Muhammad  Ali

Last night, I watched Ali’s funeral in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. – his place of birth.

I guess it was an extraordinary thing to do on a Friday night, but then Ali was an extraordinary man. As I listened to eulogy after eulogy, speech after speech, more compliments after more compliments, Presidents after actors, family after friends, I became aware of a man about whom I actually knew very little.

I knew he was a boxer.

I knew he changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammed Ali.

I knew he had converted to Islam.

I knew he had Parkinson’s Disease.

I did not know so much of this extra-ordinary man.

I learned so much last night. I hope you don’t mind me sharing …

~ Ali’s long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease

Muhammad Ali is being remembered not just for his legendary boxing career and his inspiring public persona, but also for the dignity and grace with which he battled Parkinson’s disease over the last three decades of his life.

He was first diagnosed with the degenerative disease in the 1984, three years after he retired from boxing.

Repeated blows to the head during his time in the ring are believed to have led to his later health problems. Ali’s physician, Dr. Dennis Cope, spoke about his condition in a “60 Minutes” interview in 1996.

“[Ali] has had a development of what’s called Parkinson’s syndrome. And from our testing on him, our conclusion has been that that has been due to pugilistic brain syndrome resulting from boxing,” Cope told CBS News’ Ed Bradley.

“All of our testing has indicated that his cognitive function, his ability to think clearly, to understand what’s going on, to really analyze situations hasn’t deteriorated at all,” Cope added. “His mind is fine.”

Muhammad Ali lights the Olympic flame

Muhammad Ali lights the Olympic flame during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony in Atlanta, July 19, 1996. AP PHOTO

But the disease took a visible toll on his body. Ali developed a tremor and speech became increasingly difficult.

When he lit the Olympic flame at the start of the 1996 summer games in Atlanta, his hand shook as he held the torch high.

Ali looked increasingly frail in recent public appearances, such as the event in October 2015 when he was honored by Sports Illustrated at The Muhammad Ali Center in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, along with former opponents Larry Holmes and George Foreman.

Sports Illustrated Tribute To Muhammad Ali At The Muhammad Ali Center

LOUISVILLE, KY – OCTOBER 01: Larry Holmes, Muhammad Ali, and George Foreman attends the Sports Illustrated Tribute to Muhammad Ali at The Muhammad Ali Center on October 1, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen Cohen/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)

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Left to right: Larry Holmes, Muhammad Ali, and George Foreman attend the Sports Illustrated Tribute to Muhammad Ali at The Muhammad Ali Center on October 1, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky. STEPHEN COHEN, GETTY IMAGES FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

But despite the illness, his wife Lonnie Ali said the three-time world heavyweight champ never felt sorry for himself.

“He’s not one who says ‘why me?’ He’s a real champion,” she told CBS Phoenix affiliate KPHO last month. “I learn every day from this man: the courage, the strength and the grace that he lives with his illness. For most people, it would put them in bed and put covers over them. They would give up. He does not stop. He continues to live life and that’s very important.”

Before his death on Friday, Ali was hospitalized with respiratory problems, his condition complicated by advanced Parkinson’s.

Here are some questions and answers about Parkinson’s disease:

Q: What is Parkinson’s?

A: Parkinson’s is a neurologic disease that robs people of control over their movements. It typically starts with tremors, and is characterized by slow movement, a shuffling gait, stiff limbs, balance problems and slurred speech.

Q: Who gets it?

A: About 1 million Americans are living with Parkinson’s, and an estimated 4 million to 5 million people worldwide, according to the National Parkinson Foundation. It usually appears after age 60, although sometimes it can develop before age 40.

Ali was 42 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1984. The actor Michael J. Fox was diagnosed when he was just 37.

Q: What causes it?

A: The exact cause isn’t known but Parkinson’s develops when cells that produce one of the brain’s chemical messengers, called dopamine, begin to deteriorate and die. Dopamine transports signals to parts of the brain that control movement. Parkinson’s symptoms appear after enough dopamine-producing cells die that there’s too little of this neurotransmitter in the brain.

Q: Is there a cure?

A: There is no cure but there are a range of treatments, from medications that affect dopamine levels to a surgically implanted tremor-blocking device. Patients also can benefit from physical and occupational therapy.

Q: What’s the prognosis?

A: Symptoms worsen over time, usually slowly. The severity of symptoms, and how quickly they progress, varies widely between patients. In advanced cases, people may be unable to walk or care for themselves. They also can suffer non-motor symptoms, including depression and memory and other cognitive dysfunction.

While Parkinson’s itself isn’t considered fatal, people can die from complications of the disease.

Q: What complications are of most concern?

