Eulogy to Gordon Aikman - February 18th 2017:
“Gin and Tonic please. There are many things I cannot do - but drinking gin is not one of them.”
There was a time not so long ago when it felt like every night out started at Gordon’s no matter where it ended up. He loved to be with his friends, to dance, to laugh.
He loved good food. And by that I mean the healthiest, most nutritious food he could find. He’s the only person I ve ever met who craved a salad.
He liked clean lines, simplicity and good design. We used to tease him for his love of the colour grey. Everything was either grey or white, even his Christmas tree decorations!
In his kitchen, there was a beautiful crisp glass vase on a shelf which held prosecco corks, or “prossy” as he’d call it, just before he poured you a glass. Both the order and the fun there for all to see. That was Gordon.
He loved to look good. Always with a fresh haircut and a crisp shirt. Always.
He was fit, both in the Scottish sense and the physical sense. A beautiful man with cheek bones to die for, crystal eyes and the sweetest of smiles. But he was also lithe, and for most of his life running up and around Arthur’s seat was light work.
He didn’t care much for reading, but he loved music. Never a favourite band, just the latest band, the freshest sound, the coolest of beats.
And he loved his family, so dearly. Taking his mum Nancy to Fisher’s to delight in his favourite seafood. Watching his sister Lorraine’s family grow.
He was renowned at work for being incredibly diligent and professional. He was supremely well organised but also super sharp. He was so meticulous with the detail, things just didn’t leave the office without the question being asked “has this been passed gordon.” He just didn’t make mistakes.
People often assume that someone who knows they are ill would produce a bucket list of things to do before they die. Gordon never had a bucket list. There was no way he was going to start a task he might not finish.
There were of course things to be done though, as time got precious and travelling was a big part of that. He travelled extensively with Joe - the love of his life - and they saw and experienced many wonderful moments together.
But as we have heard, Gordon found joy in the simplest of moments too - racing his nephew Murray down the hill with him on his trike and Gordon in his chair being one of them.
Uncle Gordon comes on wheels. He loved the frank acceptance of that - which only a child’s eyes can offer.
And gordon didn’t so much use a wheelchair as drove a quad bike.
Most people in wheelchairs get an MOT every two months or so, Gordon’s wheelchair mechanic came ever week. Such was the battering Gordon give his chair, such was his determination to live for every moment.
He both loved and hated the chair. It represented both dependence and freedom.
He was tenacious and stubborn. When life dealt him MND and told him he had 14mths to live, he took 28. doubling the number - how Gordon.
Gordon was always keen to remind us to be true to ourselves. So a quote from Harvey Milk somehow seems fitting. He said:
“I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living.”
Gordon lived on hope, but only a little of it was for himself. He hoped to fall in love and he did. He hoped to get married and he did.
But most of the hope he had in his life was for other people. At the root of that hope was love for his niece Ailidh and nephew Murray who he just adored.
He also showered love and generosity on to the children of dear friends, namely Fergus and Finn. Wrapping a gift for baby Beau - who was just days old - was one of Gordon’s final acts. Always thinking of others to the very end.
The opposite of hope is of course despair and I know many people in this room will have felt that emotion over the past few days. Despair. Anger at those 3 little letters - the cruelest of diseases. Frustration at a life cut so short. But that’s not what Gordon would have wanted us to feel today. No.
What would he have wanted from today? No particular dress code, not black or bright colours - just an expectation that everyone would look “hot.”
He’d expect there to be bubbles. He’d expect a critical mass of people to make it to the dancing.
He’d look at this room and see how powerful it was. Not just because of who was in it - but the common bond of why we are all here. The sheer potential of that. He’d ask us not to mourn but to organise. To do our bit. To make sure that we too leave this world a better place.
I know we all feel that sense of duty and will each find our own way of doing just that.
We are all better people for having known Gordon - that almost goes without saying. But perhaps the pledge we can make together today is to all live better lives in his memory.
In one of his columns Gordon wrote:
“What I have lost in strength of body, I make up for in strength of mind. I am more determined and driven than ever… I want to make every day count.
My love is deeper. I find joy in simpler things and in different places. I am more chilled out, at peace with the fact that there is so much in life that is out of our control.”
“Let’s celebrate the rich, diverse and complicated world we live in. Let’s savour each day. Let’s measure life not by length but by depth.”
Gordon Aikman. A beautiful man, who enriched the lives of so many. Who did so much good in such a short space in time.
We miss you terribly but pledge today to honour your life in how we choose now to live ours.
To savour each day.