Hospice Appeal: Last Night of the Proms


Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you and Good afternoon.

My name is Ed Lunnon and I am a patient cared for by the St Francis Hospice of Port Elizabeth.

Today, we witness the best of the human condition, through song and music and dance.

Let’s give Richard and all the artistes a very warm round of applause.

But, ladies and gentlemen, just as we witness the best of the human condition, we are all only too aware of the worst of the human condition – the elephant in this room:

death through cancer, TB, HIV/AIDS, and Motor Neurone and other degenerative brain diseases.

Just a few months ago, we witnessed the very public suffering, death and funeral of rugby Springbok Joost van der Westhuizen who had motor neurone disease.

Let’s see by show of hands … How many of you have been touched personally, or have had a family member or close friend touched by one of these illnesses in the twelve months that have elapsed since we attended the last Last night of the proms?

Yes, sometimes it takes the worst of the human condition to draw out the best of the human condition in us … That of generosity, compassion, love and charity towards our fellow human beings.

So, in these few minutes, I would appeal to you to help the Port Elizabeth St Francis Hospice to help us, who battle the ravages of these illnesses, which for you may be just a name, but for us, is our reality each and every day of our limited lives.

I challenge you and you and you to empty your purses and pockets as you leave this hall tonight and to fill the coffers of the Hospice placed at the various exits.

This past year it was your parent, your spouse, your sibling, your child or your friend.

This coming year, it may be your very self!

Remember, these diseases spare no-one .

May I thank you in advance for your kind generosity?

Baie dankie, muchas gracias, merci, enkosi kakhulu , thank you very much.

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A Wedding and a Funeral

7 years 11 months ill …
Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage Ed

In the last few days, it was …

Vaughn’s funeral
Iain’s wedding @ St Francis Bay
Grey vs Grey win to PE
Celebration Party
Farmers’ Day
Teachers’ Lunch with my Maths teacher
Pupils’ Brunch
Bachelors Party @ All over
Potjiekos and Vorange Juice
Vaughan’s Paddle outs x2
And a wine fest …

Hydrotherapy at Aurora
Psychology of MND talk

Methinks …
I need to visit Westbourne Pharmacy for essentiales … More Carbolev and Lyrica to help me make it through the night …

And a South African earthquake! And my Mom’s bridesmaid passes away …

Help … I’m falling apart and I need to rest.

Hospice Hero’s – Thank You

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Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen

A NYC Taxi driver wrote:

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’

‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive
through downtown?’

‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly..

‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice. ‘The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’.

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.
They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.

‘Nothing,’ I said

‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.

‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life..

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

 Tonight, when you leave this hall, you will have the opportunity to drop a donation into a box at the door – to give a note to St Francis Hospice.

 Remember: that small moment in your life is a great moment in the lives of 600 odd people who live with life-limiting illnesses here in Port Elizabeth and are cared for by St Francis Hospice.

 I know that it’s a great moment because I am one of those people. I live, albeit for a while longer, with corticalbasal degeneration, a degenerative brain disease.

 My name is Ed Lunnon.

 On behalf of my fellow patients, I wish to thank Richard Cock and his musicians for the entertainment; St Francis Hospice for the caring, and you, the audience, for turning small moments into great ones today.

See 

Last Night of the Proms

proms

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 3 June 2013: 6 years 9 months on …

Game ED

Justice Malala, TV Presenter and Newspaper Correspondent writes in The Times today, “Our current leaders seem incapable of resolving our challenges. These are tough worrying times…”

In the same newspaper, I read the headlines

  • ·         Children Betrayed
  • ·         Far too few social workers to save our abused kids
  • ·         Welfare services are in a bad way
  • ·         Overloaded but underpaid
  • ·         It’s sink or swim time
  • ·         Proper governance is the only way to save us
  • ·         Education is priority
  • ·         SA’s firewall up in flames
  • ·         There is no excuse

There IS NO EXCUSE!

