Sunday, December 10, 2017

Our annual epistle - to quote Lizzie from England --- "Annus Horribilis"

Sunday, December 10, 2017
oldbearnews editor

Hello all:  
    We had not written an annual letter last Christmas so thought we better do a full one this year - so here it goes!

   First up I am inclined to borrow a phrase from the Queen who in her Annual Christmas speech at 1992 referred to the year as an “Annus Horribilis” — which means “horrible year” in Latin.    So to paraphrase that --  “2017 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an 'Annus Horribilis'.” 
Those regular Facebook users will know we had our ups and downs. In fact – lets start with Aug 2016 – after Michael came home from his first OE he fell ill and ended up in the Hospital Bone Marrow Unit  and  he was told he has Leukaemia! 4 months of Chemo therapy followed and by Feb 2017 he was deemed officially in remission. Having recovered from the Chemo he briefly went back to work.

    February 2017  also saw my sister coming to New Zealand (her first ever visit to NZ) and we toured the country and had a great time catching up and exploring! Margit is having her own life challenges with a divorce hanging over her head – so her coming to NZ gave her a good chance to tank up and relax! We managed to see a lot of the South Island and then had a wonderful time up in the North Island.  We ended up with a week in the Coromandel and exploredmany of the beaches and other important sights.  I think (Yes Sis’?) she understands now why we would want to retire up there. 

    One of the things that came out from last years ‘annus horribilis’ was some re-evaluation of our priorities.  With that in mind – Reinhold is easing back from Scouting.  I have attended the national Jamboree in Renwick – 10 days camping and running an Internet style cafe minus the cafe!  January 2018 I will go to a 7day camp near Staveley and run a Photography base.  While still a leader with Venturers I had no special responsibilities other then just turning up on the night.  By Feb 2018 I will have done 20 years with Scouting – and will retire from the Youth Movement.
The other thing that came from the ‘Annus Horribilis’ are some changes at home.  In September 2016 I made myself a work-bench which sits in the garage. I needed to get my head back into some good space after the leukemia news, and, as well, I was sick of and getting to old, to nail/ saw /screw on the concrete floor!  

    Then by May 2017 came the shattering news that the Leukemia had returned and the last roll of the dice is a bone marrow transplant for Michael.  Siblings have a one in four chance of being a 100% compatible donor – after that there is the wide world of donors.  Luckily Jonathan proved to be an excellent genetic match – right down to having the same doctor! Thus the lengthy process of transferring the bone marrow began.  

With that came a renewed passion for woodworking, something I had suppressed while active with Scouting.  The car we had owned for just over10 years has done its dash so we decided to bite the bullet and upgraded to a station wagon.  I have missed the Honda shuttle we had owned several years back – naturally there was an ulterior motive for buying a wagon as opposed to a sedan – the buying and carting home of lengthy pieces of timber/ / pallets for recycling!!!
Amongst all of that happening Pam’s Dad needed more care and was eventually put into Wesley Care rest-home on 23rd May 2017.   He had several falls in the last few years, while living with us in his flat next door and we could see his gradual deterioration or aging as they say.  By June 2017 he was obviously not right and after a short trip to the Hospital the news was that his bowl cancer (which had been operated on 16 years prior) had left a tiny bit in his liver and that after laying dormant for 16 years decided to self-activate itself.  He ended up dying super quick on 18th June and we had his funeral a week later.  That left Pam as the “Matriarch” of the Gurney Family ( a title which does not sit comfortable with her!) Seeing that her sister is not having children and our boys have no sign of having children themselves – let alone a permanent girlfriend  - the Gurney lineage may well cease to exist in the foreseeable future.  
After all of that in September 2017 we went rash and fulfilled a long held dream of ours of owning a camper-van.  Well ok  - so far we own the engine and the 2 front wheels – the Bank still owns the rest!! We have been away some weekends exploring the “camping on wheels” theme.  Trips included a weekend away in Waimate / Hamner / Tekapo (a favorite place of ours) and fingers crossed a weekend in Kaikoura just before Christmas 2017.  Reinhold will take the ‘mobile bed’ with him to the Staveley camp too!
    The other passion for Reinhold is Photography and that got a good workout on the weekly trips to and from the Hospital.  We tend to park in the Botanical Gardens and then stroll a leisurely 20 minute walk to the outpatients clinic.  The car almost self-drives itself there now, between Michael and Grandads appointments / visits there. Yes Peter had to give up driving in February 2017 after his fall and eventually sold his car so I acted as taxi and also as chaperon. Sometimes we went the “scenic” route!!!
This year I challenged myself to expand my pic-snapping skills.  Yes this old chap can still learn a new trick or two. Panoramas (and software stitching) as well as macros were part of the learning curve. Wish the printing would be ‘less’ expensive though!
Oh and I nearly forgot – both our Cat and Dog (both getting on in years) had to have medical intervention and an operation these last 12 months.  Lastly Pam had some misadventures too – wrenching her ankle badly and required ongoing physio and we won’t mention her blood pressure!

    At least Jonathan is doing well – he will be in Japan by Christmas 2017 doing similar work to his Canada experience (ski-lift operator or house keeping)!  Everyone is saying he will come back with a geisha – urm – wife!! Time will tell.
Ironically, we still have two fish swimming in the Aquarium and while they are  T H E  most neglected beings in our home – they seem actually to thrive!! Go figure! Which is a bit of a bummer as I am waiting for them to die, so that the Aquarium can be converted into a Solarium for some cacti . . . . . sighs

    Thus I agree with the Queen of Ol’ blighty – it has been a mixed year – along with the bad news there was some good news.  Well, better sign off now.  Below is a list (some of you have seen this before) that highlights why Pam is no longer looking forward to celebrating Birthdays / Christmas!!!!
    Hope 2018 will be better year for us and that you all have a good year yourselves.  Rumour has it (Michaels health very much depending) that we might be visiting Europe in 2018!!! Might see some of you then.

Our family does nothing normal!!
On Pam's 6th  birthday – her Grandad died in UK
On Michael's 6th Birthday – his Granny died
On Pam's 53rd Birthday – Michael Diagnosed Leukemia
On Jonno's 17th b-day – He has had an Operation
Oh and on Jesus' Birthday (1996 ) we all got a virulent bug that forced bed-rest for 5 days . . .
Is it any wonder we no longer make a fuss about birthdays?????
On the good news front:
On Michael's Birthday – Rachel+ Jeff celebrate their partnership anniversary
On Reinhold's 56th Birthday – we get good news on Jonno being bone-marrow compatible
On Grandad's 84th (would have been) Bone-marrow transplant took place.
At Pam’s 54th Birthday Michael has been released from Hospital for home based care !

Have fun! bear print

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