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True Story: Dealing With Loss – A Rugby Life Passes Into Legend

By Finder blogger: Andrea McKenna

 

Life is fleeting.

This comes to mind every time I hear of someone dying. As we reflect on someone’s life and their death, we realize what this means. Fleeting means quick, momentary, and I particularly like the literary phrase evanescent.

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I am watching some of my friends from one of the rugby teams here in Singapore deal with the tremendous loss of a major patron and friend of the team. The death was sudden and, of course, tragic. He was here full of life, and then he was gone.

Johnny Walker was someone who supported the Wanderers Rugby Team in Singapore from its inception. He went on tour. He went to games. He came to the bar. He handed out mini Jägermeister bottles with Tabasco sauce.

He even officiated at one of the team member’s weddings. He was, by all accounts, a living legend.

I did not know him well, but I knew who this legend was and I saw him out in the city many times. He was always pleasant, fun, life of the party, tall-dark-and-handsome and he commanded great respect from everyone around him in the very best of ways.

As I watch the guys and girls from the Wanderers share their stories and memories, I wanted to add mine, albeit a small contribution.

 

I only had to pleasure of speaking to Johnny Walker at length one time. In actuality, it was short, although memorable, and it will stay with me:

In April 2016, my husband, Chris and I were at the weigh-in for White Collar Boxing, the biannual fight night in which several of our Wanderers friends were participating. I think it coincided with a Friendly Friday, a monthly event the rugby team sponsors to have a bit of social time and San Miguel beers. (Also Jager shots, a Walker specialty!)

After several beers and some huge shot skis of Jagers, I got a chance to speak to Johnny.

I told him it was my wedding anniversary and that we were heading out by boat to some Indonesian island the very next day. I was certainly hoping not to be affected by his generous Jaeger shots!

Johnny, at that moment, had something special for me.

He started dancing. He said it was an African celebratory dance in honor of mine and Chris’s anniversary. It was short and it was sweet and it was profound.

I don’t even know if the dance was real, as we were all clouded by Filipino beer, European spirits and a raucous crowd. But sometimes that kind of environment feels ethereal and everything seems profound.

Either way, I remember it well. It made an impact on me.

There were not very many words exchanged but I felt a genuine sense that he was happy for us and he made us feel very special at that moment. Without any words, he made the moment important.

And that was it. It was fleeting–quick, momentary, evanescent.

I know he meant a great deal to a great many people in Singapore and they knew him much better than I did. Indeed, many groups are grieving, from the Wanderers  to Pac Bev to the Tadcaster group. But as quick as my interaction was, I was touched by who he was.

The Wanderers and other friends will be raising more than a few glasses to honor Johnny Walker’s life these next few weeks and forever.

Here’s to the legend: Cheers and farewell, Johnny Walker.

 

About Andrea McKenna

Andrea McKenna Brankin is journalist and author from the United States who lives a full life with bipolar disorder. Her book, Bipolar Phoenix, is awaiting a publishing contract. She is also currently a volunteer at the DaySpring Residential Treatment Centre for teen girls in Singapore, providing befriending-family support, therapeutic writing and rugby coaching.

 

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