Saturday, May 17, 2008

On Monday

I go to a friend's funeral.

Pete had ridden a motor bike since he was legally old enough to do so. I seem to remember a broken leg as a result of a previous accident, but he was experienced enough to know how to handle a bike properly.

A week last Friday I spent an evening with two girl friends who I have known since school. We chatted about who had seen Pete recently, and there was general agreement about what a great bloke he was. We said goodbye to each other about quarter to the exact same time as Pete was coming off his bike.

A lorry driver saw his bike in a dyke (ditch for those unfamiliar with Lincolnshire terms), and called the police. Pete was already dead. There were no clues as to what could have happened to cause this.

On the Wednesday he had been taken ill where he worked at a sea front stall where he and his dad before him sold buckets and spades, and other essentials for a day on the beach. An ambulance was called - he thought he was having a heart attack. The hospital thought not and he went home. Maybe he was taken ill again whilst riding his bike, but at this moment that is just speculation.

Before I try and say how I felt about Pete here are a few tributes others have made already:

It was only a few weeks ago that we had the family come and stay with us and it was a delight to have a proper catch up after a long time of only 'snatching quick hello's' at Skegness sea front. Pete was on perfect form that evening; sharing his passion for life, his family, travelling experiences and his biking with me. I remember thinking at the time that this was a man who had got it right; a good man with good values and good intentions. A great role model. I can only hope that by knowing Pete some of his 'magic' has rubbed off on me and I can get close to being the father, husband and man that he was. P.L

Peter was always a warm-hearted, open and extremely generous friend, and his positive nature and love of life were infectious and an inspiration. He was also very talented and active in many fields - as an artist, teacher, sportsman or in business, he always gave himself wholeheartedly, and was successful because of it. Perhaps my fondest memories of him are seeing him at home with his family. Few fathers could have been so loving, and his family were always his priority. Peter was a wonderful man. C.T.

Pete was one of those genuinely nice guys you rarely find. Always the big personality in the room and one of the first to offer help if it were needed.J.M.

It was always a joy to bump into him in Skegness because he was the kind of person who was always very pleased to see you.
He always had a smile on his face and he really was one of the warmest and giving people that I have ever had the pleasure to meet.
I actually saw him in town only a few weeks ago and his enthusiasm for life and for people shone through and five minutes with Pete would always guarantee a smile. S.S.

Bill Hight, living in Augusta, Georgia, USA, wrote: "I am writing from America, stunned and saddened to learn about Peter's death.
I came to know Peter through his former classmate, Nigel Smith of Skegness, who also died too young.
Peter visited twice in the US when Nigel and I were both students in North Carolina.
The first time, Peter and Richard, a travelling pal, bought a rusting, old Volvo -- barely intact -- and drove off laughing to explore America from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
And then, a few years later he visited with Lindsay. I recall the spirit and joy he and Lindsay brought--an energy as bright as their blonde hair.Watching the two of them befriend and charm people everywhere we went is still a vivid memory for me.
His kindness and full engagement with life were still tangible when I visited with him and Lindsay in Skegness later on."

Bill who I have quoted above was for many years the partner of my other friend Nigel who died two years ago. The person who helped Nigel's mum arrange his funeral was Pete.

Pete had the knack of making any person he spoke to feel like they were the most important person in his world. Whether it was old ladies, small children, bored teenagers, whoever he spoke to he made them feel special. Right now I am trying not to think about how I will never see his smile light up an entire room again, and instead try to concentrate on the thought that I was lucky to have been able to call such a wonderful man my friend.


The Fatalist said...

It's always wonderful to read a post like that. I mean it!
It's a bit of a cliche in death to say that the nice people always die young, but when you read moving tributes like those you realise' the wonderfulness' in the post is realsing what sepcial people some people are. If by reading about them after they die they can inspire some of us to be better people then some sort of good comes out of it.

I've recently been involved in a Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' Team match against a team we never knew, as a benefit for a player of theirs who collapsed and died at a game, and who we never had never met. Meeting his family, and reading tributes to him, is very humbling, and makes it an honour to almost have known him, if that makes sense.

Memories of your friends will see you through, if you find the need to shed a tear then do so, but remember to laugh & smile as you remember them. He wouldn't have wanted anything else.

Thinking of you.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

I think it is the finality of death that distresses us most: the 'never again'-ness of possibility, company, friendship. But as long as the memories they stirred - and such comments and recollections are these are recorded - there will always be something of them (perhaps the most important part) that will live on: their ability to touch other people's lives.

Thinking of you.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

How lovely that your friend Pete leaves so many positive memories in his wake - memories of someone who clearly loved life and made the most of it. I am sure that recollections of him will enrich many lives in future times. He may not have built a skyscraper or written a chart-topping song but by the sound of it, he made his mark nonetheless.

trousers said...

That's a fine tribute, and I hope that the funeral can bring out other such memories of this man and what he brought to life and to the lives of others.

My best wishes to you too x

Karen said...

That was a beautiful post JJ, I'm so sorry that you've lost such a good friend. It sounds like he will be much missed by many people and I hope that you will be able to help each other through this difficult time.

J.J said...

Thank you everyone. Can't answer individually as I am bit emotional right now.