In the words of his mother, Alex Keating was a "good boy." An incredible understatement, but that's what Alex was - wonderfully understated. As the second of four boys of Mike and Laura Keating, all two years apart, Alex was the quiet one in the family who had a power all his own.
As a child he would often fade into the background in his busy household. There was no one easier to babysit - he would quietly work away at something that interested him, obeying any request, almost invisible until it came time to leave. Then he would hand you some Popsicle-stick art or a picture he had made for you.
As a student Alex quietly achieved top marks and won many of the awards in his school every year. He was clearly gifted and loved to learn but was often stealthy in his efforts. One New Year's Day at 6 a.m. his father found him in the basement, where he had gone to work privately - in full costume filming dual roles as interviewer and subject for a living history project for which he ultimately received perfect marks.
His intelligence was legendary in high school and many people asked for his help, which he always gave without hesitation. His parents often scolded him for working late into the night, not realizing that was the only time he had left to do his own work because of the time he had spent helping others earlier in the day. Based on his marks and work before his death, he graduated from high school in June post-mortem, with no fewer than nine subject and excellence awards.
With his brothers, Patrick, Steven and Ben, Alex was the quiet instigator and practical joker - protective and annoying at the same time. Alex was given granola bars each time he walked the neighbours' dog, and his brother Patrick would often ask for one when he saw them on his side table. Alex's answer was always no - much to Patrick's chagrin. Shortly after Alex died, his family found a map tube filled to the brim with dozens of uneaten bars - a likely present for Patrick's upcoming birthday.
Alex loved the family cottage in Bancroft, Ont., and spent many hours there helping his dad build things, making up games to play with his brothers and cousins and having fun with that twinkle in his eye.
He left us suddenly one night with no warning, from an undiagnosed heart disease we knew nothing about. It was then that we learned so much more about him through the memories of countless people he had touched. So many lamented that with his intelligence and kindness he could have made such an impact in this world. But I now realize that he already had - and he'll never be forgotten.
Mary Keating is Alex's aunt.
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