Another year, another VB

I’m drinking another bottle of VB (Victoria Bitter) beer. It’s a beer I’ve always disliked, though I drink it every year on this day.
It means another year has passed since my good mate JPS passed away. A guy that was full of life, and a fridge often filled with VB.

This day is devoted to reflecting on the guy, and the great times we had together. The fact I drink VB is to give him something up there to laugh at.

Just thinking back to the day of the funeral makes my eyes water remembering the tributes, including the touching words and song from Tim Freedman of The Whitlams fame – an Australian celebrity who became a good friend of John’s.
I had the daunting honour of giving the eulogy on behalf of his friends and colleagues.

For some reason I thought I’d post the eulogy here today for posterity, without some of the more personal points.

17 November 2006
JPS began working working with us on the 20th of March, 1989 as a Cadet Draftsman in Engineering. Within a year he had his first stint as a Forms Analyst.
In 1997 he moved permanently into the Forms Unit; gaining promotion to Senior Forms Analyst in November 2002. It was there he remained until he left the department on 18th of May last year due to his deteriorating health.
John took great pride in the work he produced, and enjoyed mentoring young employees joining his area. His no-nonsense approach when dealing with superiors earned his team’s respect. But I think overall, John will be remembered in the work environment for the nonsense he would start at any opportunity.
I had a ball working in the same section as John. A lot of people did. His practical jokes and clowning around were memorable, to say the least. Sometimes the audience wasn’t in full support, but that usually didn’t stop him.
Virtually no one on our floor could get a haircut without getting the third degree from John; about the hairdresser being an apprentice, or hoping we kept the receipt for a refund.
It got to the point that if you got a haircut, you’d just automatically visit John to get the ribbing out of the way.
John loved writing, he really should have authored a book. His imagination and creativity shone through in the amazing email messages he sent to huge audiences almost every day to get a laugh. It was easy to forget that behind the great lengths and vivid descriptions of his hilarious yarns, was the fact that he was sitting there typing away at a snail’s pace with his only functioning hand. But it was well-known he would go to any lengths to get a laugh.

While I had a ball working in JP’s section, I felt that I failed when trying to do his job.
I couldn’t sustain nearly as many groups of people that called on JP at anytime for a laugh.
Only JP could find enough time for that many people. And only he had the jovial character to leave an impression with anyone he met; along with the charisma to draw such large crowds into his circle.
My feelings turned to frustration when I was John’s manager for a short period. I learned what a long line of managers before me had learned. He wasn’t meant to be managed.
It really made me question myself. Why was I trying to set the rules, when John was having so much fun breaking them. Yes, John was the perfect antidote for anyone taking themselves too seriously.
I doubt we will ever find someone who loved life as much as JPS.
Regardless of the difficulties he faced, John never resigned from the things he enjoyed:

  • the laid back, worry-free lifestyle,
  • joking around with mates,
  • downing a fine beer (or homebrew),
  • and always listening to good music.

We can all learn a lot from JP’s enduring love of life, and his ability to stay positive throughout all his challenges.
I’ve learned, a long life should never be taken for granted, but having happiness right to the end can be – when you have the right attitude.
John, thank you for letting my family and I into your life. Thank you from all of your colleagues that enjoyed your company, humour, kindness, and lasting friendship.
We are sad to lose a friend, and to see an end to the good times spent with you. But we’re relieved you will go through no more pain.
We lost John many years too early. But we can all make sure that the memories of good times remain.

Thank you JPS.