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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Nov. 7, 2015

I went, that week, with Katrina, to the opening of  a Health Center at one of the villages not too far from Mariannhill. The Aids Outreach program has not branched out into a more broad brush program so that they try to get a container and then equip it with some basic testing equipment, like eyes, blood pressure, general checkup, keeping records, so that people can have access to some sort of health facility, staffed by a nurse, where there are no facilities available otherwise. It is on the local school grounds, so that the kids have easy access to checkups when they feel that there is something wrong. I was asked to join the Methodist lady priest who gave the blessing. I was privileged. I held the book for her. She was a local minister and that was the way it should be.
    I went to get some spare keys and parked in a zone where you have to pay but it wasn’t visible . I got a ticket after pointing out to the cop that the sign was illegible. He wasn’t impressed. But I went to the municipality and showed him the picture that I took with my cell phone of the sign that was un-readable and got the R100 ticket canceled. Ha! Every  once in a while justice does prevail, but not often enough.
    From the 20th to the 27th,  of Sept. I was in Mthatha. The main thing was to attend a board meeting of the Sabelani Home, and give support to Fr. Guy’s boys (young men). But of course we killed many birds with one stone, checking out our projects here and there and visiting Landsend, or course, and one of the missions at Libode, where Fr. Winfried, who had just returned from his home leave, asked to be visited. Contacted lots of people and caught up on events in their lives as well as Mthatha in general.
     After Mass on the 27th, I caught a plane for Montreal to visit Guy. The report regarding his health was so bad (4th stage  cancer---months not years to live) that I really wanted to see him at least once before he left planet earth for a better place. A friend encouraged me to do it and solved the problem of paying for the air ticket. Otherwise it would not have been possible. So, I spent time with him (and with the rest of the community at our House in Sherbrooke, somewhere between Montreal and Quebec City) and even made a trip to Quebec City were two of our confreres are holding down the fort for what used to be a student house, but now no students. Hm! Guy seemed to be in good spirits and the effects of the cancer didn’t slow him down at all. He had no pains and no other effects that would indicate that he is on the way out. However, we got together every morning for a cup of coffee about 6:30am and when we were finished he went out on the veranda for a smoke. I chided him and told him that that was the same as saying, OK, I am going to die, so why not die happy. Then God would say, OK, if you don’t care, then I don’t care. Go ahead and die!!! I think that if we want God to intervene here then God has a right to expect some cooperation!!! Don’t be a quitter, I said.
    It was healing, I think, for him, just to be close to a good friend and confrere who knows his story and fought with him for recognition for all that he has done.
    I left to return to Mariannhill on the 9th of October. It was just nice and hopeful to be with Guy while praying all the while that God intervene and give him an extension on his ticket so that he can continue doing God’s work. We (all of us) are also praying to Fr. Engelmar (who gave his life to save another prisoner in Dachau) telling him that this is his chance to do a miracle so that he can get canonized. I hope that he is listening and is sympathetic. But then, there are so many other needs of people, like those hundreds of thousands of refugees, migrants, fleeing the war in Syria (and some other places too) only to have some doors slammed in their faces and get stuck in no-man’s land. How sad. Where is God, I think that  they must be thinking.
    While waiting for the plane  to take off  in Monreal, I found myself in a queue at an airport restaurant with a young lady in front of me and a party of 4 in front of her. When she and I were asked how many and said just one, there were no tables for just one, so the girl in front of me, Maki is her name, a Canadian girl of Japanese descent, turned to me and asked if I would agree to take the table that was offered for two. Clever girl. So, of course, we shared a table and had an enjoyable conversation as we devoured our meal. It was delightful.
    When I was leaving Munich (I was supposed to meet friends there but there was a mixup so I spent the whole bloody day in the airport, tired, and unhappy to have missed a chance to connect with good friends) I spotted a nun and just wandered over to ask which community she belongs to. Ha! She is a CPS sister (one of our Mariannhill sisters) from Mozambique. When I asked if she knew Sr. Edwarda, she even got Edwarda on the phone so I could talk to her. We worked together for refugees and exiles when I was in Zimbabwe. Small world and nuns who are familiar, more than me, with It stuff.
     Lots of time has been taken up with grass (weed) cutting and quite a few haircuts. I am getting pretty good at the haircuts now after being out of practice for some time.
   There was a woman who was refused to be buried at her church because she didn’t pay her dues. Yuk! So, we found a parish that let us use their church for the requiem mass and the church was full of her family and relatives and friends. Common sense is so uncommon.
    I had been having Masses at another parish where English is the language used. I like that because then I can tell a few jokes to drive my points home in a friendly and memorable way.
    I also went to fetch my new glasses ( a spare pair) and my eye doctor noticed that I was limping a bit and suggested that I see her friend who is a physiotherapist. I did for two sessions and it was very soothing and helpful. But when she suggested that I see an orthopedic SURGEON, that last word put me off and I went into denial. I don’t want or need a surgeon, was my first thought.  She, Denise, the physio-, invited me to her home for her daughter’s first communion. I  pitched up with Katrina, my niece, not knowing anyone there except the new physio, Denise, and when the people began to arrive after the Mass, I discovered that I knew at least a dozen of them with one connection or another. Ha! If you live long enough, you probably have bumped into most people and the world being round offers great opportunities for that.
    More grass cutting. And my long time friend, Shrirley, went to the hospital for a hip replacement. We have been friends since 1967 when she came to St. Mary’s hospital to give birth to her last born son, when I was chaplain there.
     My friend, Reinhard, who works for Pfizer, came to check on one of his projects in Namibia, and then passed through Durban to check on some other things and we got together with my niece Katrina for a meal. It was nice and made up  for having missed him (and his dad) when I passed through Munich on the way back here from Canada.
     On Saturday, the 24th, I started a retreat for men in St. Catherine’s parish , nearby, at 6:30 am with breakfast, ending at 10am. I loved it and I think that so did they. Part of it was their having to read two handouts I had given to three groups, one handout being what was going on in the synod, the tug of war between the so-called conservatives who said no to any changes, and the so-called liberals who were in favor of allowing communion to divorced and remarried, making space for gays and lesbians, and even, maybe, recognizing gar marriages. The other handout was entitled “ a second marriage can be a blessing”. After they had had time to digest and share with one another these two articles, it was clear that this was exactly  what was happening at the synod, some on this side and some on the other side, both sides convinced that their stand was for the good of the Church. Very interesting, and enjoyable, that we could be on different sides of a thorny issue and still be friends and respect and love one another. We need more of that.

