Sleep in Heavenly Peace

(C) 2014 Edward C Lunnon
8 years 4 months ill …
Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

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I started blogging some four years ago, primarily in order to reduce my workload in answering individual notes to me enquiring about my health and what I was doing to occupy my time.

It also became a vehicle to raise awareness about my illness, corticalbasal degeneration.

Little did I know then the amount of work that I was creating for myself!

But I am so grateful for the opportunities that have arisen from my writing, the friends that I have encountered, the new acquaintances that have been made, the speeches that I have delivered, the radio ramblings that Lance and I have been involved in and the awareness that has been created.

I am humbled that as we go into 2015, this blogsite is heading towards 200 000 hits.

Yet, as the figure goes up, I am also too aware of how much lonelier the path I walk becomes.

I was originally told, way back in 2007, that I would most probably depart this earth round and about 2012!

The interim years remind me of the frenetic pace that accompanies the preparation for undertaking international travel. And I have been extremely fortunate in doing so much of that!

In terms of travel, it’s the tickets, the passports, the visas, the currency, the bookings, the packing., and so on! Everything has to be just in place with no room for error.

In terms of facing death, it’s the policies, the insurance, the bank, the will, the house, the legal stuff, the funeral, the doctors, the family, the finances, the personal matters of the heart and soul, and so on! Everything, too, has to be just in place.

And, you know the feeling, when you arrive at the airport, rush through the check-in counter, then through passport control and into the waiting area of the departure and transit lounges. You sink into a chair, your luggage has been taken from you, a weight is lifted from your shoulders, not a care in the world, you hope like hell that everything has been taken care of, and if not, so what?

You watch, and wager and wait. Watch the crowds mill past, watch the wares on display in the various stores, wager your last few coins of local currency, and wait for your flight to be called.

You can’t go back from whence you have come and you can only think about the place you are going to!

If you are traveling alone, it’s a long and lonely wait. Despite being surrounded by a crowd of milling people, you are there by yourself and it becomes a lengthy wait!

And I have been waiting now for eight years and four months. The eight years have been a breeze that I have been blessed to experience.

My blogs document much of this period of my life. Thank you for allowing me to share this time with you.

The last four months have been increasingly more difficult. I am trying as much as possible to continue sharing these days with you, too. Unfortunately, my thoughts don’t always make it to my fingers and my fingers don’t make it to the keys! But thank you, too, for the words of encouragement and the acts of support in assisting me to share my time with you.

This is my ninth Christmas in the transit lounge. My body is growing tired of waiting, and I hope you will understand when I say that I am increasingly looking forward to that time when , at last, my flight will be called. My destination becomes increasingly more attractive. I long for the waiting to be over.

My wish to all of you this Christmas time – before you get to the transit lounge – is that you may discover your route in this life and know where your destination is, that you will continue to enjoy the trip and make the most of the hours given to you, and that you will sleep in Heavenly Peace.

“We regret to announce that Flight 777 to Heaven has been delayed yet again. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused.”

A Load of Shed!

(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnon
Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce
8 years 4 months ill …

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The last two weeks have been difficult.

More deaths (Phillip Hughes, the cricketer in Aus; John Lynch, Old Greys ex President in PE; Pierre Corkie, ex-teacher from Grey Bloem in Yemen).

More load shedding in the country as we face an uncertain electrical future.

More problems with petrol supplies and telephone communications.

More health challenges for me including bronchitis and gout, and more quinine tablets for the increasing spasms.

The last two weeks have been exciting.

We spent the weekend at the Bathurst Country Affair Food and Wine festival with my sister Ingrid and her husband Anton.

Sean and Phillip headed for Plettenberg Bay.

Pera has gone to New Zealand to surprise visit her sister Bridget whom she hasn’t seen in the last fourteen years.

The last two weeks have been hectic.

Planning for Christmas, preparing for Cape Town, packing for trips, sorting out taxes, attending Christmas parties and consulting doctors.

The last two weeks have been emotional.

Deaths, cancer diagnoses, illness, more CBD cases, hellos and goodbyes.

The last two weeks have been just a typical period in the experience and journey that we call Life.

