I knew my elder brother was ill but the news of his death this morning came as a very real shock, not just family-wise but also to personal planning and to that place where we store the expectations of life, right into the inner sanctuary where stowed are the prospects of our own likely time on the planet.
|Brothers ... An old family shot of Peter (standing) before the illness struck, with brother Steve (far left), Peter, my father, my father's brother Tony, and brother Chris.|
I wanted to explore the world out there - the oceans - and he seemed happier to explore the ways of society, of people, on land.
Adventurous and daring, not distracted by a lack of funds, he founded the first children’s newspaper in New Zealand, Junior Kiwi, and the very first Sunday newspaper, which he had as a giveaway in the days before giveaways became normal.
I helped with both projects. I was editor, labourer, lifter of great stacks of newspapers, the deliverer. We manned the phones, no magic of mobiles in those days, and yours truly also acted as a full-time reporter, and helping him with all that went with getting the projects to the public.
We were Poms. The family had emigrated to New Zealand when we were children.
|Peter as a father ... Well into the disorder which robbed him of life, Peter is consoled by his wife.|
Peter seemed to feel at home almost instantly. Something of a magnetic nature reached out from Britain for me, and in early adulthood, I returned home, as it seemed to me.
Peter wrote powerfully and insistently about injustice when I was subjected to a corrupt trial.
A great following
When I was released in 2007, he spoke of a desire for a website that could prompt consciences about failings in society.
I helped get it launched and did the coding and web development and sub-editing.
His drive and good intentions encouraged well-established writers like John Northcott to contribute regularly. He had a great following, but it came to an end when ill-health robbed Peter of his energy. His death today came just a few weeks from this eightieth. Eighty! Sounds huge, but it isn’t so old these days.
I’ve been toying for some time with the notion of sailing round the world again. I passed Cape Horn alone on Spirit of Pentax aged just 40. How fantastic to do it again when I’m eighty.
A To Do list
In that ‘when I’m 80’ To Do list are many more books, too, articles, short stories, even blogs.
And why not? Only today, the end of Peter, not quite 80, is why not. At least for the moment his passing scuppers my plans which included hopefully inspiring mature others, too.
Peter’s death encourages, prompts, nags, urges me to think more seriously about being eighty. Yesterday, previously, I felt that the final curtain might well be no closer than 11 or 12 years after 80, as it was with our father.
Now, perhaps four score years might well be a sort of full stop. I hope not. A side of me protests still that it simply can’t be.
But Peter’s departure certainly has me rethinking a great deal about what might remain of life and its very worrying alternative...
Thanks very much for visiting the blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory.