The bespoke gentleman

John Hawley Kerry was born August 5, 1929.  He will soon celebrate his 93rd birthday.

This morning as I accomplished my routine cycle throughout the neighbourhood and along the former B&O railway line I fortuitously passed by John’s private residence and saw him and his daughter Lisa sitting on the front porch enjoying the balmy summer air. They graciously invited me to join them.

Having known John since 1976 (when I came to town) I can safely say without fear of contradiction that there is no one in Almonte who surpasses John’s unparalleled gentlemanly nature.  His presence immediately invokes an elevation to what might otherwise be a mere conflab. This he does without pretension. Instead his contribution to community is instant. He is relentlessly cheerful.

This morning he did however distinguish his effervescence by briefly touching upon the dreadful subject that is death and upon the miracle that is life. It was but an aside but nonetheless a penetrating philosophic interlude, an abbreviation of his customary levity. Both his wives having already perished, John knows too well, too sadly that the random liquid from the vessel of life is speedily poured to ruinous evaporation. This is a complicated admission even for a man who throughout his lifetime assiduously devoted his career to ownership and management of funeral homes. And yet he persists in a buoyancy emblematic of his characteristic determination and tireless gusto. Together we never fail to reunite like mischievous schoolboys intent upon frivolity and humour. It is I have no doubt but a natural sequel to our erstwhile morning hilarity at the coffee shop where for thirty years or more we ritually confronted the business day with our colleagues.

To my knowledge John’s focus is forever upon the present, capturing the nectar of life with the skill and devotion of the delicate but precise humming bird. His assiduity is never compromised. He exhibits the highest standard of pragmatism and willingness to put his shoulder to the wheel.

Diligence—carefulness and persistent effort or work—is one of the seven heavenly virtues. It is indicative of a work ethic, the belief that work is good in itself.

Overall my engrossment upon John Hawley Kerry is promoted by friendship, the very kind that he has taught me not by either fiction or superfluity but by exactitude of performance. His is the solidness of determined resolve. He has set the bar high for those of us in his acquaintance.