Friend. It’s almost a throw-away term any more. In our digital culture, nearly anyone we ever encounter, however casually, gets tagged with “friend”. Almost daily, writers and reporters decry the end of “true” friendships, the face-to-face kind rumored to have been sacrificed on the altar of social media and our disposable culture. What’s not mentioned as often are the real and lasting connections that the web allows – even between people who have never actually looked into one another’s eyes.
Jon Patch was a friend of mine in that sense. We never met in so-called real life. We never shared a coffee or took in a movie. Thinking back, I’m not even sure I ever heard his voice. Yet for all that seeming disconnect, I came to have a good sense of who he was. The things I’ll remember about him are his kindness, how unflappable he was, how dedicated to his craft. He sang, he wrote poetry, and he spent countless hours of his time crafting beautiful flight sim renditions of the scenery that surrounded him.
Americans like to joke about how pathologically nice Canadians are, and Jon certainly did his part to perpetuate the stereotype. In a hobby where it sometimes seems blowhards and man-children rule, he was the adult in the room, a steady, calming influence. Even when he got angry, it was hard to tell unless you listened very carefully.
This evening, I got the news of Jon’s passing. I didn’t realize he’d been ill, but wasn’t surprised that he hadn’t mentioned it. That was just the kind of guy he was. What I do know is this: the sim world has lost a true gem, and though we had never been in a room together, I can’t help feeling I’ve lost a good friend. Blue skies, Jon. Thanks for hanging out with us for as long as you did. We’re all the better for it.