Give That Man a Bell’s!

20 September 2010: 4 years on …

Where were you on New Year’s Eve of 31 December 1999?

It is one of those “things” that most people remember, together with “where we you when: Lady Diana was killed, the Twin Towers fell, the Oceanos sank off East London …?”

We celebrated the birth of the year 2000 together with Lesley and (now the late) Brian Cooper and their family and friends at a house party in Walmer, Port Elizabeth.

Yes, it’s difficult to believe that it’s now more than a decade ago that the world celebrated the birth of the New Millenium.

It was also ten years ago, in October 2000, that I accompanied a group of some 100 Pick ‘n Pay employees to Disneyworld in Florida, USA. It was my third visit to the fantasy world of a Disney kingdom.

In 1975 (as an exchange student), I visited the original Disneyland in Anaheim, Los Angeles, California. In January 1988, Grant Lloyd and I spent three days visiting Disneyworld and the Epcot Centre in Orlando, Florida. We had flown to Orlando from New Orleans, and then, after our visit there, flew on to Fort Lauderdale and then rented a car and drove down through the Florida Keys as far down south as Key West.

This visit to Disneyworld was different though.

This time we were students. We attended a course in Customer Care at the University of Disneyworld (!) We “worked” by day and partied by night!

Classes started at six in the morning, followed by breakfast, and then, private entry into the park itself, to experience the Disney way of caring for customers. We saw and experienced all the nooks and crannies of Disneyworld and the other theme parks as most people never do.

In the evenings, we partied at Pleasureland – that island part of the family orientated Disneyworld that is reserved for adults only. Often, we would barely get home in time to start off the next day’s classes!

It was ten days of heaven – all expenses paid!

On our way home to South Africa from Orlando via Atlanta, I stayed on in Atlanta. There, I visited my American “family”. “Mom” Nadine and “Dad” Whitley – my exchange student parents – had come from Missouri to visit my “brother” Kevin and his wife Carol and their family who lived in Atlanta. I spent a few days there with them, and that led to our whole family going back to the USA a year later in October 2001, just ten days after 9/11! (Read my previous blog 9/11.)

During my stay in Disneyworld, I had started experiencing strange pins and needles feeling in my left arm.  Upon my return to SA, a MRI scan revealed a herniated disc in my neck, and that resulted in surgery whereby the disc was removed and bone grafted from my right hip and inserted in between and fused with two vertebrae in my neck. The neurosurgeon, Dr Botha, had warned at the time that this degeneration of discs may happen again.

And so it was that, four years ago, in September 2006 that I once again experienced that tingling feeling in my arm. (Hence, the timer that runs above my blogs that now indicates four years on!)

It was also my birthday weekend, and I was about to celebrate my 50th! Sean and I had accompanied Andrew Kettlewell  (from Andrew’s Plumbers)and Gary Webb on a hunting weekend to Kirkwood. Andrew and his family had decided to emigrate to Australia and this was his last weekend in Africa. He had decided to spend it under the African skies and invited us to join him.

At work, I started experiencing problems with using my left hand to type on the computer. I thought it was a dreaded disc causing problems again, and we tried all kinds of things to make my computer and screen more comfortable.

Eventually, in October I saw Maree Moolman, the chiropractor. That didn’t help, so on to the physiotherapist, Denzil Witthuhn. That didn’t help! Then the neurosurgeon, Dr  Botha, again, and more x-rays and a MRI scan.

Unfortunately, this time, the scan did not reveal a herniated disc. It appeared to be something more sinister . . .

In December, I was referred to the neurologist, Dr Britz. After numerous tests, he advised me that he was of the opinion that I had what he referred to as an extra-pyramidal Parkinson’s disorder. He arranged for me to see Prof Carr, head of the Neurology Department at the Stellenbosch University Medical Faculty at Tygerberg  Hospital in Cape Town.

My first flight to Cape Town proved to be a wild goose chase. Upon arrival at Tygerberg, I was informed that Prof Carr was overseas, and they quickly arranged for Dr Franclo Henning to do a quick assessment.

I returned to PE empty-handed! It was only when I returned at the beginning of February 2007 to see Prof Carr that I was diagnosed with CBD on 8 February 2007.

