Wednesday, 25 November 2015


Our mixed up life continues.

We are still living in Christchurch with our youngest son, Wayne, his wife, Amanda, and our lovely grand-daughter, Ava-Jane.

Lloyd, Amanda's father, was remembered in a very appropriate service a few days after his death. He was a bit of a gambler on the Pokies and horses so that was a recurring theme. Also people remembered him for his dry humour and practical jokes. This was not a side of him we were very familiar with because we only got to know him during his declining years. Although I found it strange because there was almost no Christian faith content, it was a very nice service with lots of family and friends to farewell him. His wife and daughters seemed to find some comfort in the number of people who came..

I thought that once Bev got over the immediate shock of losing her husband her own health would slowly pick up as there would be less anxiety over Lloyd. He had vascular dementia and although he appeared to be aware of things his memory was often flawed and he was sometimes quite a worry to her. Some days he could not remember where he lived. Sadly Bev is unlikely to benefit in that way for the short term at least. The evening after the funeral Bev had a fall. Fortunately the night nurse was still with her because she could never have got help fast enough on her own even though she wears a medical alert alarm. Bev had a stroke a few years back which left one side badly affected. Add to that a muscle weakening disease made her quite frail although strong in spirit and mind. Her stroke affected leg was dislocated at the ankle and has both bones broken. First Bev went to the Public Hospital where they realigned her leg and put on a cast. After a few days she was moved to Princess Margaret Hospital, for more continuing care, where further assessment of her needs has been done. Yesterday the family got the news that Bev needs permanent Rest Home Care with associated hospital facilities. You can imagine how difficult this period has been for the two daughters, one married, the other single. Now the search is on for a suitable Rest Home for Bev who is physically disabled but socially and mentally alert.

Edit: This afternoon when Amanda visited her mother she discovered a confused situation. No final decision has been reached and Bev is very upset by the idea of a Rest Home. This is very stressful for the family and particularly Amanda. It was such a relief to know the decision about her mother's future had been made. Having Bev live back in the Retirement Village would mean nothing but worry and running around to meet her mother's  demands.

While all this has been going on we have all tried to keep up with various appointments. Amanda has begun a part-time job and we baby-sit the lovely Ava for a few hours twice a week. John has had all his teeth removed over two sessions. I have had my eyes tested and a referral to the Opthalmological Clinic at Canterbury Hospital, Christchurch. We have also changed to a local Medical Centre and I have seen my new doctor and got a referral to the Plastic Surgery Clinic to deal with the damage from Bells Palsy.

We are very fortunate in NZ to have public funded health care. Of course I can have almost immediate surgery for my cataracts and facial distortion if we had medical insurance or a bucket load of cash. We have neither. Medical insurance is very expensive, increasingly so as you grow older even if you have been paying into the same fund for many years. We decided to forgo that expense as our public system generally works well. It's excellent in an emergency or high need but not so good when the need is lesser as mine appears to be. I am hanging on to the hope that being in a University town where there is a Medical College will help.

My recent Dr's appointment cost me $45, which is slightly lower than normal because we qualify for a Government subsidy for low income earners. I got a free blood test and my prescription for a drug to reduce my blood pressure cost me $5.00.

Dental work is not funded by Government at all but..... we fall into a category where our Superannuation is helpful. We are considered very low income with no great assets thanks to high mortgages.  We have been able to get a small grant towards John's dental bill and the rest we pay off via a small amount from our fortnightly Superannuation pay. Removing John's teeth cost a little over $1000.00. There will be a similar application for funding for his new dentures which are scheduled for the end of January 2016.  If we have sold our house in the meantime we will quite probably not qualify for this financial support.

We receive Government funded Universal Superannuation. For most of our working lives we contributed a small amount out of every pay slip into a Social Security fund. Over the years Governments have fiddled with this lucrative fund until it became part of their general 'Consolidated Fund' from which all government spending is budgeted. Today the Government is supporting a private saving scheme backed by private interest such as employers and banks. It's called Kiwi Saver and everyone under 65, the age qualifying for Superannuation, is expected to belong. It seems like a very sound scheme and should weather inflation and other negative monetary trends. One day the Universal Superannuation will be phased out but it's such a political hot potato it will be a very brave government that does it.

Continuing our lifestyle diary.

Our youngest son had a 40th birthday BBQ with friends.

