Taking, Giving and Receiving

©2011 Edward C. Lunnon

Sunday 25 December 2011: 5 years 3 months on … Advantage ED

Christmas 2011!

It’s my sixth Christmas with CBD which I received in September of 2006. It was given to me as a gift by someone – no-one knows who – and when I took it, I did not know what it would give me and what it would take away from me.

Indeed, Christmas is a time of giving and receiving; a time of celebration and reflection.

In my life, I have been given so much – and so much more than most other people who have lived, currently live or who will still live on this earth.

But sometimes it becomes difficult to be thankful for what one has been given.

You only see what has been taken – and, in my life, I have had taken so much.

My father was taken by a severe stroke when I was twelve years old; my mother was taken by diabetes, figuratively and literally, bits at a time until her death in 1986.

It is especially at this time of the year that I miss not having experienced parents as many other people do.

I studied to become a teacher, but in 1988 I allowed that noble profession to be taken away from me. In order to receive better remuneration elsewhere, I allowed greed to take away my chosen vocation. It is sad that so many other teachers in our country – which needs education so desperately – have done the same.

In 2002, I had my then occupation taken away from me in a bizarre contrived set of lies and corporate circumstance. What had been given to me was taken away in the blink of an eye: the time it took to sign a signature with no conscience, almost in a situation similar to when Pontius Pilate washed his hands in water after he had allowed the decision to be made to crucify Jesus Christ.

And then came the Corticalbasal Degeneration – a motor neurone disease that gives and takes.  

As time progresses, it gives of itself more and more.

And it takes more and more – slowly, stealthily over the last six years it has been taking more and more of my body. First my left fingers and left hand; then my left arm, right hand, left toes, left foot, left leg …

It takes my short-term memory, some of my cognitive functions, and so much more …

…  my ability to do things that most other people take for granted: brushing teeth, shaving, swallowing, eating, picking up, writing, typing, talking, seeing, smelling, tasting, planning, sitting, breathing …

Slowly it takes more of my ability to make a contribution to society and my purpose in life.

It has taken my ability to work and my capacity to earn an income and to provide for my family. This year it has taken our house at St Francis Bay and the special gift that we had to spend quality time together as a family. And whilst, economically, it makes no financial sense to have a holiday house, I have become only too aware this December, as our boys take off to go to friends, just how much a beach house acts as a magnet to keep the family and friends together. Those are the “priceless” moments that we see in the TV advert for Mastercard!

As the knife and fork become difficult to operate and the food falls from the spoon, and the tremors and spasms increase, and I need more and more assistance to put on my shoes and put in a light bulb, the CBD takes more and more of my self-esteem.

Human nature, I guess, is also very fickle. We all know that it is “nobler to give than to receive.” But we definitely don’t like being taken for a ride. We don’t like continually buying rounds of drinks and never receiving a drink back. There is no such thing as a free lunch!

Few of us are so noble that we just continue giving and never expect something in return. I know of no one who continuously gives presents and doesn’t expect one back!

The more you can give people, the more people you find surround you. Conversely, the less you have to give, the less you find around you. Christmas cards have stopped coming (all but the annual one – thanks so much!), I suppose because I haven’t sent any back, and I guess that’s the reason that the text messages have become far fewer, the phone calls have almost dried up and the visits are non-existent.

Yes, it is so much easier to receive and to take rather than to give!

However, CBD cannot be human – it takes but it also gives: it has given me the ability to see life through very different eyes;  to be more tolerant (I do try!); to give more of myself; it has given me opportunities to travel abroad and locally; to write; to talk; to meet all kinds of interesting people and those who do give to me unconditionally; to have my chat programme on radio with Lance; to experience the kindness of those people from Hospice who visit me regularly and those medical personnel – the doctors, bio’s, orthotists, physio’s – who assist me to make my life more comfortable.

Christians believe that God Himself, in the ultimate act of giving to mankind, was born into this world as His Son, Jesus Christ, in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago. That is what we celebrate.

We are taught that “God gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

But it is in celebrating this Birthday and it is at this “happy” Christmas time, especially, that one tends to see what has been taken and not what has been given.

In this time of supposed goodwill and godliness; happiness and hope; family cohesiveness and friendship; snowmen and snowballs; purity, peace, presents and pretence; flicking lights and food; cheer and charity; tinsel and talk; and drinks and even more drinks, it is difficult sometimes to understand Life and to experience “Happy Holidays”.  No wonder that for some it becomes intolerable and they end up throwing a few snowballs at each other and at Life! Some even throw their lives away!

As I write this, the news informs us that the “Season to be Jolly” has resulted in the 82nd person, a thirty-six year old woman, jumping from our notorious Van Stadens Bridge on Christmas Day and ending her life.

So I am thankful that I am able to control my mind and to keep it focussed on 2012. I wonder sometimes where that Star will lead me. What I do know, is that I will receive and take far more than I will ever be able to give!

Despite the polyfilla to cover the cracks: the daily twenty odd tablets, the cortisone and now the quinine with its side-effects of headaches, rash, nausea, weakness, tiredness, and ringing in my ears (not bells nor beers!), I have my new leg brace for earthly support and Support from Him whose birth we celebrate today.

As Asaph wrote in Psalm 73 : 26

“My mind and my body may grow weak,

But God is my strength;

He is all I ever need. “