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He died of AIDS. Um, it'd I'd, uh We've been together for about 20 years. 20 odd years. And I'd moved away for a while, uh, and then came back, and I thought something wasn't right. And I'd guessed that he was positive for some time. And then finally he told me. And so for about the last three years, [00:00:30] you know, we sort of we were still very close, very together, Uh, then he had to go into hospital. He had, uh, Pneumocystis pneumonia or whatever it is, and he came out and he always sort of He said, I'm fine. I'm fine. He was always wanting to lead us, so, you know, look after himself. He didn't want to bother anybody. Towards the end, though. He was getting quite bad. Um, [00:01:00] he'd which we He woke up one Saturday morning and, um no. Sorry. On a Friday night, I arrived home and he says, Oh, I've cooked dinner. So he laid dinner out, and we started eating it, and he promptly brought it all up all over the table. Uh, and this has happened a couple of times. And so I said, Well, you know, I'll look after myself. You know, I don't want I don't like this. I don't want to put you through to anything. [00:01:30] And the next day he woke up and he was talking funny and he wanted to go out to, and he insisted on going out to. So we drove out there and I was so concerned that I said, Well, unless I drive back, I'm catching the train back. I won't drive with you. And so we I drove home and I said, I think you should go ring up the hospital and go to the hospital, but he wouldn't, so I rang. I rang [00:02:00] his doctor and the doctor came round, and the doctor said he's got to go into hospital, but he won't go. As the virus has hit the nervous centre of the brain, he's paralysed down the right side of his face and the left side of his body. Uh, that was on the Saturday on the Tuesday I went in to see him and had an argument with them up in the ward because they wouldn't let me in. Eventually I got him to see him and [00:02:30] he was getting better. I knew the doctor and The doctor took me to one side and said, Well, you know, we're getting them fixed up. He's probably got 8 to 10 months of quality life left, but we probably need somebody full time to look after him. So I said, That's all right. I accepted that and I sat with him, and then he asked me to get the doctor again and the doctor came in and he said he had pains in his chest. [00:03:00] So they examined him and discovered he had pleurisy. And they then said that they would be able to treat that and that he'd be able to go home by the weekend. On the Wednesday I went in to see him and he was much brighter. And what have you in the evening? He wasn't so hot and he said, Well, you go home and feed [00:03:30] the dogs and come back and sit with me I said, Well, I'll sit with you. The dogs can wait And then he said, Will you hold my hand until I go to sleep? So I sat there holding his hand, and about half past 10 at night, he says, I'm going to sleep now, go home I'll see you tomorrow. So I sat [00:04:00] with him until he went to sleep, and I went home quarter past 12. In the morning. I got a phone call to say that they doing a routine check, and I found him lying on the floor dead. Uh, and it just died. [00:04:30] What it's not is love. Well, Michael and I first met in, um 1970. Um, I was in the Air Force at the time. I was also married at the time, Um, where I came to Wellington. [00:05:00] And through going to, uh, gay pubs and clubs, I'd met a group of people and become friendly with them. And this couple had, uh, had said that they had another flatmate who was away overseas and had been away for about eight months during a world tour. And I've been to their place for a few times for dinner. And then they told me that Michael was that their flatmate, Michael was coming back from England and they were going [00:05:30] to have a welcome home dinner, and they invited me along to meet him. And so I went along in this night and met Michael, who was, uh, quite a tall guy with very sort of scraggly Einstein like hair out all over the place and a and a bit of a bet. Uh, a very much an extrovert and talked incessantly the whole night about his trip around Europe. [00:06:00] And as I knew, some of the places you've been to and what have you We sort of talked about the our own impressions of them, and we talked until quite early in the morning. And then I went home and I sort of thought about and I thought, Well, this isn't my ideal sort of a man. Uh uh, you know, sort of. I think my ideal sort of a man was a sort of a a very muscular metro looking man. Uh, builder, a bricklayer [00:06:30] or something. Um, sort of the ideal man that every woman every man wants to emulate and go go for. Uh, but I was quite intrigued with Michael, And so, uh, when he rang up a few days later and said But I like to meet for a cup of coffee. Uh, I suggest, and so if we went, uh, met about three o'clock in the afternoon and about four o'clock the