- August 4th, 2015
We are packing up the crown lynn and the kuri and chucking it all in the ute, jandals on and heading off into the sunset.
well, not quite. The Kuri (dog) is buried in the backyard. I had cancer last year, from January til May I waited on surgery and they took my kidney out with a 15cm tumour. Im lucky to be alive, I came home with a big scar and a 3 monthly ct scan appointment. I was just coming right and My Dad got got sick, Cancer, in his lungs and in his spine, in his lymph glands, no quick fix surgery this time. bad news.
So as you do, I planned my wedding.
Well, not quite. My best friend planned my wedding, in the pub on a monday morning. there were four of us, My dad, my partner of 10+ years myself and My best friend. Sitting in a pub right on opening time on a monday morning. Thats 10am around here. and My Best mate says why dont you two get married, on January the 15th next year, its a saturday. My old boss walked in and she said "Hey we need a wedding car for these two", So the boss offered up his vintage car. Then she says Im a caterer so thats the catering sorted and Dad you can walk her down the aisle. Dad looked worried, crowds aren't his thing.
I went to the city, Christchurch still in earthquake recovery mode and still shaking. I drove Dad, he was tired, he had radiation treatment to ease the pain in his spine. One of the side effects was that he didn't like the taste of food anymore. except kfc and chinese takeaway. We ate that and he drank alot.
Well not quite. He lost alot of weight and it didn't take alot of alcohol to send him off to nap time. My Dad slept alot. His sisters came down on the plane from the north island. One had never flown before, the other had always travelled with her husband. They were excited to see their brother. They drank with him, one last party. I drove them around the city and to the fish and chip shoop run by the greeks to buy fresh crabs. They fed Dad fresh crab and fresh battered fish. They left, it was very quiet. My Brother came, He fed Dad mussels. Cockles. He left, I fed Dad Duck, and more kfc, more chinese. Dad felt good when we got home, he went back to his hut in the bush. He came out but he was thinner. I fed him poached eggs, soft steak, boiled vegetables and meat cooked very soft, he liked those kinds of food but he was dying. he went back to Haast one last time to try and hide from the cancer. I finished planning the wedding that my friend had started. Dad came back a few days before the wedding. Some times he was nearly falling over, his balance was affected. We had our wedding early at the registry office in case he didnt make it to the wedding day. He signed as a witness. The wedding day came, it was the last day of January(because the 15th wasn't a weekend) My dad walked me down the aisle in front of 50 friends and family under marques in our backyard, there were wildflowers picked from roadsides around the district. We had decorated the shed to look like a wild west bar, A new Zealand wild west coast bar. Possum traps and old bottles, deer antlers and chinese lanterns. old tools and lots of comfortable old chairs.
My Dad, he sat in the back porch in the flow of all the people, he didn't hide himself away in a corner like usual. His brother sat with him and my brother and they had everybody come and sit with them and talk to them as they passed.
Dad hardly drank anything.
The next day, Dad stayed asleep for a long time, he woke up and had a cup of tea and a cigarette then went back to bed he got up later for a snack in the evening but he was very tired. The next day he slept late too. When he got up he was very wobbly on his feet, he said to me, "take me to the pub", I looked at him and thought no, but I said yes. I helped him to the car, he was that unsteady. I drove him to the pub and helped him in, we got beer, It was a Thursday and the bar was empty. After a while the door opened and his best friend from town walked in. He was as surprised to see us, as we were to see him, on a Thursday afternoon. Him and Dad had a couple of beers and Dad was very very unsteady, he said take me home. As I walked him to the car, I let him go for a second to open the door, he fell and hurt his head, it was grazed. We had to stop on the way home because he needed to vomit, I had to hold him up, he had only had three beers. I put him to bed, he didn't get up the next day except to pee, he slept. I rang the doctor. The doctor examined Dad and he said, The cancer has spread to your brain, you will become sleepier, unable to walk, eventually unconscious,I dont think you have very long left. He asked my Dad if he understood, Dad nodded. The doctor said He could go to hospital and they would put him on drips, slow the cancer down, give him days more possibly, he asked my Dad if he wanted that or to stay at home. My dad said "Here". The doctor said to me, he is dying, this is the most humane thing to keep him here and look after him, we can give you a nurse to help, I said Yes send the nurse, The nurse came and she showed me how to care for Dad, it was simple, Keep him clean and comfortable, she inserted a shunt into his chest for pain medication later, she said, he wont be able to swallow soon. Dad had refused any food, but he cold drink with a straw, we gave him juice but he didn't like it, we gave him cool water and he liked that. We changed his bed and packed padding around him to keep him dry. He didn't like that. He knew and he was embarrassed. I told him, thats my job, you changed me when I was little. I kicked everyone out of the room to save his dignity and he knew that but he couldn't talk. My husband of 5 days came and helped me sit him up regularly while he was able and conscious, we asked him do you want a smoke? his eyes lit up, so I rolled him up his tobacco and helped him put it to his mouth, My husband lit it, Dad puffed and smoked half his cigarette then he turned his head away and we helped him to lie down, he was smiling. Dad stopped drinking the next day, we couldn't give him morphine tablets so we used the shunt in his chest and I gave him pain medication 2 hourly. My brother stayed during this time and he sat with Dad when I had to sleep, he woke me every 2 hours.many of our friends came and sat with Dad, and His brother and sister in law came, as well as My mum who read to him. He liked being read to. I told Dad, your mum has been waiting for so long to see you again, you go Dad, we will be alright we will look after each other, Nana has missed you so much. My brother came in the room and He said he needed to put his dog around the back, my sister in-law said she had to take the kids to her mums, I said I need to go and get water to give Dad a bath, we all left the room, I came back in the room a moment later and Dads breathing was slow, I called out to my sister in-law, to get my brother back, he was just out the door, he came back in and Dad took a deep breath then was silent. We had heard about this kind of breathing and so we waited for a minute then we looked at each other and we started to cry, then Dad took another breath and we were so surprised, we laughed because Dad had always played tricks on us and it felt like he was still playing a trick, but he didn't take another breath after that. My brother and I, we tried no to laugh about being surprised but it was exactly what my Dad would have planned if he had been able to, To make us fell like dying was his last joke. Then we cried for a long time.
I decided to take my Dad to the north island, back to his tribe to be buried on tribal land. My 3 best friends came and my brothers best friend, my mother and my little brother came, so there was us in a van with a coffin with my Dad in it. another 8 seater 4wd, and also my brother and mother in a mercedes with 3 of our kids. Our Dog, the kuri, she was old and had tumours in her stomach, we couldn't leave her and she was too old to travel the 20 hours on the road, she pined when ever we left her, we took her to the vets and three of us held her, then we took her home and my brother and my oldest son buried her, she was 14. that was the day after Dad died. My son he is 16, he had the dog nearly his whole life he was inconsolable. Grandad one day and his beloved old dog the next.
Now we are packing up and moving up to tribal land, I packed the Crown Lynn china that we used at the wedding.