Ian Johnston – Farewell

June 27, 2017 by
Filed under: Miscellaneous 

The exact date I met Ian, and the particulars, are lost in the fog of time like so many memories, but it must have been 25 years ago or so. I have an image of being approached while I am playing tennis with my wife but that may be a false memory. I might just be projecting myself into a scenario that I witnessed many times in the years that followed. Ian would spot someone he didn’t know on another court and introduce himself. It doesn’t really matter how it happened, the point is that we got together on the Walnut Grove tennis courts and a tennis friendship was born.

Ian and I had similar skill levels at that time unlike some of his original partners. His friend Richard, Barry the schoolteacher, and Peter the Brit often made us look foolish. But over time the group grew. Ian was indiscriminate and assembled an interesting cast of characters. There was Young Ian, the hearing-impaired teenager who drove us crazy chasing down every damn ball. Mark, the first galoot, along with Little Ron, who only earned that name because he was, and is, slimmer than me. Harold, who was better on one good leg than many of us are on two. Ted, who Ian loved to tease about being cheap, and Roy and Bryan with his snowshoe-sized racket. Old Raymond, who was just “Raymond” until New Raymond came along. Many more joined in over the years. Some stayed while others came and went. Some were better than us, some weren’t. Some could make a line-call, some struggle with that part of the game. But Ian didn’t care about skill level, language or accent, gender, or nationality. If you could hit a little green ball with a tennis racket, you were “in”. Ian was “inclusive” before it became a cliché.

For years we played in fog, cold, wind, and scorching sun. When the rains came during a match, we kept going until the risk of slipping was too high and “coffee time” was declared. Ian was the “President” of our group before it became a proper organization and was absolutely instrumental in bringing together enough tennis enthusiasts to support an indoor facility in Langley.

There are many things I will remember about Ian, like his desire to win the warm-up, the victory cackle and celebratory strut after hitting a winner, and his supply of corny jokes, the love for his family, but most of all – the joy he found in the game and the friends he made along the way.

Ian, I was one of your early tennis mates and your last doubles partner. I enjoyed the first game, the final set, and every point in between. Thanks for finding me, however it happened. I will think of you every time I play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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