The Prodigal Sister

Watch here the unannounced surprise visit today of my wife Pera from Port Elizabeth South Africa to her sister Bridget Southwood Gibbs in Auckland New Zealand after a separation of some ten years … All organised secretively by Bridget’s husband Derek Gibbs … Thanks D! Click here: https://www.facebook.com/ed.lunnon/posts/10152840510348257

and here:

https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10205266744376588&id=772778256

and here https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10205253480404997

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BrainStorms – Ed Lunnon’s Blog: Raising awareness about corticalbasal degeneration, a rare neurological illness

(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnon
8 years 2 months ill …
Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

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Monday 24 November 2014

My Blackberry reminded me this morning that today would have been Sherri Danley’s 57th birthday. She was at school with me in Sulphur, Oklahoma and died from cancer a few years ago.

My iPad reminded me that Debbie Whitley was not feeling too well. I like to call Debbie my sister-in-law because she is married to Blake Whitley, the eldest of my five American Whitley “brothers” that I lived with at the Lake of the Arbuckles in Sulphur. Debbie is bravely fighting cancer.

My desktop reminded me that my blogsite surpassed the 185 000 hit readership last night. I am humbled. It was five years ago that I started blogging – in October 2009 – three years into my journey with CBD. I started blogging to stay in touch with my family and friends, and my initial emails and the new Facebook had become inadequate for my needs. My first two blogs were “Three Years On” … and “Oklahoma is OK and so much more”. Little did I know then what I had started!

My laptop reminded me that Kevin and Carol Whitley had just done a twelve hour trip from the east coast of the USA to Oklahoma to attend a family wedding and a family reunion. I was sad that I was not there and I must admit that I shed a few tears (something that I do more and more of these days) Yes, everybody hurts, sometimes! I needed to message Blake and Kevin and Colin and nowadays its instantaneous on Facebook – you just wait for that little green dot to light up.

Lance du Plessis, my AlgoaFM radio host, reminded me that Freddie Mercury passed away 21 years ago today. He played “Live Forever”!

My brain (albeit diseased) reminded me that that was not possible! But, my mind did take me back forty years to Oklahoma 1975. I remembered the Whitleys, the Colberts, the Griffens, the Seips, Sulpur and Sulphur High School and all my Sulphur school friends. I remembered the USA, the Star spangled banner, the day i was made an honorary citizen of Oklahoma. I remembered the four times that I have returned to the States, and the journey that I have undertaken since then.

I am reminded by that most sophisticated device of all – my brain – that I am so blessed. I am reminded that despite the physical disabilities that i am beginning to encounter, and the negativity that I am having to fight, it’s been a good life for it all!

I am reminded that it’s my past that will carry me into my future and it’s my present that I have to learn to manage.

I am reminded … of hiking and skiing in Aspen Colorado, and John Denver and Poems, Prayers and Promises!

“I’ve been lately thinking about my life’s time, all the things I’ve done and how it’s been.
And I can’t help believing in my own mind, I know I’m gonna hate to see it end.
I’ve seen a lot of sunshine, slept out in the rain, spent a night or two all on my own.
I’ve known my lady’s pleasures, had myself some friends, spent a time or two in my own home.

I have to say it now, it’s been good life all in all, it’s really fine to have a chance to hang around.
and lie there by the fire and watch the evening tire
while all my friends and my old lady sit and pass a pipe around.
And talk of poems and prayers and promises and things that we believe in.
How sweet it is to love someone, how right it is to care.
How long it’s been since yesterday, what about tomorrow
and what about our dreams and all the memories we share?

Days they pass so quickly now, the nights are seldom long.
Time around me whispers when it’s cold.
The changes somehow frightens me, still I have to smile. It turns me on to think of growing old.
For though my life’s been good to me there’s still so much to do.
So many things my mind has never known.
I’d like to raise a family, I’d like to sail away and dance across the mountains on the moon.

I have to say it now, it’s been good life all in all, it’s really fine to have a chance to hang around.
and lie there by the fire and watch the evening tire
while all my friends and my old lady sit and pass a pipe around.
And talk of poems and prayers and promises and things that we believe in.
How sweet it is to love someone, how right it is to care.
How long it’s been since yesterday, what about tomorrow
and what about our dreams and all the memories we share?”

