I didn’t think it could get any worse, but another friend has gone, this time with gall bladder cancer and it only took 5 weeks from diagnosis.
We joined the RAF together 50 years ago in January. We were hoping to get a 50th Anniversary meal for all of us who joined up together in place, for sometime on 2018. My friend was a nice gentle man in every sense and had retired with a couple of pensions to enjoy a peaceful life after work. But it was not to be and as I understand it, he contracted one of the rarest cancers, with deaths in the high hundreds per year rather than say prostate cancer where 25 men a day die of that.
We went to his funeral, and it was another very sad occasion, but I met up with 3 old comrades. Again it brings into sharp focus one’s own mortality. As someone famous (I think it was Robert dear Niro) said, nobody gets out alive, we’re all born to die, there’s nothing as sure as death and taxes. BUT none of us expects it it or is necessarily prepared for it or wants to embrace that final segment of one’s life. Life is pretty random, some smoke, drink and eat fat and STILL live until they are 90+. Others keep fit, eat sensibly, don’t drink or smoke and still die before they’ve retired. Life in this respect is also unfair, you never know when you’re going to struck down with a dibillitating disease, or worse, incurable cancer or similar. It’s so unfair; but who ever said life was fair? But the funeral was, if it can be said, lovely. It lasted an hour and was presented by a vicar in a church who gave a great eulogy for our friend. Afterwards we went to the local pub and talked about old times, Ivor, life now and a myriad of other subjects. We may only see each other every ten years or so, but we can gossip like nothing when we get a chance to meet. Life has been pretty good to the lads today since we all know we’re within a year in age of each other, and can discuss things that might not be in another group or context having that bond which tied us together for two years back in the 60s as apprentices, and continues to this day.
So, farewell old friend, we will miss you terribly at our 50th anniversary in 2018 (coincidentally the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force), and we’ll raise a glass to remember absent friends. Who would have thought those callow 16 and 17 year olds from so long ago would still be meeting up 50 years later?