Steven de Bruin, fondly known as “Sunshine” to many residents in Maitland tragically lost his life in a fire on Tuesday, 15 October 2013.
He lived up to his nickname and certainly was a ray of sunshine whenever I was with him. A chronic alcoholic, Steven was never sober, only more sober on one day than the other.
Yet in all the time I knew him (over three years) he was never disrespectful, in fact, he was very much the gentlemen around me.
Up until I got my car a few months ago, he used to insist on always walking me to the bustop from Carlisle Road to Voortrekker Road (whether I wanted him to or not)
Sometimes, he was really hammered and although I protested loudly and tried to get away from him, he would be relentless and insist on seeing me safely to the bustop.
Truth be told, I was petrified that he would be knocked over when we crossed the busy main road as he was constantly swaying from side to side and his feet never seemed to touch the ground.
Days would sometimes pass when I did not see him and when I did, I would pretend that I was glad for the break from him, but he would knowingly and with a wide smile say, “I know you missed me Zaida, I missed you too” - And he was always right.
It was usually then that I would mimic his drunken swagger by taking huge strides, sway from side to side and heavily make contact with the ground with my feet - this would usually have him in stitches!
He never asked me for money and I never gave it to him for free – just three weeks ago he completed the clean-up around our block of flats and did a sterling job (so he said) and I had to agree so I paid him for a job well done.
Last I saw him was on Saturday night (three days before he passed) when he was unusually verbal to a fellow neighbour who had called him a “dronkie”
And although he was, none of us ever called him that.
His tirade went on for quite a while and he was rather upset that this neighbour had called him a “dronkie” and his “heart was very sore” because if this.
After his levels of protest became a tad too loud, I came to my balcony and ‘berated” him for creating a disturbance. He apologized and said that he will sort the guy out the next day and also loudly shouted that he loved me. This was literally loud enough for the “whole neighbourhood” to hear.
This was “our thing” He would always say he loved me and although I loudly fobbed off his declarations, I was very fond of him as well.
Later, the same Saturday night, he started with his one-sided bickering again.
This time, I went down in my Pajamas and “scolded” him. I bought him a few cigarettes and this time, I walked HIM to his room. He was shocked, ashamed and pleased and he promised to go to bed and sleep it off.
As I left he shouted, “I love you Zaida!” I just said: “Ja, Ja! Go to sleep!”
His last words in between his loud chuckles to me was: “I know you loooovvvee meeee”
He was right. I did. I do.
Now it is my heart that is sore.
R.I.P. Steven “Sunshine” de Bruin
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