An old Latin saying, which translated means “Alas, the fleeting years drift by”.
The Library of Life represents for me a wonderful way to express the happy memories I have of my brother James Forsyth, known as Jamie and, for my part, is the whole reason for the Library of Life and Memory-of.com.
This story allows me to remember my brother who died suddenly at the age of 48. It is a story that will be added to over the coming years as there is so much to tell and yet, I am very cautious about what I should put into print to begin with. One cannot imagine a more exciting life than the one my brother and I shared and it is for that reason it must be told. There are many stories of our business escapades, about our travels worldwide, our dealings, some spectacular and some unspectacular, and I would love to recount his input and his ideas and his involvement but, due to constant fears of the taxman and commercial enemies, I am unable to relate them yet and probably never.
We spent the best part of 45 years growing up and going into business together and we must have visited over 50 countries in that time which allowed us to meet so many different people. I remember all the things we did together, I remember school – particularly school as he was always far better at sports than me and I also have fond memories of our rugby days.
He never boasted, nor bragged, nor tried to impress. Even in the most distinguished company, social or commercial, if he got bored with the conversation, he would merely take out his Rizla paper, roll himself a cigarette and switch off. Many a time we would have dinner together and we would open a bottle of wine and when the contents were half gone, we would discuss whether the bottle was half full. Being an accountant, my brother would consider the bottle was half empty and that we should be satisfied with what we had. Whereas me, being an optimist, would say it was half full. Life is a bit like this bottle. For some of us it is full, for some of us it is empty. I have been lucky to have had half my life with Jamie and that must be the better half.
What first prompted us to go into business together was the story of the goose. When I was young, in my teens, I had a goose, quite a large goose, and I put all my silver coins into the goose. The only way I could count the silver coins was to stand on the weighing machine with the goose and deduct my weight. However, the goose started getting lighter instead of heavier and I couldn’t understand it. So I set a trap. And low and behold I found my brother with his hand in the goose taking the silver out. He looked me in the eyes and said I will never take your coins out again. Some weeks later I noticed my goose was beginning to get much heavier and I couldn’t understand it. So I decided to look inside my goose and in it I found that my brother had taken out my silver coins and replaced them with copper ones.
From that moment on there was no question but that he had to be my partner and my accountant. In terms of business, we had the good fortune to travel the world together. We saw most countries in most continents and the travel, the excitement, the deals, the rollercoaster, the mystery, was all part of the Forsyth heritage and that was very much Jamie.
In business, I still miss him so much, so shall all those people who were touched by him. Not only did we play golf together, we went racing and listened to stories of racing. I remember that cold day at Sandown. We lost all our money as was usual when we went to the races. There was still about 7 or 8,000 people in the stands. For a bet, my brother and I decided we would run the last ¾ mile on the race course, but this time with a difference – we would have to jump the fences. So in front of the crowd, we stripped off to our pants. Jamie was a faster runner than me and he went sprawling over the fences. It was the longest ¾ mile he had ever run. But not content with just that race, with over a dozen friends, we went to the pub in Thames Ditton, still cold and highly inebriated and swam across the River Thames. God knows how we survived in the middle of winter, but we did.
We worked and played competitively together. Not so many years ago we had a memorable game of squash at the RAC. We played like school boys, neither of us conceding a point and crying foul as soon as a point was lost. I recall it well. At two games all, it was the fifth and final game, 8 points each, and we looked at each other, both red in the face, dripping with sweat and out of breath. We just shook hands and walked off the court, neither of us wanting to be a winner or a loser to the other.
Jamie never wanted to be old bones. He always wanted to be young. He still went round in life both physically and mentally as though he were 25. He was very competitive in whatever sport or whatever business task he was doing.
I am very fortunate that on the morning of the Friday, the day he died, I was on the telephone to a friend and he came into my room and said, I’m off to play badminton. I asked my friend to hold on and I put the phone down. I stood up, I hugged him and I said, “I love you brother”. He said the same and he left my life.
My advice to you all is to take the time and take advantage of that time with your family and your friends. In our case, our family is strong and the friendships we have will allow us to remember. This is the great treasure of life.
I tried to reason with myself as to how to deal with this dilemma, to lose a brother who was so close, to try to put it into perspective and I came across in one of my readings a letter which Benjamin Franklyn wrote in the 18th century to a friend who had suffered a similar tragedy of a lost brother and I quote:
“I console with you. We have lost a most dear and valuable relation, but it is the Will of God and nature that these mortal bodies are laid aside and that the soles enter into the real world. This is rather an embryo state, a preparation for living; a man is not completely borne until he is dead. Why then should we grieve that a new child is borne amongst us mortals, a new member added to happy society. Our friend and we are invited aboard on a party of pleasure which is to last forever. His chair was ready first and he has gone before us. We cannot all conveniently start together and why should we grieve at this since we are soon to follow and know where to find him.”
Now that I have committed my thoughts and memories of my brother to the Library of Life I feel better. I feel better knowing that these memories can be shared and read by those that knew him and loved him.