Remembering Achilles

by | Feb 26, 2019 | Memories

Last fall, I attended the funeral of one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life.  This wonderful man was, tragically, killed in an automobile accident near Drumheller, Alberta on November 15, 2018, just days short of his sixty-eighth birthday.

He was not a famous person. He was not a prominent politician. He was not a well-known sports figure.  He painted houses.  He painted our home inside and out for over thirty-five years and I always looked forward to being in his company, having a visit, a laugh and hearing about his garden.  His name was Achilles Goutis and to me, he was more than famous, more than prominent, more than special.

Achilles came to Canada from Greece as a young man, after spending time as a sniper member of one of Greece’s elite military units.  He married and raised his family, first in Toronto and later in Calgary.

The funeral service was, to say the least, a moving experience and, as I teared up, looking around the room, I was not in the minority.  Big, strong, tough-looking guys were openly crying when hit by the sad realization that Achilles was gone.

The chapel was packed and one could feel the despair in the room, realizing that all of us were saying a final goodbye to a fellow who, although humble, hard-working and not famous, left an indelible impression on virtually everyone he met.

I absolutely hate going to funerals and avoid them when I can get away with it. But, in this particular case, I felt a compulsion to attend and show my respect to a unique individual, one who happens along just once in a person’s lifetime.

When I die, and if a funeral is held, I can only hope that people have as fond memories of me as they had for Achilles. However, I doubt that will happen as I do not come close to exhibiting the qualities Achilles lived by virtually every day of his life.  Good humour, kindness, laughter, a wonderful smile and a heartfelt, sincere concern for those around him were his endearing trademarks

However, I will try to do my best to follow his example and try to smile more, help others more, love my family members more, and treat people in a more friendly, less judgemental and forgiving manner. I want Achilles to be proud of me.

If there is a heaven, and I hope there is, someday, I might just have the chance to once again spend some time with this really wonderful man.