And the Sky Fell upon her Poor Little Head

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Thursday 17 January 2013: 6 years 4 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage ED

Yesterday was Back to School Day for thousands of youngsters in our coastal provinces. For some, it was for the very first time: the beginning of the next twelve year phase preparing them for Life. Phillip went back on Sunday already for the last time. This is his grade 12 year.

The internet and social networking sites were loaded with pictures – sorry “pics” is what we say nowadays! I tried to find pics of my first day at school.

I couldn’t!

I couldn’t find any and I couldn’t remember whether we actually owned a camera. Possibly we had a Kodak Brownie Box, but maybe we didn’t. Maybe we didn’t have the money to buy a “spool” or have the “photo’s” “developed”!

Remember those words we used to use?

Remember “Chicken Licken”?

How many of us grew up and learned words and learned to read on “Chicken Licken”?

I did! Fifty – yes, 50 – years ago, in 1963, I started Sub A at the Hendrik Louw Primary School in The Strand.

My first reader was Chicken Licken. She (was Chicken Licken not a “he”?) served me well and taught me all about reading and writing – the most wonderful skills that I still treasure today and which opened up the world for me. Sadly, besides paralysing my body, the CBD also slowly whittles away at these skills. 

Yes, the “Sky fell upon her (his?) poor little head”.

Yesterday, during peak rush-hour traffic time, a helicopter crashed into a crane on a high-rise building in central London and the debris showered down onto the road below.

Miraculously, only two people were killed – the pilot and a pedestrian. The sky fell upon his (her?) poor little head!

What are the chances of walking “through the streets of London” and having a helicopter fall on you and killing you?

What are the chances of diving into the surf and becoming paralysed – even killed? What are the chances of developing cancer or motor-neurone disease or CBD? What are the chances …?

Yes, there are times when the sky falls upon our poor little heads and we ask “Why Me?”

Those are the times when we need to “Look for something positive in each day, even if some days you have to look a little harder. Let the challenges make you strong.”

“Life isn’t about how to survive the storm. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

CHICKEN LICKEN

AS Chicken-licken was going one day to the wood, whack! an acorn fell from a tree
on to his head.

“Gracious goodness me!” said Chicken-licken, “the sky must have fallen; I must go
and tell the King.”

So Chicken-licken turned back, and met Hen-len. “Well, Hen-len, where are you
going ?” said he. “I’m going to the wood,” said she.

“Oh, Hen-len, don’t go!” said he, “for as I was going the sky fell on to my head, and
I’m going to tell the King.”

So Hen-len turned back with Chicken-licken, and met Cock-lock.

“I’m going to the wood,” said he.

Then Hen-len said:’ “Oh Cock-lock, don’t go, for I was going, and I met Chicken-licken, and Chicken-licken had been at the wood, and the sky had fallen on to his head, and we are going to tell the King.”

So Cock-lock turned back, and they met Duck-luck. ”

Well, Duck-luck, where are you going?”

And Duck-luck said: “I’m going to the wood.”

Then Cock-lock said: “Oh! Duck-luck, don’t go, for I was going, and I met Hen-len,
and Hen-len met Chicken-licken, and Chicken-licken had been at the wood, and the
sky had fallen on to his head, and we are going to tell the King.” So Duck-luck turned
back,and met Drake-lake.

“Well, Drake-lake, where are you going?”
And Drake-lake said: “I’m going to the wood.”

Then Duck-luck said: “Oh! Drake-lake, don’t go, for I was going, and I met Cock-lock, and Cock-lock met Hen-len, and Hen-len met Chicken-licken, and Chicken-licken
had been at the wood, and the sky had fallen on to his head, and, we are going to tell
the King.”

So Drake-lake turned back, and met Goose-loose. “Well, Goose-loose, where are
you going?” And Goose-loose said: “I’m going to the wood.”

Then Drake-lake said: “Oh, Goose-loose, don’t go, for I was going, and I met Duck-
luck, and Duck-luck met Cock-lock, and Cock-lock met Hen-len, and Hen-len met
Chicken-licken, and Chicken-licken had been at the wood, and the sky had fallen on to
his head, and we are going to tell the King.” So Goose-loose turned back, and met
Gander-lander.

“Well, Gander-lander, where are you going ?”

And Gander-lander said: “I’m going to the wood.”