The Week that was …5 November 2014

(c) 2014 Edward C. Lunnon

8 years 1 month ill …
Physical: Deuce / Mental: Adv Ed

* The Herald reports on 22 October that “A paralyzed man can walk again after revolutionary treatment hailed as a breakthrough”.

Nerve cells were transplanted from Darek Fidyaka’s nose into his severed spinal column. (in Poland). He was paralyzed from the chest down but can now walk again.

* I start taking Coconut Oil in my coffee. The oil is highly recommended for people with neurological illnesses. Let’s see what happens. I’m also now taking ten carbolev (generic tablets at least, thanks to GEMS) tablets a day. Let’s hope for good results!

* Rob Stear is laid to rest. RIP. And then Monday we hear that Richard Stretch had passed away, and last night further bad news of how The Big C has encroached into our friends and family circle. I am devastated and our prayers and thoughts are with all concerned.

* Three of our national sportsmen/woman pass away in tragic circumstances.

* Tinus Linee ex Springbok and WP rugby player and MND patient passes away in Paarl

* We attend Grey Staff Soiree now in its 26th year

* I do the zip line at Adrenalin Addo on Happy Lands farm and spend the day with the Tayler-Smiths

* David Maynier, ex pupil and now shadow minister of Defence in the SA Parliamen, came to visit and we had a beer at Something Good

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Walk and Fly

8 years 1 month ill …

Physical Deuce / Mental ED

(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnon

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I am angry!

This morning we have heard of yet another killing – this time the captain of our national soccer team shot down in cold blood.

I have written an open letter to the President of the RSA. Decisive action is needed to stop the lawlessness and crime in our country.

This comes after a wonderful weekend. A weekend that shows us just how we could live in this country of ours.

It started off with the Big Walk for Cancer. Nine thousand people walking five kilometers along the beach front of Port Elizabeth. All this to raise awareness and funds for cancer treatment in our City.

The weather was fine and the atmosphere electric. Singing and dancing and music and merriment, and in the process, a record established for the most number of feet through a hotel foyer of the Boardwalk Hotel.

Pera and I were two of the nine thousand!

Then we moved up to the Port Elizabeth Airport for the Bay West Air Show. All this to raise funds for the MTR Children’s Home in our City.

What an excited crowd – I’m not sure how many but the place was choc-a-bloc full.

“Oohs “and “aaahs” from little boys and little girls and not so little boys and little girls! The things that dreams are made of and the defining moments that determine the future occupation and pasttimes of so many little people.

Pictures grace all the pages of the social media and print media this morning.

These are the things that determine whether people remain in this country or flee overseas, as so many of our friends and family do.

We’re all on a high as we return home to watch the Currie Cup rugby final between the Lions and the WP – and WP wins! Even higher we go!

And what a choice of activities we had this weekend: in between walking and flying, we could have celebrated the Oktoberfest, attended the Aurora fete, tasted the whiskey and the cigars at the Fairview Expo, viewed the Bedford Gardens, …

All enough to make you high – the joys of Africa!

But then this morning’s news brings you crashing back to the realities of Africa!

And as I write this, my younger sister Ingrid and my niece Lindsay are visiting my youngest sister June in the Land of the Long White Cloud –  Aotearoa. Travel safe, enjoy and keep the pics flowing for our armchair travelogue!

I am not only angry. I am also galla!

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HHH40 Reunion 2014 (Part 2)

8 years 1 month ill …
(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnnon

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I said some more than sixty replied in the affirmative. I’m still not sure exactly how many attended – there were still people booking on the Friday morning that the reunion started and some arrived without booking!

The more, the merrier!

Originally, one event was what I had in my mind. But as more people from afar replied, that grew to three official events – and a few more unofficial get-togethers!

All were planned from Port Elizabeth for the weekend of 26 – 28 September 2014. I had also arranged to return to the Cape on 13 September in order to ensure that everything was in place (and an excuse, I guess, to go “home”!).

Communication with everyone was problematic. Not many of my era are computer-linked via the internet and some don’t even have an e-mail address! I had to resort to letters, envelopes, stamps and the Post Office – when last did you post a letter in a red letter box?

The functions planned were a get-together at the school on Friday including tea with the current staff, a tour of the new school buildings and an spitbraai in the evening.

