The Hospital Pass

Gayle Cook 2013

20 Oct 2004

Dear sweetheart,

I send a wish your way,
Of happiness today,
And looking to the future,
May you ever healthy stay.

Have a wonderful 21st birthday.  Love you to bits.  Mumsy.

Oh Mumsy.  When I saw the email message headed “You’ve received a Dilly Card from Maz Dally” I freaked.  I thought someone had spammed me.  I couldn’t help but look, and when I did, I had to look away.  I cried.

I can’t think about this right now.  I’ll think about it tomorrow, after my party.


Mumsy, I wish I could tell you about my fancy dress party.  We boogied around a bonfire on the beach and didn’t crash ‘til 3 a.m.  It was the first time all the family had been together at our house since the funeral.  I dressed as a winger, in a number 11 jersey splattered in mud.  Julez, my best-ist friend, came as a hooker – as in a prostitute, not a rugby player.  She looked hot.  Bitch.

Dad came as loosehead prop, complete with cauliflower ears and a bleeding nose.  I know what you’d think: you guys didn’t have any sons and that’s why Dad taught me to kick a ball and be passionate about rugby.

Dancing all night in rugby boots is hard on your feet.

20 Oct 2008

Happy 25th to my dearest daughter,

Here’s a thought: Isn’t it splendid that they banned those pesky chlorofluorocarbos (or however the heck you spell it)?  The ouzo hole is closing back up.  How cool is that?  Now fewer people will develop skin cancer.  Me bitter?  Never.

Lots of hugs, sunshine and giggles.  Mumsy.

The moment I saw the Dilly Cards logo, I knew, and it hit me like a drop out from over the halfway mark.  I picture you now, in hospital pyjamas, propped up by pillows, laptop on your knees, tapping away, as optimistic as the pill bottles on your bedside table.  You had such faith in those little pills, Mumsy.  Faith in the ingenuity of humanity to cure illness, fix anything and make the world a better place.

I got googling.  This year, the ozone hole is the same shape as your first skin graft; but unlike your moles, it’s shrinking.  The hole has been healing for twenty years, ever since ozone-zapping CFCs in fridges, aerosol cans and stuff were sin-binned.

Why?  Why didn’t you heal?

I told Julez about the “ouzo hole” and she laughed so hard she nearly fell off her bar stool.  ‘There are two half-empty glasses on the bar,’ she said, ‘and it’s your round.’

21 Oct 2008

Dear Dilly Cards

Please cancel all future-dated e-cards set up by Maz Dally.  They’re way offside.  She died, you see, five years ago, on my twentieth birthday. 

Fab.  Ta.  Lexie Dally


No news from the other side for almost three years.

We had the biggest snowfall I’ve ever seen in my life.  Beautiful.  Pure.  White.  You’d have loved it, Mumsy.  Julez and I threw snowballs until our fingers froze and I asked, ‘If the climate is warming, why is the weather cold?’

Julez rolled around in the snow, like a cat offering her tummy for a rub, and said, ‘Cold weather happens, hot weather happens, climate changes – get over it.  Ergo, global warming is a crock.’


Stink.  Today we had an even bigger snowfall.  What’s going on?  Perhaps global weather over time is what we expect, but local conditions at a point in time are what we get.

Dad told me it’s the warmest winter for a hundred years.

‘Back the truck up,’ I said.  ‘Snow and warmth?  How can that be?’

He said that great snowfalls don’t happen when the air is colder than normal, but when it’s warmer, because – and there always has to be a “because” with Dad –  because warm air holds more water vapour than cold air, and the more moisture the bigger the chance of snow.

I’m over snow.


Dad took me to a rugby match: 20,000 referees shouting at a paddock and more drama off the field than on.  Just before the full-time hooter, the blindside flanker offloaded the ball to the lock, who crashed into a wall of defense.

Dad yelled, ‘Hospital pass.’

‘Ouch,’ I said.

St John’s carted the injured man off the field, while play carried on around them.  Dad blathered on about people not prepared to take the tackle, who passed the buck and saved themselves by hurting others, and that the 2.5 degrees warming threshold – beyond which it’s difficult to keep the wheels of civilization turning – was just years away or may have already happened.  I didn’t see the fireworks coming; until he blurted out that he’s marching off to the Grub Hills transition town to plant nuts, fruit trees and whatnot.  ‘There’ll be famine, feudalism and fascism,’ he said, through clenched teeth.

Is he exaggerating?  Yes.  Though not by much.

20 Oct 2013

Cheer up my darling,

Turning 30 isn’t the worst thing that can happen.  By now, you could have a daughter just like you, so you’ll know what I had to endure.  Ha, ha.  Hope you’ve learnt to do the little worrying mother thing. 
I’m hanging out for my cocktail of chemicals.  Mr Welby is so handsome, a gorgeous hunk of an oncologist, yay, yay.
You know that I know that experimental drugs are risky, but my prognosis is so dire, that I’ve nothing to lose.

Love, the guinea pig.

Idealistic?  Possibly.  Freaky?  Very.  Do you mean well?  Definitely.

Mr Welby told us there were side effects.  Unpredictable responses.

I read on a news blog – yes, I read the news now.  Yes, I know.  I must be growing up.  Anyway, this scientific expert said that large portions of Antarctica are bucking the trend and growing colder compared to the global average.