Then Goose-loose said: “Oh! Gander-lander, don’t go, for I was going, and I met
Drake-lake, and Drake-lake met Duck-luck, and Duck-luck met Cock-lock, and Cock-
lock met Hen-len, and Hen-len met Chicken-licken, and Chicken-licken had been at the
wood, and the sky had fallen on to his head, and we are going to tell the King.”

So Gander-lander turned back, and met Turkey-lurkey.

“Well, Turkey-lurkey, where are you going?”
And Turkey-lurkey said: “I’m going to the wood.”

Then Gander-dander said: “Oh! Turkey-lurkey, don’t go, for I was going, and I met
Goose-loose, and Goose-loose met Drake-lake, and Drake-lake met Duck-luck, and
Duck-luck met Cock-lock, and Cock-lock met Hen-len, and Hen-len met Chicken-licken,
and Chicken-licken had been at the wood, and the sky had fallen on to his head, and
we are going to tell the King.”

So Turkey-lurkey turned back, and walked wiith Gander-lander, Goose-loose, Drake-
lake, Duck-luck, Cock-lock, Hen-len, and Chicken-licken. And as they were going along, they met Fox-lox. And Fox-lox said:

“Where are you going ?”

And they said: “Chicken-licken went to the wood, and the sky fell on to his head, and
we are going to tell the King.”

And Fox-lox said: “Come along with me, and I will show you the way.” But Fox-lox took them into the fox’s hole, and he and his young ones soon ate up poor Chicken-licken, Hen-len, Cock-lock, Duck-luck, Drake-lake, Goose-loose,’ Ganderdander, and Turkey-lurkey; and they never saw the King to tell him that the sky had fallen.

 

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Light in the Night

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 30 October 2012: 6 years 1 month on …

Physical Advantage CBD / Mental Advantage CBD

As I write this, I am watching on TV the devastation that superstorm Sandy is leaving in its wake in the eastern states of the USA. It is one of the biggest – if not the biggest storm – ever to have hit the United States.

The storm has moved in from the Atlantic Ocean and has swept in from the East Coast visiting, amongst others, the states of New York, New Jersey, Virginia,  Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Baltimore …

A thirteen foot high tidal surge, rain and wind has left New York New York, Atlantic City and other  towns and cities reeling under floods, fire and snow!

New York is powerless!

Indeed, one week before the American Presidential election, the State of these States has been declared a “major disaster” by President Obama. However, there will be many stories of personal heroism and human endeavour.

It affects me!

It affects me because these are areas of the US that I have been privileged to live in and visit and because I have friends and family who live there.

I am as familiar with Battery Park, Manhattan, Ground Zero, Central Park, Wall Street and Fifth Avenue in New York as I am with St Georges Park, Third Avenue Dip, Brickmakers, Target Kloof and Port Alfred.

The latter places, of course, all being here in the Eastern Cape where we also faced the fury of Mother Nature last weekend when some 200 – 300 mm of rain was dumped on us.

Despite the devastation, there have been tales of personal heroism and human endeavour.

That has affected me too!

Not only because we witnessed the rain and the devastation first hand, not only because it angered me so much that a lot of the damage could have been prevented by better maintenance, preparation and supervision, but also because we got caught up in the floods.

We went out on Saturday evening for supper to celebrate Phillip’s prefectship. On our way home, down Wychwood Avenue, we got caught up in the water that had flooded the road. The car stalled and we had to be towed out.

On Monday it was towed to Maritime and on Tuesday I was informed that all was well – the engine was turning and would require a bit of TLC to get it back into shape.

However, on Wednesday, I was informed that it had been the wrong car (!) and that mine would not start. Yesterday, I was told that my car would have to be written off! We especially bought the station wagon because of my illness – it is automatic and has space for a wheelchair and whatever else.

I am devastated.

I have lost my health, my job, my holiday house and now my car.

I am devastated.

But, as I have said so many times before, it is in the darkness of the storms that life throws at you that you have to look for the little flicker of light that will keep you going.

I have to pick myself up from yet another blow.

I will find that flicker and the light will shine bright! 

Happy Birthday!

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 18 September 2012: 6 years … Advantage CBD

Today is my 56th birthday and the 6th birthday living with CBD. Not bad, when one considers that I was told at 50 that I had 5 years left to live!  

