A mate of mine died a couple of months ago.

He had been a successful businessmen who appeared able to cope well with all the stresses of a modern life. Happily married and father of a lovely daughter, his was a life fully-lived. He was gregarious, generous and charitable of mind and spirit. A good bloke. A busy bloke. Until he starting physically fraying at the edges.

First came the stroke which effectively debilitated him. With hospitalisation, physiotherapy, speech therapy and willpower gleaned from growing up in outback Queensland, he took massive steps in achieving some level of normality. He was able to walk again. But then came another bolt from the blue: he was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lymphoma almost two years later. December last year. Back to square one.

Hospitalised again, he commenced what turned out to be seven rounds of chemotherapy. He was bed ridden again with less and less likelihood of ever leading the life he loved. He was effectively immobile.

He was 66. He determined that it was time to stop feeding his body unnatural substances. He hadn’t lost the will to fight. He had lost the will to fight that way. He went into palliative care which was where I saw him when I visited him in Perth in March this year.

They expected he would last a few weeks longer. He fought another 4 months and it was only after he died that his daughter told me about those last months. He became calm and created a calmness around him that she and her mother had never seen in their lives with him. It recalled for me the thought-provoking zen statement: “Spring comes and the grass grows by itself.” The lesson is that if we let go of attempts to maintain control, life will work out anyway.

It took Geoff a lifetime to come to that realisation but it allowed him to linger beyond western medicines’ expectations.

Calmness and tranquility is what most of us seek at some stage in our lives. And if like it was for Geoff, better late than never, then so be it. He died in peace.