Friday, October 13, 2006

remembering a mate

Ross Howell was a loving father, son and brother. He loved family and friends and was in his element when surrounded by people. He was a great cousin, uncle, nephew, neighbour and friend.

My father grew up with Ross as his closest childhood friend as well as his cousin. Dad, the introvert, was forced out of his shell by Ross who always had a scam, scheme or plan for fun. Throughout their lives, Dad admired Ross above all others.

Whilst dad grew older, Ross never let time hold him back. He was a successful businessman and entrepreneur and took risks others were too timid to take.

Although there is a generation gap, Ross and I became good friends and had some great times together down in Mentone by the beach where he lived. Mentone's Edgewater Hotel, or the "Edgy" was quite a dive, but it was great fun to see Ross in his 80s disco gear (almost) in a crowd that made me feel old. There was no holding him back.

I never passed up an opportunity to tell whoever would listen about the time Ross asked me to go to an over 28s night (for moral support). We got there nice and early and proceeded to stake out a spot from where we could keep an eye on the nights festivities. The 6'4" black American barman was paying way too much attention to us, which we didn't notice till he came over, looked Ross straight in the eye and said "straight or gay?". Ross didn't hear over the music, so the guy had to ask again, but by this time others were listening in.

This happened a few years ago, but I can laugh about it to this day. But not today.

Recently Ross and Heather decided to end a 20 year marriage that produced two beautiful and confident daughters Che and Cody. Although the marriage was over, the friendship (once the initial hurt subsided) remained, and Heather was there for Ross when he got sick.

An operation a couple of months ago was supposed to cear up the issue that was initially identified when he thought he had a heart attack in the shower. It turned out to be tumours blocking blood flow.

More tumours were found again a week or so ago, and surgeons decided to go in on Thursday (12th Oct). Dad went to wish him luck, and Ross gave him a hug and said "I'll be ok, Stevie".

He died on the operating table.

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