And so, it took six months from the time the symptoms first appeared until the diagnosis was made. Prof Carr had informed me that it was a possibility that I had some three years left before I would become severely incapacitated, and possibly a further five years before I would die from pneumonia.

He also appended a caveat – that possibly I would be able to come back to him in five years and sue him for an incorrect diagnosis! The difficulty with neurological illnesses is that it is impossible to make definite assessments without opening the brain and scratching around! It’s like taking your car to the garage and asking them to tell you what’s wrong with the engine, but not allowing them to open the bonnet and actually look at the engine!

Whilst you are alive, they simply look at the symptoms and categorize the illness. It is only on the completion of a post death brain autopsy that a definite assessment can be made. Various studies have revealed that in more than 50% of diagnosed cases, an incorrect diagnosis was originally made, and that the person had another neurological illness such as ALS, PSP, MS, Alzheimer’s, etc. There are so many of these illnesses that most healthy people have never heard about!

And so, this past weekend, I celebrated my “normal” birthday as well as my fourth with CBD. Friday night, thanks to Gary Hemmings, we saw Gino Fabbri’s show NUTS, Saturday evening we celebrated Anthony Bowes’s 50th (we share a birthday) and Sunday, we braaied with some erstwhile school colleagues.

Last year, this time, I set new goals. A new one was to celebrate Sean’s leaving school and all that goes with that. These things happen during the course of the next few weeks, and I am fortunate to still be able to participate in all those activities.

In the meantime, I am grateful for another year, for all the good wishes and encouragement that I received this weekend and for the family and friends that celebrated with us.

It was on Friday afternoon that Ed and Eddie (Terblanche) went for a pre-birthday celebratory drink at Dagwoods. The barman was told: “Give that man a Bell’s!”

Sandcastles or Castles in the Air?

Tuesday 14 September 2010: 4 years on . . .

The drought in the Eastern Cape continues. And we want rain urgently. The dams need water, the gardens need water, the pool needs water and I need water – I’m tired of (very short) showering in a bucket, and carrying the water to the toilet and the garden!

But, unlike the Prime Circle song “She always gets what she wants” playing in the background as I write this, what we want is not always what we get!

In fact, the last two days we have experienced magnificent weather. Summer, it would seem, has arrived early in the southern hemisphere.

I went for a walk along Hobie Beach this morning.  There were a few youngsters who were building a sandcastle on the beach.

They were so excited.  Each one was adding onto the castle. It was getting bigger and bigger.  They were shouting and laughing. And discussing what should go where. Another room?  Another turret? A moat?

Occasionally, they argued amongst themselves because they did not all have the same ideas. They compromised and the castle grew and became quite a work of art.

And then the tide turned.

Suddenly, a wave came rolling in over the flat beach. The children were caught unawares and they saw nothing coming. Before they could do anything, the water slowly ran up to their castle and a small part of the sand building collapsed.

They screamed. Some were angry and walked away. But others got even more excited.

They frantically dug and collected more sand, and hastily replaced the walls that had collapsed.

They put their hands on their hips, shouted at and challenged the sea, and waited for the next wave to roll up the beach. And soon it arrived.

This time, it was a bit bigger than the first. And it took even more of the castle away.

Some of the children gave up despondently. But a few saw this as a challenge. Amongst themselves, they spoke and discussed what next to do. What would be their plan of action? They would not let the sea get the better of them.

And they came up with a new plan.  Eagerly, they dug out more sand and proceeded to build a large wall between the castle and the water. And, when the next wave came, the wall held and the castle was saved!

They shrieked with excitement! They had found the solution!

Then, suddenly, another wave rolled up the wet, shiny beach. This time, it was much bigger. And it destroyed their defences, the wall, and a very large portion of their castle.

This time, they all threw up their hands in disgust, turned around and walked away from their handiwork, their mission, their life’s work, their castle. They moved on and left it behind them.

And the sea came, again and again, one wave after another, and slowly destroyed what was left of their castle. Eventually, there was only a small bump of sand left – and me, who had witnessed their endeavours and had been changed by it.

I thought of life. We all have our plans and build our buildings. And, just when we are so excited about our handiwork, life comes and takes it away.

