Words from your Australian friends who lived with you in Papua New Guinea.
Our paths met 25 years ago when as a CUSO couple working on the Sepik River, you came to Alotau to work with me on SSCE.
I remember the duck we cooked that first night together. It was spit roasted on a makeshift fire in the dampness of a tropical evening. The duck was never fully cooked. But that did not matter. As the outside charred, it was shaved off and eaten. And all the while you and Joyce kept me wrapt with your stories of adventure together.
Your openness and excitement and repertoire were surprising and the tales you told were daring. I did not have the same past and immediately I felt then that I had met someone quite different - someone with a genuinely free spirit.
I built on that first occasion with you, Norman, and that duck came to symbolize our first meeting. Even now we cook ducks in the same way to remember both you and Joyce.
Our times together were never more pretentious than that first night. What followed from that night confirmed the honesty, joy and great love that a person could harbour within himself - one who could not be tainted by the world around him.
It seemed that I had made of you a person that was larger than life. But really, I had created someone who came to symbolize the truths and hopes that could dispense with the sham of life - who could free the spirit in order that good could be done. I came to feel a happiness and a freedom and purpose that I had never known before.
This image was never more than the real you, Norman. Not in the years we worked together in Papua New Guinea. Not even when you returned to Canada and took up your studies again, and assumed roles of responsibility. You did not change. I saw that the inner core remained the same, wild and free, happy and truthful, and from it I continued to draw strength.
That was many years ago, Norman, but your personal presence has never diminished. It never will. You have personally entered the lives of each one of us, and we have come to know a Norman that will never die.
Your passing brings us great sorrow, but you have never been a sad man and we will try not to be sad for you. Instead we will find joy as we celebrate the life of a good man that we knew well.
You will continue to live in our hearts and minds, Norman.
May God give you rest.
Alan, Wendy, Danielle, James and David