“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:13 -14).
Needless to say, these past few days since our chairman and CEO Winston Derrick passed from mortality into immortality, we, here, at Observer Publications have been engaged in introspection, both on a personal level and as a group.
And as we muse on what he meant to us and try to come to grips with our own private grief, we turned to the Good Book for comfort. The writer of the book of James is clear, we, none of us knows what tomorrow will bring, for the very breath that gives us life is a vapour that lingers for a short time and is soon gone.
When we interacted with Winston on that last day, it would not have crossed our minds that that would have been the last time we would do so. None of us could have foreseen this day and so we are left to ask that age-old question to which, we, of course, have no answer – why.
Embedded in the scripture quoted above is the answer. We, each of us, should live each day as if it were the last, because it just might be.
One family member told the story of Winston, who recently called just to enquire how he was – reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s “I just called to say I love you. I just called to say how much I care.”
The grieving relative admonished staff to “Be sure to tell those closest to you how much you care for them, as it could be your last opportunity,” was his advice.
Author Richelle Goodrich said it this way: Tomorrow is an illusion suggesting that another chance always exists. It is a dangerously false illusion.
There is a phrase in Latin, which has passed into common usage, carpe diem. Loosely translated it means, seize the moment; make use of the opportunity.
Carpe Diem expresses a philosophy that recognises the brevity of life and therefore the need to live for and in the moment.
It is not that we are negating the necessity for planning for eventualities. What we are in fact advocating is that each of us seize the moment to do all the good we can, for as long as we can, as tomorrow is promised to no one.
In moments like these, we cannot help but reflect on our own individual lives, and all the opportunities that we missed to say a kind word or perform a good deed for someone. To tell those we care for and love just what they mean to us.
One of many acts for which Winston will be missed are the programmes he hosted at Christmas, in which people would make requests for assistance. In the season just passed, he single-handedly was able to provide food packages for 150 families, 30 of whom were recommended by the AIDS Secretariat. He was also instrumental in obtaining blood pressure machines, diabetic monitoring equipment and the like for many others.
As we mull the conversations we would have had with Winston over a number of years, many of us are glad that we took the time to let him know how much we appreciate his efforts at growing a company, which provides for a staff of 85 and their dependents.
Despite the sadness, it gives us a warm glow to hear that Winston knew he was loved by the people with whom he rubbed shoulders daily.
So although he will be dearly missed, we will carry him always in our hearts and like the 17th century poet Robert Herrick who was very much in the genre of carpe diem we say:
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a flying,
And the same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.