I thought of my illness, the Corticalbasal Degeneration that, like those first few waves, slowly rolls up and eats away at my body, little bits at a time. With each bite, more and more of me disappears into the sands of time.

I thought of so many people who, daily, are eroded by some illness or another, by some disability, by some challenge.

And, just like those kids, how we face those challenges differs from one person to another. Some throw in the towel immediately, some keep on going for a while longer, some have all kinds of plans with which they confront their individual challenge, and some become so excited when their plan works! It gives them the courage to carry on and fight again. It gives them the courage to build their wall of protection – whatever that wall may be.

But, eventually, we all know, that Life runs its course and that our Castle of Life will eventually succumb to the waves that nature throws at us.  That does not mean that we have to throw in the towel immediately.

We have the opportunity of one finite Lifetime on this planet Earth – our spaceship for this life! We have but one life to live. We have but one castle to build.

However, sometimes the days, like the waves, often overwhelm us. Twenty four hours become a race to be finished.

But,  every once in a while, a shock resets our brains – a job is lost, property burns down or is burgled, loved ones become ill or die.

And then, for an all-too-brief-period, we live in that space that we wish to live in. We cherish relationships and indulge in simple pleasures.

But alas, a gentle wind blows us back into the same old, same old, same old. Routine draws us back, without fail, into the familiar illusion of security over and over again.

What becomes important though is “What is the central reason for my existence? What do I leave behind? What and who have I changed in my endeavours along the way?”

There are a limited number of chances to make an impact in this world.

Each chance begins when we open our eyes in the morning and ends when we close them at night. The interval in between begs us to fill it with meaningful action.

Let us ask ourselves:

Who can we love?

What can we give?

Other than that, our sandcastles simply become castles in the air.

Today is the opportunity of a lifetime!

Be an ACE …
Live and leave     A bundantly
Laugh                     C  ontinuously
Love                        E  ndlessly


Click here and scroll down through the slide presentation:

The Daffodil Principle


(Thanks to Jason Eichacker for his ongoing inspiration!)

Nine Eleven

North Tower (with TV antenna) and South Tower


 Saturday 11 September 2010 (9/11): 9 years and 4 years on …        


Where were you on 9/11 in the year 2001?         


I was in my office at Walmer Park. Someone called me to watch the TV in the boardroom. A plane, they said, had flown into the World Trade Centre.                


I imagined it to be a small Cessna or something similar, and because I was busy, I did not think too much of it at the time. A little later, I went to the Boardroom, and as I entered the room, that second Boeing was banking and heading straight for the tower! The rest of the afternoon was spent in front of the TV and even when I went home that evening, I spent the rest of that night in front of the TV.                


The rest is now cold recorded history:                


On the morning (USA Eastern Time) of September 11, 2001, Al-Qaeda-affiliated hijackers flew two 767 jets into the complex, one into each tower, in a coordinated suicide attack. After burning for 56 minutes, the South Tower (2) collapsed, followed a half-hour later by the North Tower (1). 7 World Trade Centre collapsed later in the day and the other buildings, although they did not collapse, had to be demolished because they were damaged beyond repair. The process of cleanup and recovery at the World Trade Centre site took eight months.                


The attacks on the World Trade Centre resulted in 2,752 deaths.                


I wiped a few tears away. She was but 30 years old when she collapsed and died that day. She, too, was gone too soon!                


The WTC had special significance for me.                


As a youngster growing up in the sixties and seventies, I followed the building of THAT building with great interest. Remember there was no TV in South Africa at that time, but I read as many books and magazines about the WTC as I could.                


The World Trade Centre was a complex of seven buildings in Lower Manhattan in New York City. The original World Trade Centre was designed by Minoru Yamasaki in the early 1960s using a tube-frame structural design for the twin 110-story towers.                


Groundbreaking for the WTC took place on 5 August 1966. The North Tower (1) was completed in December 1970 (I was then in Standard 6 – grade 8 ) and the South Tower (2) was finished in July 1971.                


The complex was located in the heart of New York City’s downtown financial district. The Windows on the World restaurant was located on the 106th and 107th floors of 1 World Trade Centre (the North Tower) while the Top of the World observation deck was located on the 107th floor of 2 World Trade Centre (the South Tower).                