These years have been exciting but challenging, and I have attempted to document as much as possible in the blogs that I have been writing. Hopefully, you have had some idea of the journey that I have been travelling and have experienced some of the highs and lows that go with living with an incurable disease.

Unfortunately, I am no longer able to keep up the frenetic pace at which I have been writing. Not only is my physical ability to write becoming more difficult, but my mind becomes cloudier and confused. Of late, I have had to resort to abbreviated blogs and key words.

Please forgive me if I am no longer able to write to friends or contact them personally. That does not mean that you are not in my thoughts, and I hope that does not mean that I am no longer in your thoughts!

These have been eventful years, but not easy years – not for me or for Pera, Sean and Phillip.

They have been fun years, but also frightening years.

They have been different years and also difficult years.

There have been exciting times and times of great effort.

There have been bright times and bad times.

They have been demanding and trying times.

These have been the best of times and the worst of times.

This past weekend has been the most difficult time for me, physically and mentally, since becoming ill. I spent most of my time lying on my right side on my bed. It’s the most comfortable place to be! But it’s also a lonely place to be and it’s also a place that allows your mind to play games with you.

For once, I allowed myself to think about the future and the years that lie ahead. How many, I do not know! The quantity is as uncertain as the quality.

All I do know is that I will need strength.

“Give strength to hands that are tired and to knees that tremble with weakness.” (Isaiah 35:3)

Some people go to great lengths to build up their physical strength by “body-building” exercises and food supplements. But there are different kinds of strength – financial, political, intellectual, sporting, mental and many others.

I need mental and spiritual strength.

But I will also need courage.

Human beings are capable of amazing acts of courage! We have especially seen that during the recent Paralympics in London.

Most of us are cowards – we become discouraged and lose hope.

But a positive attitude can make a world of difference.

One needs to be positive, hopeful and determined to overcome the adverse circumstances which face you.

“Tell everyone who is discouraged, ‘Be strong and don’t be afraid’”. (Isaiah 35:4)

So if there is a birthday present that I need this year then it will be that I need mental and spiritual strength and lots of courage.

I need you to continue supporting me in the time that still lies ahead of me.

 

My power is made perfect in weakness. Lord, make me strong and a source of strength to others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

50 000 HITS!

Monday 3 September 2012: 6 years on …DEUCE

I am extremely humbled that today, on the sixth anniversary of my living with CBD and the third anniversary of blogging, the number of hits on this site has exceeded the 50 000 mark!

My sincerest thanks to all my followers for reading this site, for returning to it to read even more and for the valued comments they make and emails they send me.

I am extremely humbled that, in this way, I have been able to raise awareness about Corticalbasal Degeneration.

Regards to you all!

ED

Life is a Holiday (reprise)

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 17 July 2012: 5 years 10 months on … Advantage ED

Before we left on our holiday to Thailand, we did a lot of research, homework and preparation. We read books, searched the internet and chatted to people who had been there before.

We packed appropriately, got our documentation in order and ensured that we had the correct currency.

In short, we ensured that we were well-prepared for the trip.

Then, off we went.

We knew we had limited time and that the trip would end. So we ensured that we used every available moment at our disposal. Time spent sleeping or in hotel rooms was wasted, so we did as much as we possibly could in the days available to us.

Time not utilised was lost to us – we would not pass that way again and would not be able to recoup the moments lost.

We had to live in each and every moment, enjoy the moment, savour the moment, relish the moment, delight in the moment, take pleasure in the moment, appreciate the moment and value the moment.

Sometimes, one is so busy taking photographs in order to save the moment for future memories that you are unable to take the pleasure in the fullness of that very moment.

There would be no time for regrets, no going back and no doing it over again.

And even when we realised that our time was running out fast, that we only had so “many sleeps” left and that the end was certain, it didn’t help to lament about it – we just had to keep on going and do as much as possible.

Along the way, we appreciated everything we saw. We marvelled at the world around us. Despite the weather sometimes being good and sometimes bad, we had to make do with what came our way. Despite the heat, the humidity and conditions far from ideal, we persevered. Despite heavy monsoon rains, we made alternative plans to lying on the beach – we hired scooters and bought rain ponchos and continued to explore the island of Phuket and enjoy ourselves.

It didn’t help blaming the fact that we hadn’t always made sufficient preparations to cover all eventualities. We had to make decisions on the fly.

And, yes, before we knew it, it was over – as we say here in South Africa: finished and klaar!