Saturday was winetasting at Vergelegen Estate, rugby and starters at Erinvale Golf Course and Dinner (courses 2 and 3) at Lourensfords Millhouse Restaurant.

Sunday was a brunch and farewell at The Lord Charles Hotel.

I arrived in Cape Town on my late father’s birthday (it would have been his 99th!). In between all the arrangements, thanks to my niece and her husband, Michelle and Sebastian Ridgway, and friends Gretel and Willem Wust from Durbanville, I was able to visit family, friends, wine farms, pubs, restaurants, etc etc. The Cape of Good Hope does not seem to run out of entertainment options.

I celebrated my 58th birthday in the CBD (not my illness!) of Cape Town and in style with my Strand family. I haven’t done that in many a year!

All the time, the reunion dates came closer. People started arriving early in the week, like Kevin Russell from England, Piet Faure from Johannesburg and Carl Groenewald from Pietermaritzburg. We ate various meals at various places, from Gordon’s Bay Harbour to Helderberg’s Slopes.

Cecil Bond arrived the previous Saturday from Vancouver – and he and his wife and I managed to get in a few good visiting hours at The Lord Charles. He then also managed, in addition to our function, a SACS reunion in Cape Town and a family 60th birthday party in Kimberley!

And yes, despite the best of plans, things do go wrong! As the guests were arriving at the front door on Friday, the pub organisers were threatening to withdraw because they still had not received my EFT deposit from the bank!

Imagine a reunion without a pub!

The dinner was double booked and I had to improvise a two stage dinner at two different venues!

But, the people arrived, the memories were unlocked, the camaraderie gelled, the wine flowed and the chatting continued, by some, until four in the morning!

Too soon, it was all over. But not the pics, the memories, the history and the renewed friendships.

I was so pleased that I had persevered, despite the difficulties, to continue with the arrangements and to renew the links.

I was so pleased that we had all come.

I had finished what I had been doing and stopped working. It was all good, so then I rested!

And, before I flew back to Port Elizabeth on Tuesday morning, I managed to slip in a visit to my neurologist at Tygerberg Hospital Dr Henning and his lovely wife Helen. The supper was great, the pills were upped and the company was good!

I did wipe back a tear as the British Airways plane took off over the Cape Flats, False Bay and the Hottentots-Holland Mountains.

“Our school has done well, may it ere excel …”

HHH40 Reunion: 2014 (1)

8 years 1 month ill …
Mental: Advantage Ed / Physival: Deuce
(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnon

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I went to Hendrik Louw Primary School in The Strand, Hottentots-Holland High School in Somerset West and Sulphur High School in Sulphur, Oklahoma, USA.

I then attended Stellenbosch University and did some of my practical teacher training at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch and Hottentots-Holland High School.

I did some brief teaching at Sulphur High and taught for five years at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth from 1984 to 1988.

I have also lectured at what was the PE Technikon, the University of Port Elizabeth and the UPE Business School.

My sister is a teacher, my brother-in-law is a teacher and my wife is a teacher. Teaching is in our blood!

Five years ago, in 2009, I organised the 25 year reunion of the very first class that I had taught at Grey – the Grey Class of 1984. Grey is a school with a very strong Old Boys’ Union and has annual reunions for many of its classes – the 10, 20, 25, 30, 50, 60 and many more! Thousands of Old Boys return to their Alma Mater every year.

This year, I assisted a bit with the 30 year return of the Class of 1984. My health would not allow me more than just “a bit”!

Whilst busy with those arrangements, in May of this year 2014, it dawned on me that I had matriculated in 1974 and had been out of school myself for 40 years! Not once, in the ensuing years, had our class ever had a reunion and most of us have never seen each other since we left “… the Valley famed both far and wide since the days of Van der Stel”!

So, when the Grey reunion had finished in May, I started with the arduous task of trying to organise a reunion for my own class in a school where reunions are not annual events but held on a very “los and vas” basis!

I had a few names of HHH classmates on Facebook. Like throwing that proverbial stone into the water and watching the rings that that creates, I approached those first few people to gauge the water – would anyone really be interested in getting together after 40 years?

