Thursday 25 November 2010

Earthquakes, mine disaster, a mother, two brothers and a funeral

It's been a crazy, if not surreal, few weeks over here in New Zealand.

Returning home for anyone is often emotional. I hadn't seen mother since mid-2008, and now heading towards 88 years of age, she's slowing down in a dramatic way since I last saw her.

We all get wrapped up in the "now", in our own lives, what we think is important, and what we believe is more pressing because it's right in front of our eyes: local issues, politics, disputes and even saving the environment. All valuable and laudable pursuits.

However there is nothing more grounding than taking stock and smelling the roses, as we often tell others who are running around at light speed, righting the wrongs and making the world a better place. All speed to them.

I won't make this a long piece as in the last 48 hours, my aunt, Dad's sister, passed away at the ripe age of 94. She was born in November 1916. I have been asked to put together a memorial presentation from images and recollections of her long life. It will be presented with Terry Oldfield's A Celtic Blessing, the same haunting and uplifting musice I used for dad's service back in 1997.  I finished putting it all together at 2:15am this morning, as mother slept in the adjoining room. The service for Margaret Moore, or Mardy as she was known to us, will take place just after lunch today in Christchurch.

When I arrived here just on three weeks ago, I was confronted with my mother's dramatic change. There's no doubt I am experiencing in her, signs of forgetfulness, fear and, I suspect, some traits of dementia. Nevertheless, accepting where she's at and how well she's not coping, is all part of life's odd and rich journey.

In the last 12 months, mother's world was turned upside down.  She moved from our family home where I was born 46 years ago, as a direct result of being hospitalised when she became emotionally and physically distraught after Claire, her last surviving sister, passed within weeks of being diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer. It triggered a series of events that put her into a spiral. She now resides in a tiny apartment in a care facility, and refuses to believe or understand that the family home has been sold. Fiercely independent after losing Maurice 13 years ago, she's breaking off contact and resisting connections from those that just want to share time and just say hello from her circle of friends.

It's hard to fathom why anyone would, but there's pride deep inside mum that I believe she doesn't want others to see that she and her 'home' has been reduced to this meager existence. Yet she's surrounded bysimilar people who hold onto life and celebrate what they have.  Possessions mean little at this end of life.

I've struggled, but persisted, over the last few weeks, to engage and trek her to notable places from our mutual past. We went to the quaint and remote country St Brigids Church at Loburn in North Canterbury.  She was narried there.  I'll share a moving and dramatic revelation that occurred as we were at the graveside of her mother and father, Greta and Alec. It was nothing short of heart-stopping but delivered in a matter or fact way, as if it was just that right time to share, after all these years.

Such experiences puts life into dramatic perspective.
I think back to the defamation action that Councillor Blake is taking against me, and in the scheme of things, it really doesn't matter. Sure it's important and needs resolving, and I hope that he will assist in a mutual conclusion on my return, but that pails into little meaning when you touch life's rich and special moments. I know Alan is close to his family as well and will relate to what is important in the bigger picture. He'd be inhuman to think otherwise.

I've also felt a number of the aftershocks from Canterbury's amazing earthquake in early September. The 4.9 one on Sunday evening, although nothing like the original 7.1, was still frightening. I've seen the dramatic damage to buildings and the land and met with some of the geo nuts at Canterbury University, including computer programmer Paul Nicholas, who created the live quake map. Also did coffee with local councillors and the boss of Christchurch Tourism, who gave me time to chat and compare Cairns with this region. I'll share those video interviews later.

Since last Friday, like you no doubt, I've been following the excruciating developments with the 29 miners deep in the heart of the South Island's West Coast. As I was leaving the funeral home around 4pm yesterday with mother after seeing Mardy resting, National Radio blurted the news that there was a second explosion, that meant with little doubt, the lads had most definitely perished. Dad was born in Hokitika on the Coast, so I know that area well as we had many a family visit there in out youth.

Whilst here, I've stayed with my brother Chris and his partner Jane, and their two amazing kids, Courteney and Oliver, and also crashed a few nights at mother's small apartment rest home as we spent the smallhours together before bedtime. I've also had the support and help of some amazing people back in Cairns, who helped make my trip possible. I will return soon and continue to share the stories.

