This post is from Paul Sommerin, one of Kev’s oldest friends. Thanks Paul.
I have known Kev for nearly 30 years. Kev and I met at St Paul’s School in Bellambi (which changed its name to Holy Spirit). From memory I met Kev through his brother David (or Dave). Dave and his friends every morning before school used to practice their rugby scrum on little kids like me. They use to pick us up and then “ feed” our little bodies into the scrum whilst a group a monstrous rugby players trampled all over us like a football.
Dave was well before his time with National Geographic type experiments, which included stuffing kids in a plastic garbage bin and hanging us out the windows, 3 floors up to see at what point we would cry, and also testing the toughness of wooden chairs by smashing them over us… All good fun………Looking back now.
Kev was always a bit before his time in all areas. He was one of the first people to wear really long socks when playing basketball and a white person at that, and his passion for music is legendary. He played music that none of us had ever heard of. And I am sure we still don’t.
Kev and I went to our first Blue Light Disco together in Bulli, which was always an interesting time in those early years. It was our first time being exposed to drinking. Kev and I weren’t really known to “knock them back” ( and this is still the same 30 years later) so Kev always ended up dancing with all the pretty girls as he was the only guy who could really put on a move.
In Year 11, I decided to go to school at Woodlawn in Lismore. At the end of Term 1 , out of nowhere, Kev appeared at school and said he was also coming to Woodlawn.
For the next 2 years ( Years 11 and 12) , Kev and I formed a very strong bond . I suppose showering in the open every day will do it to you. During those 2 years Kev and I excelled at every thing we did, unfortunately this did not include schoolwork or studying which to be honest was just an annoying distraction to finishing school.
Kev had this grey tape recorder ( for people under 30, ask your parents), which Kev colored in to make a grey and black check cool music machine. Kev and I spent our long study nights listening to music including Spy V Spy , Sunnyboys and Boom Crash Opera. I think we were studying to be the next Molly Meldrum.
Kev and I spent most of our week nights organizing our weekend activities, which included go for a run down the road (we even added to the theater of even going through a very extensive warm up routine) to a waiting car of some girl’s parents ready for us to jump in the boot of the car. These weekend days were filled with going to peoples houses to eat them out of house and home. A potential girlfriend had to have a very large ……..Kitchen
In Year 12, we were allowed to go out on a Saturday night 5 times during the year. There were a few house rules, which included, you couldn’t leave before 6 pm and had to be back to school before 12 pm. Upon returning you had have the ability to hold a 1-minute conversation with one of the school priests. Of course during this time the name of the game was go hard and fast. That is get to the pub drink as much as you could fast so you could sober up before 12pm.
During one outing, Warren who had a fetish for Brandy and Lemonade and the odd carton of cigarettes during a night out, just couldn’t get it together in time for his conversation with Father Barber. We all stood behind Warren and like a puppet held him up whilst Kev like the good friend he is took upon himself to speak on behalf Warren. Father Barber maybe a priest but wasn’t stupid proceed to say to Kev” wow your girlfriend must be a heavy smoker and like Brandy”. Needless to say Kev took it on the chin like a true pro and then we proceed to peel Warren out the door.
Kev’s ability to go and beyond a friendship was tested during one of these weekend runs. Kev and I decided to mix it up and give the running a miss and decided to kayak down the river away from school to get closer to the pub. It was a Navy Seal logistical marvel that we could arrange to paddle a couple of KM’s and then arrange to ditch the kayaks on the bank of the river and then run the rest of the way to the pub.
During the run part of the exercise, I ran through a barbwire fence and then proceed to slice open the top of my leg. Or course nothing was going to stop us from the pub this day not even a large open wound bleeding profusely. Kev and I decided to sit at the pub, watch the horse races, down a couple of beers and then after we ran out of things to stop my bleeding we decided it was a good time to visit the medical center. Of course all of this had to be done covertly so the school didn’t know we have left the school without permission.
So Kev and I found a doctor who agreed to stich me up on the sly. Unknown to us the “ doctor” also had spent a couple of hours at the pub before clocking on. For people who don’t know me, I have a UNBELIEABLE fear of needles, so Kev was given the job to stuff a pillow over my face whilst the doctor proceed to give me 10 stitches.. During this time, Kev was looking at me and then watching the “doctor” stitch me up all the while Kev’s face was getting whiter by the stitch, which nearly resulted in Kev passing out or throwing up all over me.
All jokes aside, looking back at those formative school years, Kev was always putting himself before others which is a trait he carry’s today.
After school, Kev and a couple of school mates decided to share a unit in Bellevue Hill Sydney. During this time, we all decided to make up for lost drinking time and our weekends rotated around the Golden Sheaf Double Bay and the Watsons Bay Hotel on Sundays. Kev’s ability to hold his liquor was sorely tested during this time, which I have to admit, he didn’t do that well.
During all our time living in Sydney, Kev visited me one Saturday afternoon and told me he had something call Huntington’s Disease”. I still remember the conversation as if it was yesterday but in those days with no Google or Internet I had no idea what this all meant. We were all young and healthy and in the prime of our lives so looking back I was very naive to Kev’s plight and I am sure I could have been a better friend in getting to understand HD. I think Kev being so positive was somewhat disarming to me.
I always thought Kev “ was hitting above his weight” with Jen, she was smart, intelligence, pretty and above all else, didn’t take any crap from Kev which I guess makes a special couple.. Kev had a few girlfriends along the way but Jenny was special, and Kev’s life seem to become more focused and she seemed to give Kev the support he needed to do the things he wanted to do. To this day, I think Jen is the most amazing person knowing what she knew all those years ago when she met Kev.
Like most things, lives go separate ways, I moved to the United States for 10 years and Kev decided to go to University and study teaching, which I always thought was his calling. During this time, Kev and I saw each other sporadically when I returned home to visit family but I was always amazed at Kev’s resilience and what a good father he was. Both Noah and Luc are a credit to both Kev and Jenny who under difficult circumstances have done an amazing job and should be really proud in the way they have raised both Noah and Luc.
This year, I had the pleasure of Kev visiting us here in Singapore on his way back from Vietnam. It’s was a bit like old times where Kev and I hit the town for a long night of drinking and Kev smoking. To be honest I was a bit taken back with Kev’s HD symptoms but found Kev, like always, positive and the view “ it is what it is” and there is not much I can do except enjoy life.
I am not ashamed to say, that I love Kev. He has been an unbelievable friend to me over the 28 years we have known each other.. We have seen each other at our lowest and our best during this time.. And at the end of the day there is not much else you can ask for in a true friend.
Needless to say, we feel the same was about Paul and his wife Colleen who are also doing a remarkable job of being parents to Mitchell and Chloe. One thing is for sure. Life has thrown each of us curve balls but as Kev so eloquently puts it, “it is what it is”. Love you guys. Thanks for sharing your story Paul.