Yesterday (28th), I lost a dear friend. He was not a friend in the sense that we talked regularly. He was not a friend that I could meet regularly because he lived on our West coast. We really did not know each other that well … but we knew enough that mattered.
He was born in Israel and served in their military as (I believe) a tank commander. For reasons that are not known, he chose to move to Canada where he met my (then) sister-in-law. They decided to get married and move back to Israel and, as a part of that move, stayed in England for a short time … which was when we met.
His view of life was very refreshing, and rather frustrating! It was refreshing because nothing seemed to bother him unduly. It was a “live for today” perspective. It was frustrating because he saw limited value in planning ahead. Those two perspectives would possibly come from his military service.
They couldn’t settle in Israel and so soon returned to England, which is where he made his “mark”
There was a knock on our door one evening, and there stood Benny. The following conversation went something like this:
B: “Hi Colin. Can you paint?”
C: “Paint? What? Pictures? Houses?”
C: “Well I’ve done lots of interior painting, and some exterior. Why?”
B: “Is it easy?”
C: “Well it’s not difficult.”
B: “Will you teach me how to paint?”
C: “Benny … why are you asking these questions?”
B: “We have a contract!”
C: “WE have a contract?”
B: “Yes! We’re going to paint the synagogue!”
C: “Benny … I’ve never been in a synagogue before, let alone painted one.”
B: “It won’t be difficult!”
C: “That’s great coming from somebody who is asking how to paint.”
B: “When can we start? They would like it done as soon as possible.”
C: “You’ll have to take me there and show me the building first.”
Therein followed enough stories to fill a small book. The “auditorium area” had a very high ceiling, and we did not own any scaffolding, so it was done a little at a time from a ladder. The price that Benny had agreed to (he simply undercut the lowest bid that had been received for the work), allowed us to break even on the project.
From a business perspective, it made no sense whatsoever, but Benny and I learned so much about each other that it was an invaluable experience.
So many people will be thinking about him with a smile on their face, as will I, and although I have many reasons to fondly remember him, the highlight of our relationship has to be that synagogue painting contract. It said so much about his personality.
Rest in peace dear friend. You left us far too early, but you certainly left your mark on so many people.