Remembering Ted Smith

Ted Smith died on the morning of 29 September 2003, leaving his lovely Peggy a widow. If you would like to share your memories or pictures of Ted, send them to rememberted@5jt.com.

I hear he collapsed suddenly a few weeks ago, just after you both returned from abroad, and while he was in hospital some weeks until his death yesterday, it seemed that he’d been gone since the collapse.

I hope I go as quickly when my time comes.

Although you’ve told me some of his final illness I’m glad not to know very much. It doesn’t sound like much of him was present during it, and I’m left instead with my memories of him enjoying a surprisingly lively old age.

He was an inspiration in that, with his daily hike and endless supply of surprisingly drinkable homebrews. Just the sort of lusty enjoyment one associates with the muscularly boorish, but Ted was never that. It was all too easy to underestimate the mild man with twinkly eyes and dry humour, who was usually content to step backward out of the limelight, but Ted could be quietly formidable.

I knew him of course only in these last few years, when he had already lived most of his life. It seemed to me from his face that he had had a good life, not in the sense of an easy one, but the kind of good life you get by being good to people. If there is one thing I shall remember about Ted it is his kindness and the endless care he took to be gentle with people. I don’t think anyone is born with that kind of gentleness, it has to be cultivated, marshalled. There are subtle ways of being formidable. Ted was a rock.

He loved you Peggy, everyone who knew him knew that, and knew you knew it too. While happy lifelong marriages are what everyone plans, almost nobody lives one. You two have been one of the rare, rare exceptions, and I can barely imagine how it must be to be left like this after a making such a life together. I have no advice, no wise words, no consolations, nothing to offer but: you lucky, lucky woman to have had him.

I have no idea how you will manage without him. If there is anything I can do for you, just ask. If you'd like to pass some time and talk about him, just call.

Stephen

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