A: Lung problems are a risk as muscle weakness impedes the ability to cough and to swallow. While any kind of pneumonia can occur, what’s called aspiration pneumonia — when bits of food or liquid land in the lungs instead of being swallowed properly — is the leading cause of death among Parkinson’s patients, said National Parkinson Foundation medical director Dr. Michael S. Okun.

CBS/AP

PS ! 

CBD, which is the illness with which I have been diagnosed, is also an extra-pyramidal Parkinsonism syndrome. It is normally a faster moving life-limiting illness with death resulting from pneumonia within three to five years.

I have now been ill for nine years and nine months since I first became aware of the Parkinsonism symptoms.

ED is in week EnDing wED 29 May 2013

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 27 May 2013: 6 years 8 months on …

Game ED

It’s been another busy week, with little time to write. And when I’ve had the time, I haven’t had the energy!

So here comes another skeleton, with hopefully the flesh put in at a later stage!

  •       Mon 20 May – we celebrated Sean’s 21st birthday at the Coachman Steakhouse; party to follow!
  •       Tue 21 May – visit from Gill (Hospice); haircut with Grant @ front cover: Newton Park; meeting with Mike Halbert (accounts); drinks at VP Tennis Club with the Tuesday Boys’ Tennis Club of Wembley Tennis Club
  •         Wed 22 May – AlgoaFM; coffee at Bluewaters café; gym; Sean’s u21 rugby at Old Grey; Neil Thomson and Rodger Gilson in Centre Stage’s Simon and Garfunkel Tribute
  •        Thu 23 May – visit from Isaac; physio with Christelle Smit; Sean’s car at garage
  •          Fri 24 May – visit from Ben; meeting PeFM
  •          Sat 25 May – day trip to Grahamstown: Grey vs St Andrews (Phillip)
  •          Sun 26 May – reunion meeting of our Investment Club at our home
  •          Mon 27 May – meeting with Sr Gaynor Bishop of the MNDA(Port Elizabeth)
  •         Tue 28 May – meeting with Sr Gill (Hospice)  

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Circa 60

About 60 – that’s the meaning of the above title and that’s our ages – give or take a good few years in all our respective cases.

“Our” being Neil and Pam Thomson, Anton and Ingrid Scholtz, Alan and Trish Stapleton and Pera and I.

And our connection being that some 20 years ago we started what we called our Investment Club.

We met once a month on a rotational basis at each couple’s home for a meal, and each couple “invested” R100 into the Club – Pera and I put in R100 each. My duty was to invest the monthly amount of R500 and to grow the money so that at some point in the future (round about now) we would cash in our investments and go on a “world cruise” together!

Two ‘hiccups’ occurred – firstly, each couple produced two more people and the group therefore grew from eight to sixteen people. Our children spoke at school about the Investment Club meetings that they attended on the last Sunday (or whichever it was) of each month! Heaven alone knows what their teachers and friends thought about this!

Secondly, at the end of year two, I think it was, when we saw the balance slowly growing in our investment account, we were tempted to draw the money and go away for a weekend together.

So, after that, we never ever gave the money a chance to grow enough for our world cruise, but we did, on an annual basis – round about Reconciliation Day public holiday in December – cash in the funds and spend a long weekend together.

We visited places like Hog’s Back, Katberg, Keurbooms, Knysna, Blanco, Blue Lagoon, East London, St Francis Bay and wherever the following criteria were met:

No self-catering by the ladies, within close driving distance of Port Elizabeth, activities for the adults and the children, inexpensive (at least within the constraints of our Investment Account balance), etc …

Well, we never would have had enough for that world cruise, but we invested tremendously in our children’s social upbringing and in their readiness for life. They learned to climb mountains, read hotel menus, order “passion fruit and lemonades”, play golf, ride horses, stage theatre productions, play carpet bowls, manage becoming lost and a host of other things that one could add to the list.

We all learned to enjoy friends and family and life and nature and good times together.

In the process, we amassed many happy memories and photographs and stories along the way.

Unfortunately, as the years passed by, and we all got older, it became more and more difficult to co-ordinate our diaries and do things together. So, some eight (?) years ago, we finally called an end to our Investment Club.

But, thanks to the labours of Pera, we managed to have a reunion of the adult members of the Club this past Sunday. Someone suggested that the Investment Club be renamed the Pensioners’ Club!

Needless to say, we reminisced (that which we could remember!) and laughed and ate and drank to Life!

Memories are made of this! (and please correct any of the above-mentioned “facts” that may be incorrect!)

 

JEEPers, this Baviaanskloof is Mooi!

