Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Unexpectedness of Loss

Googling around tonight, as no doubt we all do from time to time, I was hit with a sudden sense of loss. I found that a bloke I knew briefly, but well, had died just over 3 years ago.

Ray Lynskey was a young bloke in the Royal New Zealand Airforce in 1978 when I met him. Ray was also a glider pilot. I was younger by a few years, a first year Uni student, far from home and finding life tough.

My escape was to fly gliders. That's where I met Ray. After a long day flying from a freezing airstrip at Wigram in Canterbury, we would retire to the bar. From there it was too far, too late and too cold to hitch a ride back to Uni. Instead Ray would give me a bed in his immaculate but very plain Airforce house on the base.

Ray was a quiet, upright sort of bloke. He looked after people and was a quiet leader.

I moved on, left Uni and went back to the north of the country where it was at least warm. Ray moved on too. Later leaving the Airforce and becoming a commercial pilot. Along the way he became the World Gliding Champion in 1995 and becoming the first pilot to fly a glider 2,000 km non-stop in 1990.

Ray died in 2009, of an inoperable brain tumour, after a short illness. I didn't know that until tonight. It took me aback with a strong feeling of loss. Ray was a great bloke, quiet and kind. He supported me when I needed it and for that I will always be grateful.

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