“To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
…” – The Byrds
Really? Really? Really?
“A time to die”… perhaps, but not too soon. Not too young. Not too early.
Is there a time to die? Is there a ‘right’ age? I’ve been fortunate to meet and count amongst my friends septuagenarians, octogenarians and nonagenarians that put me to shame. Some play bridge better than I ever will. Some go on walking holidays in Europe. Some cross-country ski and in the summer climb mountains. All of them can recall trips, adventures or stories to tell to entertain for hours. They have an ever expanding number of friends and travel the world in style and with flair.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that some people might say that they’ve ‘had a good innings’ or ‘did well’… but for them their lives aren’t over, they haven’t finished yet (and you’d get a wallop for even suggesting it!).
For some people the time may be right. Mum was ready to leave us. The day she passed away peacefully at home with my brother and I at her side, a package arrived at my home from Dignitas in Switzerland that Mum had said I should get, just in case. She didn’t want to suffer pain any more, she didn’t want to disappear further, she didn’t want to become yet more dependent, she feared losing the ability to communicate but she didn’t fear death.
Today a large group of family, friends, colleagues, employees, pub locals, school friends, band members etc etc gathered outside a crematorium in Berkshire. The sun was shining and the skies were blue. The congregation looked shocked and bewildered when the hearst came to a stop and there was silence as we filed in to the crematorium confused as to why we were all here… so soon, so early.
Only a few weeks ago Rob was diagnosed with bowel cancer. He didn’t tell many people. Once again he demonstrated how private he could be. He believed that he’d have a little surgery and it’d be OK. He knew he could overcome it. So for most of us it was a shock to receive a call/email/text to tell us the news. After all he was young and wasn’t ill!
The opening sentences, the tributes, eulogies and farewells told a similar story. Rob had been a private person but a hugely loyal friend. He would never have let anyone go without and would, whenever he could, help a friend. He had a crazy sense of humour, irreverent to the last and slightly ‘off-centre’ too! His ‘style’ had always been the same since his teenage years – jeans, ankle boots, denim shirt, battered ‘smelly’ leather jacket and a baseball cap. I’m not sure I ever saw him in anything else… well maybe the once when he was best man at Gav & Lou’s wedding. He had a laugh like mutley and a grin that always seemed broader than his face. He was always to be found in the kitchen at parties and the last one to retire to bed. He’d bring his guitar, some beer, his mouthorgan would be in his top pocket and usually have some smokes in another pocket.
I think everyone has similar memories and stories that couldn’t be told in the crematorium but that filled the pub afterward with laughter and joy.
His place remained in the pub today. His favourite chair draped with his ‘smelly’ leather jacket. His Bacardi and coke poured out and ready for his arrival (usually at 10.20pm each day).
You shall be missed by so many. Thank you Rob for being in our lives.