Tomorrow I farewell a very good friend of mine. He’s not a long-time friend, we only met in 2005. He’s not my BEST friend, I’ve been around a wee bit long for him to be that. But he’s definitely a friend.
My wife and I decided to move to The Coast a few years ago when I retired, and thus took up residence in, for us, a brand-new part of the country. I’d holidayed here a couple of times, and the missus had spent a couple of nights here. We arrived unheralded and thought the process of assimilation could take some time, but being retired that wasn’t a problem, time was something I figured we had. Within days of being here, and through my game of choice we met a bunch of locals, and all made us welcome. One of those was Pat. Our initial contact was interesting to the extent that he was a member of an outfit called “The Syndicate” and I’d made a comment about another member of The Syndicate’s suggestion regarding post-game haggle (another story). But the upshot was that Pat and I met.
I won’t repeat what advice Pat received about me from the Syndicate member I had played with that day but suffice it to say Pat thought the advice was worthy of not outright dismissal. We had a couple that evening, and once or twice over the next month or so we actually played the game together, shared the after-match tipples, and got to be a wee bit more than just passing acquaintances. As luck would have it I was good enough to be selected for provincial representative duties later that year, as was Pat (he’d been a part of the team for some years, and thereby hang A LOT of tails/tales!!) So we traveled away together and the initial casual friendship was cemented into something more.
The game will always be the focus for us, but we grew our friendship, (my wife and I with his wife and him) and enjoyed some great dinners together at his place or mine. He loved being a BBQ ‘chef’ and wasn’t at all bad at producing some pretty presentable steaks. The sad thing was that he used the BBQ as an opportunity to have a smoke or two, Linda not allowing the smelly habit to be carried out inside. He wasn’t a particularly adventurous cook but he never disappointed. We generally followed the meal with a few, and after wine with dinner, beer wasn’t appropriate so we normally had a couple of convivial rums. Pat was a cracker for ‘things’ and a few years ago he came across a bowser carousel that looked pretty good, so he bought one! I only mention this because you might get the impression that when the top came off the bottle it only toook a couple of pours to finish it!! We assiduously measured each pour from the bowser. That’s not to say he didn’t measure more than one at a time!
Most of the various ‘adventures’ I went on over the past few years have included Pat (or should I say included me?) and he was always a lot of fun. I never heard him take a crack at anyone, have a bad thing to say about anyone, suggest that anyone was unworthy of this or than. Pat was a guy who came from ‘ordinary’ stock and as a consequence recognised the value of hard work, something he did all of his adult life. He was not well educated being a fella who had little time for school when he was there. Once he’d left, however he realised that life doesn’t just present you with stuff, you have to earn it. And earn it, he did. When I met him he was a successful businessman having established a coast-wide carpet and tiling business that dominated the local market. Although the owner Pat still laid carpet himself- he had to stay busy! Sadly at the time of his passing Pat was in the process of easing himself out of the working life and was in negotiations to sell his business to one of the national concerns. I sincerely hope that his widow isn’t taken advantage of carrying these negotiations through to a successful conclusion!
Pat also got himself involved in a wide variety of things. He was a valued committee member at the golf club and served a period as President. He was a keen coach of young sports players- golf, league, boxing and such (all sports he was keenly involved in himself at various times in his life). He loved his years of jet-boating and served the community well during the devastating floods of the early 90s when the town center was flooded to the level of first floor balconies, using his boat to save people trapped in flooded buildings. Pat was a guy who selflessly got involved.
As well as not having Pat around any more I have a few regrets that arise out of the ‘don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow’ habit. Pat had never trout-fished with a fly and as this is one of my passions I was determined to introduce him to this and ‘get him hooked’ on this pass-time. I knew this was going to be a bit of a challenge as Pat and the very liesurely nature of trout-fishing were not truly suited, but when you’re on a beautiful, pristine New Zealand river amongst natural bush in gin-clear water, anything is possible!
I also regret not completing our tramp to the top of Mount French, one of the peaks behind Lake Brunner, not far from home. He’d hunted here frequently in the past, and he wanted to introduce me to HIS playground. Pat loved his hunting and every year he secured hunting rights to two blocks that he’s use during ‘the roar’, that time of the year when the stags are at their aggressive best and presented fantastic stalking options, especially along ‘the tops’, and in the valleys leading down into the lush South Island bush. It was delightful last evening when Pat’s son told me that his wife had placed in the coffin with Pat a couple of furry chamois place-mats that Pat was very proud of, but which Linda couldn’t stand! (The best option for both of them!)
A few years ago Pat suffered a fall after a brain seizure and this limited his activity to a great degree. He wasn’t able to hunt, he’d not even been in the bush since the fall. His golf suffered but he was working his way down the handicap rankings again by virtue of his dedication and determination, but he was no longer part of the rep scene and we missed him on the away trips.
As previously mentioned we have a social group called ‘The Syndicate’ that was formed many years ago by Pat and a few of his cronies to generate some camaraderie and friendly rivalry (which involed quiet wagers and a wee bit of the liquid amber). The Syndicate reguarly takes wee trips as a group and have fun and enjoy each other’s company on other golf courses, and in the evenings that followed. This was another activity that Pat hadn’t been able to continue of late and we are going to find it difficult to resolve ourselves to the fact that he’ll never be on these trips again. I do know, however that he will always be part of them. How could you forget a guy who, among other things, danced naked on the bar of the hotel the team were staying at?
As life goes on we all lose the ones we love but accepting the inevitability of this doesn’t make it any easier. Pat was a guy who loved life, and one who brought a lot of joy to others. He will always be remembered around here with a huge amount of respect and affection.
Rest easy, my friend. Do what you can to organise a large trout for me next time I’m out.