Last Saturday saw the memorial service for the much loved and much missed Terry Sue-Patt, on what would have been his 51st birthday. A day of mixed emotions, it brought together family and friends from every facet of Terry’s life and, thanks to the hard work of friends including Erkan Mustafa, Yvette Marrs and Lisa Richer, it was a very special day that would have made him incredibly proud.
I had the privilege of contributing the following piece to the order of service, which I now share along with a montage of photos, set to “Stay Gold” by Stevie Wonder and Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”.
“Has anyone ever told you that you look like Lulu?” were the first words Terry ever asked me. No one had ever told me that or has since, but then Terry had his own unique way of looking at the world and the people in it. Unassuming and modest, he viewed life with an artist’s vision, mixed with a sizeable chunk of childlike wonder. A paradox then, that whilst seeing only the best and beauty in all around him, he often doubted the quality of his own artistic endeavours, which many of us admired for their honest, urban vibrancy. Terry in canvas form.
Since his passing, he has received much deserved recognition for his art, which I’m sure brings a smile to his face, as he looks down on the fickle world he left behind. “Better late than never,” he would be saying, followed by that infectious laugh of his, we all so desperately miss. Yet, despite the devastation we feel at the premature loss of a friend who always wore the biggest of smiles, and his heart on his sleeve, we should try to remember the legacy of his warmth and generosity of spirit, when the darkness of grief comes gnawing at our broken hearts.
Few people can claim to be universally loved by everyone they meet, but I have yet to find anyone who met Terry who did not love him. If the tributes paid to him are any measure of affection, he also touched the lives of those who never had the privilege of meeting him. Whether it was Grange Hill fans lamenting the passing of Benny Green, or Facebook friends giving a final “Shout Out” to a man who delighted in online social interaction, it became obvious there was going to be a Terry-shaped hole in thousands of lives.
As I attempt to patch up the void he has left in my own life, I take some succour in the words of Robert Frost, a poem both Terry and I came to know through our love of the S.E. Hinton novel “The Outsiders”.
“Nothing Gold Can Stay”
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Terry, in our hearts you will forever stay gold.