My friend Pete died on Tuesday- he was 42 years old. He first wrote to me fifteen years ago just after his brother died of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome when I was setting up the NZ support group. We first met ten years ago when he flew up from Timaru for a conference I'd organized in Napier. After the weekend of lectures we spent a day together, we went to lunch and then spent the afternoon sitting in a park talking, comparing dislocations and flat feet. Since then Pete had kept in constant touch, he remembered my birthdays and Christmas, he rang me every day for a week after my Dad died, he was always there when I needed someone to talk to. Six years ago his bowel perforated and we nearly lost him but against all the odds he survived. Every day was a miracle although he did still have his health scares, bleeds that put him in hospital, sleepy days when he couldn't do much plus times of extreme pain. Just recently however he had a period of good health and was able to go fishing with his friends and do a lot of the things he wanted to do. The fact that his death was caused by medical misadventure by an arrogant doctor who lied and didn't listen to the family when they told him that Pete couldn't be given Warfarin as he had a bleeding problem just adds another layer of pain to an already painful situation. And it will go on as there is to be an inquest into his death.
I wanted to curl up in a ball after hearing the news about Pete. Certainly I had no intention of going to art on Wednesday but then I heard that it had been arranged that we could go and sketch in the garden on "Punawai" a property just off State Highway 50. Gay picked me up on her way and we arrived just after 9.30am. It was a beautiful Autumn morning and the trees were just beginning to turn gold around the dam turned garden pond. A feeling on serenity and peace pervaded the property. I wandered around with a camera ending up taking 80 photos of the English style country garden, the park-like grounds and the many sculptures dotted around. Finally I settled down to sketch near a creek. I was determined to draw some trees in ink and ended up spending nearly two hours scribbling away. After lunch I left with Gay to have afternoon tea at the Onga Onga General Store so didn't get a chance to put a watercolour wash onto the drawing until the next day by which time I had developed a pissy little head cold which I am still trying to shake off. I hope the picture conveys some of the peace of that lovely place.