Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Holiday generosity and death...

We did get to visit my friend's boat and I even steered it. He is keen for me to spend time with him on it.
My wife and my friend at an interesting maritime museum near Semaphore, in Adelaide..
On our last full day there we toured the harbour. 
My friend and I on top of Mt Lofty with Adelaide stretched out below us.
Australia sojourn
We have been on holiday out of the country for ten days. With the Night Shelter money raised and the buildings bought, we decided we could take time to visit friends in Adelaide, South Australia. We rang a friend there to check if it was OK to visit on the dates we planned. She said OK, but that she would pay our fare. So the cost to us of the flights was nothing. We arrived in Adelaide and found out some plans had been changed. We were to stay with our other friends, because the friend who had paid our fares was again being a generous hostess to a family needing accommodation. Then our plans were changed again, because my wife became ill with a chest infection, which later hit me also. Plans for me to spend a few days with my friend on his boat never eventuated. We stayed at his place and did different things. But again he was immensely generous, paying for meals out, for trips etc. and refusing to allow me to empty my wallet. We did low key things basically just catching up on each other. His daily saying was, "Its time to have a glass of afternoon tea." as he handed me a beer.  It was a laid back visit.
In spite of sickness hitting my wife and nudging me, we enjoyed our stay. Australia is different. There is a different culture even though we are often seen as being the same. The nature of the climate gives different vegetation, different scenery and there are many more native "wild animals".  Twice my friend took me for a walk up "his mountain", Mount Lofty on the edge of Adelaide. I had a close encounter with a Kangaroo and her young one. I saw a Koala up a tree. On our second trip down the mountain we were on a more isolated track and from the TV news I had been made aware that the snakes were getting more active in the warm weather. I walked very much aware that I might have a close encounter with a snake. I didn't see a snake, but on my New Zealand mountain all I see are birds, and once I encountered  a goat. We don't have snakes or anything really that could harm you. Australia is very different. I am happy and proud to have lived in New Zealand. Lifestyle wise, it is for me with my values, perhaps the best country in the world to live in. But I always appreciate the land across the Tasman sea. In the 1970's I spent four very formative years in Australia doing my theological training and in the process establishing life long friendships. It was good to visit. 
Death.... the last goodbye. 
On the Sunday before we left for Australia I had led the service at our local Church. After the service I packed up all our things and loaded them into the van, locking the Church door behind me. My wife then informed me that our Church key was still inside the Church with her all important handbag. We went to a lady on the parish council who lived nearby to borrow her key. She was already home from church and dabbling in her garden. She was very warm toward us, and we made arrangements to drop the key back in her letterbox. We waved goodbye as we drove away, then at the end of the week we went for our ten day visit to Australia. We arrived home on Tuesday this week, and yesterday, Friday, at breakfast I read our morning newspaper. I was absolutely shocked to see a death notice for this lovely lady. She was ten years older than I am, but still very active and involved in the Church and the community. She had died suddenly on Thursday! Little did we know that our friendly wave goodbye was the last time we would see her.  It is sad and salutary. 

The lesson from both of these experiences - You can plan but ultimately you are not necessarily in control of your life.       

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