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©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 7 May 2014: 6 years 8 months on …

Game ED

Some two weeks ago, the day before I went to Wynberg for the weekend, I received the following email from Mike Proctor-Sims via Lance du Plessis at AlgoaFM:

Hi Lance

Mike Holmes and I were fishing last weekend. Standing on a beach, rods in hand, with the fish not biting leads to lots of chatting and Mike came up with something you might be interested in. Holmes and I have a mutual friend who owns and manages the Baviaans Lodge, which straddles the Baviaans and Kouga mountains and various kloofs. Rob is an avid environmentalist and has built his lodge, which borders on the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Mega Reserve, using eco-friendly methods.

Mike was talking about this guy you have on your programme once a week who is suffering from an incurable disease and using his remaining time on earth to discover wonderful places, mainly in hte Eastern Cape. I have heard him on your show once or twice as well. Mike said the guy had mentioned that the Baviaanskloof was one such venue he would like to experience. I have spoken to Rob and he would be delighted to host him — you as well if you can get away.

The main feature is the natural beauty. Cycads, fynbos, indignous forests, streams, Bushman caves and really nice rustic accommodation to are the more sedate features while more challenging are river rafting and boating on the Koaga river and the 4X4 route that runs between his lodge and the main road through the Baviaanskloof, the dirt road joining Patensie and Willowmore.

There is a time factor involved if you are interested in a visit. The weather is good at the moment, neither too hot nor too cold but the cold is imminent.

I suggest you have a look at Rob’s two web sites www.baviaanslodge.co.za and www.baviaans-kouga4x4.com. There is no cell phone signal there but you can E-Mail him on rob@baviaanslodge.co.za and possibly organise a Skype conversation. If you do decide to make the trip both Mike Holmes and myself would be keen to possibly tag along to maybe do a magazine article.

Regards

Mike

This e-mail set in motion a sequence of events, further e-mails, SKYPE conversations, plans, “unplans”, replans and final plans that saw Sean and I set off for the Baviaanskloof on Saturday afternoon for an overnight stay at the Baviaans Lodge.

Unfortunately, to get all the parties involved to be able to co-ordinate diaries became a mission impossible.  Being a “pensioner”, I’m the easy one! Everyone else had “things” to do, but I am dependent on a driver and Sean was only available on Saturday afternoon after work.

My memory fails me often nowadays, and we actually left home twice! Firstly, after filling up with petrol, my petrol card had expired and couldn’t be used! I’d pay with the credit card then, only to find that my wallet wasn’t in the car. So then Sean paid and I’d refund him – we went back home to fetch the wallet – only to find it was under the car seat all along!

We had no sooner left Port Elizabeth along the N2 and I was telling Sean about a warning light that had gone on in the bus to Cape Town the previous week, when the self-same light came on in our Jeep Wrangler! So we stopped at Jefferys Bay and so did the warning light!

Then we went westwards along the Langkloof’s R62 to Kareedouw where we picked up two of Rob’s sons at the school hostel to take them with us to the Baviaans Lodge, our accommodation for the evening and their home.

We went back some two kilometres along the R62 to Assegaaibosch Station and then some 40 km north westwards to the Lodge. Despite only being 40km, the road winds up and down and round and round over the Kouga Mountains and River and so it took us about an hour and a half to get there at about 17h00.

Along the way, the view is stunning and the wow’s became Wows became WOWS! The final descent into the Valley of the Lodge is an OMG WOW WOW WOW!!

No words can do the area justice – hence the pictures attached to this blog should tell the story, and even then, they often don’t tell the full story.

We met Rob at the Lodge, then were shown to our cottage and after unpacking and freshening up, returned to the lodge for a chat, drinks and supper.

No electricity, no TV (to watch the Kings – TG we only heard the score the next day!) but only paraffin lamps, chatter, red wine and a meal fit for the Kings – onion soup, herbed chicken and malva pudding with hot custard made us ready to hit the sack and settle down under the duvets on a dark, quiet, chilly, crystal-clear evening up in the mountains.

The only light outside was the wispy white constellations of the Milky Way – gazillions of shimmering stars, suns, planets, galaxies, shooting stars, and all those other things of which I comprehend so little. It’s all too much for my little pea brain to understand – I don’t even try to understand – but I can and do appreciate the beauty and the Godliness of it all! I wonder sometimes when the time will come when I, too, will be glistening away somewhere up there …

That wasn’t the only flickering.

The little flames in our bedside lamps (real lamps!) and our eyelids flickered in unison. I think our eyelids closed as we blew out those lamps and before our heads hit the pillows! It put two meanings to the term “lights out”!

Sleeping in we did, because we could and, thankfully, had it not been for the crows knocking on the roof that woke us up, we would have been more than just the slightly late that we were for our pre-arranged 9 o’clock breakfast time!

Cereal, juice, yoghurt and eggs, bacon, beans, tomatoes and fritters rounded off with hot homemade buns and filter coffee were set before us and almost sent me back to bed for more sleep!