following morning. Finally, we got home again, having spent a lot [00:07:00] of time talking and walking and drinking coffee and eating and then going to drinking some going to a pub. Uh, and I actually found it very easy to talk with. And we also discovered that we also had a lot of similar, uh, likes and dislikes in common. And so we sort of start a meeting once a week, twice a week. And so it escalated. And then eventually, um, one Saturday night, [00:07:30] we'd been out and we'd had a lot of fun, and he said, Why? Why bother going home? Why don't you stay here the night? And so I didn't have any problem with that at all. So we fell into bed together and and everything happens that happens in bed. And, um, I decided I rather like the guy. And I rather liked being there with him. I found, uh, great comfort being with him and [00:08:00] so started. I suppose, uh, what led into 20 years of happiness? He didn't want anybody to know he didn't want any of our friends to know he didn't want, uh, his, uh He didn't want to have anything to do with the AIDS Foundation? Because in the early days, there were several things that we've done, which [00:08:30] were pretty upsetting to some people. Uh, information leaked out, and everybody knew what was happening with everybody else. So basically, he just wanted to stay home and be looked after by me, which I was quite happy to do. He went in in and out of hospital a few times. Uh, he had a local doctor looking after him. Uh, there were good days. There were bad days, but [00:09:00] then towards the end of 1989 I think it was things were getting worse. His down periods were a lot more frequent. Uh, his periods in hospital were a lot more frequent. He was having to go weekly for, uh, inhaler treatment for pneumo cytosis. Um, he was losing a lot of weight. Um, he was having trouble keeping food down, and [00:09:30] they were sort of combating most of that. Um, so he'd sort of be right for a couple of months, and then he'd go back down again A during the day. He was a lot better than he was at night time. Night time. It seemed to hit him very hard, Uh, where he wouldn't be able to move, he wouldn't be able to walk properly. Uh, he'd be extremely weak. Um, [00:10:00] uncontrollable, uh, vomiting, diarrhoea. And so basically, I was sort of checking on him during the night and cleaning him up and looking after him. And then towards the end, when things got very bad, [00:10:30] we bounced off each other, probably for our own benefits and certainly for our own good. Um, we probably were a good reflection of each other, too. And that, um, his [00:11:00] outspokenness, his loudness, his always rushing about at 100 miles an hour and never stopping to think, probably reflected very good on my quietness. And my, uh, being able to, um, sort of take things a lot easier and to think about doing things before doing it where he just went ahead and did it, um, where I would sort of think and say Should I do it? Shouldn't I do [00:11:30] it? Will it be good will? Will it not be good? By the time I've finished arguing with myself, it's too late. He was probably wake up. He would wake up and you say, Let's go up to Levin today. We're leaving now. And so before I had time to think about the pros and cons of whether it was good or not, we'd be on our way. So I mean, we were a good reflection of each other. And probably in some respects, opposites, but also alike in a lot of ways, too. [00:12:00] Um, he was always He always involved himself in other people. He was probably one of the kindest and gentlest people I know who also had quite a temper on him. He was a miser. Uh, he would. When we were living in Kilburn, he would walk down to the supermarket, and then he'd come back and go through the tool tape and say they've overcharged me two cents and so walk [00:12:30] back down to claim his two cents back. Um, likewise, It was one of the most honest. So if they'd overpaid, if they'd given him too much change, he would walk back and give it back to them. Um, he was a reminder to the point of endangering himself at once when he had come home from his job and he said he had the stomachache and he wasn't feeling too good he'd been to the doctor, and the doctor wasn't certain what was wrong and [00:13:00] had said, Well, if it gets any worse over the weekend, go to the hospital. So he went to bed on the Friday night and Saturday morning at half past six in the morning, I woke up to him moving about and I said, What's wrong? He says, Oh, I'm in terrible pain. He real agony. I'm going to the hospital I said, Oh, I'll drive you over He said, No, no, no, no. You stay where you are. I'm all right. He says, I'll make my own way. And he was, could be very stubborn that way. So I said, OK, well, get a taxi He says, No, it's all right, I'll grab a bus. [00:13:30] So anyway, off he went. And then I got a phone call from the hospital to say he was in surgery. He had his appendix a burst, and uh that they were operating on him straight