October 30, 2015
Wow! Time flies. It is over a month since I "blogged". Partly running and partly just too lazy. I am also running now. I have a dentist appointment at 8am this morning (it is just 5:45am) and then I take my grand niece to a doctor in Pinetown as she has been having stomach pains. She is a gem. I am proud of her and will miss her a lot when her visa runs out at the end of December and she has to leave.
    However, please excuse me for now. I promise that I will catch you up when we have completed our visits to doctors. In the meantime, stay well and enjoy our lovely weather. Cas.


    Some more hospital visits, hair cuts, grass cutting etc. to fill in the rather hot days we were having.
    Then something very special. I made some Aunt Jemima’s pancakes for our guys who had no idea what delicious Aunt Jemima pancakes are all about. Plus,  I opened the other tin of genuine Canadian maple syrup. The recipe said this batch should make 10 to 12 pancakes. Ha! I was lucky to get 6 out of that batch and had to make another batch. This was for breakfast on Wednesday the 28th. Well, it was a sell-out. All gone.
     Katrina came to me on Thursday to say that she had had a tummy ache since Tuesday, not in one place and not all the time, but here and there. So I got her an appointment with doctor Sabbatini (his son Rory Sabbatini is a professional golfer, you may have heard of him) and after giving here a thorough going over came to the conclusion that it was worms. This is not unusual for us here. So he prescribed some medicine and she has been taking it since then. It is a longer process so she says that it is improving a bit, she thinks, but if it persists we have plan B, another doctor who will re-check her.
     I had bought some oil for the car and went for  a service to a friend and met many of the family that I hadn’t met before or hadn’t seen in a long time and I was forced (Ha) to join them for a curry dinner (as you know, I am addicted to curry. It is worse for me that Heroin).
    In the meantime, I think that I have decided to do away with my denial and will agree to let my friend organize for me an orthopedic surgeon to take a scan of this troublesome left knee and find out what is wrong with it, hoping that it doesn’t need any cutting and chopping.  

Nov. 7, 2015

Whew! That is the longest epistle I thin k I have ever put together. You should go and rest now and try  to recover.  I think that I must be more pro-active and not let things go so loooong. Lots of love. Cas
    


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