take care of it and it will be what you always wanted a place where people come and have a really good time without knowing why,, maybe because it is filled with love. Your love. Mine. Love for our daughter and the land
Shine on you crazy diamond. Let’s take him home. “

And then everyone went down to the river to his grave, while people sang and we lowered him in. I put in the first spadeful of earth, then Simon, Cody and everyone took turns to put in the earth. The song changed to another one in Zulu with words that said : “he has finished work now. It’s shayile time. It’s time to sit and have a beer, and look at what he has done and there will be no babelaas (hangover).” We planted a white rose at the foot of the grave. I’ve kept his boots and shoes and am planting sage and rosemary and thyme and basil in there to place around the grave. We’re building a bench as his headstone – out of the Smoke rocks and it will read.
William grant Robertson
resolute protector aka Loki
land herder cat wrangler
shine on you crazy diamond.

And I’ll also put up the sign he asked for in his will. “If possible, I would direct that I be buried on Smoke, NOT cremated, as that’s a waste of energy. The inscription on the tombstone should read: “Please form an orderly queue here to micturate”

Then we all went back to the lapa and we had shared good food and some wine and beer and Cody played the guitar and people sang and danced. It was a good day. A beautiful one really.

The photographs of the day are on my facebook page in the Smoke 2014 Album ... 257&type=1

I’ve never been a great fan of burial. I preferred cremation but there is something very consoling about being able to walk to his grave twice a day and sit there with the dogs and tell him how the island moving is going. Bruceyoumoron still sleeps in his mancave but has finally joined the pack again.

And once again thanks for all the thoughts and conversations you shared with him. It meant a lot to him.
"Genius is always allowed some leeway, once the hammer has been pried from its hands and the blood has been cleaned up." - Terry Pratchett

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by pezworld » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:01 pm

Thanks for that. The sticky has been moved to the Famous Dishes branch.

ETA I wrote the above before I read it (because I could tell you were online and wanted you to know where the sticky is). It was such a moving tribute, not surprising considering the source. I had seen the pictures but not heard the words of his memorial. I appreciate it.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Potpie » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:04 pm

his mother and my mother

with the latter, you sure he might not decide to return instead?

Thanks for the update, gabs.

Bye Bye, Zaffer.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Paddox1 » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:05 pm

Thank you gabz for posting that. So eloquent. It sounds like a beautiful day, sad but uplifting too.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Vodd » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:07 pm

It sounds like a beautiful day.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by incognita » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:16 pm

I loved the man who told me why he loved Smoke so much, and pointed out the mountains “See that’s you. That curve there, that’s your waist, that’s your breasts. That’s you sleeping. Every time you’re not here I go out and look at the land, and then you’re with me.”

Awww, *sniff* It sounds like you all sent him off beautifully.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by rezuar » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:22 pm

Thank you Gabz for posting this.
Im guessing Zaffer is drinking some good moonshine with my Dad by now.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by GLimpet » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:26 pm

Thanks Gabz. I looked at your Facebook photos and it was very like the pictures you , and Zaffer, had painted in my mind.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by kotagiri_tea_planter » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:28 pm

Sounds beautiful, and such wonderful stories.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by northern_goddess » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:41 pm

Thank you for posting all of that, Gabz. It was very moving. It brought tears to my eyes and not much does. It sounds like it was a perfect day. May he rest in peace and protect you and Cody and Smoke and the dogs for the remainder of time.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by leela » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:45 pm

Thank you, from another who saw the photos. Your words make them complete.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Ryan » Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:03 pm

That's a lovely tribute. There's a lot of people who post here who leave us, in any way, and are forgotten. He will not be forgotten.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Lost Soul » Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:05 pm

Thanks, gabz. It was a beautiful tribute.

This is Saffer:
Then there was the time he took my brand new washing machine and used it as a dishwasher. Every plate and cup we owned was broken. But it did make perfect logical sense is a William kind of way.


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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Chi_Rup » Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:19 pm

Beautiful story.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by RandomThoughts » Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:56 pm

Thank you for sharing Gabz and for understanding the strange dynamic of cyber interactions enough to know that most here would like to know about William's life and send off. Reading through the details of the day as you so beautifully described it brings down the final (imaginary) curtain on the Zaffer act (so to speak). He was surely one of a kind.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by muthafunky » Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:58 pm

Really great read, thanks for sharing.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Stephen_Dedalus » Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:03 pm

Thanks gabz

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Logg » Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:04 pm

That was a beautiful tribute.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Barbarella » Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:45 pm

Wow I cannot begin put into words how much reading that has moved me. I was teary eyed from start to finish. How incredibly beautiful of you to share it with us all here. Most of us will live in hope we get nearly as good a send off. You did him proud. If thats any insignificant miniscule consolation for the huge void he has obviously left. Thank you so much X

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by avalon_ » Sun Oct 12, 2014 9:08 pm

Thank you for sharing, Gabz. That made me so teary. I definitely miss him.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by yehyeh » Sun Oct 12, 2014 9:13 pm

Thank you for sharing with us Gabz. That was beautiful.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by milton » Sun Oct 12, 2014 9:18 pm

Wow. Fantastic post. Exactly the reason this website is unlike other meeting places on the internet.

