Monthly Archives: September 2015

Erin O’Brien




This may seem melancholy, but while we think of someone, they never really die. I sometimes see my mother in dreams. She smiles but never speaks, and I now struggle to recall the richness of her voice.
Erin loved using expressions, sometimes informing me that someone or other was ‘not up to par.’ She’d frown after meeting one friend or another, tilt her chin up and say, “Who was that drongo.. did you see his shoes? He’s not worth a brass razoo!”

Several days ago, in preparation for work on the house, I was moving items from one floor to another, and there in a bookcase full of life’s memories, books given, collected, or purchased, I found this picture of Erin. Nearby sat the Mayfair’s old desk bell. It brought back a few memories.

I made my mother laugh so hard she gasped for breath, and as she leaned over the kauri dining table, with it’s stacks of glossy fashion magazines, piled bills, and unread paperbacks, she spilt her coffee.
Glistening tears of mirth streamed down her face.
Within the week I sat beside her bed as she lay dying in a darkened hospital room. Just outside in the brightly lit hallway, the nurses went about their duties, drank coffee, and quietly gossiped as the day slowly descended into night.
My brother and I sat together in the gathering gloom, and we waited, and watched, helplessly.
Before us lay our mother, unconscious on a steel and chrome hospital bed.
Over the next few hours her breathing gradually became more and more labored, until it slowed, and then paused, and finally stopped.
Every faltering step she had taken as a child, every path she had walked, every trail she had followed, had led her to this time, and this place, and all the roads that led her there were winding..




Meet Richard. He spends most of his days seeking the company of like-minded individuals. Today he was cold and lonely and propped on an old box under the overpass, amongst the filth and the debris and the discarded wine casks. He’s unemployed and on an Invalid’s benefit, if you can call being tied to a meager handout any kind of benefit whatsoever.
Richard hails from Rotorua, and ran away from home years ago. I don’t know if he meant he’d runaway from a wife, or a family home.
Perhaps Richard’s wife found she had too little husband, and Richard found he had too much wife.
Richard wasn’t hungry. Nor did he ask for anything of a monetary value. He wanted the thing we all have to give. Some cheerful company. Today Richard seemed harmless enough, but he self harms and has a history of harming others. To me he just seemed rather timid and far less resilient than the rest of us.
I suppose that’s his lot in life. He was short changed, cheated, inheriting a few bad genes. What can I say?
“He’s just a bad machine”.
I traded my time for this picture. It’s a slightly haunted ‘character shot’, so I probably cheated him too.
Such is life.