I don't know John Ross Cuthbert. In November 1999 I was reading the Toronto Star when I found his death notice. I was so affected by what I read I clipped the notice and put it in the inside pocket of my winter jacket.
As you may have read, I took that same jacket to the cleaners yesterday. If the price was right, I would have left it there, so I emptied my pockets. That's when I rediscovered John Ross Cuthbert's death notice.
As I said, I didn't know John. I only know these words he wrote in November 1999. These words I've carried with me the past eight years.
CUTHBERT, JOHN ROSS
August 29, 1952 - November 24, 1999
Forgive me for leaving the party early.
I have chosen not to have a standard funeral or a formal viewing because these would not be happy events - and I insist on leaving the world the same way I have tried to live in it - with smiles, joy and goodwill.
My death is sad but not tragic because I have had a rich life. I have laughed, cried, loved and been loved, enjoyed the company of friends and lived life to the fullest extent that I could.
I have lived longer than expected and survived against the odds to find romance, love and above all, to witness the birth and development of my two little miracles - Brittany and Yardley. Who would have believed it possible 30 years ago?
I have treasured the many and varied friends I have had at my side throughout my journey. There are no words to express my gratitude, to repay you all for the love and comradeship, the support given so freely - no words to even say a proper "thanks" just for being a friend.
I will miss you. But I have had yet another gift lately - the time to visit, call or talk to as many of my friends and family as possible. Let these happy contacts serve as my goodbyes to you all.
My family will be saying goodbye to me privately on the Scarborough Bluffs - one of our favourite places to be together, to walk and find peace.
Please remember me in a similar fashion. Remember the good times, the laughs we had, the special times we all shared. No greater tribute could I request.
I leave asking but one last favour.
Cathy, Brittany and Yardley will be beyond my protection and I will be unable to supply the hugs and kisses that they all need. Please remember them and love them as you would your own family - they will need good friends at every step of their life's journey.
My love to you all - may you walk life's journey in good health, with friends at your side and a smile on your face.