Between 1972 and 1973, the Twin Towers were the tallest buildings in the world (having overtaken the Empire State Building, and then being surpassed by the Sears Building in Chicago.)                


Other World Trade Centre buildings included the Marriott World Trade Centre; 4 World Trade Centre; 5 World Trade Centre; 6 World Trade Centre, which housed the United States Customs. All of these buildings were built between 1975 and 1981. The final building constructed was 7 World Trade Centre, which was built in 1985.                


In 1974, when I was in Standard 10 (Grade twelve) and selected to be a Rotary exchange Student (read Oklahoma is OK and so much more!), I was given the option to go to Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the USA.                


That was no choice for me –obviously, I only wanted to go to the USA and simply because I wanted to see the WTC!                


And, so it was, in January 1975, en route from Cape Town, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro and flying into New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport at the age of 18, I saw her for the very first time. From the helicopter that flew me from JFK to La Guardia Airport (for my onward flight to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and final destination Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers Airport), I could see that she dominated the Manhattan skyline. I could hardly contain my excitement – I was living my dream!                


In January 1976, on my way home to South Africa via London, I got to spend a week in New York City and to go to the top of the South Tower – to the observation deck on the 107th floor.                


During my second visit to NYC in December/January 1987/88, Grant Lloyd and I visited her again and spent New Year’s Eve on Times Square.                


Ironically, the day she tumbled in 2001 was just three weeks before our family, Pera, Sean (who was but 8 then), Phillip (was 5 and still at Linkside Pre-primary) and I, were booked to go back to the States on a three-week holiday! The world was in turmoil and we didn’t know until the last moment, when planes started moving again, that we would indeed go.                


We headed off from Port Elizabeth into a very uncertain world, via London to Atlanta, Georgia. A handful of us were on that Boeing 767 (no one else wanted to fly!) and we flew, so comfortably with rows of seats to ourselves, right over New York City. My video shows plumes of smoke emanating from Ground Zero, and stretching upwards into the stratosphere.                 


On my third visit to NYC, the World Trade Centre was no more.                


The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), established in November 2001 to oversee the rebuilding process, organized competitions to select a site plan and memorial design.                


Memory Foundations, designed by Daniel Libeskind, was selected as the master plan, which included the 1,776-foot (541 m) One World Trade Centre, three office towers along Church Street and a memorial designed by Michael Arad.                


The site is currently being rebuilt with six new skyscrapers and a memorial to the casualties of the attacks. The first new building at the site was 7 World Trade Centre which opened in May 2006.                

Computer Image of the new tower


 We will always remember! – those who died, that awful day that changed our world, and where we were on 9/11.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Life and Death: 3 more Funerals!

6 September 2010: 4 years on …

Despite the heart sore of all the funerals of the last few months, we have also joked about the number of family and friends who have passed away. Is it co-incidence or is it because of the age category in which we now find ourselves?


Despite the sadness, I have also experienced the fun of funerals. They have become sort of enforced reunions – seeing family and friends that you have not seen for years. In some cases, the funerals have also brought people together who, because of stupid arguments, have deliberately for years avoided each other.


Despite the tears, there are the laughs of funerals – in some way, I suppose, that is our human way of coping with the loss of losing people who have been so close to us in life.


Some while ago, I wrote an article entitled Four Funerals and Not a Wedding.  Since then, and during the course of the last two weeks, we have experienced another four deaths – Aunty Elsie, friend Sergei van Niekerk (brother of Lorna Brown and uncle of Wayne, Lindsay and Duncan Brown), friend Jenny Collier’s dad, and then on Thursday, Nico Malan, from Stellenbosch, who was killed in a car accident in Wellington in the Western Cape.


Nico was Tilly Wust’s sister. I have written about the Wust family often – we became friends at Stellenbosch and we often stay with either Willem or Jacobus when we are in Cape Town. In fact, in February 2007, I stayed with Willem and Gretel in Durbanville on the night before I was diagnosed with CBD at Tygerberg Hospital. Little did I think or know when I left their house that morning en route to the Hospital how my life would change within that next hour of my consultation with Professor Carr.  


