A voice from South Africa

One of my most rewarding social media experiences started when I migrated to beBee.com. Why? Because I have met incredible people from all over the globe and one of those South Africa's Gert Scholtz. He was one of my Kickstarter supporters and has continued his support of Riding Shotgun the book.

Recently (reproduced here with his permission) he wrote this blog on beBee.

Riding Shotgun with Don Kerr

 

 

A few months ago on this platform I got to know Don Kerr. Worlds apart, Don in Canada, myself in South Africa, and able to connect right here on beBee. This week a surprise in the mail; Don’s book Riding Shotgun. I read it in one sitting.

Riding Shotgun is Don’s telling of his experiences during the five year trek after his wife Kate was first diagnosed with cancer. The expression “riding shotgun” comes from the days of stagecoach travel and refers to the person in the position next to the driver. The phrase is colloquially used where someone gives support and aid to another.

Don writes right from the heart. With integrity and sensitivity he tells of his journey and his awareness as caregiver to Kate. Straight forward and to the man the book contains grounded and sage advice for anyone going through the same. Don has depth in understanding of what it is to be human and to be vulnerable, and he takes us through the full range of emotions experienced during adversity. From anger, despair, hope, to happiness and elation.

“Do not let time diminish memory. It is within your control. When you recall the depths of despair, you are more readily able to experience the relief of living. When you recall loneliness and isolation, you are more able to retrieve thoughts of those who surrounded you with love and support.”

Written with wit, fervor and insight one can dip into any part of the book and learn from Don’s counsel. My favorite chapter is the one on Self Advocacy. During a time of duress and giving care to a loved one, it is vital to stand up and speak up for your partner, yourself and your family. Don gives his Ten Commandments:

Do not wait for others to speak for you.

Do not expect anyone other than you and your partner to have your best interests at heart.

Do not sit idly by while the tempest rages about you.

Do not surrender to the paralytic temptations of blissful ignorance.

Do not believe you can “fix this”.

Do not be too proud, stubborn or just plain stupid to ask for help.

Do not accept anything about the diagnosis at face value.

Do not fail to ask for explanation.

Do not fail to ask for explanation again and then once more until you are certain you understand.

Do not give up – ever!

Riding Shotgun goes wider than care giving for men. It is a book about life and what mindfulness really means. It is about the roller coaster of adversity with all its joys and sorrows. It is about being vulnerable and about being strong. It is about all of us.

Don, I congratulate and commend you on Riding Shotgun for your wife Kate. 

Your book I will treasure and keep always.