What was to be a routine operation went horribly wrong. Heff was left fighting for life with a massive brain bleed.
Doctors were unsure if he’d make it. Then he’d ‘probably be a vegetable’. After a while he was to re-learning to do everything from scratch. Soon Heff could be seen limping along the footpath with his neighbours shaking their heads and whispering ‘poor bugger’ to each other as he went by.
Today Heff drives again, runs his own business, surfs, kitesurfs (I tell him to ‘go fly himself in a kite’) and, after the mandatory rib-crushing bear-hug, talks my ears off each time I see him.
Heff says that almost dying was the best thing that ever happened to him.
‘I’m a bit slow thinking’, he says. I disagree. A single statement from him slaps me upside the head and shocks me into rethinking things I have believed for a very long time.
‘I’m not real smart’, he grins. He’s kidding, right? His simple brilliance puts my intellectual arrogance to shame.
You see, something happened to his brain when it was injured. It was as if all the complication neurons and the piddly-little-crap-brain-functions that we are all so good at, well they just don’t work in his head any more.
Instead, they have been replaced by love.
Heff loves everyone. And I mean EVERYONE! He charges as little as he can get away with for people who are doing it tough, happily cleans out his elderly neighbours’ gutters, is forever taking time off to help friends, stops to listen to anyone who needs to talk, and is about the most generous person I know. None of it is an act. He simply can’t help himself.
He loves God but doesn’t go to church because he doesn’t like religion. He doesn’t understand all the theological do’s and don’ts and, anyway, he just doesn’t have time; he’s too busy loving people.
Politics is the same. He can’t grasp this party and that conflict, but he also doesn’t care. There are people out there who need a hug or a shoulder or a leaky pipe fixed.
I regularly get texts from him with stories of the latest wonderful person he has met and how excited he is to be able to help this amazing human. ‘I LOVE people!’ is usually included at least once in his message.
Maybe we should all have lobotomies or get hit in the head or wipe out half of our brain capacities. Because a world full of Heffs would be a bloody amazing place.