Falstaff and Prince Hal

I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humour of your idleness:
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder’d at.

Henry IV, Part 1 William Shakespeare

So often one reads of the success and influence of others, wondering what they were like to those who knew them well.  My friend John Hawley Kerry is one of those people. Although his departure from this planet was not precipitous – he died at age 93 – I am yet rebounding from the moment. His peculiarities and manifest strengths continue to direct me. He was the consummate gentleman, that unique combination of discretion and empathy. He was my friend. Friendship is indeed an uncommon alliance. It spirits what are the liveliest traits of the parties. Like any concoction the mixture is both elemental and impenetrable.

Though separated by twenty years, John and I were drawn to one another from the moment we met. I won’t pretend that our convictions were either desirable or preferred. For example, that we patently adopted a formality with those whom we represented was illustrative of no more than a choice of wallpaper. Yet it drew us together. The glue of our association was no doubt energized by our unique associations with the late Raymond A. Jamieson QC in whose office I began my solo practice of law and who I am told supported John when he began his funeral business in Almonte many years before.

Yet there was so much more to our tenure. The unmistakeable comic component was provoked every weekday morning at the Superior Restaurant on Mill Street. There John, I and four other confederates regularly gathered to begin the day by amusing ourselves with Irish lies and absurd jokes. At times it was a political forum. On occasion it was a communion of sadness and regret. Our daily departure from the venue was always gracious.

Looking back upon one’s life distills its strongest constituents. For those who truly knew one another the arcane fragments remain concealed. What lingers is the undeniable nutrition of friendship.