Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

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I seem to be plodding through life at a very uncertain pace. I can see that I’ve made progress, so I’m not alarmed, or rather I’m not as alarmed as I once was. The eighth of February will mark five months since Eunie left me. I wonder if I’ll ever stop counting the months and years. I suppose not. I’ve heard many friends on many occasions recall such momentous occasions with chronological accuracy. I formerly had trouble remembering how old I am. It didn’t seem to matter. There’s nothing I can do about it.

I am astounded by what I’ve accomplished in these five months. When I use the personal pronoun I take far too much credit. Going back to the time early in 2010 when Eunie first became ill and following the events up to this day I can see that my creator’s hand has been busy at every turn.  To some this may seem nonsense. Nevertheless, I believe it and find strength in that belief. After each hammer blow I could review the event and the outcome and see that it could so very easily have been much, much worse. After each small step toward my recovery I have asked myself how I could have done it; why was it so much less traumatic than I thought it would be.

There is also the matter of helping hands reaching out to me at every turn. Friends and strangers alike have assisted me continuously and without complaint. It would have been impossible for me to do some things for myself in the first couple of months. I am now shocked by my incompetency and insane thoughts during that period.

This week or next week, according to how much of Cairns, Australia survives the cyclone bearing down on as I write this, the last of the medical bills will have been settled. Some of my friends cautioned me that dealings with a health event of this magnitude could go on for a year. Without my friend, Trevor Hattersley, I would still be hopelessly mired in paperwork. He is a genius. I sold a house, a car and a motorcycle. The house and the car were half-way around the world. I would have said that this was not possible, but an old friend assisted me in ways which seemed inspired to me. Acting on my behalf with my Power of Attorney, he had the house sold in just over one month. I have settled a life insurance claim and numerous other matters arising from Eunie’s death. Needless to say, I would much rather not have had to do any of these things and I was often in despair. My prayers were pretty much reduced to asking for strength and wits to get me through the next day. Each time the clouds parted and some kind soul would step forward to help or mysterious circumstances would arise to allow what seemed not to be allowed.

Now that Eunie’s headstone for her grave has arrived I hope to have the pedestal completed so that a small group of friends can accompany me to Kranket Island  to put her ashes in the ground in the place where she wanted to rest. It is going to be a hard day, but I need the relief of knowing that I have fulfilled my promise to her.

My next tasks are to do all of the things necessary to give myself a more or less graceful and uneventful exit from Madang for a much needed period of rest and rebuilding. I plan to leave Madang on the ninth of March and will not return until at least the 15th of June. I have been around the world at least a dozen times. However, I have never planned the trip. I know that sounds ridiculous. I have been very nervous about doing all of the things which Eunie did to get us from place to place so effortlessly and without me doing anything but stuffing my essentials in my back pack. Millions of people do these things every day. I had to get all flustered about it. I went to Air Niugini today and bought my tickets to get me to Brisbane. I’ve decided to buy tickets for the other legs of my travel as I need them, because of my uncertainty about when I want to go where.

I know that someone is going to say that I should have blurred the details on my electronic ticket. Believe me, terrorism is way down on my list of potential problems. I don’t think I’m a likely target.

This modest fisherman’s tackle box contains Eunie’s lifetime accumulation of jewellery. There is nothing in this box which is worth very much in terms of money. Eunie had exquisite taste, but never wanted expensive things. I was horrified this afternoon to realise that I have misplaced her wedding ring. All of this is going to my granddaughters. I especially wanted to make sure that they received the ring. I have no idea where it went. I remember having it when I returned from Australia. I spent the afternoon frantically searching for it, shaking and breaking out in a cold sweat. I have now gotten to the point at which I am ready to accept that I will either find it eventually or I will not. There is nothing more I can do now.

I remember with great happiness watching Eunie each morning as she prepared for work. She would choose her clothes first and then go the the bathroom to select her perfume and fix her hair. She would then return to the bedroom smelling wonderful and select the jewellery which matched her attire. I don’t know why this scene always calmed me. Some things are inexplicable.

I am glad that many wonderful memories are now returning to me through the gloom.

So, as I continue to calm myself, I’ll show you the latest dazzling display sprouting from my Fishtail Palm. Both of them have now produced fruit several times. This does not bode well for them. My understanding is that they do not last long after fruiting several times. Each event is accompanied by the sound of hundreds of buzzing bees:

This shot is better for viewing the bees:

On the right you can see some of the red fruit which takes several months to form after the flowers disappear.

While checking the possibilities for my flight from Brisbane to Honolulu I got help from William Butler to see if my Qantas frequent flyer points would be of any use. It turns out that I had enough points to save about US$500. That made me very happy. I have never used any of the frequent flyer miles. Pushing my luck, I decided to seen if I could use Eunie’s frequent flyer points. I reckoned that she must have about a million. After finding her card and guessing correctly her PIN for the account I was disappointed to see that she had ZERO points. I have no idea how they disappeared. First the ring, now the points.

That’s two steps back. Never mind. I’ll just keep walking.

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16 Responses to “Two Steps Forward, One Step Back”

  1. Justin Friend Says:

    Sorry to hear about the wedding ring, however I reckon it’s gonna be one of those things that suddenly turns up where and when you least expect it! I will have left AUS by March for my annual Melanesian Pilgrimage – New Cal, Vanuatu, Solomons and PNG – so you won’t be in Madang when I get there and I won’t be here when you come through here, but maybe PM/email me your general schedule for the coming Months as I will be all around the place and we might meet up somewhere?? Take Care mate\

    Justin

  2. matt james Says:

    Step.. Step.. Step – keep walking jan –

  3. kristy Says:

    Praying for more steps forward than back for you, my friend.

