"Cancer isn't about dying, it's realizing that life is worth living."
- Adrian Welsh
How could one young man have touched so many lives so deeply, have garnered the love of everyone he knew?
Adrian Welsh died after a four year battle with cancer on March 13, 2008. He had celebrated his twenty-third birthday just a few days before.
One week after his death hundreds of people jammed into the community centre in the hamlet where he lived for a Celebration of Life. The double auditorium filled with chairs, dozens of people had to stand through the entire service. They did so willingly, without a thought for their discomfort.
They came not out of curiosity, as is often the case with funerals or memorial services, especially of one so young or someone who died in a tragic event. They came out of love, first of all, and secondly out of respect.
Adrian Welsh was special.
Many of the comments given in person and in the souvenir program for the event noted that he died before he had a chance to live his life. They were wrong. Adrian lived more life in 23 years than most people do in 80.
He wasn't wild and crazy. He was daring, refusing to give in to fears and doubts.
Adrian believed that life is about having fun with whatever you do. Everyone wants that, but few manage it. His desire for fun was different.
He believed that for him to have fun doing whatever he was doing, the people he was with had to enjoy themselves too. That was his prime objective in life. He put the welfare and enjoyment of those he was with ahead of his own.
For a guy who was basically shy, Adrian made a huge number of friends, a few of them very close and special friends. He accomplished this by helping everyone to enjoy their life, whatever they were doing.
Nine years ago, at age 14, he began his first job as a part time dishwasher in the restaurant of a resort. He gained an interest in cooking by watching the chefs who prepared meals in fine dining styles. Two years ago, at age 21, Adrian became the head chef for that restaurant.
The daily newspaper in the city nearest where Adrian lived posted two pictures with the half page feature celebrating the life of this young man, a rare tribute to anyone. One of those photos showed him and a friend paddling a canoe, the feeding tube through the front wall of his abdomen visible on his bare chest.
Adrian never allowed circumstances to prevent him from enjoying himself and from having fun with whoever he was with.
Everyone who knew Adrian Welsh has their own special memories of him. There is one memory that each one of them shares.
Adrian had an infectious smile. He smiled at everyone, whether he knew them or not. Everyone within the range of his smiles felt immediately comfortable, at home, no matter where they were.
More than anything else, Adrian's smile and his caring attention to those around him will be a legacy that will last for a very long time.
He passed that legacy to me, as one who barely knew him.
Now that you know how, you can build your own legacy in the same way. It won't cost you a thing. Thanks to Adrian.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents who want their children to grow to be happy, confident and lovable adults.
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