The question is how did the experience change us and what will we remember; and what did we do to make a difference to the lives of those we met along the way? Will they and how will they remember us?

Such is life!

In our formative years, we prepare with the help of others, at home and at school, for the journey that lies ahead of us. It is essential that we are well-prepared.

We know that our time is limited on this earth so we should not procrastinate, not delay, but make the most of every moment of our life. We should not waste – not even a single moment.

Time not utilised is lost to us – we will not pass this way again and we will not be able to recoup a single moment lost.

We have to live in each and every moment, enjoy the moment, savour the moment, relish the moment, delight in the moment, take pleasure in the moment, appreciate the moment and value the moment.

Somehow, it is so difficult to do that. We are often so busy blaming our past and preparing for our future that we lose our present, and that particular moment that we are living in.

But there is no time for regrets, no going back and no doing it over again. An unutilised moment passed is a moment lost!

And when our time runs out, when we only have so “many sleeps” left and the end becomes certain, it won’t help to lament about our life – we just have to keep on going and do as much as is possible in the time we have left.

Along the way, we must appreciate everything we see. We can only marvel at the world around us.

Despite the odds, we have to make do with what comes our way. When we have excellent conditions, we must make the most of them. Despite adverse conditions, we must persevere and make alternative plans and continue to enjoy ourselves.

And before we know it, when it is all finished and klaar, the question will be: “How did the experience of life change us and what will we take with us. What did we do to make a difference to the lives of those we met along the way? Will they remember us and how will they remember us?

After all, life should be a holiday!

 

 

 

 

Life is a Holiday

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 17 July 2012: 5 years 10 months on … Advantage ED

Before we left on our holiday to Thailand, we did a lot of research, homework and preparation. We read books, searched the internet and chatted to people who had been there before.

We packed appropriately, got our documentation in order and ensured that we had the correct currency.

In short, we ensured that we were well-prepared for the trip.

Then, off we went.

We knew we had limited time and that the trip would end. So we ensured that we used every available moment at our disposal. Time spent sleeping or in hotel rooms was wasted, so we did as much as we possibly could in the days available to us.

Time not utilised was lost to us – we would not pass that way again and would not be able to recoup the moments lost.

We had to live in each and every moment, enjoy the moment, savour the moment, relish the moment, delight in the moment, take pleasure in the moment, appreciate the moment and value the moment.

Sometimes, one is so busy taking photographs in order to save the moment for future memories that you are unable to take the pleasure in the fullness of that very moment.

There would be no time for regrets, no going back and no doing it over again.

And even when we realised that our time was running out fast, that we only had so “many sleeps” left and that the end was certain, it didn’t help to lament about it – we just had to keep on going and do as much as possible.

Along the way, we appreciated everything we saw. We marvelled at the world around us. Despite the weather sometimes being good and sometimes bad, we had to make do with what came our way. Despite the heat, the humidity and conditions far from ideal, we persevered. Despite heavy monsoon rains, we made alternative plans to lying on the beach – we hired scooters and bought rain ponchos and continued to explore the island of Phuket and enjoy ourselves.

It didn’t help blaming the fact that we hadn’t always made sufficient preparations to cover all eventualities. We had to make decisions on the fly.

And, yes, before we knew it, it was over – as we say here in South Africa: finished and klaar!

The question is how did the experience change us and what will we remember; and what did we do to make a difference to the lives of those we met along the way? Will they and how will they remember us?

Such is life!

In our formative years, we prepare with the help of others, at home and at school, for the journey that lies ahead of us. It is essential that we are well-prepared.

We know that our time is limited on this earth so we should not procrastinate, not delay, but make the most of every moment of our life. We should not waste – not even a single moment.

Time not utilised is lost to us – we will not pass this way again and we will not be able to recoup a single moment lost.

We have to live in each and every moment, enjoy the moment, savour the moment, relish the moment, delight in the moment, take pleasure in the moment, appreciate the moment and value the moment.

Somehow, it is so difficult to do that. We are often so busy blaming our past and preparing for our future that we lose our present, and that particular moment that we are living in.

But there is no time for regrets, no going back and no doing it over again. An unutilised moment passed is a moment lost!

And when our time runs out, when we only have so “many sleeps” left and the end becomes certain, it won’t help to lament about our life – we just have to keep on going and do as much as is possible in the time we have left.

