Wife dies at husband’s funeral
Cape Town - Alice de Leeuw, 74, died on the very day she was burying her beloved husband of 52 years, Joseph de Leeuw, 73.
And in a strange twist, on January 4, a day after Joseph passed away peacefully at their home in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain, a heartbroken Alice told relatives: “Pa is coming to fetch me.”
On Saturday, as Joseph’s coffin was wheeled into the Reconcile Anglican Church in Tafelsig Alice gave him a final kiss on the forehead.
Within minutes she too would breathe her last.
Joseph, who worked for most of his life in the clothing industry, died after collapsing at their home.
Alice’s daughter, Geraldine Idas, 50, said her mother deteriorated after her husband died.
“(She) didn’t want to eat and she started talking very slowly,” said Geraldine. “It was like she was heartbroken.
“A day after he died she said to my sister Mandy, ‘Pa kom my haal’. (Daddy is coming to fetch me) We said she must hang on.”
Alice, who had suffered three strokes years ago and was recovering from a hip operation, had to be placed in a wheelchair in the week after Joseph’s death.
On Saturday, Alice was wheeled into the church to say her final goodbye to her soulmate of nearly six decades.
“As we pushed our father into the church in his coffin, she gave him a big kiss on his forehead,” said Geraldine.
Alice’s son-in-law, Desmond Idas, 59, said their son, Desral, 30, was preparing to wheel Alice out of the church when they noticed something wrong.
Desmond told the Daily Voice: “My son wanted to push her wheelchair but she wasn’t responding.
“Then Alice’s son Eon touched her and said, ‘Mammie is weg.’” (Mommy is gone).
Alice’s daughter, Mandy Williams, 34, who was wheeling her father’s body to the hearse, said everyone became panicked.
“As we placed my father into the hearse everyone rushed into the church and forgot about my father in the hearse,” she said.
“We left then to Belhar Cemetery to bury him.”
Geraldine stayed behind while an ambulance and police arrived.
“We don’t know the cause of death as yet but it’s like dying of a broken heart,” she said.
“All we can say is thank you to God because look where my mother died – inside the church, and they both passed on peacefully.”
Geraldine said her parents’ love and adoration for each other was clear until death.
“Their anniversary is August 29. They would have been married 53 years,” she said.
“They were inseparable... there was never another woman or man who came between them.
“They would sit peacefully together under the tree at our home and they were indeed as they say, till death do us part.”
The family hopes the couple can also be buried in the same grave.
The couple had 10 children together, four of which are still alive, six grandkids and three great grandkids.