You may remember that a few weeks ago we went to Knysna to celebrate Grandpa John's 80th Birthday. He was not well then, and since then has really been struggling. This morning he died peacefully, with his wife and son at his side.
The thing we will always think about, when we remember John, is the way he took us as his family the minute he married Max's mom. There was never any question of his kids and her kids, we were all just their kids. He was a true Patriarch, the father figure in the family. The one we all turned to at one time or another for help, advice, wisdom, or just a shoulder to cry on. Just last month, as Max was fighting for his life, and I was having a bit of a meltdown while waiting for news from the hospital, it was John I turned to for comfort and strength.
He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather (and even great grandfather) and also a true and loyal friend. His generosity is the stuff legends are made of, not only in actual material terms, but in the way he gave of himself, his time, his skills. Even though it was a real mission for him, he kept a motor boat for years, because he knew it was special to the grandchildren to go out on the lagoon in it. As a grandfather, he was a treasure. He was endlessly patient, teaching them (and often us too) life skills, manners, investment principles, and just good old integrity and decency. With him, it was not about telling people how they should be, but it was about him modelling it in how he was, and leading by example.
His humour and calmness were such a part of who he was. For us, the trip we did in his Kombi to Namibia, with him and Max's mom, a few years ago is a memory we will always treasure. After Max's mom died in 2004, he was very lonely, and had been told by doctors that his heart was in failure, and that he could have no further bypasses. From a medical point of view, he was basically living on borrowed time. He fell in love with Yvonne, and we are grateful to her for the love she brought into John’s life at a time when he was so sad. It took a lot of courage for her, knowing his health status, to still agree to marry him and make the best of the time that was left to him. We really believe that the love they had for each other gave him a new lease on life, and meant that we all had the joy and privilege of having him around a bit longer.
Some people pass through life and leave barely a ripple. When one looks at the positive effect that John had on so many lives, and the rich memories we have of him, John really made his mark.
Bye grandpa John, you will be deeply missed.