Along the way, we must appreciate everything we see. We can only marvel at the world around us.

Despite the odds, we have to make do with what comes our way. When we have excellent conditions, we must make the most of them. Despite adverse conditions, we must persevere and make alternative plans and continue to enjoy ourselves.

And before we know it, when it is all finished and klaar, the question will be: “How did the experience of life change us and what will we take with us. What did we do to make a difference to the lives of those we met along the way? Will they remember us and how will they remember us?

After all, life should be a holiday!

 

 

 

 

The Cape of Good Hope: Day 7 (Friday)

Monday 31 October 2011 (Halloween): 5 years 1 month on … Advantage CBD 

The holiday agenda for the week was penciled in as follows:
    

Friday                                            Head off to Montagu (wine tasting)

Saturday                                         Mountain trip (Langeberg) and Potjiekos Lunch (Protea Farm)

Sunday morning                              Return to Port Elizabeth

 (Plus a list of people to see and things to do – if time allowed!)

I am busy inking in the gaps… in the meantime, look at some of the pics on the earlier blog!

Day 7 – Friday 7 October 2011

Our trip back to Port Elizabeth was scheduled to commence on Friday. However, we planned to take a leisurely drive and to stop over in Montagu for the weekend. The Ridgways were to accompany us and to act as our tour guide. Unfortunately, it was “month-end” in the accounts department at the Mount Nelson Hotel and Michelle could not go. So Sebastian and almost one-year old Hannah did. (It was amazing to see Sebastian look after Hannah – I never was such a good father!)

After packing and saying goodbye to our flat and The Strand, we left, as scheduled, at 08h30 and headed through Stellenbosch, Paarl, the N1 north through the Huguenot Tunnel and on to our first stop in the Slanghoek Valley outside Rawsonville.

The farm OPSTAL is owned by Stanley and Ria Louw. Stanley was at Stellenbosch University with me when I was an undergraduate student. He was also in Helshoogte and served on the House Committee. He is married to Thomas Moolman’s sister Ria (we had been staying in Thomas’s flat in The Strand.)

Rawsonville has special memories for me. I visited the Moolmans often there (and at their caravan in Gordons Bay when they camped during the summer holidays). I also spoke at Thomas and Marzeth’s wedding in the church hall in 1983 and it was the town where my very first brand new car was written off on a trip back home from Infantry School in Oudtshoorn when I was doing my military service.

But I had not yet visited Opstal.

So we stopped over for breakfast – a big farm one! – and our first wine tasting of the day. Unfortunately, Stanley was in Worcester and we did not get to see him. However, in the midst of preparing for a weekend Slanghoek Valley Wine Festival, we were graciously hosted by Ria.

It set the tone for the rest of the day (as can be seen from the photographs accompanying these blogs!)

Our next stop was the Klipdrift Brandy distillers in Robertson – “met ys!”- and then on to the wine farms along the Breede River valley between Robertson and Bonnivale.

Farm after farm, wine after wine, sip after sip and taste after taste, we moved through the valley and through the wines – the dry and the semi-sweet whites through the rosés and the red Cabernets and Pinotages, and all the other special wines and the cheeses, too, where available!

We visited Bon Courage, Van Loeveren, Excelsior. I’m not sure if it’s the wine or the CBD that makes the names fade into oblivion now.

Each farm has something special – that little extra thing to make it unique – whether it be a cheese platter, a snack, a river cruise, or a donkey cart.

Sean, Phill and I especially enjoyed the opportunity at Excelsior to blend and bottle our own wine – Excelsior Our Own Creation! The challenge now is do we keep it or drink it!

 

Bacchus would have been proud of us. The day moved into a haze of splendour and by late afternoon, it was time to head off to the Spar in Montagu and stock up on provisions for our braai at our overnight weekend guest house in the Koo Valley, north of Montagu.

What a spectacular valley that has escaped me, and I guess many others, all these years.

Most of us, I would imagine, are familiar with the name Koo and Langeberg – being the brand names of canned fruit and vegetables that have graced our kitchens over the years and that we all have eaten somewhere along the line.

Langeberg, of course, means “long mountain”. It’s the range that runs parallel to the Indian Ocean coast all the way from Robertson to Swellendam and beyond. The Koo (Khoisan for “cold”) is a valley between these mountains and the next range that forms the border with the Great Karoo. The road that runs through it links the R62 at Montagu with the N1 at Touws River. It is in this valley that we find the fruit and vegetables that go into those cans!