So right now, I wear my Pounamu with pride as I head off to send off Auntie Mard, who will rest alongside dad at the Ruru cemetery.


MG said...

Its been interesting to read some of your deliveries from NZ about your family and your mother and your place of birth

Now you probably wont like what I write however I feel compelled to give you another 'moving experience'

MM your story was good and moving until you bought alan blake into it AGAIN..........

it seems all your blog is about these days is your court case. well sorry to say you dealt it now you deal with it

i mentioned before that everyone has an ailing or ill relative somewhere or even living with them. your situation is no different.

its sad to say that you have taken this long in life to realise the things you talk about here as at your age blimey mate its a bit late

possessions dont count and its family and friends that do.

you who take the mik out of everyone else and their immediate family and friends on your blog but you want 'consideration and comiseration' over your mother? get real MM

your moment in life has come a little late to repair the 18 months of hell you put blake through and the digs you have had at each and everyone of your readers who challenge you or disagree with you

your story would have been good and may have held meaning except you used your mother and her situation to have a dig at blake.

what type of person does that make you?

Anonymous said...


That is a beautiful piece. Our thoughts are with you and your family.

Warm Regards,

Bryan Outlaw said...

Touching, Mike. Except as MG points out in the context of your years of personal attacks and vitriol against many in the Cairns community - people who TOO have families.

Looking thru the prism of your actions, this is just a self-serving attempt at generating unwarranted sympathy.

KitchenSlut said...

What? Alan Blake had 18 months of hell and it ws all MM's fault and none of his own? Oh please MG, this spruiking of victimhood is just so un-(LNP?)-conservative? I thought it was the socialists who were supposed to be frail to the victim mentality?

By any analysis your own response is far more paranoid re Blake than the almost irrelevant comments that provoked them. Alan the victim dont wash!

Unknown said...

MG and BO, you are both becoming boorish.

Last nght we attended a candle lighting, with other Kiwis, on the Esplanade for the deceased miners. Our opportunity to show some support and respect to those grieving for their friends and family.

We also are well aware of the grief that those families are suffering. The shock and horror of an unexpected tragedy and the lack of being able to do anything to assist is debilitating. You hold on to any straw no matter how brittle and then when the reality of the situation is grasped, the despair is unparallelled. I learnt this sad fact of life and death at the tender age of 17, and watched a mother mourn her son for the rest of her life.

Mike, we empahise with you when it comes to your dear mother.
Personally, I believe we should do everything in our power to keep our parents in their home until death. It is where they take comfort, it is the place they have raised their families, had the happiest of times and the worst of times. Their memories are etched in the walls and we take all this from them when we put them into Residential Care.
We are so glad that you have had this opportunity Mike, to go and spend time with your mum.

MG said...

Oh yes poor MM except if he was REAL about his writings blake wouldnt enter the picture at all on this and many other posts

you really are devoid of any information if you think MM who hounded and hunted blake and others using this blog as gratification for himself and his cronies didnt with intent and malice cause difficulty anguish hurt and ongoing stress by his rants of untruths and fabrication in print and photos - its called fabrication and manipulation and who does MM support politically???? thats the question you really should be asking

Now onto something very real - the families of the miners - having some knowledge of the industry and rescue work - I think its sad that any hope was given to the families by authorities after the first explosion.

It is very clear that being a gas explosion of the magnitude that occurred that anyone could survive. The media are stupid to think that if knocked unconscious by a blast that anyone without breathing aparatus would survive.

Authorities have asked Rescue teams to sign a waiver to enter the mine after the first explosion. This would have meant they risk their lives and have no indemnity for their families just so the authorities were 'seen' to be doing something in the public eye. Unreal!!!

Authorities were seen as 'inactive' in the rescue so they asked rescue teams this. It was unthinkable and should never have eventuated at all - to put more lives at risk is unbelievable

As to lighting candles I know of several houses in our neighbourhood who did this with thoughts of those lost and those lives forever changed of those left behind. We have also been involved in a collection for the families in the last week. We just get on with it here we dont need to advertise it like some here

If myself and BO are becoming boorish to you Jude then one must assume that MM who constantly must refer to blake and post off topic must be a complete and utter michael 'boore' to you

Jacob Orwell said...