‘Go figure,’ said Julez, and rushed out to buy some more smart drugs.

I wish you’d bucked the trend, Mumsy.  I miss you so bad.

20 Oct 2018

You’re a caring, habitual
and careful individual.
I bet it’s a gorgeous hot day
and you’ve had a beautiful day
and all is well in your world.

Happy 35th to a fabulous person from your fab mother.

I opened our kitchen cupboard today and a barrage of plastic containers and mismatched tops tumbled out.  You always had that cupboard stuffed full and it drove me batty.  I swore I’d never let it happen to me, but now every time I open it, I hear you saying, ‘Who made this mess?’ and my heart sings, ‘not me, not me, yay, yay.’

I laugh your laugh and have your eyes, but not your wisdom – still working on that one.


The Health and Safety people at my work, put up a “Caution: Watch your step” sign.  I was so busy trying to read the new sign that I tripped over the step.  ‘Silly duffer,’ I heard you say, ‘You’re as much use as a chocolate teapot.’

I may be a simple office worker, but I think the whacky weather might be a portent, an omen too easy to ignore.  Maybe, just maybe, manmade climate change is like melanoma.  It sucks.  It’s scary, but it’s preventable, and early detection saves lives.  Ours.

It’s easier to doubt, because to believe means I’d have to change, and too many lifestyle changes are not worth the hassle factor.  Don’t be mad at me.  I care, but not enough yet.  Oh look, the All Blacks are playing.

20 Oct 2023


A woman is at her peak at 40
Is a saying very true.
Don’t let small aches and dizzy spells
Worry or frazzle you.
It’s easier to cruise downhill
Than to struggle up.
The secret is to lie about your age
And wear proper makeup.

Love, Mumsy.

No, no, no.  Beautiful old fashioned lady.  Beautiful old fashioned values.

How were you to know that sunbathing in your youth would kill you?  How was I to know that burning fossil fuels over three centuries would make the planet sick or that providing sufficient food, water and energy to allow me to lead a decadent life would become a challenge?  Easy targets for a hard impact tackle.

It’s game on and it’s not a crowd pleaser.

20 Oct 2028

Just for a laugh on your 45th, here’s some simple motherly wisdom:
No matter what pressures life flings your way,
Passing on your troubles is not okay.
If you make it fun and do it snappy,
Horrid things won’t have time to grow unhappy.

Lots of peace, goodwill and hope.  Mumsy.

Even though you’ve been gone twenty-five years, your love still guides and sustains me, and whenever I question how to respond to a difficult problem, I ask myself, ‘What would Mumsy do?’  The answer has never failed me, until now.  You see, scientists have discovered that the ozone hole over Antarctica was keeping the continent cold and the planet colder than predicted.  Year-by-year, as it heals, temperatures are warming.
Ice is melting.  Drip.  Drip.  Drip.

At least Dad is safe up at Grub Hills, with his community garden, trees, water tank, windmill and network of friends.  He begs me to join him, before world order crumbles and zombie hordes flee the cities.

On the other hand, Julez says we can “fix” the climate – plant reflective crops, paint the city white, install giant mirrors to deflect the sun’s rays back into space.  She’s all excited by the news that some whiz-kids have invented a panacea, a universal remedy for the climate’s ills.  The climate-fixers plan to throw a cocktail of chemicals up into the sky to prevent sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface.

Mumsy, you didn’t choose to take those drugs, but you were terminally ill, and it was your last chance, if not to get better, then to extend your life.

We’re in serious trouble here.  It’ll be a huge effort to turn things around.  Time is almost up on the clock and we need three converted tries to win.  Is it too late to apply sunblock to the planet?

We must try, even if we might fail, and even though planet-size fixes mean planet-sized risks.

There are things I know we know, and things I know we don’t know, yet the more we know, the more I know how little we know.  You know?

19 Oct 2033

Public Notice

Dilly Cards – the best little e-card company in the world – regrets to inform our respected customers that due to seawater inundation of our server room we are unable to deliver future-dated e-cards. 

We humbly ask our esteemed customers to try again soon at – we’ll be over this hiccup in a little while.

Super duper wishes from Sally and the rest of the team.

The game is nearly over.  It was hard, very hard in the beginning.  Even through to the end it’s tough, and the middle part was a balls-up.  It seems we broke down at the break-down.

Oh Mumsy.  Just like Mr Welby, the climate-fixers seduced us, but failed to save us.  They’ve red-carded the chemical cocktail, for offloading a hospital pass to a receiver molecule that collided with a heavy bunch of tacklers.  Ouch.  It caused ozone depletion and other unpredictable side-effects.  It’s unwinnable.  After a relentless attack to save the world’s coastal cities from submersion, we now risk ultra-violet mega-death.

If only we’d had a better game plan… if only.


I walked by a mirror today and saw you looking back at me.  It’s official… I’ve morphed into you; my posture, my hair, and even the way I think in rhyme.  Some of it’s horrid, some of it’s torrid, but I’ve had some laughs along the way.

Warming’s soared past 3 degrees, the sea laps at my door, and the army’s come to force me from the home that I adore.

Heatstroke took Julez; malaria killed my baby and left me with hospital bills, so I crept out of town, headed for Grub Hills without a sound.