The Wusts were five brothers: in descending order of age – Willem, Jacobus, Chris, Francois and Marius. Willem was Primarius of Helshoogte in the year before I was (1980) and Jacobus was Onder Prim in the year after me (1982). At one stage, Willem, Kobus and Chris all played rugby for the Helshoogte First Team. As a student, I often used to go home with them to Durbanville or to their holiday house at Pringle Bay. I was almost like the 6th brother in the family!


Willem and I visited George and Plett in his red Toyota during varsity holidays, and I have fond memories of our stays with Dr Hendrik du Toit and his wife Anna at 21 Caledon Street, George. I also often stayed with them when I was on weekend pass from Infantry School in Oudtshoorn. Willem married Gretel du Toit during my second year at Oudtshoorn (1983).


We met up again with Chris and Susan in the Eastern Cape when Chris was a civil engineer involved with the building of the marina and canals at Martina Martinique at Jeffery’s Bay. We drove around in the man-made canals before they were flooded and I remember Chris telling us then that the project would never work.


Well, it didn’t quite work out as it was planned to do, and today the harbour there has silted up and disappeared – and there is no access from the marina to the sea! The water has to be artificially reticulated through the canal system.


Chris sadly suffered heart failure some five years ago and, despite a heart transplant, passed away some while thereafter. 


Jacobus married Tilly Malan. I spoke at their wedding reception in the Sanlamsaal in the Langenhoven Student centre at Stellenbosch University.


Those were the years of the weddings – not the funerals! And I seem to have become a professional speaker and cut my public speaking teeth at weddings in those early days – the first reception that I acted as MC was for my room mate Glynn Jones (from Tulbagh) when he married Carol Friend in Plattekloof in Cape Town. (They have since emigrated to Vancouver, Canada) Then there was Thomas and Marzeth Moolman who got married in Rawsonville, and Richard and Helena Glennie from Somerset East who married in Somerset West. There were weddings in Paarl and Riebeeck-Kasteel – I simply can’t remember them all!


I saw Jacobus (and Gretel and Willem) two weeks ago when I was down in Stellenbosch, and just last year this time, we celebrated Jacobus and Tilly’s 50th birthdays at a function in Welgemoed. And Nico was there. We also saw each other when we visited at the Wust’s holiday house in Kleinmond. His funeral took place in Stellenbosch today – all too soon!


Tilly’s parents (both since have passed on) worked at the University. Working at the Education Faculty, Mrs Malan often joked about inside information that she had about us as students! They also ran a B&B in Stellies and I stayed there when I went back to study for the Postgraduate Management Diploma in HIV/AIDS in 2004.


That’s the qualification I obtained Cum Laude. I had wanted to continue with my Master’s degree, but then I became ill!  I saw the M.Phil advertised again in last week’s Sunday Times and wondered whether I would have enough time left to pursue studying again? It irks me sometimes when I see jobs and things advertised, and I can no longer participate in the main stream of life!


That’s also the qualification that burst my bubble when I graduated. I stood in the queue with thousands of other students at Coetzenburg’s DF Malan Centre – all dressed in cap and gown, and feeling twenty years’ old like the rest of the crowd. Blending in just like the rest – or so I thought. Until a young lass approached me and said “Oom, sal jy asseblief ‘n foto van ons neem?”!  Uncle, will you please take a photo of us? The years had taken their toll!


Anyway, with the passing of Nico, another bubble in life is burst. If anything, all the funerals of the last few months have emphasized to me the frailty, the fragility and the finiteness of our human life. Sometimes, I get angry at the apparent unfairness and injustice of it all. Just yesterday I spoke to my friend, Sonja van Rhyn, in The Strand. She has also been struck down by a neurological illness. I cried from hopelessness – I just didn’t know what to say or how to make it any easier.  


No one is invincible. Not kings, queens or commoners. Just this week, we were reminded of the anniversary of the sudden death and funeral of Princess Diana thirteen years ago, and yesterday, the father of the Prime Minister of Great Britain passed away suddenly in France. No one is spared!


We are not here on this spaceship Earth forever! The journey ends.


The funerals, therefore, have highlighted to me how important it is for everyone – healthy or unhealthy, firm or infirm, enabled or disabled, old or young – to make the most of every single day, every single hour, every single moment, which is given to us.


