Debts are not often considered good. We tend to think of them in relation to how much we owe, who we owe them to, when they’re due for payment, and then whether we can repay them.
David was an exceptional man. He came into our lives when I was a teenager. My brother and I were competitive swimmers and as such used to travel up and down the country for competitions. During one of those trips my brother was billeted with David’s family in Christchurch. A connection was made which was to become a lifelong one.
The hospitality was returned when David’s children traveled north for swim meets and our parents became firm and very dear friends. They even went on shopping trips for antiques, and on overseas holidays together. They were in constant contact, sharing laughter, some hilarious escapades and tears.
Dave and Doreen and their seven children (including young wives and a fiance) flew up for my wedding the day before they ALL went on a european trip together. It was no trouble!
When my father died, and then my mother a few years later, David stepped in to the massive breach and took on the role of father to me and grandfather to my children – despite having about 17 of his own! No family was too big for him … his arms were wide, his reach was long and his heart was massive.
When they came to visit us from time to time, he would arrive at the door with a huge box of delicious fresh fruit – grapes were a favorite – and then would arrange them carefully and beautifully in our fruit bowl. He would step back and marvel at the beauty of the fruit – each piece had been chosen with particular care – no bruising – they were perfect.
He would gather my children in his lap and whisper lovely memories about their grandparents in their ears. He would tell them how much their grandparents (Adam and Margaret) would have loved them. He would tell them how special they were and how much he and Doreen loved them. Doreen would do the same. I remember my eyes welling as we bathed their warmth.
My kids adored them.
Dave’s generosity knew no bounds. My mother had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and was fulfilling one of her dreams in doing a course at the Royal School of Needlework in London. I had two small children and little income. My heart was breaking at the thought of my beloved Mum going all that way on her own, knowing that her time was limited, suffering from excrutiating headaches and overwhelming tiredness.
David helped me get there. How could I ever repay him.
“You don’t have to repay me Rossi, just do the same for someone else when you can.”
Dave died last year aged 80. This precious photo of him was taken when visiting Christchurch several months before his death. I am so lucky to have known him – to have experienced his love and warmth and his fine example.
I’ve recalled his words often over the years. I haven’t forgotten …
I consider his answer best debt and hope that I return it many times over during my life.