Sunday, 21 September 2008

Guest blogger #3

This has got to be the hardest thing you could ever have to do. I really want to write something to/for my sister Anna. How do you do this when you know one day you will not ever be able to talk to her again, moan at her, laugh out loud with her, get annoyed by her, sit and have a wine with her – a drink I mean. Okay and a whinge. All my life you have been there through thick and thin cliché, cliché, cliché. I have no idea how I am going to feel when you are gone but I do know that right now this whole thing is unbelievable.

Seriously Anna – no-one can write down clearly what they think – they don’t know what they think as it is too hard to think – way too hard. So if there is anything I can do, should do, you want me to do or not do – just let me know.

One thing I will never know is 'will the dog miss you so much too?'

Thursday, 18 September 2008

AIG - welfare pigs have nose in trough

I heard a rumour last night that there was private capital prepared to take over AIG, but the AIG boys scuppered all attempts because they didn't want to lose their jobs. This doesn't surprise me at all - bloody corporate welfare recipients all of them. They stuff up what was one of the safest and stable companies and expect the taxpayer to foot the bill. If you were a US citizen you'd be looking for an exit. But don't come here this country isn't going anywhere fast - try Hong Kong.

Not PC sums up the situation best here!

The Markets

Loving this market correction - have been waiting for it to happen for over two-years now. For you non-shareholders, you should be starting to read up on companies and markets and look at putting some money in - these corrections only come round every 20 or so years and provides a perfect opportunity to get in. No rush though I'm sure there will be more pain to be had, but some sectors will bounce back quicker than others. First step is to open that brokerage account.

My advice is make the investments directly into the markets yourself - none of these investment funds/unit trusts - they rarely beat the indexes and charge you large fees for the privilege. If you not sure which individual share to buy then look at Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). The management fee is low and allows you to invest in industries or countries that are otherwise too difficult to access.

I'm totally jealous that I won't be around to ride this one.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Guest blogger #2

This blog belongs to Anna but since you are all reading it and she is on holiday I will address it to you (which puts her in third person). My apologies for being so rude – Anna’s friend Jaqui.

Talking about death is hard – we’re unpractised and unwilling for it to feature in our lives. When someone has been told they have a definite timeline on this earth – it becomes something we reluctantly consider. We think about their death and then inevitably ours too. All my attempts so far to discuss the topic in a meaningful way have ended up sounding trite.

Anyhow, this is how it went for me when Anna called with the news that she had Non-Hodgkin’s Disease. At first, I was thrilled to hear her voice as we hadn’t spoken for some time. So I prattle on until she calmly states the reason for her call. Afterwards I am quiet for a long time. I remember thinking “some sort of religious framework would be helpful right now”.

I knew it was serious but I had a friend who had survived this disease and I knew of others too so I remained optimistic. Well, actually, although I thought about the fact it was a possibility she could die - it didn’t really register - it wasn’t real. At least not until an email arrived months later after she had collapsed and been taken to hospital – on the same day she got the all clear from the doctors. “Isn’t that unreal?” I keep repeating to myself “…on the same day!”

With this news I feel completely ineffectual in terms of how I might help and waiver between disbelief and being upset – trying to approach it all pragmatically. But I’m all over the place. I have heard that a number of terminally ill people experience severe loneliness as many friends and relatives stop or limit contact because they don’t know what to say or don’t want to intrude. This is not the case with Anna. She has dozens of people who want to “be there”. I try to find a way to be there too in a way that will not cost her a lot of energy and I know to limit my “helpful” suggestions. On one visit we talk about how strange it feels to be having so much communication when we generally make contact once or twice a year. I am careful when I ring not to talk twaddle. Nor do I want to ring and be morose or too chirpy but I do want to talk with her and stay close by. I definitely care but it’s awful to ask “how are you?” and in this sense the blog she has been publishing is helpful. The fact is that everything I do say sits alongside the reality that my friend is dying. Nothing seems appropriate or even really matters. My difficulties at work are trivial. My plans for the weekend or even next year... who cares? You get the picture.

I have thought about what it will be like knowing that she isn’t there and I just can’t. She always has been there since I was a younger version of the me I am now. It’s a long time but I haven’t actually changed much in that 25 years and I don’t think she has either. I can remember lots of things she said that made me laugh or sometimes even gasp in horror at her different take on the world. It didn’t matter that we didn’t always agree – Anna was rock solid and straight up. For a long time she and I pursued careers that were at best non-linear and unpolished. I derived a certain degree of comfort from this fact that I wasn’t alone so I do think it’s crappy that just as she really finds her niche in the business world this happens.