But we had a trip to do. From the Lodge, a 4×4 entry route northwards into the Baviaans Kloof proper (which runs 120km from Willowmore in the west to Patensie in the east) provides 32 kilometres of unrivalled scenery.  We must have covered some half that distance: up and down and over and round and down and up and then, unfortunately, because of the time constraints, a u-turn and did it all again in reverse back to the Lodge! The Jeep did us proud.

This is a unique, wilderness area right on our doorstep. Each twist and turn in the road would reveal different vegetation, depending on whether it was on the windward or the leeward side of the rugged mountains. Grassy plains next to fynbos, winding rivers and streams, cycads and red and white proteas and other members of this unique plant species, geographical features, spectacular kloofs and bird life had us constantly grabbing for our cell phone cameras to take just another pic!

From the highest spot that we went to, we could see St Francis Bay away to the east and the Outeniqua Mountains at George away to the west. In between, luscious green valleys are interspersed by flat-topped plateaus and soaring blue mountain peaks.

Rob, our host, cook and guide, told us snippets about the history, the geology, the fauna, the flora, the endangered species, the secrets, the inhabitants, the rock art, the caves and the rock overhangs.

There is obviously far too much to talk about and to see and to do, and too little time to do it in!

So it was with a heavy heart that Sean and I left at two (with the kids piled in the back to return to school). But we will be back, I hope, to savour some more of this pristine, remote nature lovers’ paradise.

 Our thanks are extended to Mike Proctor-Sims and Mike Holmes for conceiving the idea and to Rob le Roux and his family for hosting us and for their warm hospitality. It was a truly unforgettable experience.

  

Sir’s on Strike

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 30 April: 6 years 7 months on …

Game ED

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As we left Port Elizabeth in the dark at 6am last Thursday morning, headed for Cape Town, the news reader on the radio was reading about strikes – bus drivers and teachers.

Well, neither in this bus was on strike!

I was travelling in the school bus with Grey’s 1st rugby team to their annual encounter with Wynberg Boys’ High. A teacher was at the wheel, the coaches were there, the team was there and I was accompanying them to watch Phillip play his last school rugby game in the Cape. Because of work commitments, Pera and Sean were unable to go, and I was only too thankful to get a lift on the bus.

Listening to the news and seeing firsthand the contribution that these teachers make to our children’s education, I was grateful for the dedication of so many teachers that we are privileged to experience.

Not many would be up at that time of the morning, accompanying, chauffeuring, coaching and driving. The irony being that it was exactly those teachers who would not do these things that were now on strike! Wanting more for doing less!

In front of us and behind us over the next four days, many other buses (with non-striking drivers?) transporting hundreds of boys and teachers, and many cars with parents and children, would all be heading for Cape Town – and back.

It wasn’t a pleasant trip. Warning lights, strange noises, flat wheel and no air-conditioning on a 30 degree day added to the stress. But I was home in Strand at 16h00.

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My nephew-in-law Sebastian picked me up at the N2 national road and by 18h00 I was having a walk along Milk Bay Beach. I had grown up on this beach and the weather was picture perfect!

Later, my sister Lyn and brother-in-law Anton came to visit for a quick catch-up!

On Friday morning we headed for Stellenbosch and a visit to Helshoogte to discuss the upcoming 40th reunion to which I will return in two weeks’ time. It was great catching up with current prim Jason Katz and seeing all the new developments in the House and on the University campus. More residences and buildings are rising on areas that used to be our parking places!

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Stopping in for coffee at La Romantica was also an exercise in struggling to find parking (Stellenbosch has become a driver’s nightmare).  Not only the parking was full, but also the pub at eleven in the morning – everyone was watching Super 15 rugby! So this was how economic South Africa spends its Friday mornings … all whilst the bus drivers strike and cause mayhem country wide for higher wages!

The usual Friday Ridgway braai followed, together with a large group of participants catching up on the business of The Strand, and then, after a short nap, we headed for Wynberg.

The Grey Old Boys were playing golf against Wynberg Old Boys and we joined them at the nineteenth hole – the Billy Bowden pub at Wynberg High.

It was great catching up with many Old Boys that I had taught over the years – it started on Friday evening and continued throughout the day on Saturday: Hill, De Vries, Hofmeyer, Etellin, Landsberg, Morris, etc. (I always referred to my pupils by their surnames, so twenty five years later and my memory problems, I often forget the first names!)

There were some of Sean’s classmates who came to say hello – all students in the Western Cape now: Graham and David Clark, Robbie Van Eck, JJ Swart, Neil Wessels …

Even old Rector Dieter Pakendorf and his wife Maureen were there – and it’s always a pleasure visiting with my sharp ex-boss – despite the toll taken by age and health!

