Archive for January 25th, 2007

It’s your funeral…

I write this in a cafĂ©/pub about 100yds from where I live. I took refuge in here on my way back from the shop with the paper (the dominion post – cool name), cause it had started to rain. To elaborate – it’s about 25 degrees, cloudy, a warm westerly in progress. I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt and my 8 yearold tevas. There were a few brief spits of rain over the marina and to be honest it was just a lame excuse to visit one of the cafes I hadn’t patronised as yet.

There was a random footy match on the telly – I haven’t seen a footy match in months – there was terrible 80’s pop on the stereo. Occasionally you’d get a gem like queen or elvis costello thrown in. There’s only me, two guys watching (or should I say ogling) the ladies tennis and two girls who couldn’t be older than 17 in full camo gear. The NZ military is a bit weird.

So I started with the local news, with a definite Wellington (as opposed to Auckland slant). Reading the local paper in any given country is a wonderful experience. Reading about politicians corrupt lives and the deaths of young kids in car accidents. Turns out there’s little difference in here and home. Top story is of an 8 yr old ‘kidnapped’ by his grandfather (on behalf of his mother) so that his father (who turns out not to be his biological father) can’t get custody. And his mum has been in prison for four months for refusing to acknowledge the kids whereabouts. The kid has finally turned up saying he had a great time living in a tent with his granddad and eating birds.

And I got through the world section and read of dubbya and his new plan in Iraq and n overview of past statement on how things were going in Iraq. And onwards into the ‘lifestyle’ section full of comments on neurotic women buying shoes and ‘why I hate cell phones’ type features.

And most interestingly of all I came to the ‘family notices’ section as people publicise their grief and regret at a loved ones passing. A list of 80 and 90 year olds passing in rest homes around the country.

As a brief aside, I heard on the radio the other a day an ad for a funeral agency. With medieval style harpsichord (dear knows why?) there was a voiceover of how a gift of a consultation about a loved ones death and funeral would be the perfect gift for an elderly relative. All this tack and bad taste was topped off with a jingle of ‘it’s your life and your funeral’. I kid you not.

So halfway through the notices I find a 100 word notice about an 85 year old dying in hospital with her dearly beloved. Except the difference was that I knew her from work 3 months ago when I admitted her and had a long discussion about the fact that we could do little for her (dodgy heart and heart valves, a stroke, untreatable leukemia and dementia). She’s been in hospital since.

Add to this the fact that a guy I’d told had cancer (Mr A from a blog – bread and butter – back 3 months ago), turned up in ICU having had his thyroid gland removed (I’d thought he had metastatic lung cancer, thyroid cancer is an infinitely more pleasant diagnosis). Funny how you get continuity of care for a guy I never thought I’d see again.

Add to this that I now see people I know when I’m walking about town. A wave or an acknowledgment of recognition in a place where I knew no one four months ago. I realise I’m now part of this place. That I’m not just a random dirty foreigner, as I used to refer to myself. This is a country full of folk like me. Travellers and foreign workers. It’s not so much a holiday any more – and I’m not sad about that.

Anyhow they’re playing REM now so I better leave before the music actually gets listenable.


January 2007