Yes, this is but the tip of the iceberg and the headlines above apply to all our non-governmental organisations. The very associations set up and designed to provide assistance to the ill, the elderly, the children and the needy are themselves in need – often because government is remiss in providing these organisations with the financial assistance that they are budgeted and expected to do!

So the organisations turn for help to the business community (who themselves are battling to post profits) and to the ordinary man in the street (who is also battling the ravages of the current poor economic climate!)

As Justice wrote this morning, “We are going nowhere slowly.”

So it was that this weekend, the St Francis Hospice of Port Elizabeth staged its annual Last Night of the Proms at the Feather Market Centre – a fund raiser of note … literally and figuratively! … and in memory of a great Port Elizabeth benefactor, Philipp Rowland Gutsche.

This year it featured the Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Richard Cock, soloists the well-known Von Memerty Family and Musa Ngqungwana, various massed choirs from local schools and the community, the Algoa Caledonian Pipe Band and the McWilliam’s Academy of Dance.

Despite a number of other shows on in Port Elizabeth at the same time, the two shows on 1 and 2 June 2013 were a sell-out – a glowing testament to the people of Port Elizabeth for their magnificent support.

I proposed that we do a sort of retiring offering at the end of the show – asking the audience to empty their pockets for a good cause. It is a good cause – I (and the family) benefit so much from the weekly visits and support that I get from Sisters Gill, Janice and from Isaac and Jenny.

So how does one say thank you to people and an organisation like this?

I tried to do that in the two minutes that I was allowed (see previous blog: THANK YOU) and I hope that I got my message across.

But, if I didn’t, then I saw this on Facebook: Where words fail, music speaks. It surely did this weekend at The Proms! (and in the movie Les Misérables that I watched last night.)

Maybe, the flip side of government’s inability to govern allows us the opportunity to still see and enjoy fundraiser shows such as Last Night of the Proms!

Watch this space next year for another show … and book early.

Thank you again for your support!

(And in the same newspaper I read that that the Communications Minister spent R700 000 on a visit to a prize-giving in Mexico, an unauthorised shopping detour to New York, R35 000 for 2 nights at the Ritz, R10 000 for luxury car hire for 2 days, unaccounted amounts on another trip to the Face of Africa function in Nigeria, twenty other overseas trips, a R6 million management fee paid to her “spouse/boyfriend” …)

How many sick people or abused kids could be cared for out of that?

When will the people communicate with the Minister and with our government? Hopefully at the next election … or is that wishful thinking?

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Thank You St Francis Hospice and Supporters

This was my thank you speech at the LAST NIGHT OF THE PROMS held in the Feather Market Centre, Port Elizabeth on 1 and 2 June 2013.

The event is held as a fund-raiser for the St Francis Hospice.

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Ladies and gentlemen – good evening, and thank you for those words of introduction.

Yes, I am Ed Lunnon – the face of a voice that you may have heard on AlgoaFM. 

If I may paraphrase Shakespeare, let me say to Ian von Memerty and the dancers today 

“If music be the food of love, dance on.”

 But, unfortunately, in life, the dancing does come to an end.

 And, for some of us, that dancing comes to an end far too soon.

 The “us” I refer to, are the 600 patients with life-limiting illnesses who are the caretakers supported by the caregivers of St Francis Hospice.

 But, we are not just “patients”. We are husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, oupas and oumas – we are people, just like you, for whom the dancing has abruptly stopped and who need care and support.

 Today, I am their face too.

 And, on their behalf, I wish to thank the organizers and the musicians for making this magnificent production possible.

 I wish to thank the men and women of St Francis Hospice who sustain and encourage us along very difficult steps.

 ‘Kind of angels’, Bono called them. They are caring people – Just like YOU are caring people!

 People who support and assist financially to enable the Hospice to remunerate their carers to continue providing comfort to us

 and possibly, sometime in the future, comfort to you and your loved-ones.

