Clifford Seth Hoffmann 1987-2011

On Monday 24 January 2011 my brother said goodbye.  He spent time speaking to his friends, he sent me a BBM telling me he loved me, he told to my brother and my mother too.

He has left a hole in so many peoples hearts.

How do you summerise a life?

23 years.

I can never do him justice here but I will try.

Cliff was a surprise.  Born just 15 months after our brother Matthew.  He arrived into this world like he did everything else in his life, on his own terms.  6 weeks early.  He was a breach baby, sitting the entire pregnancy under my moms ribs, when he was born his head was kind of squashed flat on top, he looked like ET, he used to stick his finger out the blankets too and we would say ‘ET phone home’, the nurses were not impressed with us.

Cliff took his time reaching mile stones.  He crawled for ages before walking and he only spoke when he was good and ready to speak.  Stubborn doesn’t even begin to describe him as a child.

He was a bit of a pyromaniac and when we moved out of our childhood home my mom walked out of his room with a PnP packet full to the brim of lighters and matches he had stashed away in every nook and cranny of his room.

Cliff was born to be an engineer, he used to take apart anything mechanical, phones, computers, calculators.  He would inspect the parts and put them back together again.  I also recall him creating elaborate ‘alarm’ systems in his room consisting of string and bells and pulleys.

My brother was an accomplished violinist, although in the beginning we all fled the house when he practiced.  He even had his photo in the local paper, standing proudly with his violin.

He was an animal lover always, especially cats as a child.  He collected many many stuffed kitty cats.  His favourite was a white kitty that meowed when you pushed its tummy.  Eventually it needed to be washed and my mom put it in the machine.  When it came out it didn’t meow anymore, it kind of gurgled.  Cliff thought it was hilarious.  We always had dogs and cats growing up and they flocked to Cliff.  He lavished attention on them.  He could never stand to see an animal in distress and would have rescued as many dogs and cats as he could if he had been able to.  I remember the first time he showed me Cedric.  This lanky, scruffy pup, it was already sitting on his lap in the car, looking up at him with adoring eyes.

My brother and I could have been twins.  In fact most people who met us for the first time made that mistake.  In reality Cliff was almost 8 years younger than me.  We had the same smile and both looked like our dad.  Cliff looked so much like my dad, I actually remarked on it a week or so ago, he had smiled at me and I saw my dad so clearly in him.  Im kicking myself now, On Saturday Paul took a photo of me and I was grinning that Hoffmann grin, I made him delete it, I wish I hadn’t, I looked just like Cliff in it.  Paul agreed, he said I was pretty, I quipped that ‘yes, I was pretty and Cliff was pretty ugly’.  Cliffy would have howled with laughter at that.

Cliff and I had a special greeting, we would bump fists then hug.  One day Paul mentioned that Cliff was ‘fisting’ his sister.  We looked at each other, both went ‘Eeeeewww’ and promptly changed our greeting.  We would make like we were going to bump fists, then at the last second move to the side and knock elbows instead before hugging.  My heart breaks over and over every time I realise that we wont ever do that again.

It was so rare that Cliff would stand still for a photo, he HATED having his photo taken and most of the photos I have of him his hand is in the way, or he is ducking down.  Im so glad I found so many photos on my compter of his.

Cliffy was the ultimate friend.  When he had his accident last year, we were so in awe of the constant stream of visitors that came to the hospital.  Eventually the nurses just gave up trying to limit visitors or keep them within visiting hours.  His funeral was epic, so so so many people.  Each one of them said that they had lost their best friend.  He was always there for everyone.  He was a great listener but seldom took his own advice.

His work within the community with CSO/CAP as well as with the SAPS was typical of him.  He was a hero through and through, whether he drew his weapon or not, he was willing to put his life on the line for others without a second thought.  Its ironic that the gun that he used to save my mothers life during an armed robbery, the gun he used to protect others is what took his life.  I think he would have called it a kind of poetic justice.

Who is going to sit with a shot gun and scare my daughter’s boyfriends half to death, who is going to play rough and tumble with my son?

There are so many more stories, so many more anecdotes, they come to me when Im not at my computer, I smile and laugh out loud when I think of them, then when I sit here they have left me.  Perhaps I will write another post when I remember them all.   Perhaps they are meant to be private remembrances.

**Cliffs best best friend and soulmate wrote a post, please take a moment to read and to see how amazingly she honoured my brother.

I love you brother.  More than you could ever have known.  I take comfort that wherever you are now, you are at peace.  Dont stop watching over me Cliffy.  And dont drink all the whiskey, save some for me, one day we will toast L’Chaim together.

