I Got The Blues For You

This week a former school mate, Dave West died of a heart attack at his office in Calgary. He was in his early forties. The news unsettled many of us who knew Dave; he was such a fitness guy, apparently still extremely healthy up until his death.

As a friend said, “It sure makes you think… I’ve started going to the gym again…”

Ya, like a lot of good that did Dave.

I didn’t know Dave well. He was a grade ahead of me in school. We hung with different crowds. He was known best to me for always working-out with Rod Cutts, the guy who stole my sweet-heart’s eye when I was desperate for a certain one-day-to-be journalist’s attention.

What I do know… now is I liked him. He was fair, non-judgemental and honest. This meant a lot to me at a time where I was being picked on by much of the student body. Given his size and stature, Dave could have easily been a bully. He was always too smart for that. Choosing instead to be somewhat above it all, while the rest of us struggled through the pulls and prods of adolescence.

I have an indelible image of Dave: Dave and Rod, in the basement of the main school house – in that tremendously oppressive and smelly weight room – working on their abs. Cut off tees, maybe some Stones playing on a cassette player… I thought it all so stupid. What did I know? I was a theater-geek. It was a miracle of nature that we even co-existed.

Thinking back, this is how I choose to remember Dave. Because I don’t think it was stupid. It was admirable. Even today, as I struggle at the local gym to do my 10 reps on the Dynamax… Dave got it right.

Dave West (to the left of Captain Gavin Garbutt) with the 1980 RCS Rugby team

As you might imagine, I have a weird frame of reference when it comes to death. I didn’t know Dave well enough to be broken up about it. And I’m not going to pretend that he meant more to me than he did to justify something missing in my life. What I’m left with – like many of us – is melancholy. And melancholy isn’t such a bad thing if it helps us pause, reflect, recharge.

To those that did know Dave, my sincerest condolences on the loss of your friend. To his wife and child, to Peter, I extend my thoughts and prayers. God rest.


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