This one is hard. This one hits close to home.
The last time I saw Simon three months or so ago , he was his usual grumpy, cheerful self, in a Denpasar hospital recovering from an emergency surgery to remove a rotten appendix. He offered me a drink, insisting I stay seated as he shuffled to the fridge, saying he needed to get his body moving again. A passing nurse scolded him. He teased her, asking her to put him to bed, and she laughed.
I told him about my morning’s stand up paddle session. A long time Sanur surfer local, he’d taken up kiting several years ago. “You should try kiting,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun, just blasting across the lagoon there.” He bounced his hand along, his eyes alit.
The chief doctor came in. Pre-surgery x-rays had shown a small tumor in Simon’s lung, and the doctor talked to Simon about a CAT scan. Simon teased the doctor about the doc’s missing tie, saying he wasn’t going to trust any doctor who didn’t wear a tie. Now, Indonesian doctors at that level are the lofty, don’t-question-me types, but Simon was about the only person I know who could get away with teasing somebody like him. Simon had that kind of personality, genuine and without a single pretentious bone in his body. A phrase comes to me: behold, a man in whom there is no guile.
A few days later Simon was in his native New Zealand for further consultations. I spoke to him a few times on the phone. He was upbeat and cheerful and grumpy, wanting to take out his jukung to his secret spots off Nusa Dua and go fishing.
I’ve just been through my old photos. Not a single one of Simon. His two older boys are the same age as mine, and we used to take them down to Kuta Beach to let them have a mornings’ surf while we old farts chilled under the umbrella trees with Tom-Tom and other raconteurs.
I can’t recall when I first met Simon. It must have been around 1979-1980 or so. We were the same age, surfed Sanur together, hung out on the boardwalk for sunset beers.
A lot of folks, expats and Balinese and batik dyers and fishermen and surfers and kiters and boaters, knew and loved Simon, the crusty old cheerful Mon. A unique fellow. Leaving a big irreplaceable hole.