 Thank you, our loyal supporters, for all your care shown in the form of financial support, today, in the future, and at the end of this show!

 Your caring for St Francis Hospice allows them to care for us.

 So, from the bottom of our hearts,

 To you, the supporters – Thank you for the money.

 To you, the carers – Thank you for the moments.

 To you, Richard and your performers – Thank you for the music.

 

ED is in wED: AlgoaFM Podcasts 2013

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Listen here to previous interviews during 2013 between Lance du Plessis and Ed Lunnon (“ED is in wEd“) broadcast on AlgoaFM in the Eastern and Southern Cape of South Africa every Wednesday at 10h30 SAST:

Wed 4 Sep 2013 No 175 https://edlunnon.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/ed-is-in-wednesday-4-sep-2013-algoafm-broadcast/

Wed 28 Aug 2013 No 174 https://edlunnon.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/ed-is-in-wednesday-28-aug-2013-algoafm-broadcast/

Wed 21 Aug 2013 No 173 https://edlunnon.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/ed-is-in-wednesday-21-aug-2013-algoafm-broadcast/

Wed 14 Aug 2013 No 172 https://edlunnon.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/ed-is-in-wed-14-aug-2013-algoafm-broadcast/

Wed 7 Aug 2013 No 171 https://edlunnon.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/ed-is-in-wed-7-aug-2013-algoafm-podcast/

Wed 31 July 2013 No 170

Wed 24 July 2013 No 169

Wed 17 July 2013 No 168

Wed 10 July 2013 No 167

Wed  3 July 2013 No 166

Wed 26 June 2013 No 165

Wed 19 June 2013 No 164

Wed 12 June 2013 No 163

Wed 5 June 2013 No 162

Wed 29 May 2013 No 161

Wed 22 May 2013 No 160

Wed 15 May 2013 No 159

Wed 8 May 2013 No 158 Ed20130508

Wed 1 May 2013 No 157 (with Hansie Harker)

Wed 24 April 2013 No 156:

Wed 17 April 2013 No 155:

Wed 10 April 2013 No 154:

Wed 3 April 2013 – There was no direct broadcast as there were technical problems with the phone line from the Cederberg

Wed 27 March 2013 No 153: Ed20130327

Wed 20 March 2013 No 152: Ed20130320

Wed 13 March 2013 No 151: Ed20130313

Wed 6 March 2013 No 150: Ed20130306

Wed 27 Feb 2013 No 149: Ed20130227

Wed 20 feb 2013 No 148: Ed20130220

Wed 13 Feb 2013 No 147: Ed20130213

Wed 6 Feb 2013 No 146: Ed20130206

Wed 30 Jan 2013 No 145: Ed20130130

Wed 23 Jan 2013 No 144: Ed20130123

Wed 16 Jan 2013 No 143: Ed20130116

 Wed 9 Jan 2013 No 142: Ed20130109

Wed 2 Jan 2013 No 141

Ed20130102

Earth Water and Fire

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 13 November 2012: 6 years 2 months on …

Physically: Advantage CBD / Mentally: Deuce

 

It was twenty eight years ago, in 1984, that I first visited St Francis Bay. A lot of it was just sand dunes then and a gravel road connected Humansdorp to the village and Cape St Francis. Indeed, most of the village roads then were also just gravel.

I had been invited to a “shack” at the river. Even then, the “shacks” were substantially more than “shacks” that I knew – not that I had grown up with much knowledge of holiday homes and homes at the coast. But, indeed, my idea of a “shack” was very different to what I saw there!

That was the beginning of my love affair with the Greater St Francis area.

 After we got married, we often went to St Francis for a “Sunday drive”. We looked at houses and dreamed of the day when one day we would also be able to afford a place – a very small one – there!

