Thursday, September 28, 2006

Farewell to a true friend

I am afraid that today's diary entry lacks the light-hearted tone of previous postings. It is with great sadness that I relay news of Joe McCarthy's death. Larry rang me this morning to pass on this bolt from the blue, and I know that sincere condolensces will be offered to her, to Iris and to Grant by all who read this. Joe has been such a marvellous friend to us all.

In retrospect, Brief's win at Haydock last Friday becomes all the more special. The occasion has turned out to have been the last on which I saw this dear friend, and I am so glad that it was such a happy day. If I had been told then that he would be dead within a week, I would not have believed it, but apparently his great heart failed while he slept, and I pray that he died in peace and without pain or fear.

I was travelling across New Zealand on a bus around fifteen years ago when I heard a feature on the radio about the anniversary of a tragedy in that country in which several lives had been lost the previous year. A phrase used by one of the bereaved stuck in my mind: "Never leave it too late to tell someone you love them". I'm afraid that I have left it too late to tell Joe just how much I valued and appreciated his friendship, so the best I can do is to put my thoughts on record here, and pray that his spirit can read them. I do, though, hope that he knew how I felt anyway.

Over the past nine years, Joe and Iris have become more like second parents to me than mere close friends. At various times, both have found themselves in conversations with strangers in which it became apparent that the stranger had assumed that I was their son. We have laughed about these incidents because they are funny, but I have also enjoyed relating the stories because I have been proud to be seen as being so close to two such lovely people. Joe had become far more than a good friend and valued, loyal and supportive patron; he and Iris have been like family to me, so that the unspoken knowledge of having their moral, emotional and practical support has been a rock of comfort to me. Probably the most important thing in life is the small number of true friends that one makes, people that one knows one could count on whatever the circumstances, and Joe has been a true friend not just to me, but to all involved in this stable.

Joe was the true gentleman, invariably kind, generous and caring. His natural decency, friendliness and intelligence meant that he fitted in immediately anywhere he went, and I never met anyone who met him without immediately taking to him. His pride in and love of his family was total and obvious, and our thoughts are with Iris, Larry and Grant as they bid farewell to a very special husband and father. It has been a privilege to have known Joe and to have called him a friend. He will never be forgotten.

1 comment:

Stato-man said...

Very sad indeed Wath. But a beautifully written tribute.
I am glad you introduced him and Iris and Larry to us two years ago and it was lovely to have met Joe and enjoyed a Melb Cup carnival with him. Not much more one can say other than deepest sympathy to all the family and given that this has happened, I am glad you both enjoyed the wonderful years of friendship you did. May Brief Goodbye power on for his spirit.