Much respect to Anna for nudging me get a grip by sharing what has been happening to her. It’s really helpful when people do talk about their death. I am going to get things sorted, make a will and if anyone I know gets sick I’ll talk to them about it – if they want to.

It’s a dual task remaining optimistic and being realistic. I’ve reached the stage where I am aware that this probably won’t be a miracle story. It doesn’t seem right but at last it seems I have accepted that it is so.


Bula from Fiji. It's sunny, tropical and hot. Off to sit by the pool. Hope it's raining in Auckland :o)

Tuesday, 9 September 2008


After a couple of months of testing for cancer and weeks in hospital for liver complications, the unstoppable Julia has come up clear on last weeks Melbourne PET Scan and Bone Marrow test.

As you can imagine this is a huge relief for all the family and anyone that knows my full-of-life niece. Stress levels have dropped and we can all take a huge sigh of relief.

For anyone who's had the pleasure of meeting Julia they remember a kid with a fantastic sense of life and easy humour - she will go on to remarkable things and will be remember for amazing feats.

Big hug Jujus.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Busy, busy ...

Well it's been a rather busy week, popped over to Melbourne with Mum and Yoke Har & Julia for Julia's annual PET scan - no results back from this scan as yet, waiting, waiting - very impatiently I might add!!!

Also went to see my cousin and his family who now live in Melbourne. It's great to see them happy and successful with two cute little girls with characters to match - a real credit to their successful parenting.

It was a whirlwind tour of just two nights so arrived back rather tired, but all well worth it - especially as I was able to buy Season Four of 'House' - very happy about that as I needed another fix of Hugh.

I have started to make up milestones I'd like to see - surviving to see Season Five of House is one of them, along with seeing P.J. O'Rourke who apparently is coming over in November for the CIS annual dinner. Obviously Xmas would be good and my 41st would be even better. But in the meantime I head off on holiday to Fiji on Wednesday for 6 nights - yay - never been there before.

Also managed to survive a Housewarming Party with a 1am bedtime - great to see everyone there and a success if I say so myself. Thanks for all the presents - if we haven't thank you directly it's because we had quite a few with no cards.

The house is now officially open.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Guest blogger #1

Fortunately for me I have great friends and family that are prepared to talk to me about dying. I'm aware that some would rather not hear it, but hey it's good for me and ultimately I think it's good for them. But the discussion rarely goes to how they feel about me dying and the emotions that they go through - I'm sure they are trying to protect me (no need, I'm not a wuss) and I'm now more than ready to find out. So I am inviting guest bloggers to share their views.

If anyone wants to put their views, just send it through - love to hear from you - you don't even need to know me.

First up is my great friend and supporter, the lovely Carol ...


I am delighted to be invited to post a wee piece - as guest blogger - for dear friend Annie Fox! But that doesn't make it easy to write.

Our story: Anna (her real name) lived with PC and me (CP) for several years. Now, living with a couple is not often an easy arrangement but the three of us muddled along very happily together.

We parted our flatting relationship as firm friends - moi as her life long hairdresser (yes, I'm the Carol responsible for the latest shave to the head!) and PC as her architect and fellow political compatriot.

In between permanent jobs, I'm now in the truly fortunate position of spending a little time with Ms Fox as her sometime driver, fellow massage-mate, and No.1 tea maker -- for as long as she'd like ...... and long I hope it will be!

But as often happens when you're faced with the realisation that someone you're close to will not always be just around the corner, thoughts are triggered about life and the profundity of it.

My thoughts (some of them) have been on motivation, particularly Anna's unyielding display of self-motivation. Every single thing we do in life leads us to do something else more successfully, more creatively or more productively. Every road has a destination. So what motivates someone who is terminally ill to do anything?

I appreciate the cathartic value of sorting out one's affairs in advance, but how Anna has the motivation to jump out of bed in the mornings beats the hell out of me. But jump up she does, and we're out each day on a mission or adventure!

And would I want to know if I was the one with finality ahead of me? Doctors these days are as up front with prognoses as we're said to want them to be, but do we really want to hear this news?

I won't say Anna's inspiring 'cause she said I'm not allowed too -- as she says: 'I'm not being inspiring, I'm just facing reality' -- but Anna's relentless reality-focus, her refusal to fake reality, is something few, if any of us, ever master, and it's something to behold. It's this character of hers that forms part of my reward for spending time with her.

Now, let's make no mistake, for all the uplifting tales however, this is not a feelgood story. It's an absolute tragedy, and there's no softening of the blow as time passes. But Anna, I have to say this, you're an absolute darling to spend time with -- here's to our next adventure!