Then, we bought our first fractional title (timeshare) cottage at Royal Wharf and later our very own house in the complex. The boys got Rusk and learned to fish on the river and in the canals – later we got Rolls and learned to ski and wakeboard. We made so many lovely friends and neighbours – the Nortje’s, the Fouche’s, the MacAleenans, the Fishers, the Rishworths, the Kemps, the Finnemores, and the list goes on …

Over the years, the gravel turned to tar (alas, lately, as the potholes got bigger, the tar almost back to gravel!); the numbers increased; the waterways got longer; the “village” got bigger – almost a town, but we still called it “The Village”; the cars and the boats got bigger; the toys evolved from canoes to jet-propelled craft; the tin shacks that I knew increased greatly in number; and the black and white “shacks” got bigger and bigger and fancier and fancier!

Who can forget those lovely calm wind-still nights after a busy day in the sun and the water? The walking, the chatting, the tanning, the touch rugby, the beach cricket, the fishing, the swimming, the skiing, the surfing …

The smell of suntan lotion and the inevitable braai …

And what is St Francis without a braai!

As the sun set in the west, the fires were lit, the friends arrived and the beers were opened.  The sunburn in your skin glowed as much as the setting sun and the coals of the fire. The conversation lasted deep into the night …

“Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet” * … or Fortunas, Mercs, BMW, 4 x 4’s, Seadoos, Evinrude, Mariner, Honda or Mercury!

 I have written a number of blogs about my memories of St Francis – see Packing Up, The Bridge Over the River Kromme, Who painted the Moon Black.

We all know that for good steaks you need a good, hot fire.

Some of us don’t even refer to a braai any more – we invite the crowds over and say “Come for a fire tonight, or, let’s make a fire!” – we all know that means a braai for supper!

 And to build that fire, you need good kindling wood, good “doringhout”, good firelighters, good matches, good bricketts, and a good puff and a blow ( and, of course, the one cardinal rule of fire-making, the person to over-see the fire). Also needed, a bit of water or a drop of beer in case the flames got out of hand!

I guess ninety percent of a good braai meal lies in the effectivenss of a well-prepared fire.

And, all this time, knowingly or unknowingly, and with the benefit of hindsight, we have been building our very own St Francis “fire” there.

“Let’s make a fire!”

Just like we painstakingly build our very own home fires for a “good” braai, over the years we have built our St Francis fire in waiting.

Kilometres of dry thatch kindling, hundreds and thousands of wooden beams, hundreds of gas tanks for fire lighters and bricketts, a healthy strong westerly wind for a good puff and a blow and all just waiting for that good spark and match to set it all ablaze. (Of course, we neglected the cardinal rule of fire-making – at this time of the year, very few people to oversee the fire, and since the New South Africa, not even a properly-equipped fire-station or a supply of water with decent pressure to douse the flames!).

And so it was that on Remembrance Day, Sunday 11 November 2012, the “match was struck” and the fire took, and the fire took … a hundred homes, a thousand trappings and a million memories.

Yesterday, since selling our home there last year, I emotionally returned to Royal Wharf for the first time – where it all started.

The pictures tell it all.

No they don’t.

They never can tell it all, because we have so much tucked away in our earthly memories that only that “Last Fire” will be able to take from us. We will share those memories with our St Francis friends and our families, who, too, were lovingly and fortunately privileged to be forged around the fires of St Francis.

May I long be spared to see the New St Francis Marina arise from the ashes of the Old.

©Heres  to the New St Francis Marina – may long and hard thought go into its restoration and prevent it from being another fire place.

May I suggest a slogan and song for the rebuilding of St Francis” (and with apologies):

 “Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and St Francis Bay”

(This blog is dedicated to all who have lost so much material belongings in St Francis, but especially to our very special friends, Charles and Julie Nortje. We were the last guests to spend a night in your beautiful guest room and home. I look forward to being the first visitor at the housewarming of your new house!)

* See that nostalgic ad by clicking the link below!

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1wvQ7ERXhY

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy 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;
and 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.

or, in the words of Nici Lovemore, especially for St Francis Marina:

Lord, make me a canal of Thy Peace …