The scenery is magnificent, and would become even more clear to us on the following day when we ascended the mountain.

In the meantime, in the quietness of the setting sun and the darkening sky, we braaied in front of our cottage at Oak Guest Cottages, and called it an early evening! Saturday belonged to Protea Farm.

 

 

The Green Green Greener Grass of … Wimbledon

Monday 4 July 2011: 4 years 10 months on … Game ED

Happy 235th Birthday United States of America from your proud Honorary Oklahoman and African American son!

Thirty five years ago, in 1975 / 1976, I had just finished my schooling in the USA when she was celebrating her 200th birthday! Upon returning to South Africa in January 1976, I found something here that was not here before and had never been here before I left.

A television set now graced our lounge at home!

Every night, just before six, the family closed the curtains and waited for the orange, white and blue TV logo (to us it looked like a toilet seat) to appear on the 51cm colour PAL TV set. Then came the Bible reading and prayer, the kiddies’ programmes, the magazine programme, the sport show, the 8 o’clock news bulletin, the adventure programme and the serial. At 11pm, the orange, white and blue (old) South African flag fluttered in the breeze while the symphony orchestra played the (old) National Anthem, the Call of South Africa.  Thereafter, the test pattern would grace the screen until six pm the following night, when the whole process would repeat itself.

With one difference!

On Monday night, the programme would commence in English and remain in English until after the News at 8:30pm. Then the language would swap over to Afrikaans until the test pattern appeared at 11:00pm. Tuesday night would start in Afrikaans and change over to English at 8:30pm.

Strictly two and a half hours of each language every night. We were, after all, a bilingual nation of 3 million white people and, in those days, we chose to forget about the 30 million black Xhosas, Zulus, Ndebeles, Sotho’s , …!  All that was about to start changing when Hector Pieterson and the children of SOWETO started the Soweto Riots on 16 June 1976 (which we commemorated two weeks ago on what we now call Youth Day) and which would alter the history of this country forever.

TV programmes such as Haas Das, Wielie Walie, Dallas, Longstreet, The World at War, High Chapperal, Bonanza, The Avengers became household names in a nation that had never experienced television before.

And on Saturday afternoons (and never on Sundays, because God said that mankind should rest on the Sabbath!) we watched strictly bilingual sport, too. There was tennis from Tarkastad, bowls from Benoni, darts from Durban, jukskei vanaf  Johannesburgbrug  vanaf Bloemfontein, cricket from Cape Town, chess from Carnarvon, netball vanaf Nelspruit and rugby van Reg oor die Land.

Maar niks van die buiteland nie! (“But nothing from overseas!”)  

Because of our apartheid policies, we were the skunks of the world and banned from international sport – participation therein and watching thereof!

Banned from everything – all, except for whatever reason I can’t remember, the Wimbledon tennis championships.

So, our annual dose of international sport became the All Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships held each year in June and July. Armed with champagne and strawberries and cream, we would curl up in our winter woollies watching, on Sunday afternoon, televised directly and live from that favourite city of mine, LONDRES, the men’s final match of the tournament.

And then on Sunday 7 July 1985, I was in England with the sanctions-busting Grey Touring Cricket team, and we eagerly watched the final at Seaford College in Petworth, West Sussex. South African born (and just two-month then naturalised American citizen) Kevin Curren took on the 17-year old unseeded German Boris Becker in the final. Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for the Germans, he would become the youngest and first German and unseeded player to win at Wimbledon and it would be the first of Boris’s 3 Wimbledon championship titles.

In 1999, Pera and I were in Wimbledon, staying with John (an ex-teaching colleague) and Sue Galloway at King’s College. John dropped us off at the tennis grounds, and we watched, with thousands of others, the final on the big screen attached to the outside of centre court from the Terraces which we had seen so often on TV! We rubbed shoulders with Ernie Els and ate our strawberries and cream and Magnums.

And, after Pete Sampras had beaten Andre Agassi in the All-American final, exactly 12 years ago to the day on Sunday 4 July 1999 (6 – 3, 6 – 4, 7 – 5 ) , we walked back in the bright evening English sunshine to the Galloway’s house, across the Wimbledon Common and past the pubs, the Crooked Billet and the Hand in Hand, where we had spent the previous evening, sitting outside drinking our ales in the fading sunlight at 10pm!

