Words for Teenagers

Northland College Principal John Tapene has offered the following words from a judge who regularly deals with youth.  “Always we hear the cry from teenagers, ‘what can we do, where can we go?’

“My answer is this: Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons and after you’ve finished, read a book. Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun.

“The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no-one will be at war, in sickness and lonely again. In other words grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is NOW and that somebody is YOU!”

I’ve Been There!

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Sunday 16 December 2012 (Reconciliation Day): 6 years 3 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

It’s a joke in our home. Often when something happens somewhere, or a place is shown on TV, then I will say “I’ve been there!”

Yes, I am fortunate to have been to many places around the world.

So when the news started filtering through on Friday evening about the horrific shooting of twenty odd elementary school children and six of their teachers in Connecticut, USA, I could say “I’ve been there!”

Not in Newtown itself, but just some 80km down the road on the coast in Greenwich, Connecticut.

It was the winter of January 1976. I was eighteen and was staying on the east coast of the United States for a while just before I was to return to South Africa after my exchange student year in Oklahoma. I was the guest of members of the Rotary Club of New York City.

I had taken the train from New York’s Grand Central Station to Greenwich, which is an affluent town on the east coast. I spent the weekend and then left from there by limousine for John F Kennedy airport, en route to London, Nairobi, Johannesburg and home to Cape Town.

Greenwich is a town similar to our St Francis Bay – large homes, waterways, canals, boats and the Ocean – not the Indian but the Atlantic Ocean.

Not that there was much water activity then. Being winter in the northern hemisphere, it was cold and snow covered the countryside.

Just up the road was Newtown – a small quiet inland community where wealthier people escape to live outside the rigour of New York City and commute to the metropolis every day. Safe and tranquil – no signs of walls or fences, no discord or safety concerns. Heaven on Earth!

It’s a part of the beautiful New England states of America.

Hardly a place where one would have expected the horrific tragedy of last Friday!

I’ve been there (on the East Coast), but I’ve not been there (on the edge of despair).

One cannot imagine what was going on in that killer’s mind. One can not imagine what is going on in the minds of the people of that community right now.

It’s difficult to put yourself into the place of another if you have not been there yourself. One can sympathise but not empathise.

There is so much unhappiness, despair, death, ill-health, financial woes and hunger in our world.

Just this last week, AlgoaFM ran a promotion whereby listeners were invited to nominate people who they felt qualified to receive R2000 worth of SPAR vouchers because of their needy circumstances.

I nominated a particularly deserving family – but they did not feature in the final awards!

When I heard the circumstances of other families and individuals who received the vouchers, I was astounded by the problems that people who live amongst us have to deal with on a daily basis. My nominated family’s problems paled into insignificance!

Through my weekly radio slot I have also communicated with and met numerous people from all walks of life and with all kinds of issues. It has humbled me and kept me going in my particular circumstances when I have seen that others carry far more baggage than I have to carry.

Sometimes, I can only sympathise; but sometimes I can empathise, because I have been there, too!

People have to deal with job losses. I can empathise – I have been there when I was forced to resign my job in 2002.

People have to deal with storms, floods and fires. I can empathise – just recently I also lost property and my car in the fires and floods that we experienced in the Eastern Cape.

People have to deal with financial woes. They don’t know from where their next meal is coming. I can only sympathise.

People have to deal with inter-personal relationships and sadness. I can empathise.

People have to deal with illness and terminal disease. I can empathise.

People have to deal with the death of parents. I can empathise – I have been there, when I had to deal with the death of my parents at an all too early age.

And people, like those parents in Newtown and Sandy Hook, have to deal with the death of their children. I can only sympathise because I cannot put myself in their place and understand their situation.

The Gospel message – the Good News to the world – that Christians, celebrate at this Christmas time is that God became man and put Himself into our place in the Person of Jesus.

God can say that He was there!

Yes, He was here. He became my substitute. Instead of me dying for my sins, Jesus, sent by God, died in my place, paid the penalty for my sin in full and thus I can be reconciled to God, sins forgiven and have the hope of eternal heaven. That’s the Christian Good News.

