I would like to take this opportunity to render my sincere gratitude.
The brief note is in cursive script in a handwriting style I haven’t used since early university days – before massive notetaking corrupted my writing forevermore – and it is contained on a little commercial ‘Thank you’ card. I know no more about it than that.
What was I grateful for? I have no idea. I know now what I am grateful for as pertains to Dave, but I’m not sure what the deal was then.
The note, contained inside the double cover of a record album – Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – that I must have given to Dave as a further testament to my gratitude — for something.
It was sent to me by Dave’s wife, Janet (a dear friend of very long duration) last week. She has no idea what it means, either. She was doing a major housecleaning and happened upon it. And knowing how much I valued my friendship with Dave, she thought I’d like to have it.
Janet, you see, is not just Dave’s wife –she is his widow.
Dave died in the spring of 1981 in a tragic boat explosion in Vancouver Harbor. He and a number of other people were setting off on a scuba trip to BC’s Gulf Islands. The boat was fueling when the awfulness happened. He didn’t stand a chance.
I was living in England at the time and got a message, replete with newspaper clippings, from my late mother-in-law. It was one of those things in which, as a protective device, you enter a refusal-to-accept-reality denial mode. “How could that be? That couldn’t be? There’s a mistake. It’s somebody else. He was my friend. He had a young family. Etc. Etc. Etc.”
Dave was my friend. An absolutely cherished friend, and a man of integrity whom I respected hugely. He was a graduate engineer and a man who was impressively environmentally aware long before it became fashionable or trendy. He cared deeply about the ball of mud on which we live and did what he could to help out. He did a lot.
Dave was one of the most intelligent men I have ever known. But, he was more than that. He was my primo university friend and we had great times together. We drank a lot of beer, we ogled a lot of coeds and we had girlfriends (later our wives) who were old friends and across-the-street neighbors. It was all good.
Dave and I did a lot of things together. At the end of each summer we’d take a trip to Saltspring Island, ostensibly to fish (largely unsuccessfully) and mainly to drink a lot of beer and to just hang like cherished buddies do. The photo above is of Dave and that was on one of our fishing expeditions. We had a big simpatico and markedly similar senses of humor and we could put each other into tears-down-your cheek laughter. Not always ‘delicate’ humor, but always funny. To us at least.
After we graduated we both left the conurbation of Vancouver and headed off to smaller towns. But, we always kept in touch and saw each other at Christmas and other times for many years. We certainly never grew apart. Besties for life. You know.
Well, we’re still besties, in my esteem, but on a slightly different plane in his case.
A few weeks before his awful demise he sent me a chatty letter to my English residence. I always recall a quote of his in which he said: “I guess things are really shaking in Beccles and Bungay these days.” Beccles and Bungay were two small towns within the proximity of where we were in Great Yarmouth. I’d never heard of them before we moved there, and I’m sure most others have never heard of them, either.
But that was Dave. He would have taken the trouble to check out a map of ‘my’ area just so he could touch base with a bit of familiarity.
I know I’ll always miss him but in, I think, a healthy way and I am grateful for the few years I got with such a friend.