Today marks the one year ‘death day’ of my friend Mr. George Duckett (1930-2012). I’d like to share with you a letter I wrote to his kind widow this past winter after I had learned of his passing.
Dear Mrs. Duckett,
My name is Chris Nolan. You don’t know me, but I knew your husband from the Douglas Snow swimming pool. I was very sorry to learn of his passing, and wanted to tell you I’ll miss him.
For the past six years I’ve been taking my children to the pre-school swim Wednesday mornings, which is the same time as the senior swim. Mr. Duckett’s regular locker was across the aisle from ours, and we would chat as we were getting changed (the kids take a long time to get ready, and he was no speed demon himself). I used to look forward to his stories he’d tell: of his youth near the coast, of his time working on boats, his travels around Australia, his siblings back home, your trip to Hawaii when your kids were small, your grand kids both near and far, and many more. The elf and Santa craft he made for the kids one Christmas still sit on a shelf in their bedroom keeping watch over them.
I regret not making an effort to keep in touch when he took his break from swimming last year for his hip surgery, and then during the summer the senior swim doesn’t run, and then Douglas Snow was closed for renovations in the fall, only to re-open last month. Some of the other gentlemen asked after him, and I tried to tell myself he just didn’t know the pool had reopened yet, but I finally braced myself and looked online only to learn of his death this past summer.
I didn’t want to reopen any wounds by sending such belated condolences, but I did want to tell you of our time together, and that I’ll be keeping “Papa Duck”‘s memory alive with my kids too.
If you are the operator of a motor vehicle, please remember it is a powerful machine that requires vigilance.