So as we celebrate the Good News at this Christmas time, let’s think about the so many people who surround us and who carry unbelievable burdens. Let’s not just think about them – let’s do something for them. Let’s also be able to say to them:

“For you, I was there … at Christmas 2012.”

Joost’s Disease

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 11 December 2012: 6 years 3 months on …

Physical:  Advantage CBD / Mental:  Advantage CBD

Joost van der Westhuizen, ex-Springbok scrumhalf and captain, appeared on the TV programme Carte Blanche again this past Sunday. He has MND – Motor neurone Disease and has appeared on TV a few times and often in the print media since his diagnosis at the beginning of last year.

In the United States MND is often called Lou Gehric’s disease – after a famous baseball player who contracted the disease. In South Africa now, people often refer to Joost’s Disease! I repeatedly get asked whether I have what Joost has!

Thank God for Joost!

Because of his celebrity status he has helped to raise the status and awareness of MND and other neurological illnesses.

But his situation should also raise a number of other issues and many questions.

For every Joost out there, there are hundreds of other South Africans with similar neurological illnesses who not only battle the disease but also need the support system and funds to deal with their battle.

How best can we help those people?

By law, medical aids in this country have to cover certain illnesses. These are referred to as PMB’s – prescribed minimum benefits. A certain number of diseases/conditions (such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, TB etc.) are defined as PMB’s and have to be covered for certain treatment by a medical aid.

Neurological illnesses (other than Parkinson ’s disease) are not classified as PMB’s which means that all treatment required for such illnesses, such as medication, physiotherapy, speech therapy, wheelchairs and other devices, home care, adaptation of homes, etc are not covered by medical aid other than payments made out of a general medical savings account should there be an available balance. This places an unbelievable financial burden on the patient and family.

How best can we be lobbying for the lawmakers to include neurological illnesses as PMB’s?

Joost has a foundation, J9, which is raising funds for research.

Where is this research being carried out and what research is being done?

How best can we be assisting in order to make this research beneficial to all patients?

How best can we be lobbying government to assist in assisting people with neurological problems?

Joostlike! The questions don’t stop … and the answers don’t come!

Cheers!

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 10 December 2012: 6 years 3 months on …

Physical Advantage CBD … Mental Advantage CBD

Early on Saturday 24 November Sean dropped me off at the airport. I was headed for Cape Town – a trip that normally would raise much excitement in me. This time, I was a bit anxious. It was a quickly arranged trip in order to get to visit Tygerberg Hospital and the Neurology Unit at the Stellenbosch University Faculty of Health Sciences Department of Internal Medicine.

Besides that appointment, Cape Town is also always a time to catch up with family and friends and to savour the beauty of the Western Cape.

I am always grateful to everyone who provides me with transport and accommodation. It is difficult to see everyone and to do everything on the list; and this time, even more difficult than in the past.

But I get to see university friends Willem and Gretel, Jacobus and Tillie, Hermann and Annette, Schalk, Miles and an old school mate – last seen 38 years ago – Andre Cromhout.  Supper with Dr Franclo Henning and his wife Helen is on the list and then there’s also my sister Lyn and her family including, of course, Sebastian (my tour guide!) and Michelle, and my cousins John and Jeremy Voldsteedt and their families.

I also manage a visit to my late mother and father’s grave in The Strand’s Goede Hoop cemetery. The vandalism, subsidence, neglect and destruction there makes me realise yet again the wastefulness of graveyards!

We get to visit Harbour Island at Gordon’s Bay, Stellenbosch (ofcourse!) and its brand new shopping centre, Blue Rock Quarry (with its cable park, skiing and rock jumping) at Sir Lowry’s Pass Village and a trip through the winelands to the quaint Franschoek, stopping off for lunch (babotie) at Kalfis Restaurant in the historic Huguenot Road. All these places tell the history of the Cape of Good Hope and indeed, the European origins of our country. The Afrikaans side of my family (the Roussouws and the Bassons on my paternal grandmother Susan van Blerck’s side) farmed and lived in these areas and at Agter-Paarl.

