Breakfast, Lunch and Supper

Eight years on with CBD …
Physical: advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage Ed

After our radio talk on Wednesday, I was invited by Tavcor to attend their Ice bucket Challenge with fundraising for PE’s St Francis Hospice.

While I was there my left leg went haywire – spasms then limp. It remained useless for the rest of the day and I was confined to my bed. The problem spread to my left arm too.

Was this the beginning of the next phase? Whichever, Wednesday was the most difficult day in my 8 year journey, and the week the most difficult one!

On Thursday morning there was a great improvement, but I have had to take the rest of the week just a little bit easier – more time on my bed! I don’t like doing this, but thank goodness for my iPad. It keeps me busy and I’m putting the final touches to our reunion in Somerset West.

On Thursday evening I managed to slip in a show , Johnny Cash, at the Old Cash Bar, and caught up with Elvis impersonator and friend Lionel Hunt from Port Alfred.

Friday was hectic. Breakfast with Brent, lunch with Lionel, milk tart with Mandy and supper with self! In between I had a meeting at Aurora with the OT but cancelled a drink at the Southender with Trichardt van Tonder. I was just too tired.

Today was TV day … Rugby, rugby, rugby and the Boks lost to Australia. Tomorrow the economy takes a dip and the rand dollar rate will slide!

Now for a new week. Let’s see what it brings …

Another Busy Week


7 Years 9 months ill ..

Physical: Advantage ED / Mental: Advantage ED


I Remember …

… My visit on Tuesday afternoon with Sister Janice from Hospice. Sister Gill is overseas in UK after a boat trip from Cape Town to Southampton. She returns this week.


… After Ed is in wEd, I visited Bluewaters cafe, then Aurora for physical caring and hydrotherapy. Evening spent at Moth meeting off Kragga Kamma Rd.


… Thursday required some more  mental caring from Rev George Irvine and Isaac, and in the evening with Sean at Maritime Motors for the launch of the new Jeep Cherokee.


… Friday was the opening of the new sushi bar at Bluewaters cafe and we had supper sans cellphones! Just the four of us with no outside interference! Also had a tea visit with MND patients Keith Biljon and Dave.


… Saturday: missed the fun run at Walker Drive due to the cold at 6am! (5 degrees); rugby Grey vs Dale. Sean ended up reffing Seconds and First on the trot (the Union ref did not arrive for the First Team Game!) In the evening, I attended a fundraiser for Friends of MND at Old Grey.


… Sunday early braai at noon with friends that continued until 8pm … fun had by all!


… Monday: Aurora; Tuesday: interview for Hospice on PEFM 87.6; haircut; rugby at NMB Stadium – Wales vs Kings






Home Affairs

16 March 2010: 3 years 6 months on  . . .

It is often said that living in Africa is not for sissies. Living in many parts of the world, I guess, is also not for sissies. In fact, living is not for sissies.

Philosophers would say that human life is one of tension and in constant ebb and flow. In our country right now, we live in the excitement and anticipation of the Football World Cup in June. But juxtaposed with that, after several years of unprecedented growth and prosperity, there are now financial concerns on a national level. After the euphoria of a transition to the democratic New South Africa, there are now political concerns about where to from here – Quo Vadis?

We see government institutions in decline – health and education services. We see infrastructure falling apart – railways, roads, potholes, water and electricity supplies. We witness the decay of society around us – the decline in moral values; fraud and corruption; crime, murder and mayhem in our cities and on our streets.

Since October last year, I have tried to get a birth certificate for my sister (who is in New Zealand) from the Department of Home Affairs. After six frustrating months, many phone calls – mostly unanswered, many messages – mostly not responded to, seven visits to the local office, long queues and lengthy delays, a letter to the newspaper, three issued certificates (all wrong), I have now sent her an incorrect certificate to enable her to register for her studies. The assistant at the Department suggested that the incorrect details could be attributed to the possibility that my sister had been adopted! Hopefully, the New Zealanders will know no better!

On personal levels, between life’s joys of birthdays and weddings and family and friends, people have financial concerns. They battle retrenchments and unemployment; murder, rape, crime, robbery; they have to deal with inefficient public bureaucracy and even now private corporations. Interpersonal conflict, infidelity, divorce, incompetence and disinterest surround us all daily. Then there are health problems – so many cancer cases, brain tumours, HIV/AIDS, strokes, and all other kinds of weird and strange illnesses that most of us have never heard of – that strike around us and, sometimes, even strike us!

