06/07/1982 – 21/11/2015
I’ve set to sea in a storm.
Gideon once asked me – “How do you want to be remembered?” and today; I pass the same question unto you.
Early on in life, the fortunate among us will meet the most important people we will ever meet – those who will form the cornerstones and foundations which we will one day build our adult selves upon. These key individuals teach us how to think, how to behave, how to feel. Through the darkest of nights, they keep us safe and sane; they help us weather every storm, big or small. No matter what happens, you know they’re out there – your anchors – keeping you upright when the waves come crashing down. The anchor holds – in spite of the storm.
I’ve set to sea in a storm.
And now, one of my anchors is gone.
From him, I learnt that the strongest people are not those who show strength in front of others, but those who win battles we know absolutely nothing about. Every single day, in petty, unattractive little ways.
He taught me that being your true self, no sugar-coating, was the only way to stay sane in this world. Because there are people out there who might not like you, or understand you, and if you let that bother you it will eat you alive and you will die a million deaths before they plant you.
He taught me how to pick my friends, he helped me set the bar.
He taught me the value of lost ethics, such as loyalty and tradition, things scarcely found in the day-to-day trenches of today’s adult life. He took his hat off when he shook your hand – it’s something I’ve never seen another person do before.
Gideon was a breed apart, a wild man with a massive heart and a genuine interest in his fellow human beings. He paid attention when you thought he wasn’t listening. He called a spade a shovel. You had to be made out of iron to keep up with him. Some part of you had to be cut from the same wild cloth as he.
I sometimes worry that there won’t be many people at his funeral.
Gideon believed that all good eulogies are delivered by the critics – those who focused on all the great accomplishments you could have achieved but didn’t.
I could tell you many stories today, funny stories, sad stories – stories so bizarre you may never believe them to be true. I could tell you about how we wore a dead man’s clothing once, or how we took corners on two wheels coming home one drunken night. Reckless, fearless… I could tell you he was a gambling man, and that he hated dogs. I could tell you – Gideon was a lonely man – a misunderstood man – and I could tell you about how none of this affected his personality. I could tell you how we often lost ourselves at the bottom of a whiskey bottle – or how twice a year, on his birthday and on mine, no matter where we were in the world, Jack and Lime was the order of the day. I could tell you how he pushed me to succeed in the things I care about – how he despised watching talented people do nothing with their gifts. I could tell you about how he tested my patience.
I could tell you he was a god-fearing man, and an upstanding contribution to society, but then I would be lying. Gideon had no social manners whatsoever; he was brazen, tactless and unashamed. He often lived out there on the outskirts of decency. He had no filter, no mute-button, no brakes. You may not be able to see him right now – but I can. He’s the guy sitting right at the back, smoking a cigarette and ashing upon the floors.
But there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
Birds born in a cage may think of flying as an illness.
Gideon chose to soar.
I will, however, put it to you on this miserable morning – that no matter what people thought of him, no matter how he behaved or spoke – at least he was genuine. He cared enough to tell it like it is, whether that truth agreed with your sensitive sensibilities or not.
Again – I will ask, “How do you want to be remembered?”
When I think of Gideon – I remember how his mother gave us both Mohawk haircuts one day. I remember red wine and late night FIFA competitions. I remember how he always got us home safely. I remember how he made himself at home, anywhere. I remember, he was the only person allowed to smoke in my house. I remember his laugh, so full of power and compassion. I can hear him say “Weet jy nie hoe om n donderse foon te antwoord nie?” when I open the front door at six in the morning – and he’d be standing there with a big grin on his face.
I remember the many little rooms he haunted. I remember how he lived on the bare minimum. I remember, if he were ever to get married – he’d be wearing a white tuxedo. I remember his walk, a slanted swagger which spoke of haste and determination – to get where he wanted to be, right now. I remember his impatience and irritation toward a world which spun a lot slower than he’d prefer.
He was one of my best friends, and one of the finest men I have ever known.
His absence will leave a massive Gideon-shaped hole in all of our hearts – one that will never be filled – because somewhere up there, the great powers which keep this universe rolling on only had enough wild cloth to cut one person of his stripe from.
There will never be another human being as he.
Those blueprints have been lost.
And when you’re gone, you’re gone forever. You only live once. Live exactly how you want to be remembered As a hooligan, as a mad man, as one of the last remaining real human beings. What he left behind will long be carried with us in our memories. What he chose to leave behind is for us. For our grief. For our healing. For our comfort.
The most important thing my friend Gideon taught me is this; If you want to leave a mighty footprint, don’t drag your feet.
I will miss you dearly my friend.
Res Ipsa Loquitur – Let the good times roll.