The power of reflection four years on

On 22 February 2011 my son Thomas was visiting his grandparents in Christchurch. Thomas and Dad were in the basement of Ballantynes when the earthquake struck.

It was a dreadfully concerning ten minutes waiting to hear they were okay. I thought at the time it was an hour. Cellphone records showed otherwise.

That’s nothing compared to the loss that hundreds, probably more, family members and friends of those killed still feel.

Seems like the other day so I read my blog of the day after to remind me. I am reminded it was also a big and sad day for Tim for completely different reasons.  I’d completely forgotten.

Keeping a journal of reflection can keep memories and insights alive.

Stephen

The basement at Ballantynes

My son Thomas and Dad were in the basement of Ballantynes a year ago when the earthquake struck. I’ll never forget that frantic 10 minutes after getting a text from Mum “bad stake, I hope Tom and Dad are ok”.  Bloody predictive text – I didn’t realise at first what she meant.

I went down there after Christmas, down to the basement at Ballantynes I mean and checked it out. I sat there and reflected on what was a what could have been for my family. Lucky we all were, with people killed only a few dozen metres away.

Thomas has just returned from Europe, engaged to be married, and I don’t mind admitting I like having him safely back home. It felt especially poignant today thinking about a year ago when I felt, for a short time, absolutely powerless and anxious for him and Dad.

There was a lot of luck a year ago. Bad luck and good luck. We got the good one but it’s people just like us all that died.

I hope that those who are bereaved find some peace soon.

Stephen

Eight Christchurch Parks

I headed off from Mum and Dad’s place for my last run of the year. You’d hardly notice it in the car but it’s downhill towards the city from near Burnside High School. Like a gentle back wind you don’t really notice it running either, until you turn around. It was a quite a gloomy day, drizzling and quite cool, especially for late December.

First park was Mona Vale, just past 67 Fendalton Road where I remember helping Dad as a pre-school boy when he was a landscape contractor. Well I’ve always assumed I was helping! Mona Vale is beautiful, with well groomed houses on the other side of the Avon – I’m told the Hadlee residence is there somewhere. The Mona Vale buildings are fenced off, wrecked from earthquakes. The gardens are strangely immaculate and the highlight has to be the Gazebo with its beautiful stained glass windows. Out the back of Mona Vale into Christchurch Girls’ High School, where two of my sisters went, though at the previous Cramner Square site which is now just the site, empty, thanks to earthquake damage. Across into North Hagley Park I was greeted with the sign “Watch for Golf Balls”. Okay, I’ll keep my eyes peeled but I reckon by the time I see one worthy of being cautious about it’ll be over rover. So a large park essentially kept as a golf course near the city. My third park was the adjoining Botanic Gardens, scene of many a Sunday visit after Church where the perils of walking too close to the grass edge were instructed, to preserve the lawn, which Dad with his senior position in the Park’s Dept felt personal responsibility for at all times! Exiting the Gardens by the Peacock Fountain, left past the Canterbury Museum – one of the few old stone buildings functioning – and back up and over to Little Hagley Park.

Into Helmores Lane and it suddenly had a Wuthering Heights feel about it. A gloomy day with more than a few now derelict, boarded up houses wrecked by the quakes. Seems to me living by the river isn’t the best thing to do. I got the feeling that the occupiers behind “Resident’s Cars Only” signs might have wished for “Any Car Welcome, just bring some life to this place!”.  Over to Fendalton Road and a lap of St Barnabas Church where the famous and latterly infamous for his bouts of shoplifting Canon Bob Lowe presided. He’s apparently a relative although having updated the family tree while I’m here in Christchurch, he doesn’t appear in the 35 Lowes in the Tree.  Park number five was Fendalton Park with University of Canterbury qualifying as number six. I had to dice with danger by running a taped off area but I survived. Ray Blank Park in Ilam was next. Who Ray Blank was and why he had a park named after him, I didn’t know but you can find out here! The final park was Westburn Park, its claim to fame being a miniature street system complete with signage and road marking for kids on bikes, scooters etc to practice. Feeling the need to signal my last turn at the tiny Give Way it was right then left and back to Mum and Dad’s. See the map here of my 14.5km, and that’s my running done for 2011.

It hasn’t been the best running year, though a couple of marathons with a minimum of training, but I finish feeling more confident of cranking it up over the holidays again.

It’s the holidays. Do what you feel like. I am!

Stephen