 

Now, with the advent of the New South Africa, we are back on the world stage. In a world moved on from restful God-forsaken Sundays and a one-channel SABC TV (Thank God!) to digital and satellite technology, tennis barely competes with the international rugby, cricket, athletics and football.

But, yesterday, in a cold and rainy Port Elizabeth, we watched, sans champagne, strawberries and cream, as Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal  4 sets to 1 to become the newest Wimbledon champion.

Ironically, the 2011 Grey Touring Cricket team was playing against an Old Grey side at King’s College in Wimbledon at the same time!  And in a new South Africa, Wimbledon and Raynes Park in London have become the home to so many South Africans who have emigrated to the United Kingdom in search of that greener grass.

But, the grand slam of life is like tennis: it’s not always strawberries and cream, and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. People move from one side to the other in search of the perfect sweet spot.

And It it’s not always love all. There are good serves and there are bad. There are many break points. And one often has to come from behind to beat the challenges. We win some and we lose some. We take the game but lose the set, or lose the game and win the set. Sometimes, we do get the break.

As the world watches your every move, sometimes you are wide off the mark. Sometimes it’s a let; sometimes you are out and sometimes in; sometimes you make forced errors and sometimes unforced errors; sometimes you are in the net! You make good shots and you make poor shots. Sometimes it’s your advantage, sometimes it’s theirs.

There are times, when the tension builds, that you need the “Quiet Please”!

The bounce is not always to your advantage and when the rains come, you need to be inventive: adapt and build your roofs to avoid delays. You need a team effort.

But we also have our faults. We may think “it’s just a lot of balls” and a “pain in the bum”! We let ourselves go. We don’t always know where the lines are; we grunt and we groan.

All the time, we need our dream to win; and we need to live our dream. We have to concentrate. We must control our mind. We must keep our eye on the ball We need to say “What a shot!”

In the rallies of Life, we have to make sacrifices to get to the top. To be a Champion, we also sometimes need to stop and smell the roses, and, like Djokovic, taste the grass.

Yes, for all of us, there comes the call of the Great Umpire: “Time!” And this life is not a practice or the test pattern – it’s the real thing and the only one we will ever have!

 

 

 

 

Who Painted the Moon Black?

Sunday 19 June 2011: 4 years 9 months on … Advantage ED

Father’s Day 2011!

This has arguably been the saddest weekend of my entire life.

Over the last two years, I have written a great deal about the wonderful days spent at St Francis Bay. Yesterday morning, we were headed there again for the weekend.

After the recent rains, the world was green and clean. Coming over the rise just before the descent into the Gamtoos River valley one gets to see Jefferys Bay in the distance, and because it is so clear today, beyond the Bay of J is the beauty of Paradise Beach, Aston Bay, St Francis Bay and, at the farthermost point, the peninsula of Cape St Francis. What a splendid sight on this magnificent warm winter’s day!

In the car there was silence. Behind us, you could hear the hum of the wheels of the Venter trailer that we were towing. It was empty because the purpose of the trip was to collect the last of our belongings from our house in St Francis.

Our holiday house has become the latest casualty of my illness.

Like a thief in the night, the CBD has slowly been taking away from me. First it was the use of my left hand. Then it took my job and my ability to work, to earn an income and to make a contribution to society.

Slowly it has taken not only my physical and mental abilities, but also my independence, my self-worth and my self-esteem.

It reminds me of the total lunar eclipse that we had witnessed on Wednesday night. On a clear dark cloudless night, we had slowly seen the fullness of the bright moon disappear as the shadow of the earth moved across the face of the moon. After about an hour it became totally black!

(On a “lighter” note, someone said the moon was being switched off for three hours in response to the national load-shedding call by ESKOM to save power! Another comment was that VODACOM had paid millions to turn the moon red as a part of its recent advertising campaign to advise the public that it had changed its corporate colour from blue to red!)

Be that as it may, it was the longest total lunar eclipse seen in the last one hundred years. At the slowest of paces, the darkness crept across the moon until eventually there was a total blackout.

It is just like my CBD – at the slowest of paces, it is stealthily and silently taking more and more.

And now, it has started taking our possessions.

As the disease has progressed, it has become increasingly difficult for me to keep maintaining two homes – from a practical operational point of view but also from a financial perspective. And so, on the Easter weekend at the end of April we decided to put the house up for sale.