Of course, a meal at a wine farm is obligatory when visiting the Western Cape. This time it’s the Dornier Wine Estate on the Blaauwklippen Road just outside Stellenbosch. The meal was great and the view exquisite – all in the shelter of the Helderberg whilst the Black South Easter howled at all other points on the Cape Peninsula (and for almost every day of the duration of my visit)!

But talking about eating – I’m not sure if it was the (one glass of!) red wine or the Thai green curry that did it; but somewhere I picked up a bug and was laid very low with very painful gout and gastric flu!

It knocked me for a six and prevented me from visiting some friends that I had wanted to see and also our planned trip to the railway station restaurant at Botrivier. (It’s amazing how the Western Capers turn everything into tourist attractions!)

The visit to Tygerberg Hospital was daunting but uneventful.

It’s amazing, in the day and age that we live in, that some of the most sophisticated equipment that is used to do brain tests involve toothpicks, pins and needles and cotton wool!

The good prof reckons that I am still in the CBD “box” and can’t explain why it has not killed me in the five years that he originally predicted! What is it that keeps me going, albeit slower and slower?

I had been sent a text message before I went to the hospital – it read “I hope you come back normal!”

I wish; but, unfortunately, the professor can’t make me normal again!

The best he can do is to send to London some of the observations and videos that he took. There a group of “wise men” may come up with some answers – but a cure? Maybe that’s pushing my luck just a bit!

And so, it’s good-bye to Cape Town – yet again!

As that bright orange Mango Boeing took off eastwards over False Bay straight into the wild southeaster that was churning up the “sea-horses” way below, I wiped away a tear or two.

As I fly into the storms that lie ahead, I never know whether I will return to the place of my birth. I never know whether I will see the beauty of the Cape of Good Hope again – indeed, whether I will see any of you, my fellow-travellers, yet again. I never know whether it’s just cheers, good bye or farewell. Maybe the French have it right when they say “Au Revoir”!

Whatever it may be, I want you all to know how thankful I am to each and everyone of you for sharing my life journey and for making it what it is. Some have been on it from the very start – others climbed aboard later. But, wherever you joined my journey, I am so thankful that you have been there with me – and for me, for sharing your life with me, and for shaping my life with me. Somehow, “thank you” doesn’t seem quite enough!

I returned on Wednesday afternoon on the first Cape Town – Port Elizabeth Mango flight at a lesser price than normal. I, too, am less “normal” than I have ever been and with the cracks ever-widening.

Whilst the comment is always “but you look so good!” an honest assessment would see that my thought patterns are disturbed, my sight is problematic, my left hand is all but paralyzed (and my right hand is slowly flowing suit), my left buttock and left leg and foot with its spasms are uncomfortable and uncontrollable – despite all the braces and the new medication in the form of Baclofen @ 2x day! ED is in“slowED down”and “spacED-out” – who needs Washington State to legalise the recreational use of cannabis when you can get your mEDs directly from your friendly pharmacist and have the same effects?!

More importantly, the “being ill” for almost seven years now is starting to take its toll on me and the family. I am getting tirED even before the real show starts. I am struggling to be just a person – let alone a husband and a father and a citizen. 

And it’s starting to rub off on the rest …

 

 

Week ending wED 5 December 2012

Wed 28 Radio programme / lunch at Stellies Donier /to Durbanville

Thu 29 Tygerberg Hospital Prof Carr Dr Henning supper Jacobus

Fri 30 Strand howling wind Asian supper/ ill / massage

Sat 1 Dec Rugby England vs All blacks, snoek braai cousin John

Sun 2 Church @ Methodist Strand, gout, cancelled trip to Botrivier

Mon 3 Gordons Bay, Stellenbosch, ill

Tue 4 Franschoek, massage, visit Van Heerdens, reunion @ pub