Category Archives: volunteering

Another Wedding

I dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance,
A church filled with family and friends.
I asked him what kind of a wedding he
wished for,
He said one that would make me his wife.

~Author Unknown

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary.  If my late husband was still alive we would have celebrated 54 years!    As it was we had only 41 years together.  What a lot of years to devote to one person.

I have a nephew who celebrates his wedding on the same day but it is nowhere near as many years as ours.

Yesterday was Thursday and lunch at Mary Potter Hospice.  I love Thursdays.  I come away filled with hope and admiration for the folk who are facing the end of their days with such equanimity and peace – well usually they are.  I am sure in the dark of night they maybe are not quite so calm, but the face they offer to the world, in this case a volunteer, is one of acceptance.

So yesterday….I went into one of the rooms and hanging on the rail around the bed was a long dress carrier.  One of the visitors apologised and took the carrier down.  I commented that it looked like a wedding dress, whereupon all the visitors laughed and said that was exactly what it was.

Lunch orders were forgotten for the next few minutes as they told me that there was to be a wedding in the hospice chapel that night.  The patient and his partner had decided to ‘just do it’.  Of course, I asked if I could see the dress.  I not only saw the wedding dress, but in the carrier were the dresses for the bridesmaid and for the mother of the bride. What a symbol of hope and acceptance that was.

I told them it was my anniversary and they all congratulated me.  Hugs all around (except the frail patient of course).  His son and daughters were there and there was excitement in the air.  About 30 people were expected to attend and a small reception had been planned.

So at this time of grief there was also a ray of hope.  I don’t know the patient’s name – we use only first names – nor do I know where he and his family live, so I shall have to check next Thursday with the staff to find out how the wedding went.

And to this couple I wish only the best for the time they have now together.  We know that life is transitory and who knows whether tomorrow will come.  And if tomorrow never comes?

“Love is a symbol of eternity.  It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end.”  ~Author Unknown

Rainbow

My rainbow

A Day With the Boys

Our grandchildren accept us for ourselves, without rebuke or effort to change us, as no one in our entire lives has ever done, not our parents, siblings, spouses, friends – and hardly ever our own grown children.
Ruth Goode, author 1902-1997

The boys are on holiday from school at present and we decided to have a day together.

After picking up two boys from their house and then meeting the other two at the railway station, we went to Mary Potter Hospice.

A call went out the other day for volunteers to do some gardening.  The Hospice had been given a flat of black and white pansies and wanted to plant them urgently to make an  “All Blacks” Garden.  They needed help in moving plants from one garden bed, removing them to another and planting the new plants.

The boys entered into this wholeheartedly and were officially crowned the Youngest volunteers at MPH.  The Hospice grounds rang with the laughter of four cousins enjoying themselves.  James, the eldest commented that if he ever has a house of his own, the grounds will be all concreted.  He thinks his Granma’s patio is just about right.  Little planting, many pots and exposed aggregate.

There was a husband and wife team already there when we arrived and it took hardly any time (approx 1.5 hours) to do all the planting, removing and weeding necessary to make the beds look great again.

Unfortunately, somebody had carried the mulch/blood and bone through the complex instead of taking it around the outside.  The smell that greeted us was truly awful  It smelt like a bad case of diarrhoea but the smell dispersed in a short time.  dreadful while it lasted and of course, each of the boys made a comment as you can imagine.

Cold drinks for the boys, coffee for Granma and we were off to the food court at the mall for lunch.  I tend to forget that growing boys need constant feeding.  The food court is great because they can each choose what they want to eat from whichever concession they like.

The next stop was Hang Dog, an indoor rock climbing arena where the boys showed their prowess at scaling walls.  More laughter as they worked out how to manage the harnesses, belaying etc.

 

 

 

After two hours they decided they had ‘done’ Hang Dog and so we went to my daughter’s house where they spent a further couple of hours playing ‘Black Ops’ on the PS3.

Two teams.  The oldest and youngest vs the other two.  A very serious undertaking quite different from the other things they did today.

More memories to keep and take out later when they have grown up and maybe won’t want to spend a whole day with their Granma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And It’s Raining

Rainbow

My rainbow - looking forward to spring

Rainbows apologize for angry skies.
Sylvia Voirol

I don’t know who Sylvia Voirol is but I like the sentiment expressed.

I am finding it difficult to write this post as Lotte is sitting on my lap having inspected the desk and all that’s on it then deciding my lap was the better place to be.

Lotte on desk

Another helping hand

Today the awful weather has continued.  Snow only in the high country and in the South Island but rain, rain and more rain and now we have thunder.  No wonder Lotte is scared and needs to sit with me.  But there is nothing we can do about a rainy day.  My response has always been “Now I don’t have to water the garden” but after this spell of such bad weather even my “Pollyanna” like behaviour is waning.

Several things on my mind today that I should like to share.

  • Obviously my post about homelessness struck a chord with many of you.  Thanks for taking the time to comment.  I am aware of course that this is a problem world-wide and one to which there seems to be no immediate solution.  But one wonders if some of the money being spent on the military were to be redirected here, could it make a difference?