This is addressed to ‘whom the cap fits’ but with special reference to MG and BO.

Both of you are insensitive, artificial, lack depth of commitment and sincerity. What you both intentionally overlook is that you use Cairns Blog at the pleasure of Michael Moore. Michael could very well choose to reject your bitter comments. But no, in true journalistic protocol, he allows your twisted comments to stand.

Again both of you should understand and accept that the person you purport to support is fake and superficial and the community will judge him so when the next election comes around.

Thanks to Cairns Blog’s exposures, your friend’s ambitions and aspirations of standing for Mayor have been irrevocably destroyed. The Cairns community has seen through his duplicity and his pretentious ego. He is banished to the political pyre. His political ashes can rest on both of your bedside tables.

Keep up the good work Michael and do not relent even for a minute as the good Councillor needs to be continuously exposed for his errant behaviour.

Bryan Law said...

MG, what a drama queen you are. First, Mike is entitled to put forward his thinking. If you don't like it, don't read it.

Second, Alan Blake is a big boy. just as he chooses from time to time to do in a political opponent using all the tools available to him - so does he choose to be treated. Actual performance, in his well-paid job, would more than compensate for name-calling.

Third, I welcome your contribution. Without you I'd forget the shallow, snivelling, disrespectful and ugly sense of entitlement that's rife within the Cairns whitey culture of over 50s spoiled children. Thanks for keeping it in front of us so vividly.

Finally, as a delicate blossom, you might like to put a little flat lemonade in your vase. then you won't wilt and go off so readily.

Marnie said...

Alan Blake doesn't seem to be advertising that he's been 'wrongly done by' as much as the writers on this Blog..not to mention that B. Law has a 'big' BLOG on here, so how is it that the gauge re donations isn't moving at any rate! Or at all!? Those who are 'mouthpiece' for MM dont seem to be assisting in the manner most needed, the petty cash bucket, earnings via blogs, or that which could land MM in more problems should the taxman seek you out, or so it's said on the street...just a tip for nothing, meaningless trivia, what would the majority know, after all,they are just the Jury..and it aint' out! Good luck in all the obsessions and's worthless to most! I'm only here coz' someone mentioned I was included, and dont know anyone here, but my Statement is worth much!! GoodLuck

T. Asquith said...

Nice reading Mike, I can relate to all of that. My frail old Mum languishes in an age care home after a severe stroke, and she was once a rock. And when I visit her, I see a not-too-distant vision of (perhaps) my future - and that of many others around me.
Your linking of this to Allan Blake and his behavioural traits is appropriate in a way. It demonstrates the utter futility and wasted effort of Blake's tricky politicking which serves no one but his shallow egotistical self. And why can he not see this? Because he is a small man.

Anonymous said...

"Marnie said...
I'm only here coz' someone mentioned I was included, and dont know anyone here, but my Statement is worth much!"

What the hell doest that mean ????

And Bryan Outlaw and M(ongrel) G(uts) can be relied on, true to form,to kick a man when he is down.

Why not start your own blogs, if you think you have so much wisdom to share instead of using this one to attack people just for the sake of attacking them ?

You must have very sad and empty lives indeed. You're not related to Rikk-off-his-Tree by any chance ?

Syd Walker said...

"Why not start your own blogs, if you think you have so much wisdom to share instead of using this one to attack people"

Well said Rastapopoulos!

It beats me why all Councillors ( MPs & Senators) don't have their own websites.

Isn't two-way communication with constituents a key part of the job?

Nice article Mike.

KitchenSlut said...

Syd has a point? As far as I know many websites are fronts for Councillors including The Rock or whatever it is with Rob Pyne?

This isn't new when KS first arrived in Cairns a prominent beaches newsletter was just a front for a certain councillor without appropriate acknowledgement!

Many thoughts here and how disappointing to discover MG has a similar background in coal mining but didn't bother to comment but to slag off until the show was over? Hey MG do you any idea why this reflects badly on you? Ummm no I guess not?!

Regardless MG as an old coal miner your mysogyny is palpable! Can we do a direct word by word comparison of what MM posted on cairnsblog versus the diatribe against Val Shier?