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Saturday, January 19, 2013

My Farewell to Murray and Marjorie

I am very lucky to be able to treat so many different people of varying ages, ailments, backgrounds and reasons for coming in to see me for massage.  Mount Maunganui attracts athletes who train year round but it also attracts retirees who enjoy the warm climate.  As a result, I have a nice balance of young and old patients who come in for massage on a regular basis.  

This week I had to say good-bye to two outstanding clients - Murray Taylor and Marjorie Ewens who passed away.  They were both in their 80's.

Murray & Yvonne on their wedding day
I met Murray about a year ago when he started coming to see me for regular massages.  He would drive in from all the way past Pukehina for his weekly appointment.  Murray was a retired dairy farmer and kiwi fruit orchardist.  He lost his wife Yvonne to ovarian cancer 8 years ago.  He loved cars - especially Holdens.  His current car was a brand new Holden which he loved driving, so any excuse to go on long trips and he was away.  It got him out of the house.  

Murray had a sharp mind and we'd have great conversations about practically anything and everything.  He loved to chat.  If I closed my eyes, I'd think I was talking to someone my own age.  Murray was timeless.  It takes a very special type of person to live to the age of 82 and not have any judgment or opinions of others.  He was an incredible man.  The sad thing was that Murray's body was starting to fail him.  His legs were giving out on him and gradually his lungs started to pack up too.
Young Murray

Eventually Murray could no longer come in to see me.  I missed him so much that I decided to go out to see him.  He tried to talk me out of it, thinking it was too far for me to drive.  I insisted and told him that I was in the area anyway.  His lungs got worse and he was in and out of hospital with pneumonia.  Gradually the massages stopped because he was too out of breath but I continued to visit him, bringing homemade pumpkin soup.  We'd chat for hours and I'd make us cups of tea and Murray always had cake.  I enjoyed our visits.  His house reminded me of my grandparents.  Yvonne had great taste in decorating and Murray kept the place just how she liked it (apart from the mess on the dining table - he said if she was alive he'd get told off).  

When Murray was up for it, we'd go down to the Funky Lizard for lunch, just to get him out.  I know it filled him with pride taking me there.  He liked to show me off and he talked about me with everyone.  It made me feel so special knowing that I brought him so much joy.  I thought so highly of him too.  Murray was a gentleman.  There are so few of them left.  Why aren't there more men like him in my generation?  We had  a special friendship, in many ways we looked after each other.  Murray was generous and he would do anything for anyone.  He had a penchant for taking in strays.  He would tell me stories of all the young travelers he would help.  It gave him such joy to save the day for someone who needed rescuing.  I told him that I'd look after him if it came down to it.  He didn't want to go into a rest home.

Lunch at the Funky Lizard
I saw Murray less than a week before he died.  I sat with him and we talked but he didn't have any energy to get out that day.  I made us a cuppa tea and we talked about Yvonne and her housekeeping.  I talked about my trip to Kilimanjaro.  Murray would laugh but he was so impressed with the things I've done in my life.  He was absolutely fascinated when I told him I went diving down to the Rainbow Warrior.  He couldn't believe it.  He said his one regret was that he and Yvonne chose to work so hard and they didn't travel.  He wished they'd gone to Rarotonga.  He loved hearing about my travels.

Murray passed away last week at the age of 82.  He is with his beloved Yvonne again.  I went to the funeral which was packed to the rafters.  There were over 400 people there.  Showing just how loved he was by many.  I will miss our weekly visits.  I hope there's a V8 in heaven waiting for you to drive it Murray.

And less than a week later another client of mine, Marjorie died.  She was just short of her 89th birthday.  Marjorie was about 4'4" but what she lacked in height she made up for in personality.  She was a spitfire.  Aptly named too because her late husband Tony loved spitfires.  They immigrated from England after the war.  Marjorie met Tony at the garage where she would often take her motorbike which had a habit of breaking down at the worst of times.  

Young Marjorie in the WRENS
Marjorie enjoyed her weekly massages.  She eagerly hopped up on the table and she was very agile and fit for her age.  She ran half marathons into her 60's.  Sadly for Marjorie, it was her mind that was going.  She was convinced that a man was breaking into her house and moving her things.  All you could do was sympathize with her.  When she had her massage, she would forget her worries and the stimulating touch would trigger happy memories of the days when she was a WREN in the war.  Oh the stories I heard.  Her long term memory was incredible.  

But gradually it became harder and harder to get her to keep her appointments.  I would turn up and she'd forgotten I was coming.  Or sometimes I'd turn up and she'd simply tell me she wasn't up for it that day.  It was sad because I knew how good it was for her to have her massage.  Sometimes I could convince her to have a cuppa tea instead and I'd come in for a chat.

Last week she fell whilst hanging washing in the garden and broke her hip.  She had surgery and came out if it but while she was recovering, she died suddenly in her sleep.  She just stopped breathing.  The best way.

At her funeral today they played Frank Sinatra's song "I did it my way".  That sums up Marjorie to a T.  She was feisty and she knew just what she wanted.  There was no way she was going to end up in a rest home - which is what would have happened if she recovered.  She joined her beloved Tony who passed away just over a year ago.  They were married 61 years.  

I get so much out of working with such interesting people.  Both Murray and Marjorie were full of life and they lived their days right up to the very end.  I will miss them dearly.  But they had such rich lives, it's impossible to feel sad when I think of them.  They both bring a joyous smile to my face.  I can only hope that if I lose my mind I will be as spritely and physically healthy as Marjorie or if I lose my bodily functions that I am as sharp and connected to people as Murray.  Either way I hope I am still having massages too.  Preferably by someone who takes the time to know me and visits me even when I can't get on the table but stops to make me a cuppa tea and stays to chat anyway.

Rest in peace my friends.  Age is just a number remember.  You taught me that.

1 comment:

Gord Starling said...

Very nice of you Tracy. Your the best.