    I, too, imagine that sometime the wedding ring will show up unexpectedly!

    The Fishtail Palm, is yet another wonderful thing that you have taught me about! I will have to go and do a google search on it! Beautiful!

  4. Lori Witham Says:

    I also say my healing from the stroke is two steps forward, one step back, and I too have occasional two steps back. But I’ve accepted it as being alright since it may be slow going, but I am moving forward! I’m learning to slow down and live day by day. God has great things going on every minute! Like bees in palm tree flowers. I think you should send out a challenge to those who know Madang and your house – guess where the ring is hiding. Someone might surprise you and answer correctly.

  5. Jake Says:

    I might not catch you later so will have to send you my best wishes in your travelling now………………you deserve it.

    Keep writing as I have this feeling that whatever you write about where you are and what you see, feel – its like I am there seeing what you seeing or feeling what you are feeling.

    Isn’t this technology wonderful!!!!! and we’ve never ever met and there is a 95% chance we might never meet personally but i had invited you to my Island Samarai already too. have fun and stay safe.

  6. Helen Jones Says:

    Very moving words Jan, good to hear you have a break away from Madang planned, hopefully when you return those steps forward will increase naturally. Will be thinking of you on the “Kranket” day – lovely place with happy memories for any past/present resident of Madang – I do hear there is quite a lot left of Cairns, just less palm trees – someone was looking after the residents this time – they have had a tough time at the hands of the weather.

  7. Ali Says:

    Don’t beat yourself up about Eunies ring Jan, try to relax and have faith in yourself that you have put it somewhere very safe.
    In times of greif and stress is very common to misplace treasured things, especially tiny ones. ( Her ring is most likey right under your nose.) When the time is right you will remember where you put it, or you will simply stumble upon it?
    When you find it, and I feel sure that you will, you should wear it Jan. (you will always know where it is that way)

  8. MadDog Says:

    Justin, you are probably right. I suppose that it will turn up someday. I can’t imagine how it could be anywhere other than in the room in which I’m sitting. It looks as though we may not see each other for a while. At least we can keep up by reading the blogs, eh? I’ll be in Australia until mid April and then North America until mid-June. I doubt if our paths will cross. Have fun!

  9. MadDog Says:

    Can’t do anything else, Matt. If I stand still I’ll take root. I can’t afford to do that. I need to keep moving.

  10. MadDog Says:

    Thanks for your thoughts and prayers, Kristy. Isn’t it funny how we can end up saying these things to people we have never met? The wonders of the web, eh? I’m not going to kill myself over the ring. Worse things have happened. It’s good that I keep throwing surprises into my pages. Otherwise I can’t imagine why anybody would read the stuff.

  11. MadDog Says:

    I think that it’s a familiar theme for us both, Lori. You are right, though. As long as we keep moving forward the occasional back-step or stumble is okay. I guess it makes us stronger in the end, eh? As to where the ring is hiding – I’m going to leave that one up to God. I can’t add yet another weight to my belt.

  12. MadDog Says:

    Thanks for the best wishes for travel, Jake.

    I was just commenting to Kristy about how we are saying things to those who might have been, in another time, strangers. The web has created a whole new type of friend.

    I’m glad that you still find what I write to be readable. Some of it has been very tough. There is more of that to come, I’m afraid. Maybe I’ll get it lightened up once in a while. I think the travel with help with that.

  13. MadDog Says:

    Helen, Kranket day is coming up soon, I hope. I’ll be posting some images today or tomorrow if my visit to Kranket Island with my friend Mike Cassell, who has taken care of all of the arrangements for me. I’m glad that the hurricane was not as bad as it might have been. Australia didn’t need another beating. It’s been bad enough already!

  14. MadDog Says:

    I know that I thought I was putting it somewhere safe, Ali, but it didn’t turn out to be very safe, eh? I am NOT going to go to pieces over it. I’ll either find it or I won’t. I do misplace things easily, but I always have, so it’s not an age thing. I won’t wear it. It’s a lady’s ring – very much so. I’ll make sure my son gets it and he can decide later on what to do with it. Thanks for the comfort, dear. I’ll see you soon, eh?

  15. Jim Dudgeon Says:

    Hello Jan
    I have been reading your words for the last couple of hours and your photos have brought back memories of a time long ago when I lived in Lae.
    I have laughed and shed a teer or three, it’s a very brave thing you have done opening up to the world via your web page, exposing your innermost feelings about Eunice, I can see she was very very special to you.

    No doubt there are and will be people who will be helped by reading and seeing how you have coped through one of lifes most difficult times, the passing of ones loved one, I personally thank you, as I am going through a similar process as your self, but have a way to go before the journey is at an end.

    During the time of August and September last year I travelled to Karkar Island and stayed at the Lutheran Guest House in Madang, I am hopeing later this year I can return for another two weeks and will drop by and see you, if you are still there, I hope you are.

    That ring will still be there some where close where you saw it last, God Bless you.

  16. MadDog Says:

    Jim, thanks for your comment. I don’t find it difficult to be open about feelings. I’ve always been like that for some reason. I don’t know what you are going through, but if anything that I’ve written gives you a hand, that is good to hear about. I wish you to be blessed as you work your way through your present troubling season.

    Certainly if you are ever in Madang, look me up. I’m not hard to find.