David and Goliath

I’m sorry I never met him. An incredible man. A friend told me that at his funeral last week the church rang out with ‘Jumping Jack Flash’. Very fitting for the celebration of the life of this mad scientist. And she described him in the most beautiful way. ‘Imagine’, she said, ‘a blackboard full of mathematical equations, a laboratory full of Bunsen burners, beakers and flasks full of bubbling concoctions and the occasional (I was going to say unexpected but I think David would have known exactly what to expect) explosion and a tall man with slightly ruffled hair wearing a lab coat and with a few black smudges on his face and coat’. Seeming chaos. But fully in control. That’s the way to be, isn’t it.

And his story is one of incredible triumph. Because ten years ago, David was given the diagnosis of mesothelioma. And of course the accompanying 18 months to live scenario. A mammoth blow. And I’ve known of people who have simply given up under this sentence. Passing very quickly into the next life, wherever that may be. But for David it was never say die. Because he knew he had a special purpose. With small children, he had to watch over them as they grew until they found their own feet, their place in the world. And so he did just that. Despite the overwhelmingly bad odds, he continued to live. And live in great style. And over ten years he continued to fulfil his bucket list, with his family alongside of him. Holidays and trips overseas. Being as fit as he was helped enormously. I heard he rode the Tour de France circuit after major surgery. Pretty impressive, huh. Not to mention the fact that only weeks ago he was still swimming in the 50m parents race at the local RSL. Story has it, he complained once about the side-effects of treatment. And when questioned, it turns out the side-effect that was bothering him was that it made him miss his lunch. Because he loved his food. His last meal was prawns and lobster. What a way to go.

And I delight in his attitude, his mental fortitude that helped give him another ten great years. Because he could have given up. He could have wallowed in self-pity. He could have said ‘why me’. And I am sure there were moments, as we’ve all had. But in choosing to live, in choosing to take life by the throat and squeeze, he enjoyed all the riches that life has to offer. Because he had some very special reasons to keep living. And there are many, aren’t there. 

You may be surprised to know how close you are to this man. That he has touched your life too. Because he designed the polymer that coats our dollar notes. You know, the ones you carry in your wallet every day. That is David’s work. And every time I see a note now, I am inspired…

The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live.

Joan Borysenko

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