Don’t delay, don’t procrastinate, and don’t waste. Before you know, it’s gone to soon. Your candle’s burned out …


Jason Eichacker says:

Time is the measure of all things.

Yosemite Valley is a stark reminder of what came before you and will outlast you. Trees stretch a hundred feet above your head, looking on silently as you buzz past its trunk.

Regardless of what you do, the whole system carries on.

There is a quiet peace: things grow, things die. The system is indifferent to what survives and what perishes as long as each job is filled. The surroundings respond only to your action.

What matters is what you do.

Humans pass lives without making much of them, skipping the important stuff in favour of what is within reach. Like redwoods pushing into the sky in search of sunshine, we have to shed what would hold us back so we can continue to grow.

Make a decision or limit your future.



No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

(John Donne)

ED is in wED Sept 8: AlgoaFM Broadcast

Thanks for listening to this broadcast (no 22) on 08.09.10:

[Please note it is divided into 3 parts: broadcast 1 / song / broadcast 2]

Make me a channel of your peace. 
Where there is hatred let me bring your 
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord 
And where there’s doubt, true faith in 

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console 
To be understood as to understand 
To be loved as to love with all my soul. 

Make me a channel of your peace
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring
Where there is darkness, only light 
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.


Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned 
In giving to all men that we receive 
And in dying that we’re born to eternal 


Letter for Guy

(with apologies to Elton John’s Song for Guy!)

08/09/10 (it’s once in a lifetime that you can date something like that!): 4 years on  …

This is a letter that I received from Carol in the USA via – a support group for those of us diagnosed with CBD.

I cannot add to such a beautifully stated message – it tells our story:

Ten years ago when my husband Guy was 64 years old, he first showed symptoms of CBD; however, he was not officially diagnosed until 2004.


A year and a half ago, Guy reached the point where he could no longer stand nor use
his arms and hands. Thankfully he can still talk and chew and swallow. Other than that, he has to totally depend upon assistance for all his needs.

We are continuously accommodating Guy’s needs or modifying our routines to adjust to any new developments in the progression of the CBD. We use a Hoyer lift to get Guy out of bed and into his wheelchair. We have an alternating pressure mattress to help prevent pressure sores. We purchased a used van with a wheelchair lift.


We also have Guy enrolled in Hospice as a palliative care patient. As a result of that enrollment, a Hospice aide comes 4 times a week to help Guy’s aide bathe Guy since that is a major task. In addition, a Hospice nurse comes once a week to take Guy’s vitals and checks his body for bed sores.


A massage therapist comes every few weeks as well as a podiatrist every couple of months.


That’s the difficult part of Guy’s life.


Now the good part is that he still maintains his incredible sense of humor, still enjoys following his adored Yankees, still enjoys having friends and family visit; and, although he flops over in his wheelchair and needs to be helped to return to an erect sitting position, he enjoys leaving the house as much as possible.


We are blessed to have the help of a fabulous male CNA, Wilbert, who works with us 7 days a week for 9 hours a day.

(Something told me 12 years ago to buy long term health insurance. I shudder
to think about what our lives would be like now had we not purchased that insurance.)


With Wilbert’s help, we manage to do things like go to the movies, concerts, theater, out to dinner, take rides and anything else we can accomplish in 3 hours or less. Again we are so very fortunate to have Wilbert’s help.


But the area in which I feel especially grateful is that of Guy’s attitude.


Never once in all the time his life has been so drastically altered by this disease has he complained. His attitude and disposition are nothing short of extraordinary. It is much more likely that I rather than Guy would have a “melt down”!


He even has the remarkable ability to see humor in his situation. Many times we have had belly laughs over the strange movements that occur in his limbs.


I readily admit that had it been I confined to that hospital bed, there would be no way my attitude and disposition would in any way measure up to Guy’s.


I would like to think, however,  that having experienced this time with Guy during his illness, I have  learned the incredible effect that frame of mind can have on the quality of  one’s life regardless of the measure of one’s physical state.


 He has been able to take what would ordinarily be a daily world of misery and despair and created a workable, pleasant and sometimes actually silly life for both of us. I will forever be grateful to him for not being the bear I probably would have been had I been the one afflicted with such a debilitating illness.


