Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Family Man (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 9 part 2)

I'm a family man
Working every day for my family

Dragon (Family Man)

In terms of nailing purpose, Marc Hunter's lyrics are spot on. This chapter is devoted to family.

I like the way everybody has a family tree of some sort. Everybody has a whanau (an extended family) which expands, always exploding outward, on-going and limitless.

My Purdy family offshoots take in an ever expanding number of other families, some I know well, others are more tenuous but we are all interconnected.

Aside from various Purdy families, right now in 2016, my whanau takes in branches of the Adsett, Holden, Curson, Selman, Dix, O'Neill, Bulman, Smith, Hope, Skynner, Moore, Rowbotham, Peterson, Haigh, Hodge, Kennedy, Kirkham clans.

They all intersect on me! Cool.

In 1984, Jacky learned with some surprise that she was pregnant. All I remember is a kind of dumb elation. She was 22, I was 27. Although we were married, we were just kids ourselves. What did we know?

Keegan Warren Purdy was born in New Plymouth's Base Hospital on December 19, 1984.

He was two weeks late and still wasn't that keen to enter the world, and Christmas was coming. 

Jacky and I went on long walks around New Plymouth to help pry him loose. Fording the Waiwhakaiho River was somewhat helpful but even then he was a reluctant participant in Wozza's world.

Time was a dragging on and finally, Graham Purdy's first grand child was induced to appear but even then he took his own sweet time going about things.

We had gone up to the hospital the day before - the evening of the 18th. Jacky had little sleep that night and Keegan was making slow progress by the morning of the 19th. Little had happened during the day as well. Our GP (Dr David Lyall) was the father of one of my star students and he made the call for an epidural shortly before 5pm. The timing was critical because the anaesthetist went off duty at 5. Hey - it was the eighties, and it was provincial Nu Zild.

An epidural is a cunning little procedure. It works on the spinal column to numb the lower body. So the urge remains to push, but the pain is alleviated. Jacky was immediately able to relax and go to sleep.

Thinking I had some time to play with, I decided to grab some dinner - you should know that Purdys don't operate well when they're hungry. I went off site for a McDonalds combo and returned to the hospital, sitting on the steps of the maternity wing to have my dinner. 

Tanked up on a Big Mac, fries and coke, I returned to Jacky's room just in time for Keegan to finally get his act together. It was all good. When I think back now, I was the picture of calm. Ignorance is bliss!

Jacky was in a lot of pain during labour, a long and slow process in this case. 

Although we'd been to ante-natal classes, nothing really prepares you for the gush of emotions that accompanies a birth. 

As soon as Keegan appeared, two things happened: I cried my eyes out and Jacky said, "Well that wasn't too bad".

The whole experience was completely overwhelming and draining. Jacky slept, while I sat beside her in an armchair and held onto this new life in my hands and was drenched in pride and tenderness for both Jacky and Keegan.

It's one of those moments.

When I returned home, leaving KW and Jacky to get some rest, I immediately started on Keegan's photo album - cards, photos, news cuttings of the day. I wanted a sense of history. I've done this for Adam, Samantha and Jade as well, and I realise a selfish need here. This didn't exist for me and I wanted it for them.

As a baby and an only child, Keegan lulled us both into a false sense of security. As soon as school started for the new term, he slept through the night. During the days he played happily in his cot and rocked himself in a bouncer chair that Grandad, up in Auckland, had bought for him.

This parenting thing was a doddle!!

He certainly had all the equipment as his cabbage coloured parents embarked whole heartily on their new adventure together.

I don't recall any in depth discussion but Jacky had given up work at White's Department store (in the shoes section) to look after Keegan and, now that he was here, devoted all her time and energy and love into his upbringing.

Although she's not maternal, she's an amazing mother. Go figure.

I went on teaching English at New Plymouth Boys' for the next year but during 1985 we decided a return to Auckland was needed. I missed my dad for one thing. 

So, we loaded up what possessions we had (mainly my record and book collection and plants) and my then brother-in-law and I drove the heavily laden van up to new digs in Windmill Rd, Mt Eden, in time for a 1986 start at Maclean's College.

And a whole new adventure!

Love and peace - Abu Keegan

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