Tuesday, 21 June 2016
Last week one of my oldest friends 'bit the dust'. I'm eighty myself so I'm getting used to it. Still, it doesn't get any easier.
I attended his ninetieth birthday party in Saskatchewan a couple of years ago and when he picked me up at the airport, he seemed to me to have maintained that posture and briskness of manner that matched his precise British accent,
(Ever since she was a little girl my daughter said he reminded her of Roger Moore, of "The Saint" fame".)
We arrived in Canada with our families within weeks of each other when I was in my mid twenties and he was in his late thirties. We became more than friends, we became family. We were Uncle and Auntie to his children and vice versa. We joined a large clinic and as a new and inexperienced physician I frequently consulted with him and drew on his experience.
He has been a paratrooper in WW2, and was dropped in Norway, in time to participate in the liberation of that country from the Nazis. There he met his wife to be. He must have been all of nineteen. He was a modest man and although I had known him for many years it was only when I visited on this occasion that I extracted some of the stories of his war time activities,
He dealt with great tragedy in his life when his eldest son was hit by a car and damaged irretrievably.
He was an icon of an age when breeding and education mattered. He knew the classics, he knew music, he knew history.
We used to speak to each other regularly. He called me about a month ago, his voice no longer crisp and clear, and informed me that something had happened in the past week or so and he was afraid he would not be able to continue to live independently and look after himself. His greatest fear. I promised to keep in touch. Within a week, I heard from the family to tell me that he had shuffled off this mortal coil.
I shall miss him greatly,as will many others.