Sunday, 15 January 2012

WT - Midland Meander

On arrival back in Margate my brother Guy brought us up to date on his recent Cardiovascular assessments. He would be going in for heart surgery (a stint needed to be inserted) and his right leg has a portion of collapsed artery and a blockage that was just to large for anything but bypass surgery. The 2 surgeons would operate the following week and he needed to be booked in on Monday 9th for the whole week.

Due to Guy's passing for 3 minutes during the previous surgery in December he would need to have a lumbar puncture to control the pain during surgery - I am looking forward to my own surgery scheduled for February, also my right leg. Guys surgery was completed without incident on Wednesday.

I told Guy of my plans to take Ronnie back to her family for a few days while he underwent surgery, I would run her up on the Tuesday and return to collect her on the Thursday and collect Dad at the same time for a week down in Margate with Dan, Guy and Joey. We expected Guy to be released on Friday or Saturday but Guy was concerned that this would be too much driving for me so suggested that I take Ronnie on Tuesday and stay with Ronnie to return on Thursday with Dad and Ronnie.

Ronnie was delighted at the new arrangement's as were the Bushwillow Bunch. We popped in and caught up with cousin Jeannie in Pietermaritzburg along the way, unfortunately we passed Tony on the road as he was making his way down to the surgery (Tony is a doctor), we were able to pass the time of day though. Jeannie was delighted to see us and made us feel so welcome as we enjoyed her company for a few hours before making our way back to Bushwillow Farm.

Ilona was there to greet us while everyone else was getting ready to return to work the following day. Lee was on his way back form Pietermaritzburg after having his motorcycle serviced there. Rob was tidying up the rifle range, a new project in the making. Shane was working with the tractor and had just dropped Ilona and Rob back after taking them out to see four huge Kudu bulls that had made their way into the back paddock.

Chantel and little Robert arrived home a few minutes after our arrival and were just settling down when Robert decided that he wanted to see granddad who he believed was up at the Five O factory. Chantel started to chase after Robert who had a pretty good start but we all thought this would not be a good idea since she is about four months pregnant, so I took after him instead. I met Lee on his way back from Pietermaritzburg about 30 meters from the factory (Robert was there already and I was on the verge of collapse having just run about 180 metres). I was glad to apprise Lee of the situation and leave little Robert in his care, for a ride on Lee's bike back to the house. The factory is only a few meters from the main Ladysmith to Harrismith road and our fear was that Robert could run out of the open gate.... or worse! All is well that ends well though.

I was able to see the progress Rob had made with the bee's and it certainly looked as though there was another colony in the making. Both hive's bees were carrying pollen back to the hives and I was pleased that what appeared to be a catastrophe had actually been a blessing in disguise. The rest of our stay was very peaceful and relaxing. We discussed the possibility of another visit before our departure from South Africa. We had wanted to spend our last week in Africa travelling the Garden route to Cape Town from Port Elizabeth but this would depend on the outcome of some outstanding issues and time. 1) Guy's progress after surgery. 2) Ronnie's Dental booked for the 16th January and 3) Standard Bank and issues with my account - set-up to help the family with Dad's care.

On our way back to collect Dad from Pietermaritzburg we went via the Midlands Meander for the fantastic views and to see if we could find Sally (45 years had passed since Sally and Ronnie's last meeting) who Ilona had advised us lived in the Howick area. Ilona said that Sally often worked at 'Peter's Gate' a herbal shop with organically grown produce. We had left the farm a little late but were able to say a proper goodbye to everyone and so couldn't really stop for photo's along the way (sorry readers) We had promised Jeannie and Tony that we would visit them before lunch as Tony had to be at the surgery at 13:00 and Dad that we would pick him up just after lunch, so we were on a tight schedule.

We found Sally with no trouble at all and were able to spend almost an hour with her reminiscing and catching up on the years in between. Needless to say that an hour really just didn't cut the mustard and all to soon we were saying our goodbye's. Sally makes her own brand of jam's and chutney's so I purchased some as gifts for friends and relatives (no not for Australia but for the locals).


We then caught up with Jeannie and Tony at their Hilton home for a quick cup of tea and a chat before heading down the mountain to pick up Dad from the Retirement village. I had purchased one of those electronic photo frames for Dad and had spent weeks preparing flash drives with a rather large quantity of photo's for his viewing pleasure (about 16000 photo's in all). I had used the photo-frame's internal memory for photos of his Australian Family with names on each of the individuals (just in case he should forget who is who - not that he has many memory problems but he does mix us up from time to time) Heck I'm even worse than Dad, I keep referring to my son by my brothers name and vice versa for some strange reason.

An hour later we were off to visit Guy at the Hospital in Durban. He was out of ICU and back in the general private ward. I was quite dissapointed to find that only one of his children (Michelle living in the UK) had made any enquiries after his health. All families have their problems and issues and ours are mainly communication issues however it is definitely not a one sided affair as some would have us believe. Guy was doing well and attempting to stand as we came in and his crutches were delivered  before we left.

Brother Dan (always referred to as Danny for some strange reason) who I haven't spoken much of had been offering support to Joey (Guy's partner) and was waiting for us on our return. Danny took over as the boy Friday running about carrying out a few domestic chores usually reserved for Guy. It was really good to have my brothers and father getting along and working together - nothing unusual but not something I have been able to witness first hand for quite some time, really missed Mom and Shane though. (Mom has passed on and Shane is in the UK). Danny and I have been able to enjoy each others company on the beach and at the tidal pools in the evenings which has been great in this heat wave. The heat seems to be effecting the whole southern hemisphere judging by the weather reports.

On Friday I spent the morning in the bank attempting to set Dad up as an additional signatory on the account - normally a 2 minute proposition but a monumental task in Margate for some reason. We had other issues with the account. We had set Guy up as a signatory on the account and his first test attempt to use the cash card in an ATM resulted in the card being retained with the message that the card had expired. My own attempt was slightly better with the card returned and the message that the account was overdrawn provided - an online check verified that there had never been a withdrawal and that was a relief.

It turns out I had been given a lot of misinformation regarding a local non-resident savings account (I had originally asked for a trust account but being a non resident was just too hard for the local branch particularly with the new law to prove residency for everything you do and if you have a post box as your address you can't prove residency... so for me this was a major problem - the fact that I am Australian with an Australian passport really threw a cat amongst the pigeons) Compound this with Dad's copy of his 'National Identity Number' or 'ID Book' (SA Drivers Licence and SA Passport are not accepted as legal documents for proof of identity under any circumstance) and we could not set Dad up. We would have to collect dad's original ID Book from Pietermaritzburg - a seven hour round trip.

We expected Guy to be released from hospital on Saturday so decided to scoot up to Pietermaritzburg, collect Dad's ID and drop off a suitcase with Jeannie so that when we take Dad back on Wednesday we will have room for his case. We will stay overnight with Jeannie and Tony before flying from Durban to Port Elizabeth at 08:00 Thursday 19th January. Fortunately Guy called whilst we were in Pietermaritzburg to advise that he had in fact been released and that he would be ready in an hour for collection. A quick cup of tea with Jeannie and Tony and we were on the road to Durban and Guy. On our arrival at the hospital we found Guy sitting at the eatery, quite stuffed and content and.... with 3 slices of Melk Tart that he had reserved for himself, Dad and I - best Melk Tart I've had in years.

Danny came over to see Guy and collect Ronnie and I for our afternoon ritual swim but I was just too pooped to move and fell asleep in the chair.... what a week!






































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