Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Saturday, February 22, 2014


The Dunedin Night Shelter. 
We have lots of cute visitors while these flowers are blooming.
Auckland grand daughter - growing up fast!
Edinburgh grandson. We skyped with him on Monday.
Night Shelter operation...
This week we have had a Dunedin Night Shelter Trust Board meeting. We had a long session during which we talked about the types of people using the shelter and the issues surrounding that. The shelter manager talked about some of the difficulties at length. Lately there seems to have been some urgent drama every week to deal with. We are readying ourselves to get into asking the people of the city of Dunedin to help us fund the purchase of the buildings. Sometimes I want to yell, "Hey I am meant to be retired! This does not feel like retirement!" I was looking forward to bigger spaces of time to do projects around home, to go tramping, to slouch around in old jeans, and to do more exercise. But I still seem busy having to go into town every day for some reason for somebody. Even then I am not getting all I want to do completed for the shelter. My long term goal, before I finish my involvement with the trust, is to have the shelter operation secured and on a firm foundation for the future needs in Dunedin. 
The operation of a firm...
One of the involvements I had this week was to support a woman as she talked to her bosses.  She is a longterm worker in the firm (she had worked for the current bosses' father) but lately the dynamics within the firm had got her down and stressed her out. I was asked to go as a support person when she went to talk to the bosses. My job was to listen. I could not say much, but as they talked I would loved to have chipped in and given my perspective. That was not my role.  It was my feeling though, that the way the bosses ran the firm they were contributing to the toxic dynamics and low morale. As they talked about some of the interactions that had taken place, I would loved to have taken them aside and asked, "Don't you think it would have been better to have....?"   But then who am I? I am not the world's best organiser, administrator nor people person.  I tend to be a loner. I felt sad because the operation of this long standing local firm, seemed not to be working as well as it could.
Unable to operate..
I had a phone call from an Australian couple who were on a cruise ship and spending a few hours in Dunedin. "Can we catch up some how?" I have known this couple for years, our paths have crossed every now and then and each time we have enjoyed catching up.  He is an ex-minister, became a counsellor,  together they ran a retreat centre mainly for couples, and I have always appreciated their way of thinking. We recalled a marriage enrichment weekend they ran that my wife and I shared in, when we first got to know them. They are both eighty now, and he seems to have a very active mind, falling into lively discussion with me. She was a lot quieter than I had remembered her and did not seem the buoyant woman I had known... As the three of us sat at a cafe out in the country, looking at the scenery and chatting (Orokanui Ecosanctuary) he told me that she was suffering with the early stages of alzheimers, but looking at her he continued,"You are doing very well, aren't you? I have told (her name) that I will look after her as long as I can."  She looked at me with a worried expression, I guess to see my reaction. What can you say? What are the right words? "Oh that must be so frustrating for you?" was all I thought to say. "Yes it is!" she responded quietly and seemed to relax. This once bright, active and very intelligent woman is fading and cannot operate like she used to. It is sad. My guess is that this will be the last time I see them. None of us knows what is ahead of us.
Surgical operation...
I had a phone call on Monday from the hospital inviting me to be admitted to a different hospital to have another TURP operation. I had one last year which did not really work so they are going to check it out and try to fix it. "Next Thursday." they said. I agreed. A few days later another phone call said, "Now it is earlier, on Tuesday, pre-op stuff on Monday."  People are saying, "Isn't it good? You will get it over with."  I am not so thrilled. I have been trying to settle into retirement and weddings and other things have hindered getting into a routine. This will not help that process. I have been doing more exercise, but now what fitness I have gained will be lost during the weeks of recovery time after the surgery. As well as this, I have little confidence that the operation will be successful.  In my "prostate problems" journey, from the early biopsies to last year's operation, every time they have treated me, it has felt like I have ended up in a worse predicament. I hope this operation will be better. Wish me luck. I have had blood tests and check up, and tomorrow I will pack my hospital bag again. 

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