I don't really have anything useful to add, but I'm very moved by this and hope you're able to move past the immediate grief and celebrate the happy times.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by andybox » Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:05 pm

Thanks for posting this Gabz, it must have been a very moving ceremony.
Zaffer, take care you grumpy bastard, and don't drink all that whiskey at once!

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Vivienne_Westwood » Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:26 pm

It sounds like the most wonderful send off I've ever heard of. Please come back and tell us stories of Zaffer whenever you want, I love to read them. The box of darkness and the box of light is such a lovely idea. Amazing man. My very best wishes to you.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by guruwil » Sun Oct 12, 2014 11:23 pm

thanks Gabz, it all sounds perfect for Zaffer.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by BulletPark » Sun Oct 12, 2014 11:30 pm

This was a very beautiful tribute and a great way of showing all sides of a unique, demanding and difficult but obviously ultimately rewarding person.

I wish you the best in everything Gabz and hope you will stay in communication with us.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Kikilamour » Sun Oct 12, 2014 11:44 pm

beautiful beautiful beautiful. a combination of sadness and humour and quirkiness that is so touching. thanks for sharing this.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by veronica_inheels » Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:00 am

very moving and beautiful. what a great writer you are. truly, you "speak story".

please come and visit us often. we need more zaffer, bruce the moron, the bathtub, the pool.... smoke.

it is not only the stew that was important to zaffer.

zaffer was important to us.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Jim-2012 » Mon Oct 13, 2014 1:14 am

That was a very touching report, Gabz. Thanks for sharing it with those of us who cared about him.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Scaramouche » Mon Oct 13, 2014 2:06 am

Thank you for sharing that Gabz. A truly memorable and wonderful send off. Fly free Zaffer.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Usher73 » Mon Oct 13, 2014 2:07 am

Lovely indeed, thanks for that.

But it turns out he was a lying SOB. He was a much better man than he would let any of us believe.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Nines » Mon Oct 13, 2014 3:21 am

Thank you for sharing this with us. Beautiful tribute.

RIP, Zaffer.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by guvner » Mon Oct 13, 2014 4:33 am

A heartfelt tribute to someone you had a child with and shared a life with.

It was compelling to read your(his) story on many levels, and considering I only knew him briefly on PS before his passing I feel I have a more meaningful understanding of this complex man. Thanks for sharing this. Amazing.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by quailia » Mon Oct 13, 2014 6:01 am

Thanks for posting - I was tearing up but also laughing through it. Such a great picture of a true original.

Thinking of you all.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by judik » Mon Oct 13, 2014 7:49 pm

It was a wonderful tribute- thanks for sharing
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by DaBaba » Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:44 am

What a send off.

A very moving account. Thank you for sharing that.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Purps » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:57 am

Gabz, that was so beautiful. I am in floods of tears reading your moving words. I love the shopping trolley story, shows how much of a character he was! Love to you. Xxx

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by ceylon_tea » Tue Oct 14, 2014 1:49 pm

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing Gabz.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Agent009 » Tue Oct 14, 2014 2:39 pm

Thanks for posting gabz, that was oarsome..... I neeeded a good cry.

You have done a great job helping/dealing with zaffers friends, on and offline.
Best of luck to you, your family, your friends, and smoke.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Stan In Maryland » Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:19 pm

Thank you. It sounds like the perfect send off for him. He will indeed be long remembered after many of us are forgotten.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by Espina » Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:11 pm

Thanks for posting!


Describes the Zaffer I knew from his posts the best. I recall he was trying to build a self driving vehicle from a child's toy wagon or something like that at one time.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by thoughtpolice » Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:14 pm

That is a lovely, caring tribute to a man that was both difficult and obviously loved and respected.
We should all be so lucky to have somebody like you, Gabz, in our own lives. Thank you for sharing this.
Please move this to Famous Dishes in due course.

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by dBrother » Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:37 am

Gabz, you may understand this, I've the firm impression that zaffer maywell have allready flitted around the place in spirit and called in to see on a few of us here.
as I said before zaffer was one of the few posters here that seemed real to me.
thanks for the funeral update.
Was good

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by gnd » Fri Oct 17, 2014 6:31 pm

What Viv said.

Glad I checked in quickly with the Oslo posties post, or I´d not have seen this. Thank you for posting it. Very incredible tribute. V moving.

Goodbye Zaff. Always enjoyed your posts. hope youré doing ok Gabz:)

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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by madmonday » Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:05 am

Fantastic post and thanks for sharing.
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Re: ZAffer's funeral

Post by DCComic » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:03 pm

You don’t have to wait for anniversaries to remember people.

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