Our middle son, who is a paraplegic, ended up in hospital in Rotorua. Too far away for us to do anything except wait for results. He is home again and we are waiting for his MRI results.

Our oldest son attended his parole Board hearing with us in his support team. A nice surprise was the attendance of the Salvation Army Officer who will also support him via accommodation and post release rehabilitation into 'normal life.' I cannot say how relieved I am that things have worked out the way they have. Our son now has a tentative release date in March when he will go into a Salvation Army single unit for 3 months. During this time they will support him in finding a permanent accommodation and with job applications. He will continue to receive another 3 months of intentional support. This six month period is funded to some degree by by the New Zealand Corrections Department. At the end of this time The Salvation Army is available for ongoing support as part of their voluntary church activity.

I thanked the officer with tears in my eyes because I knew my prayers had been answered in the best way possible. It is now entirely up to our son to make the most of this opportunity. There is only one more bridge to cross on the way to life on the outside and that is another Parole Board hearing in February. Our son has to present a new safety plan for when he will be living in the Salvation Army accommodation and possibly after that too. His current plan was built around returning to his home with his partner. She is not communicating with any of us and it made sense to consider the relationship irrevocably broken. We are still hopeful that once our son is out of prison some kind of agreement on their property can be sorted out to their mutual benefit. But that is not my problem. We are here to see the best is done for both parties, and that is all.

Our daughter is due to fly down to Christchurch tomorrow. It will be lovely to see her. To accommodate us all John and I are moving a few blocks away to Bev's unit in a nearby Retirement Village. It will give us an idea of whether we would enjoy living in this situation. Currently it's an emphatic no. But who knows... I could change my mind.

Jane is coming for two weeks and of course the main event is John's 80th birthday, December 1st and Ava-Jane's first birthday on December 4th. I am still calling it the 121st birthday celebration because Wayne was 40 a few days ago and it has a nice ring to it. But if I do that then I really should include his two brothers birthdays. The eldest turned 51 and our middle son 45 on the same weekend as Wayne turned 40. That would make it 212 years of birthdays between November 13th and December 4th, 1935 to 2015. Since the two older boys are not going to be around 121st is much better.

To complicate life, I've had a very bad cold. Today I can read and write again but while my head is not so fogged up I am a little chesty so continue to do what I can to recover. I have been just barely surviving the activities of each day while resting as much as possible in between. I am looking forward to getting into my sewing again now that my head feels more normal. I have only 2 weeks to finish the embellishment, embroidered words, and the label for the gift quilt I have been making.

We fly north on Decenber 8th and quilting group meets on the 12th when these quilts will be judged and packed for the Oncology Unit at Auckland Hospital. This will be my last time with the Whitianga Quilters Group. They are a lovely bunch of women. I wonder if I will find a group that works as well for me here in Christchurch.

We have booked our tickets to return south with Bluebridge, one of the Cook Strait Ferry companies, for December 20th and our motel accommodation on the way. We have given ourselves time in Rotorua to visit with our son there and time in the Wairarapa to visit John's brother. We arrive in the South Island early hours of the morning and will go to a motel in Blenheim then continue on the Christchurch. It's a lot of driving, about 17 hours not including coffee and food breaks, and not much rest because of the visiting, so I hope we can recover quickly and be helpful here. It usually takes me about 3 days before feel up to par after such travel.


This is not a recent photo but one taken a few months ago at Hamner Springs during a winter weekend at the hot pools. Ava-Jane loved it and is a typical kiwi kid.... water is a magnet. I'm sure they will be considering early swimming lessons for her. She is extremely active. We are waiting for her to take her first step unsupported. Will it happen before her 1st birthday or will she reach this milestone while we are back up North? 


Lynda said...

Great update! So you are leaving Matarangi permanently? Will you leave your house empty or get it rented out? Hopefully it will sell quickly.

Your little grand daughter looks beautiful. Wow, so much going on in your lives :)

Jackie Birch said...

Busy busy busy.... :)

Retta said...

Been sick, and just catching up with bloggy friends. Wow, I agree: you've been busy, busy, busy!

First, Happy Belated Birthday, John!

So much travel and changes. Sounds like some good news, and some not as good. But am happy for you that God heard your prayers for your son's parole hearing. I've had a little dealings with our Salvation Army here over the years. Wonderful people. I never forgot, many years ago, when I first heard the Salvation Army motto: Others.

Glad you are starting to feel better, Anne.