And Hansie Harker was there!

Many Old Greys will remember Hansie. In my time, he was the messenger, duplicator (on the Roneo machine!), deliverer and fetcher – the admin guy extraordinaire!  (Even been the painter at my home!)

In his forty years at the school, I don’t think he’s been on strike for 1 day! And he’s approaching retirement days and, like so many of us, also experiencing health issues.

He’d never been further than George and had never flown in an aeroplane. But …

All that changed this past weekend when the school flew him to Cape Town, and took him on the touristy things and even a trip up Table Mountain!

 Phillip’s 3rd team (“Tommo’s Reds” in which Sean also played in his day!) did us proud. They came back from a large deficit at the half to eventually win the game: another lesson in “never give up”!   It was an exciting game to watch and made up for the losses of the second and first team.

Too soon it was all over – and we left Cape Town at 19h00 on Saturday evening on a through-the night trip back to Port Elizabeth (my first!) arriving at home at three thirty in the morning.

Thank God that He made Sundays a rest-day!

My thanks, too, must go to the non-striking teacher and bus driver Daryl Wicht for getting me safely there and back, Rory and Tim for their company, Sebastian and Nico de Vries for their hospitality and to all the others who made this last school trip to the Western Cape possible for me.

For me, it was a real feel-good weekend … I’m still not sure I know or understand any educational benefits of these short-term, long-range, high cost sporting trips that we do. Maybe, someone, someday, will explain that to me …

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ED is in cEDerberg

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 9 April 2013: 6 years 7 months on …

Physical: Advantage Ed / Mental: Advantage ED

On Good Friday, at 6am, we headed off westwards along the N2 – destination the Swartruggens and the Cederberg in the Western Cape.

The original plan was to go from Ladismith through the Seweweekspoort Pass to the N1 at Laingsburg.

But the weather changed the plans (which included a breakfast at Hartenbos with the Engelbrechts, friends from Stellenbosch student days) and eventually we did Swellendam, Bonnievale, Montagu, Koo Valley, N1, Touws River and finally the gravel road to Kagga Kamma (Place of water) Game Reserve – arriving there at 18h00!

Friday night, in our cottage for the next week, became an early night with no hot water!

Saturday morning was an early morning to watch the Kings on TV at the bar – the only TV at the resort. Furthermore, there was no TV, no cell phone reception, no wireless, no Facebook, and even the electricity went off for a while later in the week!

We were here to relax and that we did!

A 4km hike through the bush and over the boulders left me with a swollen, sore, sprained ankle on my good foot! So no more walks for me! You just can’t win!

Pera managed another 8km walk later in the week and not even the heavy rain deterred her. Sean and I got worried and drove out to find her – which we only managed on the second rescue mission attempt.

Other times, armed with the map, we hit the various 4×4 routes and tried to spot the game – little that there was: a few buck, ostriches, zebra, snakes, birds and thousands of rocks in all formations! The Bushmen (San / Khoi) paintings got us talking … from 6000 years to 600 years old! A past long forgotten …

Phillip is training for the rugby season – so what we walked, he ran, and he ran, and he ran again and all of this at the altitude of Table Mountain!

Sean was the chauffeur and clung to the wheel – from here to there and back and every other trip we made.

That included our Easter Monday trip to Ceres and Tulbagh where we met up with my family Sebastian, Michelle and Hannah. Lunch, for me a lovely snoek pie, was eaten at the old Toll house in the Mitchell’s Pass and dessert (chocolate pancakes) at the historic Church Street in Tulbagh. Buildings from our more recent colonial European history just 400 years ago! Not even the 6,9 Richter scale earthquake on the 29th September 1969 at 22h29 which I remember well from my Std 5 schooldays and which had its epicentre in this area could destroy this history of our country. It woke us up and had us running into the street in The Strand, my hometown – here it killed some 9 people.

Our other road trip was north through the Cederberg via Algeria (where I had camped as a high school scholar) to Clanwilliam where I tried the babotie and we tea’d at the Rooibos factory at the centre of our unigue Rooibos industry. Home from there took us through Citrusdal and its citrus farms, over a steep, curved gravel pass back to Oppi-Berg and the Kagga Kamma.

All trips in and out of Kagga Kamma took us over 15km of rough, corrugated, pot-holed, stony gravel road and over the Katbakkies Pass or Skittery Pass – no barriers and sometimes an incline over close to 45 degrees!

Other passes we traversed during the week were Kogmanskloof,Burgers, Rooihoogte, Die Venster, Gydo, Mitchells, Middleberg, Meiringspoort, Ghwarriepoort, Buyspoort, Perdepoort, Swanepoelspoort, and national roads we used were the N2, N1, N7, N12, N9 and numerous other minor tarred and gravel roads.

