I hadn’t spoken to him for over 30 years, since we left Victoria College in Jersey, Channel Islands and I was too busy that day to acknowledge his endorsement. I was then away in Sydney on business and busy on my return, so I forgot to follow it up.
Yesterday morning, owing to the time zone difference and being eight hours ahead, I was probably one of the first to wish him a happy birthday when I saw the notification.
Last night though, another school friend sadly informed me that Derek never actually made it to his birthday, having already suffered a massive heart attack. He was only 50 years old.
So the lesson is that we don’t know how long we’ve got.
Therefore, my advice is don’t sweat the petty, trivial stuff that can so easily take over our lives.
I’m not saying be an anarchist! Do what you have to do of course.
What I am saying is ‘Do your best to be kind, be generous, live your life in a way that will inspire others and make each day count.’
At school, I remember that Derek suffered with a stutter and was initially ridiculed for it. I’m sure there were times when I took the mickey out of him too. Children can be more cruel than they intend or realise. He brushed it off but I’m sure it must have hurt him.
I do also remember being friends with him for a while though. I remember visiting his house during school holidays and he was a good guy from a good family. He usually wore a waistcoat and was slightly eccentric – a trait I admire!
We never fell out with each other – we simply drifted apart and I moved to Australia.
The funny thing is that once you got to know him, you didn’t really notice the stutter so much – you just noticed the person instead.
I’ll bet if you asked the guys who tormented him back then about this, on hearing of his premature demise, they might wish they had behaved differently back then. Hindsight is a great teacher.
Today’s memories are a product of decisions we made in the past. So what decisions are you making today that will shape your future?
In conclusion, R.I.P. Derek, thanks for ‘liking’ my page. I hope that you gained something from reading my posts. I’m glad that I knew you and my sincere condolences to your family.
It’s been a while since we left that noble school, yet we are still learning lessons from it.