48 Replies to “Clifford Seth Hoffmann 1987-2011”

    1. Heartbreaking Sending love & light The hardest thing a moths can go threw is losing a child Lindy May his precious memory stay closed to your heart Just alway remember it was his choice It nothing you or your family could do to stop this tragedy giving you all strength to carry on AV t
      .. .siv. Ń

  1. Awwww, G…
    No words can be spoken… I miss him so so much. He will always be remembered, I will always honour him, he will be there in every aspect of my life, our lives… Never to be forgotten.
    Honesty… Integrity… Respect forever.
    Love, his soulmate.

  2. Beautiful, touching post Gina. I’m so sorry for your loss but so happy you have such fond memories of your little brother. May he rest in peace.

  3. Gina, I am so very sorry for your loss my heart goes out to you and your family! This article really touched me. Much love and many condolences Rachelle

  4. Oh Gina what a beautiful and moving post with so many wonderful memories. Clifford was a very special and popular young man who will be missed by so many. Our hearts go out to you, mom, Matthew and all of your family.

  5. A Beatiful Tribute. Makes me Sorry that I don’t know Him and yet Feel His loss as though I did. Your Sweet Memories will keep Him with you Always.

  6. A Beautiful Tribute. Makes Me Sorry I Didn’t Know Him and Yet Feel As thought I Did. These Sweet Memories will Keep Him with you Always. GailB

  7. Dearest Gina, i am so sorry for your loss. It’s wonderful that you can express yourself like that and have so many amazing memories and pictures. I am thinking of you. sending love and hugs all my love naomi

  8. I am so sorry for your loss, they say only the good die young, and here it was the case. What a beautiful tribute to your brother. Thinking of you and yours in this difficult time 🙂

  9. Gina, have wanted to send a message each day on twitter.
    Sorry for your loss and my thoughts are with you and your family.

    Such a stunning post, I had to stop reading after a while due to the tears. Hugs x

  10. I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful post – it makes me wish I had known him. Thinking of you and wishing you all the strength in the days ahead. Some days will be dark – but know that he is at peace, saving some whiskey for you…

  11. Gina, what a lovely brother and we have to use his story so we can save other lives.
    You will remember so many stories share -thats your healing process
    You are in our prayers.

  12. Gina, I am so sorry I only read your post today and was not aware of your loss. I read your post with a few tears of my own, I lost my brother a few years ago. He was 21. I’ve not posted cause I’m not ready to share. This post was one of the most beautiful posts I’ve read. You are so blessed to have so many beautiful and fond memories, I hope they provide you with lots of comfort during your sad days. That song is beautiful, very appropriate.

  13. While I hardly new Cliff, I recognized a gentleman of note. This is favourably corroborated by comments I have read.

    My children were shaken as was Hil and join me in wishing Cliff’s family deepest sympathy and condolenses.

    We wish you all strength and tranquility in times to come.

  14. What a beautiful tribute. I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during what must be an incredibly difficult time.
    Lots and lots and lots of love.

  15. Hi Gina, I’m not sure if this is the best place to post but I do hope you get it. I was a friend of Cliffys in high school. He was on security and I was part of sound and lighting (yes the only silly girl). One night we were running back stage for a play and I had a small asthma incident. Cliff broke into Mr John sons office to get me an inhaler. A true hero he was and nothing was too much for him.

    I dreamt about him a couple of months ago. He looked so happy. He was telling me about all the ice cream his mom had bought.

    Wishing you and your family strength and a long life.

  16. G, I’ll always remember every weekend we spent together as kids, the pyrotechnics that went on at my house, the Shabbats spent in Killarney, the movies we went to (and the sugar highs we got when we had the litre cokes).
    Later on, when we were older, we drifted apart a little, and now I always just wish I got to spend more time with him.
    What a truly amazing individual. I think about him all the time.

  17. Gina so beautifully written. This picture if Cliffy in the orange shirt is how I remember him. I do believwr deeply that he is with Adrian and keeping each safe and warm. My heart felt sympathy is with you all. Much love. Pam

  18. thank you for sharing your wonderful memories of Cliff. he was such a mench with an enormous heart of gold. and a huge social conscience. your post keeps his memory alive… thank you for that…. and wishing you all Long Life

  19. Thank you Gina for your lovely words. Cliff and I were friends for many years in primary school until we lost touch later in life. I just want to say a few words about Cliff, he was always a support to me during our time at school which was tough, I don’t think we went through a day that we weren’t bullied in some form. Us being both small and different from everyone else always played a factor, but in the end we did have each other and in many ways that’s what got us through it. Cliff was a great friend, loyal and truly passionate. Cliff I hope that wherever you are that you have found peace. I love you man.

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