The rings kept getting bigger an bigger, and soon we had the complete name list of 99 people. With the most unbelievable sleuthing skills by Annemarie Nieuwoudt (Sherlock Holmes!) we managed, in three months, to find that nine of our class had passed away. Of the remaining 90, we traced and spoke to 89 (all except our headboy) and received affirmative replies from over 60 of our class mates!

The stage had been set for a good reunion! (to be continued …)

Rob Stear

(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnon
8 years 1 month ill …
Physical: Deuce / Mental: ED

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Last weekend Pera and I spent with Dickie and Colleen Ogilvie on Doorndraai somewhere in the midst of the Karoo.

In their passage hangs a photo frame with photographs taken of various friends when we all lived in Port Elizabeth. I collated the pics and gave it to them at their farewell party when they left PE.

There is a photo of Rob Stear at David and Debbie Capel’s farewell party at the Thomsons. David was the professional cricket coach at Grey and they were returning to Britain.

The dress was semi-formal – formal from the waist up and casual from the waist down.

We spoke about those “good ole days” when we were just kids ourselves!

We spoke about our good friend Rob Stear – the life and soul of every party.

“Never fear because Stear was here!”

October being cancer awareness month and the Oglvie/Watermeyer homes being familiar with the fight against cancer, we spoke about cancer, hospices and fundraising.

We discussed Rob’s recent battle with cancer.

I said that when we returned to PE I needed to visit Rob.

The visit never took place!

None of us anticipated that Rob would pass away the very next day.

He had a name for everyone and I was Edgar. When we met at Old Grey Club, he would paraphrase the previous week’s radio interview that Edgar had concluded with Lance du Plessis.

He would talk to the ceiling, telling it what “kak” they played on the radio nowadays! It was always just loud enough for me to hear about his complaints. He never admitted to listening to one of our discussions!

Thanks Rob for listening! I know you got something from our talks! In the grand scheme of things, I was supposed to go before you … but then we just never know, do we?

I hope you have that dinner table prepared for our next function – maybe formal this time, but knowing you, it may just be completely casual?

Oh yes, but then I quess I don’t have to remind you, don’t forget the beers!

RIP Rob Roy Stear

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Meat and Greet

(c) 2014 Edward C. Lunnon
8 years 1 month ill …
Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage Ed

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It was eight years ago, in Kirkwood, that I first realised that there was something wrong with me.

Last Wednesday Pera and I drove past Kirkwood, on our way north to the Graaff-Reinet district. It was school holidays and we were taking a break – a bit of a road trip, some would call it.

I laughed at the austerity measures undertaken by our roads department when it came to painting the white lines on the road – just two thirds of each white stripe has been re-painted. I wonder how much that saved the tax payer in having to buy less piant! A nice exrcise for a maths class, I thought!

We had 5 days and in that time we

* travelled about a thousand kilometers on gravel, tar and cement roads
* first north, then west, then further north, then south east
* through the Noorsveld, Camdeboo, Great Karoo
* arrived at farm gates that read Tandjiesview, Kareepoort and Doorndraai
* visited the Harris’s, the Wrights, the Swarts, the Watermeyers and the Ogilvie’s
* saw my ex 1974 Headgirl Lorraine Swart (Myburgh) and her husband Dawie Swart after 40 years
* passed through Jansenville, Graaff-Reinett, Aberdeen, (almost) Beaufort West, Miller, Fullarton, Steytlerville, Baroe, Wolwefontein and Uitenhage
* slept in three different lovely farm homes
* ate copious amounts of lamb, mutton, beef, steak, eggs, sausage, mushrooms, veges, deserts, biltong, chips
* drank volumes of coffee and other more alcoholic drinks
* saw springbok, kudu, wildebeest, giraffe, mountain tortoise,likkewaans, warthog, goats, sheep, cattle, dogs, cats
* chatted XXXXX number of words to old and new friends – in English and our best Afrikaans

We socialised, talked, walked, rested, slept and ate. After all, we are all social human beings. No man is an island and I am most definitely not!

Braai the beloved country!

We experienced Peace in the heartland of south Africa. They call it Africa – we have the privilege to call it home!

But, in the peace, I am becoming ever more concerned about our home. I hear the concerns and see the deterioration and degradation happening all around us. I am worried! Are we are busy fracking up, not only the Karoo, but indeed our whole country?

Cry the beloved country!