What Was It All About?

My twenties felt like an explosion of fun, discovery, and angst. I loved the freedom and the friendships, but I struggled with the life plan. In the back of my mind there was a lingering question. How was this all going to work? Where exactly was this path leading me? What was it all about? There were times when I was desperate for someone to just tell me what to do next, but the truth was that I wasn’t really listening.

I’ve had friends who I’ve known all of my life, but my twenties had me landing in the middle of a group who had joined together in the haphazard way that youth permits. We were like links in a chain. Someone went to school with someone who went to University with someone else. Someone lived with someone’s cousin, someone kissed someone at a party. We found ourselves standing together often. We waved each other off overseas. We got in trouble together, scrutinized each others romantic choices and discussed the meaning of life as only twenty-somethings can. There were parties to celebrate achievements, pictures of togas and cross dressing, we were drunk and silly often. We sat together in cars on road trips, shared houses, slept on couches and managed to disagree vehemently while remaining friends. We giggled over stories of each other’s families, we knew the names of each other’s parents.


I was sitting in the car last week when I received an email letting me know Simon’s father had passed away. G and I had seen Simon at Christmas and he’d spoken of his father’s illness and his visits home to see him. Over the years I’d only seen Simon’s father once or twice, but he was spoken about often. He was never “Simon’s Dad”, he was always “Hector”, a fabulous name that was always said with a familiar twinkle in Simon’s eye. You know how people speak of twinkles in eyes? My friend Simon almost has a permanent twinkle. He looks perpetually naughty. A little bit David Duchovny. Simon’s an attractive guy and although there were periods of singledom in his youth, he was seldom lonely. Before moving to Sydney Simon floated between London and Australia, and when he rejoined the group each time his mischievous twinkle seemed to say follow me, this’ll be fun. Many did, and it always was. I think we all have a Simon story and each one has a theme of overwhelming generosity and a good laugh. 


I was standing in Oxford Street in London a few years ago, Simon was in town and we arranged to meet for dinner. He’d picked a landmark for us to meet, and as I stood in a sea of peak hour, foot traffic, I questioned his choice of venue. There seemed to be a constant herd of people walking towards me, I couldn’t work out how we were going to find each other. I stood searching through a mass of bobbled heads on hurried bodies, and then locked on to those mischievous eyes. There in the middle of the crowd was the grin and the twinkle. Immediately a cold and busy street became a place of warmth and imminent fun. This is the power of old friends.


I read Simons email through tears, his explanation of Hector’s life was sincere and beautiful. It was the last line and the attached photo that left its mark, it made me think of Simon and why he’s the friend, father and husband he is:


This is the way I remember Dad, the great man that could do no wrong and could do everything.


There were two pictures of Hector attached, one as I remembered him, an older man with similarities to Simon. The other picture, a much older photograph, could have been Simon. A tall good looking man standing next to a horse with working dogs at his feet. He looked young and fit, the epitome of someone who had their life ahead of them. I wondered who Hector’s friends were in his twenties, how his life differed from ours. If he wondered what it was all about and the path he was on. Could he even begin to fathom that he would have children who would be so desperately proud of him. That he would be loved with such intensity.


The great man who could do no wrong and could do everything.


Where the path is leading us is inconsequential, it’s the footprints and impact we make along the way. Family, friendships, and a twinkle in the eye – I think that might be what it’s all about. Well done Hector. Nicely played.





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