There are people in life who are dealt a tough hand and crumble. There are people in life who fall, never to rise again.

But then, there are the few people who manage to pull themselves up from the darkest pits of hell. People who manage to overcome the most crippling of adversities and come out the other side. People like Tony Jackett.

This man was dragged down, hit rock bottom but rose nonetheless

Life has a way of testing us – testing our strength, testing our resolve, testing our resilience through adversity and life certainly tested every ounce of strength that this man possessed.

Years of addiction cost him friends, both to death and to turned backs. It cost him years of his life. Years in which the talents he possessed could have been carved into a magnificent future. Years that unfortunately will never be returned.

But even in the darkest times, in the deepest downward spirals, one thing Tony never lost was the support and love of his family.

Maybe it was in knowing deep down that these people would be there for him forever that kept him going. For it was this love that he revelled in when he turned his life around. Tony was forever surrounded by love – love that waited for him every single day.

But above all else, what Tony had in life that kept him going was the spirit of a true fighter. The lonely road of addiction is one that is travelled by many, but not all manage to find their way home. Tony, the fighter, did. Battling with his addictions, Tony lost so much along the way and there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

But Tony made his own light.

There’s no doubting how hard he worked to create that one spark in that dark. But the sheer courage and determination of a man that had nothing more than the will to simply go on turned that spark in to a glorious flame.

Tony’s story is one that needs to be told and heard simply because of the one theme it carries throughout – a fighter’s spirit.

Tony’s story is one that should have been told in his own words.

A story that was sitting on the backburner, waiting until Christmas when I would see him again, where I would ask him to pass on how he took the reins and returned from a place where so many are lost forever.

But – as usual – life got in the way. What could have been a happy ending piece written sitting next to him, is now written in memoriam.

Don’t ever let time tell you that you can’t let someone know how special they are, and the high regard in which you hold them. I missed that opportunity. I don’t regret many things in my life, but I will always regret missing the opportunity to “interview” my uncle and get his untold story.

Immortalised now in the lives he touched – no one will forget the fighter you were Tony.

You’re the toughest man any of us will know and that makes you the ultimate idol. There is nothing that will be forgotten about how hard Tony fought and how he reclaimed his grip and control over his life.

Tony was a kind, hardworking soul and that is the reason he fought himself back to life. You were so loved throughout our family and your story is one I am proud to tell. I am so proud to call you my uncle.

Your love and your fighting spirit is something that will be forever admired and awed. From that life he had, a life that was marred in addiction and the deepest of depressions to a life filled with love, friends and family.

Tony wanted a straight life and he found it in the blood, sweat and tears he shed to find his Oz from the tornado that he almost lost himself in.

The cruel ending is that life didn’t give him justice by allowing him time to enjoy the new life he hand built, brick by brick, for himself. He was taken by something so far from his past, and with it took his bright future.

Tony’s is a story of such magnificence that I was only just beginning to comprehend, and we will miss him dearly.

Goodbye Tony.

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