away. And when he came out of anaesthetic and everything I said, Well, why didn't you let me drive you or get a taxi? He said. Well, I walked up to the bus stop and there was no buses coming. So I walked to the hospital. I thought it would be all right. And besides, why pay for a taxi when it would have cost me [00:14:00] a dollar on the bus? Um, so it's sort of quite mean, But he was also one of the most generous people that I know. He would if somebody needed help or somebody needed something. He would open his heart, his house, his wallet, whatever and give it to them. Um, he never turned anybody away. He never turned anybody down. [00:14:30] I think he died the way he wanted. He didn't want he never liked a fuss. And he was a fairly private person and he wouldn't want wouldn't have wanted anybody there. I think he decided himself that [00:15:00] that was the time he would have hated living on having to have somebody do everything for him to have lost that control over his own life, his own actions. I think he decided himself that that was the time. And that was the the place. [00:15:30] I believe he did it. Then he wouldn't have wanted me there. I don't think he would have wanted me to be as upset as I was, I was angry that he'd done it. I was very angry that he done that without saying anything without letting me know. [00:16:00] But that's what he would have wanted. That's the way he was. I can understand that knife. It was never the same after that. [00:16:30] I had to go home and ring his family and tell his family that tell his father and his brother that he died, but because he had never been able to tell them he never told them he was gay. I couldn't tell them that he'd had AIDS. I told him he died of Ploy [00:17:00] and they came up. They wanted to see the body, but they couldn't because when the body was taken to the morgue because Michael had died of AIDS, they wouldn't put him near any of the other bodies or in the cellar cabinet, and his body had deteriorated to such an extent that they couldn't allow anybody to view the body. [00:17:30] Michael has never been a religious person, and he'd always said that when he died he wanted to be cremated and then two days after the cremation, to have the notice put in the paper that he had died and people to be informed, and that's what he he said. He'd left in as well. Over about six months beforehand, he'd come down the stairs [00:18:00] and come to me, and he says, You don't agree with me putting the notice in the paper after I've been cremated, Do you? I said no. I said I felt that it was unfair on his friends and those who loved him not to be able to be part of saying goodbye, not being able to share what they felt and to be able to express their sorrow and being able to say [00:18:30] their goodbyes in some way that he was depriving them of the actions of saying goodbye. So he's about If you will do it, you can take a funeral service, but only if you do it. So I agreed to that. So I took his funeral service. He had it all planned out. It's exactly what he wanted, [00:19:00] what music he wanted. And he wanted to send in the clowns to be played as the funeral started. And as at the funeral, I was the lay chaplain at the time, so there I was in my little white robes walking up the aisle to the coffin head to the tune of Send in the clowns. And I had to laugh [00:19:30] because I thought, This is his final revenge on me that here I am poncing up, all made up in white robes and what have you to his favourite tune of Send in the Clowns. And the biggest clown of all was walking up the aisle shortly after we started the funeral. The dogs, which had been kept in the car, got out of the car and they came running into the chapel [00:20:00] and ran right up the front and sat underneath a coffin, and I was unable to continue. He got a send off. He would have loved it. He would have laughed all the time. [00:20:30] It's probably still laughing. 20 years after 20 years, it's as if suddenly [00:21:00] your life has stopped. Nothing's ever the same. The person you always talk to is no longer there. The person you felt comfortable just being beside was just sitting with not saying anything. It was no longer there everyday things of your life, [00:21:30] which becomes so natural and so routine. It's no longer happening. You've got to start all over again and you can't. I'm surrounded by things that remind you every day [00:22:00] you're surrounded by memories. Never go away. You live your life hoping that the door's going to open and he's going to come back, that you're going to hear the voice of the laugh [00:22:30] of the arguments. It doesn't happen and nobody really understands. So you have to pretend and you have to [00:23:00] laugh and joke. But even now, 10 years later, it still hurts. Still empty. I still want to wind the clock back, go back and do things all over again. [00:23:30] May be different. Maybe the same, but you can't.
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