Sir Terry Pratchett.
I have been a fan of his since about 1990 and have read all but a handful of his books – some of the ones he wrote for children. He was not only a storyteller of amazingly creative characters, sharply witty and deeply intelligent, he was also a thoroughly decent man.
I was so sad when he announced several years ago that he had been diagnosed with a rare form of early onset dementia. My own wonderful dad had spent his last few years lost to this. It’s a terribly cruel disease. It takes your loved one from you while they are still there. They pass through phases of knowing they aren’t who they were and the pain in their eyes is almost more than you can stand. They know, even while they might no longer remember what parts of their body are for.
I would not wish it on my worst enemy.
Sir Terry hoped to raise awareness. It isn’t something us Brits discuss too openly, but Sir Terry has been quoted as saying people would come up to him and talk about it. They would burst into tears. He made it much easier for people to be open about it.
For such an extremely intelligent man, losing his mind, his words, himself in such a way must have been an absolute horror.
But he was brave too. He made a documentary about assisted suicide and campaigned for it to be legalised in the UK.
It is reported that he passed naturally. At home with his family and his cat asleep near him on his bed. That sounds to me like a good way to go.
I cried when I heard the news. I don’t tend to do that for famous people. But Sir Terry Pratchett was such a rare talent. Such a nice man. And the world really will be a dimmer place without him.