At the resort, we braaied, ate at the restaurant (a beef strip salad with balsamic vinegar was my favourite), russled up, with Pera’s help, a number of great recipes (and an exploded boiled egg in the microwave!) There was no shop in this wilderness to buy supplies, so Sean invented a recipe for French toast when the egg supply ran low!

It was great family time and so besides the kitchen and cooking duties, we played board games, chess, read, chatted, drank, laughed, discussed, questioned and gazed at and almost touched the stars in a clear black night sky.

All too soon it came to an end, and so last Friday saw us leaving at 10H00. This time we took the inland Karoo route, travelling from Touws River through Laingsburg and Prince Albert (where we lunched – another try of babotie for me!) and then on through the Swartberg through De Rust and Willowmore to Doorndraai in the Aberdeen District, where we spent the weekend with friends Dickie and Colleen Ogilvie and their daughter Megan. (Dickie and I taught together at Grey in the eighties and he was my bestman when Pera and I got married in 1990.)

Both Sean and Phillip learned to drive here on the farm – tractors, “skadonk” and whatever other bakkies were available. We all have good recollections and happy memories of this place.

We worked out that we had not visited the farm since just before I became ill – seven years ago! So we picked up on the news and the “skinder”, drank the beers and the brandy and ate the lamb and the lard and the “pap” and the potatoes (roasted, of course!)

 A weekend of friendship fit for Kings – we had followed our rugby team on Twitter and they had drawn with the Brumbies on Friday morning, too, so life was sweet!

All good things come to an end, and so Sunday lunch time indicated that it was time to head back to Port Elizabeth and to home, where we arrived at 17H00.

It was a great trip providing us with good family bonding time and an appreciation of the beauty of our country and of life.

The car was heavier – with many memories, and stones collected in the Tanqua Karoo (the driest area of South Africa) and plants from the Great Karoo and the Camdeboo.

We are truly privileged. Life is good!

There is a sign on the wall at the reception area of Kagga Kamma. It reads:

“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.”

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Rest for the Wicket

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 25 March 2013: 6 years 6 months on …

Physical: Deuce / Mental: Advantage ED

ED is in week EnDing wED 27 March 2013

Wed 20 Mar:        AlgoaFM; Gym; Sean Old Grey Rugby vs Crusaders

Thu 21 Mar:          Human Rights Day; Grey 1st bt Westville in Grahamstown; lunch at Rat

Fri 22 Mar:            Braai at home with Clarkes and Stapletons

Sat 23 Mar:           Kings vs Crusaders; Michaela’s 21st birthday party at Dexter’s Den

Sun 24 Mar:          Lunch at Bluewaters café; Proteas bt Pakistan; Rest …

Mon 25 Mar:        Meeting with Melanie (Hospice); Physio; Visit Ackermanns; Rugby Madibaz vs Maties

Tue 26 Mar:          Visit Sr Gill (Hospice); Rest …

It was diarised as a quiet week! A week of rest …

But, this has been a busy week and Human Rights Day long weekend. By Saturday, I was exhausted and had to leave Michaela Botha’s 21st birthday party early. Thank goodness for Sean driving me home at ten. They got home at two am, I was told! This has become the 21st birthday party season!

Friday and Saturday were especially difficult for me – I think it’s partly due to the heat (36 degrees in Grahamstown on Thursday!) and partly due to the busy schedule. I’m just not up to all the travelling, late nights, and occasional beers anymore!

Anyway, I woke up late on Sunday morning feeling much better and, after lunch at Bluewaters café, just lazed on the couch – watching the Proteas beat Pakistan in the last of the One Day Internationals. It was also a cool day and hopefully the start of autumn and the approaching winter weather. I thrive on the colder weather!

The long weekend was special.

It has become a lonely world for me. No work to go to in the morning, no daily interaction with other people, no work functions, few and fewer visitors – as the months go by my world becomes a smaller place and it becomes more difficult to understand what my contribution is to this world.

Even when I have company it becomes difficult to share my world with them. They are so busy with their worlds that no longer have relevance for me and so we live in two different worlds. We live past each other.

Charlie

The daily programme involves Charlie, our Jack Russell, who is my company when I get up in the morning and for the rest of the day. Barbara, our domestic, is there … with the vacuum cleaner! For the rest, I am kept busy by all my medical appointments, hospice visits and whatever other projects that I have found to keep me busy.

 I am not good at keeping my own company!

However, there’s my desktop, my laptop, my IPad and my Blackberry that I couldn’t live without.

