Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Moving on?

   We have been expecting this moment. Up until recently, nothing could have moved us from this community and this church congregation. But a few years ago, we recognised that we would have to move if one of us lost a driver’s licence, or if the health of either of us became critical, or if the progress of my prostate cancer became hastened.
   For a year now, we have watched my PSA readings go up by as much as 70% each three months. If that very high rate of increase continues, we could be looking at PSA 100 in a year and a half. Of course, the PSA is not necessarily a measure of the cancer’s growth, but it’s an indication that my body thinks there is something that needs dealing with.
   So, while I am fit and not in the least affected by the cancer—it’s the therapies that make life a bit unpleasant at this stage, not the disease!—we think that we have to prepare to move on. That means eventually finding a place where Bev will be comfortable to be on her own, probably a retirement village somewhere near family.
   And it also means tackling a lifetime’s collection of bits and pieces and tidying a sample of them into a simple record. Here’s a receipt for afternoon tea at Bridge Lodge in 1956 – but not all my receipts! And there are some photos, slides, videos and things that may be of interest to family at some time.
   In the process I found a couple of hundred 35mm slides of Dad’s. He gave them to me, all neatly wrapped in little marked bundles, when he was downsizing twenty years ago. Now I have the capability to scan them to a computer disk so descendents he never met will be able to see a little of his life. Not outstanding photography, but clear and bright images from another day. I am so glad to have these and hope that the little of my life that I am passing on will be of as much interest to those who may see it in years to come.
   Nothing is forever, not even memories shifted from fragile film and tape to disk. But, at the same time, the preservation of a little of any life is a worthwhile exercise. I am finding it creative and enjoyable, and every box of rubbish that goes for recycling leaves behind some small contribution to the life of our family.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Gone - no address?

With my recent history of a rapidly rising PSA, it was hardly surprising that my namesake from Canada sent an email enquiring after my health.

Well, thanks, David, and others who wondered, I’m still in the land of the living. The fact is that a blog of this kind, commenced in times of relative leisure during a series of major surgeries, and no particular responsibilities in the local church, was easy to start. But in times of much better general fitness and huge challenges in the life of our little congregation, it has been much harder to maintain.

Our parish has had most of a year with the new combined Parish Council and Ministry Team. It is a huge improvement on two or even three separate little organisations. The six of us are working well and enjoying the experience, but finding our time pretty fully occupied.

And in the last three months we have been through the horrendous business of closing the Methodist church at Russell. Services ceased last year but we waited for the centenary in late April for the closing. It was a bittersweet occasion. We had a packed church with great singing and enthusiastic participation in a much appreciated special liturgy. The President of the Methodist Church of New Zealand, Rex Nathan offered a timely address that contributed to a memorable occasion. Upwards of 100 remained for an excellent fellowship lunch.

I was heavily involved in preparing for the event and then, immediately afterwards, in writing the property’s history, to be forwarded with our urgent application to sell. This “Land Story” is required by Methodism for all property transactions, to ensure that the land was not alienated from Maori ownership under oppressive circumstances.

Talented researchers in Auckland and Wellington found that the original sale took place as early as 1829, 11 years before the Treaty of Waitangi. And, in a period from which few written records have survived, they were able to find the names of the six original Maori who signed over the land. The price didn’t sound much by today’s standards, but Land Courts over the next thirty years confirmed that the deal was fair. I dressed up our report in 36 pages of what has turned out to be what I am told is a very useful publication.

So that’s my excuse for being off air for a few weeks. Having said that, my PSA is still going up like a rocket and the best that experts can now offer me is “Keep taking the medicine”… So my emotions are all to heck, my skin and clothes are wet from hot flushes and my brain seems to be quietly fraying at the edges.

But they tell me I’m looking terrific. I’m certainly feeling fine. And I still don’t have a single identifiable symptom of the cancer that is probably growing quite vigorously somewhere in my nether regions.

So, blog on, eh?