In Memory of Jon
Jon passed away a couple of days ago in the presence of his loving daughters at Hospice after a short illness. There’s nothing particularly memorable about his passing he didn’t after all die of COVID. His death however is memorable to me because of the last words I heard him speak.
Jon was a regular at our coffee shop at Castle Quay. He was famous for his order of 3 flat whites and would sit on the outside chairs, smoking, reading his Kindle and giving seeds to the small birds that inhabit this part of town. He would occasionally be joined by a couple of other regulars but mostly he kept to himself.
Jon lived alone in one of the myriad stylish flats in this area and his daily routine always included a visit to our café that was until COVID struck. He seemed to get through the first lockdown like many of us without too many scars and appeared to slip back into his old routine. He had regularly asked on Facebook as to when we were going to re-open. It was however towards the latter part of the year that we could all see his health was deteriorating. He started to complain about feeling terrible and had been prescribed some pretty strong drugs for a lung condition. But still he came down for his coffee, smoke and birds.
Then the second lockdown came and I was asked by the local Television Station to give my reaction as to what was happening. I was totally frustrated at not only the short notice we’d been given but also that I believed our cafes were probably safer than many people’s homes. On top of that what would be the impact on those whose only social interaction in a day was visiting a café? I was fuming!
During that interview Jon appeared. He was struggling and against all the rules we gave him a seat whilst his coffee was prepared. On the way past with coffee in hand he said to the journalist “all I want is to sit and have a coffee, where is the harm in that?”. We all looked at each other not knowing what to say. I could have cried but managed to keep it together.
Now I have received the sad news that Jon is no longer among us and I’m angry. I’m horrified at the indifference of our society to Jon’s simple request. It’s ironic that in America when an individual is about to be executed by the State, he or she is entitled to request a last meal. Jon who only had weeks to live couldn’t have his “final” request because of the risk of catching COVID.
Boris Johnson famously said (due to Corona virus) “more families will lose loved ones before their time”. We are continually reminded that those people who die of this disease are “not a number” they have become “Nostris mortuus est in Gloria” – our glorious dead. Their number will be remembered forever. The only list Jon’s death will appear on is the statistic of people who died in 2021. His kind of death doesn’t make the evening news.
Yet in a way I believe Jon did die before his time. His single pleasure removed must have made him feel even more isolated. State sanctioned loneliness eviscerating the last remnants of” joie de vivre”.
Jack Hall a local short story writer had a piece entitled “The bus stop” published in the Jersey Evening Post which highlighted our need for human contact. He tells the story of a man who goes to the bus stop every day, not to get on the bus but simply to be among people. It could have been written for Jon.
“all I want is to sit and have a coffee, where is the harm in that?”. Rest in peace Jon.