The quote that this blog takes its name from has become a recurring part of my life.
“I believe that the people and places are important, and what I learned from them is part of who I am today.”
The people are always important, and each and every person in my life really is part of who I am today.
Two days ago, I lost one of those people to cancer.
Nigel had known me for most of my life. Around 25 years, to be a little more precise. He and his wife are my Mum’s best friends.
The day I returned from Timor, he was having the second round of a new treatment that was his last hope. Instead of focusing on himself, he was offering to pick me up from the airport, and calling my Mum to make sure I arrived in one piece.
When I moved house earlier in the year, he turned up bright and early in the morning to help, without ever being asked.
Because he was just one of those people.
When I was a kid, Nigel was like a crazy, weird uncle to me. He wore long corduroy pants in winter, and corduroy shorts in summer; always paired with a brightly coloured shirt. He had funny hair and made jokes that I never quite understood.
As I grew up, he was still that crazy uncle. The one that kissed you on the lips instead of the cheek, that threw great parties and would always let you sneak a few boozy drinks, even though you were underage, and managed to crack you up at every opportunity he got.
He became the person I could count on to always be there. The person that would pop around for a drink and a sneaky cigarette if he was in the neighbourhood, even after I moved out of home. The person that was forever responsible for the disappearance of my lighters.
Nigel would always ask what was going on in my life, and genuinely listen to the answers. He would ask why I was single, why my mother was single, and always be on the lookout for someone to set either one of us up with.
I can’t remember a Christmas morning that didn’t start with a visit to Karen and Nigel’s house, where the champagne would start flowing well before 10am. I can’t imagine a Christmas without it now.
And through it all, the corduroy pants and crazy coloured shirts were there.
Nigel was, and will always be, special to everyone that knew him – his wife, his children, his extended family and his friends. We could all count on him to chime in with a “f**kin’ hell” when a story was being told, a look of bemusement and a “love” whenever someone (usually Karen) said something a little silly, and a myriad of things being described as “how’s ya mother”.
Our much-loved Nigel Williams died on Friday, June 21st, 2013 with his wife Karen, and his children, Casey and Buchanan, by his side. He was 58.
Nigel was one of my people; the people who have helped me become who I am today. The world will be a little less bright without him in it, but we were all lucky to have him in our lives, if only for a short while.