South Otago contracting business Cross Agriculture will stop trading tomorrow and hold a clearing sale next week. Shawn McAvinue talks to Georgia Redshaw about her late fiance’s battle with cancer and his love for his family, work and tractors.
Although she expects a clearing sale of a South Otago agricultural contracting firm to be ‘‘horrible’’, Georgia Redshaw plans to be there to honour the memory of her much-loved fiance, Joseph Cross.
Joseph ‘‘Moss’’ Cross died on September 12 last year, eight weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.
He was 36 years old.
His funeral was held soon after the couple celebrated the first birthday of their daughter Breeana.
Mr Cross felt a lump near his navel in July last year, Miss Redshaw said.
‘‘I couldn’t feel it but he could. He was feeling fine, he just thought he ate too much dinner at my mum’s.’’
Two days later, she called Clutha Health First in Balclutha and was told it was a probably a hernia and he could wait to be seen by a doctor weeks later.
After telling Clutha Health First she wanted a second opinion, she was told she would need to take him to the Dunedin Urgent Doctors.
‘‘The GP there was amazing. She said ‘it doesn’t feel good to me and you need to go the emergency department at Dunedin Hospital right now’ and we got rushed straight in.’’
On the same day, a doctor at Dunedin Hospital told them a CT scan had revealed he had a stomach cancer and it was terminal.
‘‘We came home and spent the weekend crying.’’
On the Monday, they were told the diagnosis had been changed to a treatable appendix cancer, pseudomyxoma peritonei.
However, in the week following the new diagnosis, his stomach started to ‘‘blow up’’ and get tight.
‘‘He was in so much pain.’’
Over the following weeks, he began vomiting and was admitted to Dunedin Hospital and given morphine.
The family was flown in an air ambulance to Hamilton, where doctors drained fluid from his stomach and surgery revealed he had a rare and aggressive cancer, signet ring cell carcinoma of the appendix, which was mutating.
A surgeon in Hamilton told Miss Redshaw that Mr Cross could expect to live for a week.
In the ward, she waited for Mr Cross to wake from the anaesthesia to tell him the ‘‘worst news ever’’.
‘‘He knew straight away.’’
The family was flown back to Dunedin Hospital days before his death.
More than 500 people attended his funeral at the South Otago Town & Country Club in Balclutha.
His coffin featured images of some of the fleet of tractors of his contracting business Cross Agriculture.
‘‘He is so nice, you could not meet someone nicer — I don’t think he had a single enemy.’’
Mr Cross invited her on a date and picked her up in his father’s late model Holden Commodore about a decade ago.
He drove her to Dunedin for a movie and a meal.
‘‘We’ve been together ever since.’’
The couple got engaged in Fiji nearly four years ago and had planned to get married in April this year.
Mr Cross was raised in Balclutha by father Neville ‘‘Springer’’ Cross, who started Cross Agriculture.
Aged 14, Joseph left South Otago High School to work for his father full-time as a tractor driver at Rocklands Station near Middlemarch, which was owned by the Cross brothers.
The father and son shared a love of Case tractors and classic cars, especially Chrysler Valiants.
Neville died in October 2020 and Joseph became the sole operator of Cross Agriculture.
‘‘Joseph was amazing, he loved his job and was loved by his clients.’’
Miss Redshaw thanked tractor driver Jackson Lowry for continuing to work hard for Cross Agriculture during the difficult time, and her brother-in-law Craig McKenzie and Mr Cross’ friend Jade Unahi for helping Mr Lowry keep the business running.
She thanked her friends and family for their continued support during the tough time.
The memory of Mr Cross was being kept alive in many ways.
She and Breeana both had matching necklaces, featuring an impression of his thumbprint.
In their home were several pictures of him, as there had always been, she said.
‘‘I’ve always been obsessed with him.’’
A teddy bear was being made for Breeana from some of her father’s favourite work shirts.
Miss Redshaw had written a children’s book about him for Breeana to read one day.
Cross Agriculture will stop trading tomorrow and a clearing sale featuring a range of machinery including vintage and new tractors, will be held at 1pm on a farm on Clinton Highway on Thursday next week.
She would attend the clearing sale but expected it to be ‘‘horrible’’, she said.
‘‘If I can’t handle it, I’ll go home, but I’ll try.’’