Wednesday, 29 January 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Preparing his final farewell

Mike Davis is a man who loves projects and managing them through from start to finish. That attitude was put to the ultimate test recently when he decided to take himself off all cancer medication and get on with preparing for his final farewell.

Mike, aged 70, who resides in Hahei, had been undergoing treatment for an inoperable kidney-related cancer which had run its course. “I was offered an alternative drug, but it needed to be self-funded and was going to cost around $10,000 per month with no guarantees and only the slight hope it may prolong my life a little longer,” he says. “I took what I believe was a realistic view of my options and decided to carry on without the medication and put my energy into planning my funeral, which has included among other things organising the building of my own coffin.”

After going online and reading up on “How to prepare your own funeral,” Mike set about the task of ticking off the jobs that had to be completed before the inevitable day finally arrived. “The first step was involving my extended family and getting them on board with what I was planning,” he says. “With four daughters, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, it came as a bit of a shock that I was so open and upfront about my intentions, but they have supported me totally, which makes this journey so much more special. Lynette, my wife of 52 years, has been my rock from the day I was first diagnosed with cancer and has accepted we don’t have many wedding anniversaries left together.”

There are a number of legal and paperwork obstacles to jump to be able to organise one’s own funeral, but Mike has meticulously worked through them all to ensure everything goes smoothly. “I see death as part of life, so why not be involved in what is essentially a celebration of my life and play a part right up to the day when the final curtain comes down,” he says. “Plus, I can have all the arrangements in place, including the cremation, to help stop the inevitable family stress.”

It was another online search that led Mike to find out all about coffin building. Once he had the plans, it was a trip to the local timber yard to purchase the necessary materials and then making contact with the Whitianga Community Menz Shed to ask whether they would be interested in assembling the coffin.   

Kevin Robinson, secretary and trustee of the charitable trust that operates the Menz Shed on South Highway, says while the call from Mike to build a coffin came out of the blue, the Menz Shed members were more than happy to be involved. “In fact, we would be very happy to build more coffins if there were other people in the area with a similar request,” he says. “Mike supplied everything, including the plans, specifications and even the screws for his coffin, so it was a relatively easy build for us but if required, we can provide the necessary materials and talk through all the detail. All we ask is for a small donation towards our overall expenses in lieu of any labour costs.”

While Mike is focused on the road ahead, he and Lynette have nothing but praise for the support he and other cancer patients receive during their treatment, especially from the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Cancer Society’s Lions Lodge in Hamilton. The lodge provides accommodation, meals and support for people who have to travel long distances for treatment at the Regional Cancer Centre at Waikato Hospital.

“Lynette and I can’t thank the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Cancer Society enough for the support they have provided us, they’ve gone way beyond the call of duty to ensure we have both been well cared for before and after treatment.”

Mike is unsure of just what the future holds but he is assured, when that day arrives, his final farewell will be carried out with the precision and detail he has planned. He will depart knowing it has been a project well managed from start to finish and with input from those who are the closest to him.

Pictured: Hahei’s Mike Davis with his coffin that has been built by the Whitianga Community Menz Shed.

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