They are so challenging but so exciting, and when they go on the blink like this weekend (because of the Seacom cable problem in the Mediterranean Sea somewhere between Egypt and France, MWEB tells me) then I have withdrawal symptoms. Thank goodness for DSTV and Discovery and BBC and SKY and CNN and Richard Attenborough’s AFRICA and Great Britain! We live in an exciting and wonderful world!

So, yes, the long weekend was special to have everyone home – Pera from her work, Sean from his work and Phillip from the boarding house at school.  Suddenly, there is chatter and laughter and banter and talk in the house again. It makes a huge difference and is even more noticeable when I get up on Monday morning in an empty house again!

This weekend is Easter long weekend and then school holidays – I look forward to having everyone at home once more!

And a huge congratulations to Phillip who was awarded his academic half-colours at school on Monday!

What started out as a possible 24-hour internet problem is now being touted as possibly a two week problem! How did we work in the years BG (before Google)?

 

Regrets, I Have a Few …

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 5 March 2013: 6 years 6 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage ED

Aurora Hospital is raising funds by selling a recipe book with local citizens’ favourite recipes. I have been asked to contribute my recipe and a picture of me.

So I headed off to the photographer Beverley Darlow last Monday and that put into motion the need for the Lunnon family to do a family shoot – something we have been trying to do for years!

I eventually managed to organise an appointment for Wednesday afternoon at four thirty. In a major logistical arrangement for us, the four would come from different directions and meet at the studio in Walmer.

But, as luck would have it, at three I got a call from Bev to postpone the shoot as her daughter had been rushed to hospital that morning and was still waiting to be seen!

So, thanks to modern technology, Blackberry and cyber-diaries, the appointment was shifted to Saturday afternoon at one thirty.

Well, cut a long story short, we eventually managed to complete the shoot on Saturday and now await the final product to arrive.

Our home walls would be so different and bare without pictures (photos?). They are the storeroom of our memories and the depot of our past.  The work put in to getting them there is often taken for granted but they remind us of our previous generations and us in better days! Just about all the photos that I have seen on walls depict the happy things of life. Despite the circumstances, the pictures usually display smiles and laughter – maybe sometimes even a forced smile!

I would not be able to be a model! Hundreds of shots taken from one direction and then another – just in the hope of getting THAT particular shot:  the right lighting, the right smile, the right background, the right clothes, the right composure, the right angle, the right body language …

But it gave me time to think, both during Saturday afternoon, and on Sunday when I went for a long walk along Sardinia Bay Beach in the most sublime weather that we have been experiencing of late,  

I thought about the last seven years (almost) of my illness and how it has affected the family. Life, certainly for me, and especially for them, has been very different to that which most other families experience.

Pera has become a bread-winner, a housewife, a Mom and a carer – each one a very difficult job in itself but the four together, juggling between the various roles, become an incredible act to master! Not one for the feint-hearted!

Throughout their high school careers, the boys have lived with an ill father and everything that goes with that. They are preparing for life but at the same time are only too aware of preparations for my death.

I thought of how different it was all supposed to be. I thought of what it should have been like and could have been like. For once, I allowed myself to think back – to look at those old photographs of my memories.

Regrets? Yes, as the song says, “I have a few” … but these I will mention!

I regret that I haven’t been able to be a proper husband and father. I regret that I haven’t been able to fulfil an occupation. I regret that my “job” has been a “pensioner” since age 49 – after all, we as human beings are often defined by the job we do! I regret that I haven’t been able to contribute in every aspect to society. I regret that my life as a healthy and well and productive human being has been cut short. I regret that I haven’t been able to entirely support my family financially. I regret that I have now lost 84 salary cheques (and you can calculate what loss that is!)

I am not feeling sorry for myself and I don’t want anyone to have to do that for me! Because, whilst there are regrets, there are so many other things for which to be thankful. When I have spoken at public meetings, I have highlighted many of the gifts that my illness has brought.

I want especially to thank those people who remember us financially and who choose to do so anonymously. Their generosity and kindness have made that I have so much less to worry about, that we have not wanted and that the boys are receiving their education and preparation for life.

One day, when the family pictures taken this week adorn the walls of the homes of this generation of Lunnons and those to come afterwards, there will be much to unlock in the memory banks that they will create.

After all, every picture tells a story (and a story behind that story that the picture doesn’t tell )!

And regrets? There are ways of dealing with them too. I will write about that next time.

Lifting Our Spirits

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 26 February 2013: 6 years 5 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage ED

It’s the end of February 2013 and there’s not even a leap year day to make it one day longer.

Two months of the twelve – two twelfths, or as a mathematician would say: the fraction reduced to its simplest form of one sixth of the year – gone! And, most probably with it, all the good intentions and New Year resolutions have also gone.

Gone but definitely not forgotten.