Yes, the business of living is not easy!

But, if the business of living is not easy, then the business of dying is hard.

There are physical things and emotional things. Just last week, during and after visiting the occupational therapist, I experienced both again. Several strange bony knobs have started appearing on my fingers and hands. Not sure what they are, I pointed them out to the therapist. She immediately responded that they were indeed only the heads of the bones in my hands that were beginning to appear because of the muscles that would usually cover them having atrophied. My hands are literally withering away and being reduced to skin and bone.

It’s hard for me to see my body fading away. It’s emotional. And the tears flowed freely.

I cried again when she told me that she did not think it would do me any good to see her again. She can’t do any more for me to improve matters – it’s like the little boy holding his finger in the hole in the dyke – eventually, the breach becomes too severe and the water breaks through. It came as a reality check and a shock.

Afterwards, I realised that she is only trying to help me to conserve the funds for the necessities that will be required sometime in the future when the CBD breaks through with all its might – after all, that’s why it’s called degeneration. And that’s what will happen, save for a miracle. Just last night, I read that doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, are talking about exciting developments in their research. Who knows? God may still give them the miracle cure that will block the hole.

But dying is not just emotional stuff. There are many practical things that have to be done. So whilst it is very necessary to clean out the tear ducts now and then, you can’t waste much of your limited time on it. There is paperwork to be done, things to finalise, things to wrap up, wills to be put in order, legal things, Discovery forms to be completed, insurance policies and funeral benefits to be checked on, things to be filed, files to be handed over, Pera brought up to date on how to handle all these activities of normal life.

Yes, the business of dying is hard.

And then put the business of living together with the business of dying.

Handling the normal things of normal life that still have to be done – the husband things, the father things, the schooling, the academics, the sport, the bills to be paid, the home maintenance, … How is one normal in what has become a very abnormal life? This, for me, is the most difficult to do.

How best do I handle the family things of living against my personal things of dying? I have never rated myself as the ideal husband or the model father – not even when I was healthy. It causes me more anguish now to master this art of family matters than to handle my illness. I hope I can improve. I so much want these times to be special for them. Times they will remember with happy memories.

Harold B. Lee said, “The most important work you and I ever do will be within the walls of our own homes”.  

I agree. It’s the most important work, and for me, it is the most difficult work.


There’s a hero If you look inside your heart You don’t have to be afraid Of what you are There’s an answer If you reach into your soul And the sorrow that you know Will melt away

And then a hero comes along With the strength to carry on And you cast your fears aside And you know you can survive So when you feel like hope is gone Look inside you and be strong And you’ll finally see the truth That a hero lies in you

It’s a long road When you face the world alone No one reaches out a hand For you to hold You can find love If you search within yourself And the emptiness you felt Will disappear

And then a hero comes along With the strength to carry on And you cast your fears aside And you know you can survive So when you feel like hope is gone Look inside you and be strong And you’ll finally see the truth That a hero lies in you

Lord knows Dreams are hard to follow But don’t let anyone Tear them away Hold on There will be tomorrow In time You’ll find the way

Looking for a Job? (or else The Job Description)

March 2010: Three years six months on …

The southern coastline of South Africa is made up of a number of bays. Almost at the centre is Algoa Bay and Port Elizabeth (now referred to as Nelson Mandela Bay). Just to the west of Algoa Bay is St Francis Bay which stretches from Red Rock, Kini Bay and Laurie Bay in the east all the way westwards to Seal Point at Cape St Francis.

A number of small, mainly holiday towns have developed on this western side of St Francis Bay (mainly thanks to the foresight of Leighton and Anne Hulett). Today they have grown into one contiguous mass of holiday and some permanent homes – a confusing number of names to the uninitiated. At Seal Point is the village of Cape St Francis with the lighthouse as its outstanding feature. Northwards, from there, is Port St Francis with its recreational and working chokka boat harbour, then Santareme with its pink Spanish style architecture, then St Francis Bay (the “Village”) – previously called Sea Vista – with its characteristic white- walled houses with black thatched roofs, St Francis Bay (marina) (previously called Marina Glades) where the black and white theme is continued in the houses along the man-made Hulett canals leading from the Kromme River. And then the houses along the river itself which forms the northern border of this development and which is commonly referred to as being The Kromme.

We are very fortunate to own a home – the smallest – on the Marina. Only an hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth, this is where we head to get away from the rush and stresses of city life. As one drives across the bridge that crosses the Kromme and the river stretches away to the mouth and the Indian Ocean in the east and the many riparian homes that box in the river to the west, one’s shoulders drop, the neck softens and the back relaxes.

