One of those days today.

It was a mixed day today, I had the privilege of watching a couple of friends pledge their allegiance to New Zealand and become citizens here.  There were 51 people becoming citizens,  from Kiribati to South Africa and in between there were a number of different nationalities represented.  The machinations of local and central government were on display.  Some people had gone to a lot of effort and others were very casually dressed.  A quick cup of tea and a bit of glad handling by the various local and central government elected representatives and we were on our way.  People committed to a new way of life.  I have an admiration for people who come a long way wanting to create something brighter and better for themselves and their families, leaving loved ones behind.

I remember when once I was looking at moving to Invercargill for work, my mother in law sat there with tears running down her face, saying we might as well shift to Australia.  We didn’t go….for better or for worse. Here were peple who left everything, some arriving with just a few hundred dollars, and a suitcase full of dreams in a foreign country not even being able to speak the language, Some of them driven from their country by oppression and violence.  Kia kaha, I admire them.

The day then shifted as I journeyed to visit my brother and his wife.  Death had come to their house and taken their mother/inlaw.  She was in her eighties and had a particularly nasty illness, death was a relief for her but it still leaves its mark.  The rawness and reality as we confront our own mortality is never easy,  It is my experience and wisdom now to know that there are no words that bring comfort when death has come visiting.  There is a reason we have two ears and one mouth, it is a time for listening and for hugs. A shoulder to lean on and hands to proffer tissues.  One knows that it will become less painful over time but to offer such advice is insensitive and  unnecessary, almost gratuitous really.  I know this from first hand experience and from learning to listen. It set my mind to wonder about whether there is such a thing as a good death, or whether we can die well?

Death seems to many people as the ultimate failure, the ultimate separation, yet there are many people who face it with equanimity and dignity. I admired Dorrie she was passionate and loved her children and her beloved Scotland.  I didn’t understand how passionate she was about Scotland until I watched Braveheart with her once, the language that she used about what the English did to the Scots was well shall we say unparliamentary. I was not shocked per se but admired her passion.   Dorrie was an immigrant too, she loved New Zealand and loved Scotland, dual allegiance? Well yes, the advice that the mayor gave was to retain your culture as well as embrace the New Zealand way of life.  A pretty good recipe for success I think.  I am sure that by in large our country is richer for its cultural diversity that we have today.

Unfortunately I will not be able to attend the service that will be a celebration of Dorrie’s life, I am sure that it will be rich with sadness and humor as often our lives are.  Today was a good reminder for me, to see change as opportunity and to remind myself that sometimes change is scary but necessary, a truism for me.  The second thing is that whilst on this occasion Dorrie had lived a good life, death can come knocking on our door at any time.  So remember to love well and be kind to ourselves, never miss the opportunity to share how much those who are special in our lives mean to us. Go well Dorrie!

Arohanui to my friends and family,

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