Health wise these have been two difficult months for me. I have more tremors and spasms, more loss of use of three of my four limbs, headaches and problems with my eyes, weak neck muscles, loss of memory, tiredness and increasing speech problems.

On the domestic front, we lost my car in the October floods, property in the November St Francis fire, the dishwasher on Christmas Day, the oven, the blocked drains, the flood of water through the roof in the cloudburst three weeks ago, Sean’s pocked hail-damaged car (now in for a month’s repairs) in the Graaff-Reinet storm … and the list continues.

On the national stage we have seen more and more corruption and potholes, theft, lies, poor health and education facilities and general “service delivery” issues. There have been the mine strikes and the farm labour unrest and riots. The murders, the rapes, the car accidents and manslaughter on the roads continue unabated.

As various Days of Remembrance and Activism have been called, we have worn black clothes and red and yellow and pink and blue and green and … nothing seems to make a difference.

Who even remembers the name of the young girl raped and murdered in Bredasdorp any more?

Then, of course, we have endured the Reeva Steenkamp / Oscar Pistorius saga of the last two weeks, and long, I know, will that continue.

However, there have been the Lifting our Spirits “feel good” stories too.

The last few months have seen the “Searching for Sugarman” – the documentary telling the story and playing the music of Rodriguez who, despite being a non-entity in the USA, was in the eighties, and is today again, a great music phenomenon in this country.

There are so many Life Lessons to learn from this human story (see my blog SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN).

The cherry on the cake, of course, was the crowning of the movie on Sunday night with an Oscar as the best Documentary of 2012!  

After the storms, there has been sublime weather hosting  the trip into The Bay on The Jester, the Concert in the Park with the EP Philharmonic Orchestra, the annual Redhouse River Mile (ironically now moved to the Sundays River – which in itself tells us the story that if Life hand us lemons turn it into lemonade!)

Sean spent the weekend doing what he does best – on duty at the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).  At no cost to himself, other than a few hours of his own personal time, he jumps from roofs and helicopters into the sea, gets to swim and be hoisted back out of the water and gets to save lives when duty calls.

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Phillip was lifting his spirits by throwing a javelin at a school athletics meeting at the Westbourne Oval – a sport in which he has only recently become involved.

Pera is painting, and her first attempt is on exhibition at this time! So her spirits are also lifted and will be even more so when she makes her first sale!

It was good to go out on Saturday evening to that wonderful Shrine of Togetherness that has been left to our Port Elizabethan citizens as part of the 2011 FIFA World Cup ® legacy. It surely lives up to its name as the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium!

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All in all, as one compares the various stadia around the country built for the football spectacular, it would appear that ours is the best used now. It really is an asset to our City and hopefully will be maintained and utilised even more for many years to come.

It has been built in just the right spot.  A spectacular building by any means, access is so easy and quick, and getting home a dream (even without a single traffic cop on duty!)  The view is stunning from which ever seat you sit in the house. And it brings the people of the City – all of us – together in a place where we can forget all the problems of the day and for a brief few hours celebrate our togetherness as human beings.

So the excitement on Saturday was palpable. For the first time, our Eastern Province Southern Kings were playing in the South African conference against the teams of the Australian and New Zealand conferences of the Super 15 rugby competition.

Our fledgling minnows, written off by most, supposedly didn’t stand a chance against the Western Force of Australia. No side has gone into Super Rugby and won its opening game!

Yet, with pride, passion, guts and determination we beat them 22-10. (And underlining the Southern King’s winning status was two try scorer eighteen- year-old Sergeal Petersen, who just three months ago was a pupil at Grey High playing with our own sons!)

Like Life, his are the first steps of a long competition – sometimes up; sometimes down!  

And Life is the Art of Drawing – without an eraser!  Unlike Phil’s six javelin throws, we only get one attempt at Life. We all have experiences where we wished now that we could turn back the clock. But our experiences, and how we handle them, determine our destiny.

What’s important to remember is that life will continue to throw the bad at us… and the good! We have to get up … and there is so much to lift our spirits – to help us to get up – be it music or meals or movies; sea or sports or swimming; art or athletics or Academy Awards.  

Queen Victoria said “As long as there’s tea, there’s hope”!

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Never Give Up – Care Ministry

Saturday 9 February 2013: 6 years 5 months on …

Physical: Deuce / Mental: Advantage ED

Last Tuesday evening, I was the guest speaker at CARE MINISTRY, Port Elizabeth.

The organisation carries on activities which are of a philanthropic and benevolent nature, having regard to the needs, interests and well-being of the general public and in particular those people affected by HIV / AIDS.

My message to them was simple:

Life in all its facets that it presents to us is a GIFT. Whether we are a CARE-Giver or a CARE-taker – NEVER GIVE UP!

We watched this video of Arthur Boorman – thanks for watching it too:

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