So this is where we found ourselves last weekend together with John and Wendy Clarke and their twin sons, Graham and David (Sean’s contemporaries) and Dayne Bonnage, a friend of Phil’s. The boys have what is called a “boarder leave-out” and the normal hectic school sports routine is placed in abeyance for a short while. We have known the Clarkes for many years since our teaching days in the mid eighties. They have become a pillar of strength for our family in the circumstances that we now find ourselves.

Normally, when the Clarkes join us at St Francis, we have rain and we often laugh now about me braaing outside in the rain whilst John and everyone else sat cosily inside watching me through the sliding doors onto the deck. Needless to say, in my true fashion, the bottom lip dropped and the humour of the situation was lost on me! However, we are now in the midst of a drought on the south and east coasts and have not seen rain for months. Our dams are down to 30 percent capacity and we are told if the rains don’t come we have enough water to get us through to June, and the World Cup!

In Port Elizabeth, we are restricted to 500l of water per household per day. So, we have become accustomed to not flushing toilets after a wee, and collecting grey water in buckets from sinks and showers and throwing that down toilets and onto gardens. Showers are a short wash and rinse cycle (almost like the economy setting on the washing machine!) and consist of water and soap/shampoo, switch off water, lather, switch on water and rinse. And all this whilst dancing over and around the large dish in the bottom of the shower which is collecting the grey water destined to be thrown into the toilet or onto the garden!

However, the restrictions in St Francis are not so severe (mainly because the municipality has not yet got their act into gear), and this despite us getting our water from the same supplies! So this weekend, we also have a bonus in that we can revert to flushing toilets normally and having a normal decent shower, albeit feeling a bit guilty about wasting this precious and ever-dwindling resource. Paradise is gained!

However, I guess in all human experiences, just when life can’t get better and appears to be running along smoothly, paradise IS lost! On Saturday morning, I woke up to a sore left foot. By lunchtime, I could not walk on it and my big toe looked like an enlarged over-ripe tomato. Gout! The most unbelievable pain that not even the Kennedy Brothers prescribed Myprodol, the Colchachines and the Dicloflams could suppress for the first few days. The rest of the weekend was spent on the couch and the bed, gliding around on my backside on the floor and up and down the stairs! Luckily, the weather was not good and the wind howled (no rain!) so not much time could be spent on the canals and river. As usual, however, this did not put John, David, Phil and Daine off the obligatory fishing trips to the Point (although the fish are as scarce as the rain! – is this also as a result of global warming?)

On Sunday, after a relaxing weekend, everyone left for PE and I stayed behind, mainly because of a meeting that I needed to attend on Tuesday (but also because it’s so lekker in St Francis!) However, not being able to walk meant being restricted to the house, and I started feeling very down and sorry for myself. How much more am I expected to endure over and above the CBD, the broken elbow and now the gout? Looking for a Job? That’s how I feel right now and, at the moment, I don’t believe that you need look much further than me! (Job, the book in the Bible, tells the story of Job, the man of God. It is a gripping drama of riches-to-rags-to riches, a theological treatise about suffering and Divine Sovereignty and a picture of faith that endures. NLT)

BUT, this is when I have to analyse my life and check my foundation yet again. I have to keep my wits about me and keep my mind clear and positive. It’s so easy to get caught up in that downward whirlpool spiral of despair that just tends to suck you in even deeper and deeper. Writing helps, reading helps, music helps, setting daily tasks and goals help, staying busy helps.

But what helps the most, is when I return to Port Elizabeth later in the week and have to visit the physiotherapist and occupational therapist at Aurora (Rehabilitation) Hospital. Their motto is If there’s a way, we’ll find it.

Looking around me, I see so many people, old and young, with all kinds of disabilities, amputations, wheelchairs, crutches, bandages, lack of limbs … the list is endless. So much pain and suffering surrounds us and yet we become oblivious to it.

But, taking a good look at life around me, is far better medicine than any of the Myprodols or Dicloflams. I have so much for which to be thankful. The Job is not yet completed and there is still much to be done.

Prayer of St Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

St. Francis was born at Assisi in 1182. After a care free youth, he turned his back on inherited wealth and committed himself to God. Like many early saints, he lived a very simple life of poverty, and in so doing, gained a reputation of being the friend of animals. He established the rule of St Francis, which exists today as the Order of St. Francis, or the Franciscans. He died in 1226, aged 44