Goods for Mary Potter

  • I had thought that when I moved house last year I had downsized to the extent that I now had nothing superfluous in my life.  What a surprise when I decided to get rid of two bookcases and their books.  This of course, led to more searching and the result of that was this pile of things to be picked up tomorrow for sale in the Mary Potter Hospice shop.  Why do we clutter our lives up in this way?
  • And talking about Mary Potter Hospice I received this blogpost today from an acquaintance, Blair Styrer.  Blair channels Tabaash and whether or not you believe in channeling I encourage you to read Blair’s post.
Bird painting

This one is mine.

  • Still on the Hospice – a couple of weeks ago I had Jae my youngest grandson helping while I served lunches there.  He had a broken ankle and was on holiday from school but his brother was not, so he  decided to spend the day with Granma. What a joy and delight that small (12-year-old) boy is.  He charmed everybody with whom he came into contact.  In particular one lady who was going home that day and gave him one of her paintings.  He was thrilled and she also gave him one for his Granma.  After leaving the hospice we hot footed it to a local store (Briscoe’s) to buy a frame for his painting.  He proudly presented it to his mother to hang in her office.  Again, I am amazed at the generosity of people in the last stages of their lives.

Lotte has been looking longingly outside as she has not had a walk for two days.  Every time I have opened the door she has taken one look outside and turned around back into the house.  On Monday, the day of the heavy snow, I bought her a waterproof, lined jacket to keep her warm and dry on her walks.  On the way home from the shop I stopped the car intending to take her for a short, quick walk.  She had other ideas.  I got her out of the car and she planted her four little feet firmly on the ground and refused to move.  Then she turned around and leapt back into the car.  Who’s in charge here I hear you asking.

Lotte

Please may I go out?

Lotte at window

Or maybe out here?

So as soon as the rain lets up a bit we shall venture forth into the weather.  This of course is one of the joys of being owned by a Tibetan Spaniel.  We dance to her beat and her program.

If you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance.
From “I Hope You Dance” as sung by
Leanne Womack.


Thursday Afternoon Blues

“Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.”  ~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross 1926 – 2004, Swiss-born psychiatrist and author.


MPH LogoThursday afternoon always finds me in an introspective mood.  Because this is the day that I serve lunches at our local hospice.  Sometimes Thursday lunch is a joyful experience as I mentioned in past blogs; sometimes it is sad and sometimes, like today there is a general air of disquiet, unease about the place.

There was no particular reason for this.  But smiles met with pained expressions from those going through painful experiences both physical and mental.  Even those patients whom I had interacted with before seemed particularly withdrawn.

So I asked myself, why would this be.  It was like a miasma had descended on the place.  In my reading and learning I know that thoughts can affect not only people but also places.  I clearly remember the feeling that was left in the church when there had been a funeral immediately before I ran a wedding rehearsal.  The grief, anguish and tears felt and shed at the funeral were palpable.  Yes, some of the other people who worked at the church were skeptical when I said this.  But I do believe it is so.

I began to think of myself in this situation.  Coming to the end of my time here on earth.  How would I react?  How would I cope with this smiling person who asks me “How are you today?”  This of course, is the way in which we normally greet somebody.  But this is a far from normal situation.  The person to whom I am speaking is nearing the end of their journey in this life and they obviously are not great.  So I have to rethink my greeting.  If anybody can help me with this I should be most grateful.

I then got to thinking about how I could make my transition from life to death easier for my children.  When my husband died 13 years ago it was very sudden and we really had no idea what he would have wanted, apart from knowing that we had both discussed cremation.  My children took over the planning for the funeral without any real idea of what their Father would have wanted.

Some weeks later, when the dust and the fog in my brain had cleared somewhat, I found a page on which he had written the kind of funeral and the hymns he would like.  Well, it was too late.  The funeral had been held.

So I have put together a file for my children so there will be no question of what I want.

  • I want to be cremated and my ashes placed with Robert’s
  • I want the funeral to be in a church not an undertaker’s parlor
  • I don’t want lots of eulogies – I would rather people said nice things about and to me when I am alive
  • I don’t want lots of flowers and prefer the money to be donated to Mary Potter Hospice
  • I want my son and daughter and my grandsons to be pallbearers
  • I want my friend and organist at Old St Pauls to play a hymn – Jerusalem
  • I want there to be singing as well as the hymn.  I recently attended a ‘joyous’ funeral.  And this is what I want.  For many years my mantra has been “I hope you dance and I particularly want my favorite version  played – “I Hope You Dance” by Leann Womack.

Oh and I really like this poem and would ask my daughter, she of the fantastic voice, who read “Stop all the clocks” by W H Auden at her father’s funeral, to read this:

She is Gone

You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she’s gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she’d want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
David Harkins, English author, poet and artist.  1958 – .

I am sorry to be so serious today, but I truly believe that we should all make provisions for our passing out of this life into the next (if that’s what you believe).  In any event, we are going to pass out of this life at some stage.  My children took over all the funeral arrangements after their Father died.  I would like to think by this forward planning on my part, the chore will be easier for them the second time.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. “ 1817 – 1862, American author, poet, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister,  historian and philosopher.