Way back in 1966, at the end of my first year of teaching, I made my first visit to New Zealand. It was on a school camping trip with about 25 students, probably 16 years old, and 7 teachers. Although 23 years old I was very naive. I did not drink, mixed mainly with religious types, was a church youth leader and still planned to enter the ministry. I had visited a psychiatrist about my sexual feelings but such things were not discussed even in the media. Gay life was hidden, certainly from me.
However on this trip, due to my age and status, I found myself mixing with the type of male who I had rarely associated with as a student myself. I was closer in age to the students than I was to most of the other teachers. I found Garry very attractive, he was stunning with a wonderful smile. He was not in any of my classes.
We became good friends. I do not know why he reciprocated the friendship. Let's just say he was very heterosexual and his world was completely new to me. I was older and had a car so could provide the wheels for many surfing trips. The only influence I know that I had on him was when another boy mentioned that Garry would not indulge in petty shoplifting when I was around.
The summer following the NZ trip I took him and 2 others on a 3 week surfing trip to Queensland. Being with him all that time was absolute heaven. However he went to university and eventually married. He became a high powered executive and spent time living in Europe and the USA. In discussing travel recently he told me he always flew first class.
We only had occasional contact and hardly any in recent years. When I was in Australia before Christmas, another classmate of his, who became a Geography teacher and kept regular contact with me over the 45 years, informed me that Garry had cancer and was paralysed. We visited him and he seemed pleased to see me. A few weeks ago I was informed that Garry was in hospital with breathing difficulties. I sent him a message and his wife told me he read it with a big smile. This morning she emailed me that Garry passed away overnight.
Rest in Peace Mate.
When a young person dies
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