I don’t think any of us were prepared for what happened next. Bearing in mind the economic situation right now, and the fact that almost every second house in St Francis is “For Sale”, we did not know what to expect.

But early on Wednesday morning, Freedom Day, we had two prospective buyers view the house, and by lunch time the second viewer had made an offer to buy, which we accepted!

Tears rolled freely then. The paperwork was signed, but it would take a while for the transfer to go through, so the reality of the decision didn’t really hit home.

Not until this weekend. As the transfer is imminent, we needed to move. Suddenly, reality set in.

The weather was perfect. Those warm, windless picture-perfect days in St Francis when the reflection of the houses in the canals results in one not knowing which the top is and which the bottom is of the photos that you have taken! It made our decision to sell and the packing-up process so much more difficult to accept.

I have kept blaming myself. I have let down my family because I did not adequately prepare for an eventuality such as the CBD. I had always hoped that the boys would have continued with the traditions of No 6.

We have so many happy memories from our years of visiting here:  from the first red and black blow-up boat with the plastic oars, through Rusk with its 15HP Johnson engine to Rolls with the 125HP Mercury; from the paddling through the ski-ing and wake-boarding, from the canals through the river to the sea, from the skottels through the braais, from the fishing through the tanning and beach walks, from the empty house in winter through the “House (and garage) Full” at Christmas and New Year!

As a family, we have been so privileged by the experience and have been even more privileged to have been able to share it with so many of our family, friends and neighbours. They are too many to mention here (I will include my nephew-in-law Sebastian, only because he asked me to), but hopefully most have signed the Visitors’ Book that we have kept over the years.

In amongst the packing, it was a special treat on Saturday evening, and we really value the kindness, when our neighbours supplied a pork “skottel – braai” dinner to celebrate the “Last Supper” at No 6.  Mike and Jenny Rishworth (from No 4) and Brett and Jenny Parker from across the canal arranged the evening and joined us (and Pera’s brother Paul and his wife Debbie). Thanks so much for the evening, but even more, thanks for your friendship and the many happy memories. We know you will keep an eye on No 6 for us.

I did not sleep much on Saturday night. There were too many thoughts going through my diseased mind and too many tears sliding over my cheeks. Sunday, Father’s Day, was not much better. Seeing the boys walking around taking their last pictures and posting them as their profiles on Facebook , made it even more difficult for me.

I had never imagined that one could become so attached to a place and to a house, and that it would be so difficult to say goodbye to a memory and a thousand dreams.

I had also never imagined that we would have accumulated so much over the years. So much so, that we will need to go back again to collect the rest (maybe just an excuse for one really last visit to No 6 later in the week!)

To all our immediate neighbours, the Macs, the Fishers, the Kemps, the Fouches, the Nortjes, and to the numerous others who crossed our path, our grateful thanks are extended  for so many good times and for being part of the tapestry of our St Francis Bay experience. We eagerly anticipate being your “day visitors” in the future!   

To the new owners, Mike and his family, we sincerely hope that you will treasure it and enjoy it as much as we have, and that you, too, will continue to hoard happy memories at No 6 (and maybe not so much junk as we have!)

And to ourselves, we need to remember that the moon did not stay black forever. After the darkness, it turned to the most beautiful red and then slowly returned to its normal bright shining self (and maybe even looked just a tad brighter after the darkness than before!)

We, too, must now look forward to the next exciting era in our lives that begins today.

 

 

 

 

 

THE BRAVE AND INSPIRING STORY OF THE GIRL WHO NEVER GAVE UP

This is the story of Belinda Walton’s courageous ten-year journey back to life, following a horrific car accident in 1996.

Just eight weeks short of her wedding day, Belinda was savagely cut down when a truck ran a red light, and nearly ended her life.

While doctors expressed little hope that she would survive, and even less of any sort of long-term recovery, they weren’t counting on Belinda’s inner strength, and the defiant resolve of determined parents!

This is her own story, told through the pages of the diary entries of Belinda herself, as she began and fought and struggled to overcome, and come to terms with, her severe disabilities.

Her story gives unique insight into the maelstrom of frustration, desperation and moments of inspiration, that haunt and reward one who is faced with such disability.

It is a highly personal , raw account of an amazing journey that continues to this day.

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