I am sharing this with you because I can hear in your posting the same strength I observe in Guy. You sound like a person of courage and conviction.


Yes, the CBD may weaken your body, but my prayer for you is that you never allow it to damage your spirit.


May you continue to remain strong in will, able to maintain inner peace and find something to smile about every day.
 Sending you positive thoughts and prayers,


Lewis Pugh – The Human Polar Bear in Studio

We were privileged to interview Lewis on Friday 20 August 2010 in the AlgoaFM studio in Port Elizabeth.

If you missed his breakfast , this is what he had to say:

Section 3:

Section 2:

Section 1:


(Home is where the heart is – Part 2)

Wednesday 1 September 2010: 4 years on …

Today is a very special day and the start of a very special month.

Here, in South Africa, we celebrate 1 September as Spring Day – the start of the Spring Season. New life!

Today, “ED is in wED” airs for the 21st time on AlgoaFM. Many happy returns!

On the first Friday in September, this year 3 September, we celebrate Casual Day and people are encouraged to dress casually to work and school. It’s a FUNdraising project of the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in SA to raise funds and to show support for those of us who live with disabilities. The theme this year is Dress for Laughs and the target is to raise R20 million for various welfare organisations. Let’s all support Casual Day and buy our R10 stickers at ABSA or other retail outlets, and celebrate good health and show our support!

I celebrate my real birthday this month. Another birthday!

I also celebrate four years of living with CBD. It was in September 2006 that I first detected the symptoms of this degenerative disease that has since slowly been eating away at my body. In February 2007, when the illness was diagnosed, I was told that I would become severely incapacitated within three years. And just look at me now – that is reason to celebrate! Another year!

Last Saturday, when I landed at Cape Town airport for my visit to Stellenbosch, as I turned on my cell phone I received the news that my Aunty Elsie had passed away that morning. She was the wife of my father’s second eldest brother, the late John ‘Guy’ Lunnon.

She is my third aunt that has passed away within the last three months, and brings to an end the 75-year era of the surname Lunnon in The Strand. Since 1935, there has always been a Lunnon in The Strand. Alas, no longer!

After retiring as postmaster in Caledon, my grandfather Walter Charles Lunnon arrived in The Strand in 1935 with his three daughters (my aunts) – my father and his two brothers were already working and living away from home.

They moved into 19 Gordon’s Bay Road. After Walter died on 14 October 1958, my dad, Herbert Louis Lunnon, and our family moved in there. When my mom, Doris Lunnon, died in 1986, my eldest sister, Lynette Muller and her family moved in there and still live there today.

I had moved to Port Elizabeth and that left my youngest sister, June Lunnon, in the town.

And Uncle Guy and Aunty Elsie had retired to The Strand and kept the name there. My cousins, their daughter Margaret moved to Bristol, England, and their two sons William (Bill) Lunnon moved to The Netherlands and Michael Lunnon to Napier, New Zealand.

Uncle Guy passed away in 1992 and, since then, only my sister June (unmarried) and Aunty Elsie had kept the name alive. June left for Auckland, New Zealand some two years ago and Aunty Elsie passed away last Saturday, 21 August 2010. The Strand Lunnons had come to an end.

But, last Friday 27 August, we attended a memorial service at Benadehof where she had lived for the last 18 years. My cousin Margaret and her daughter Sally came back from England, and Michael returned from New Zealand.

Michael spoke so eloquently of his mom at the service – that kind, gentle, grey-haired lady who, paradoxically, had made hand grenades during World War II, and who had been part of my life for 54 years. She, and Uncle Guy, had been especially kind to our family after my dad had been paralysed by a stroke way back in 1969.

After the service, Michael, Margaret, Sally and I joined Aunty Doreen (now my only surviving nee Lunnon aunt – the last of the six Lunnon siblings) and Uncle Peter Volsteedt for lunch at the Kaapzicht Restaurant in Beach Road, Strand.

Michael and Brenda’s son, Alistair, now living in Montana, USA, and our sons, Sean and Phillip, now living in Port Elizabeth, will carry the Lunnon name forward. A new generation!

We raised our glasses in honour of the 93 years of Elsie Margaret Lunnon (nee Simms): 1917 – 2010. 

We celebrated!