A bricklayer’s passing reminds me that we never know if this is the last day

Jeff Britwell Barbados

That’s Jeff and Trudy Birtwell in the photo. Jeff passed in his sleep while holidaying in Barbados last Tuesday.

Jeff was a relatively young man of 53 years old, and I say ‘young’ because I’m not that far behind. He was a bricklayer so he must have been healthy and fit enough but he died of a heart attack on holiday – sleeping with his woman beside him.

There are worse ways to go, and I admire the man after reading a news article from his home town Clayton-le-Moors in the UK. He leaves two fine sons who speak highly of him, as do many people, so says the local newspaper.

Jeff has me thinking about my own life tonight. Regular BFP readers know that I don’t have a steady woman or children. I have no legacy, no important things I’ve done and if the truth be known someone will probably have to hire people to carry my casket.

But after reading the newspaper article about Jeff’s passing in Barbados, I suspect that nobody will have to be hired to carry Jeff Birtwell on his final journey.

Good for Jeff. He went too early, but as I think about how he must have conducted his life to have the loving family and friends that he does, I find him an inspiration. Maybe I should conduct my life a little differently: call some friends, take Auntie to lunch once a month… maybe even find a good woman I could be loyal to.

Jeff… I didn’t know you, but I admire you. Thank you.

And Cliverton… pour me another two fingers of Mount Gay and we’ll toast a farewell to a good man we never knew.




Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, People, People

13 responses to “A bricklayer’s passing reminds me that we never know if this is the last day

  1. zapperfully

    You are in a strange mood tonight Robert!

    Good piece though. Good for Jeff!

  2. Kroll

    Often in life we walk around like robots, too wrapped up in our daily routines and private concerns. Sometimes too our arrogance and our self importance.

    Every now and then our armour is pierced and we are reminded of our humanity. It might be a song on the radio or an overheard conversation or some lines in a newspaper about a man we’ve never heard of dying in a far off land we’ve never been to.

    We appreciate at least for a few moments that we are all pretty much the same: all we really want is to love and be loved and all we are really afraid of is a long and lonely death.

    Good work Robert and RIP Jeff.

  3. WSD

    Good post Robert. Thanks.

  4. D Oracle

    robert. if you have to hire casket bearers, it means you were a plonker. word.

  5. Lewis birtwell

    Hi Robert,

    Jeff’s son Lewis here. I’d just like to say thank you for these kind words. It’s so hard to come to terms with losing what I would class as my best friend but reading this just makes me feel more proud. You sound like a really nice guy so don’t worry there will be some one around corner who is perfect for you. Once again thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Lewis Birtwell

  6. Breadfruit

    Robert that was a wonderful & kind post & brings us all to question our mortality, none of know what tomorrow holds. Lewis, condolences to you & your family for your loss.

  7. robert ross

    There is a wonderful book written by a lady who was dying of cancer. The upshot is that her final years were HER Gospel to life and to death. We all have a Gospel which is especially ours.The book is called ‘Dancing with Cancer’ and it’s written by Diana Breuton. It can be obtained through Amazon and ABE. +

  8. robert ross

    Lewis Birtwell

    You described your Dad as your ‘best friend’. I’m sure you told him that. If so, it would have been one of his most treasured possessions.

  9. Robert D.

    We are vacationing in the Barbados until March 23rd. Last Friday night, we had the pleasure to sit beside a nice British Family at the Fish Fry in Oistins. When I read about Jeff, I immediately thought of them. Good hard working people, family oriented and very sociable. It’s great to get away to relax but sometimes when we are on vacation we put our health concerns to the side and do things that we would’t do otherwise. That’s why we call it a break from our regular routine, eh? God’s speed Jeff, May you R.I.P. and may your sons live a long and healthy life to sing about you to their kids.

    Robert D. – Toronto, Canada

  10. gentle jim

    RIP. Hope he made his peace with the Lord.

  11. Mr Coco

    Thats a really lousey break for Jeff. What a depressing story. I will tip a 40 for him this evening. Rest in peace Jeff.

  12. clickticktock

    Good post robart !

  13. Jacob's brother

    I just came across this. Met Jeff years ago. Good man.

    Thanks for the touching honesty in this piece.