Events have caught up with me, and we have lost a very dear friend recently. It was expected, but that doesn’t make the pain and sorrow any less. Because of the way I felt, I wrote this when our friend was still with us – just!
“The good die young!” What a dreadful saying that is, but how often does it seem to be true, and more so now than in earlier times, when 60 was considered old, unlike today!
Jacqui and I are going through the trauma of watching a great friend of ours, fighting the final battle of his life and he’s only 69, a time when he should be looking forward to many more years of happiness with his family, and his friends, instead of sadly fading away before our eyes.
That saying is all too true in more ways than one — “the good die young” has a particular pertinence to it when thinking of our friend; he has been an active and hardworking Rotarian for many years, involved in many large projects designed to make life better for those around him, plus the little things, like standing outside Woolworth’s on a cold winter’s morning selling sausages to raise funds for the bigger projects! He is also a magnificent guitarist, who played professionally for many years, recently formed his own group from local talent, and performed regularly with them, right up until just a few weeks ago, when he finally had to admit he no longer had the stamina to continue. But his skill and energy means that there is now one more set of very skilled musicians who I hope will carry on the good work he started, for a long time to come.
There is so much more one can say about our friend. He is one of those people who everyone loves, his personality glows like the pure white of his hair and he is always noticed when he walks into a room, without having to do anything to draw attention to himself. He has always, in the three or four years I have known him, been cheerful and witty, ready for a laugh or a jape at any time, making people feel at home in his presence and encouraging good cheer in them as well. You just couldn’t be miserable when he was around!
Another of his accomplishments was to form a loose sort of men’s club, which meets for lunch at his home once a week, to enjoy a bite to eat and a couple of hours of friendly chat, in his dining room or his verandah, depending on the weather and the time of year. There are about a dozen members in all (I am proud to be one of them!), and they belong to all walks of life from a farmer to a shop worker, an artist to a cabinet maker, some still working, some retired. We don’t drink alcohol (not that any of us are against it!), but we do tuck a lot of very good food away, most likely to the detriment of our waistlines, but the social contact energises all of us!
As you will no doubt have guessed, our friend is in the last stages of cancer, the dreadful disease that has now attacked his bones, after he has fought off attacks on his prostate, his throat and several other parts of his body over the past 10 years. He has fought his battle with humour and courage, each time going into remission due to his efforts, as much as anything else.
He has now been hospitalised for several days, sadly with no prospect of coming out of there again, though the staff there are doing all they can to keep him as comfortable as they can, and his family and friends are with him continuously as well. It’s now just a matter of waiting.
As I said, our friend has, sadly, passed away. All one can say at a time like this is that at least his pain and suffering are now over, and he can rest in peace – goodbye, old friend!