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Rory Gardiner's Webpage

06, Apr, 2010

Tuesday 6th April 2010


Rory loves being able to have a bath at Nana and Poppas.  He lies down in the warm water up to his chin and rests his head on a sponge (the edge of the bath is too hard on his head).  He tells me he is relaxing, and often closes his eyes.  Sometimes I hop in with him and sit there silently watching him.  I think he is beautiful.  His big green eyes, one pupil larger than the other, evidence of his brain injury, are full of expression.  His eyelashes and eyebrows have almost grown back, and he has fine dark hair sprouting all over his head.  He resembles a chick in a nest.  I find it hard to remember what he looked like, or how he was, before cancer.  He has changed so much and come so far.  I look at him and wonder what is still to come. 

Our time in Taranaki always flys by.  The weather has taken us by surprise today, it is cold, wet and windy.  Quite a shock for us Northlanders who didn’t pack anywhere enough warm clothing.  We said ka kite ano to Sean this morning.  I took him to the Intercity bus terminal for the 7.40am bus ride to Whangarei.  It is a long trip home on the bus but for $65 it is within our budget.  Sean would have liked to stay but needed to return north to work.  This afternoon Nana and I took the boys to the movies to see ‘How to tame a dragon’.  It was a real boys story about Vikings and dragon slaying.  I enjoyed it too.  Rory has a cold, and over the past two days has developed a cough.  At the moment he is in his pjs covered with Vicks sitting on the couch in a blanket.  I am concerned, and keeping a close eye on him.  I will take him to the Doctor tomorrow to get him checked as he is still at risk of complications to his respiratory system. 

Saturday was Uncle Guy’s birthday.  We sang Happy Birthday and gave him a card and a present.  Nana organised a cake.  Sean, Sam and I started the day with a run/ride along the Huatoki walkway.  We parted ways in town, Sam and I headed home, while Sean ran up through Pukekura Park.  I was surprised to find I had a good run since I haven’t run any distance in weeks.  It was the 50th Jubilee of my high school, Spotswood College, over Easter weekend in New Plymouth.  I was part of the class of 1990 (our 7th form year).  We were quite a friendly group and talked about getting together for a reunion when 10 years had passed.  20 years has gone by!  An informal get together was organised on Saturday afternoon, separate from the Jubilee events.  It was strange seeing my classmates again.  It was like looking at shadows from the past.  We all looked the same, but were different.  I looked at some people and wasn’t sure if I knew them, or what their name was.  I was keen to chat to old friends I hadn’t seen in years but felt uncomfortable and out of place.  My life is so different to anything they can imagine, and can’t be measured against stellar careers, affluent properties, or overseas travel.  I didn’t stay long.  After dinner we took the boys to the stock cars at Ferndene speedway.  Uncle Jason and cousin Logan met us there.  Ferndene is grass roots stockcars.  It was like stepping back in time.  The professional mud/dirt track is located on rural land south of Egmont Village, in a huge depression/basin in a paddock.  To enter you drive past the pits where people are working on the cars, up around the track to park your car facing down.  You can either watch the action in your car, or get a rug and sit on the grass in front of it.  Spot lights illuminate the track and there is a commentator.  The spectators flash their lights and toot their horns for the winner of each race.  The boys enjoyed a Mr Whippy on the blanket while watching the racing (the derby cars were their favourites with plenty of speed, sliding and smashing). 

It was Easter on Sunday.  The Easter bunny visited our house and brought a few treats.  It is traditional to eat chocolate for breakfast!  We took the boys to the Aquatic Centre for a swim in the morning.  Sean and Rory enjoyed headering the ball to each other.  We floated around on the mats and noodles, and Rory and I went down the slide on our tummies.  We finished with a soak in the hot pool.  After lunch we went to see the Taranaki Land Wars exhibit at Pukeariki Museum.  It was entitled Our Legacy our Challenge, and described the war between Pakeha and Maori over land which raged across Taranaki for 21 years.  There was a great deal of reading, much of it shocking.  The NZ Land Company took land from local iwi and used military force to ensure compliance.  Resistance to alienation from the land by maori was both violent and passive.  It was a much different kind of history than the one my parents were taught at school.  We drove north to Onaero, parking at the camp ground and walking out onto the beach.  It was surrounded on both sides by grey papa cliffs, and covered in fine shiny black sand.  We all spread out fossicking amongst the rocks and drift wood as we made our way along the beach and up the river.  We followed a path through the bush to the top of the cliff, crossing trenches surrounding an old pa site.  The end of the track opened out onto the cliff with spectacular views north for miles.  When we got back to the car Rory ran for the first time.  He managed 10 paces in an awkward manner on the soft spongy grass.  We were all very proud of him.  He attempted it again but twisted his leg.  Spraining/straining his joints happens frequently as they are not functioning correctly and give under pressure. 

Yesterday (Monday) morning I was woken at 5am by Rory coughing.  He has not adjusted to day light saving yet so is up early every day.  Sam and I ran/rode 10km before breakfast but it was a hard slog.  Sean ran 33km up to Pukeiti gardens as part of his training for the Cape Brett Challenge.  It was a hard uphill slog for Sean into Egmont National Park.  I picked him up in the car when he was part the way down.  We drove out to Lepperton for a bbq lunch at good friends Jo and Shelton Brimelow.  They have bought a large property with huge gardens in a rural setting.  The original dwelling was an 1860s army barracks which has been added onto over the years.  There is a lot of native timber, low ceilings, cubby hole cupboards and shelves, a fire in the lounge and master bedroom, a giant bath tub, and leadlight doors and light fittings.  Jo and Shelton share Sean and I’s taste in homes.  It was great they had found such an historic gem.  It reminded us of our homeless state, and how much we miss having something of our own which we can shape according to our own style, and where we all have personal space and a place for our things (the boys included).  We hold onto the hope one day we will get this back.  It was lovely to see the ‘girls’, their partners and children; Jo, Shelton, Finn, Caleb and Emma, Janine, Michael, Brianna and Kenzie, Darlene, Marc, Jordan and Angel, and Cindy, Neville and Havanna (who came late as we were on the way out as Havanna has been unwell).  We missed you Mands!  We all relaxed, enjoyed a great meal, and talked.  The children played comfortably around us.  I was sad to see Rory keeping himself separate from the other children and activity, hanging back with the adults.  Both Sean and I tried to draw him out but he wasn’t keen.  The things which caught his attention during the afternoon were Lilo the dog, Fluffy the kitten, the monarch butterfly caterpillars, and a grasshopper.