A big man. A gentle man.
Posted Wednesday 21 March 2012
Carl is taking part in the Great North Run as a tribute to his Uncle Jim, an army veteran who served as a 19-year-old in the Falklands War and recently took his own life.
Why? Why didn’t he come to us? Could we have helped?
Jim was an army veteran who fought in the Falklands and the first Gulf War as a part of the clean-up crew. My family rarely heard a word from him about his army days, but I always felt his thoughtful, almost vacant eyes, used to tell his stories.
My uncle was a big man, but a gentle man. It’s very easy to sing the praises of the recently deceased but, in a world renowned for its machismo, it was heartening to hear the love and affection pour so effortlessly out of the mouths of Jim’s colleagues at his funeral.
He was a shoulder to cry on for some. A court jester for others. But to all he was a loyal companion prepared to give up his time when needed.
Suicide too often gets linked with selfishness and cowardice, but does the man described above sound selfish to you? Does a soldier responsible for clearing away the dead bodies of friends sound like a coward?
Here was a man who would literally do anything for anyone but when he was backed into a corner himself, no matter how devastatingly painful it is to admit, he felt he had no one to turn to.
When his body was found his house was clean and tidy, there were no perishables lying around and he left no debts. It seems it wasn’t a quick decision made passionately in the heat of the moment, rather a calculated one.
We’ll never know what was going through Jim’s head, however it’s important not to dwell on that. No one can go back and help my uncle, but we can try to reach similarly vulnerable people.
That's why in September I’ll be taking part in the Great North Run, a race Jim completed a few years ago.
The effort I’ll be putting in is nothing compared to the struggles my uncle suffered in both his professional and personal life, but my aim is to raise money for Mind and to keep Jim’s memory alive. It’s the least such a selfless man deserves.
You can visit Carl's web page to sponsor his run. We have also just launched memory space - memoryspace.mind.org.uk - a place where you can remember loved ones online and raise money to help make sure people living with mental health problems always have somewhere to turn.