Ticking away the moments…

A week or so ago we lost a friend. He was born on the last day of 1954, not quite 6 months before the G.O. The brief notice in the local newspaper closed with the words “Sadly missed by all his mates”. Mates who could only witness the inexorable claim illness made on his life. But mates who drove him to doctors appointments, visited hospitals, mowed the lawn, brought food their missuses made, delivered & chopped wood for the fire in his living room that was the only thing even before the onset of winter keeping him warm, and much more. Mates who at the end when there was no more to be done, sat by his side, at his home.

To me he was a friend. One of the first I made in the village. He was a man of interchangeable aspects: flair for life; and for self destruction. He was also private and generous. I’m not sure he shared the full details of his condition with any one person. The cruel physical manifestations of its progress were testimony enough.

He wasn’t being spared himself but elected to spare others if they wished and so faded from social life, retreating from company but not unwelcoming of it, as his corporeal presence diminished. The last time we saw him was a month and a week before he left us.

Each time we visited our friend this year, the G.O. and I prepared ourselves for it to be the last. Up until late the year before he would ask, when are you coming home for good? It was when he stopped asking I really began to worry.

Despite this, the G.O. and I hoped. We hoped what we saw with our eyes and feared in our hearts was temporary, a miracle would happen and restore our friend to his ebullient self. You cannot not hope. I believe he also hoped. Despite his battle our friend’s stoicism abided.

On the day our friend relinquished his grasp on life, a quietly devastated G.O. called me with the news that numbed me except for my eyes. They wouldn’t stop leaking. The G.O. who hadn’t had a cigarette since April, accepted one proffered in kindness from a workmate… and later recounted to me I thought I was bloody going to join him when I tried to smoke it.

The same evening the G.O. and I sat together on our city balcony, too far away, drinking wine in the dark, yarning about him, our memories and his stories. Oh, those stories, we heard them dozens of times but now he’s gone, never enough. The night our friend’s only final wishes were carried out, simply his mates gathering to have a beer in his memory, we couldn’t be there except in spirit. And so we raised our glasses in absentia and told the stories again, as he would want.

???????????????????For me, I’ll miss his friendship, his kind heart and his “darlin’s”. The fat bunch of garlic hanging from a rafter, dropped in on his last visit for a beer and a yarn, is now even more precious. It’s typical of the gifts he distributed among many, but would accept little in return, mostly only the time we shared.

The G.O. will miss much more. The two of them had plans… fishing, canoeing on the river, fix up the motorbike in the shed… stuff blokes enjoy in company. The G.O. lost his mate, and a future they both anticipated.

Time (lyrics), Pink Floyd from The Dark Side of the Moon 


32 thoughts on “Ticking away the moments…

  1. So sorry to hear about the passing of your friend. Nice that you remember him so fondly, sometimes people without family of their own manage to slip away unnoticed, it sounds like he had enough mates that that would never happen.

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    1. Thank you. Family is often complicated. Our friend did have family, some close but not local. The best thing about the village is the community, which at its best does as well as family. Sadly, a week before, someone (we didn’t know well) though did slip away unnoticed, but that was never going to be the case here.

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  2. You beggar, you actually made my eyes leak then.Your friend would be so proud knowing you thought so much of him as to share it with the world.. I would go tomorrow if I thought someone would give a eulogy for me anything approaching this. He must have been quite a man.
    xxx Huge Hugs for you both, tell the G.O. it’s acceptable, I’m not Australian. xxx

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    1. You’re in good company. My eyes are still a bit leaky. The G.O. took the newspaper notice off to digest in private, so him too, I imagine. Being a mate is the highest form of honour. You have a good one, your BFAM – Michael, so give him that hug, as proxy. And get one back 🙂

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  3. What a lovely tribute to your friend. I lost a good friend my age not quite two years ago and all I could think to do was cry and write about her. We can hope we will be so lucky that someone will want to cry and write about us! Hugs to you both.

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    1. Thank you. Losing a close friend takes a bit of coming to terms with … I’m still trying to get my head around it. Sometimes I read posts to the G.O. but this isn’t one of them, yet anyway, he’s sad enough.

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    1. Thank you. It’s been nice to share a little both about our friend, and also that moments do tick away into days, weeks, years… and sometimes things don’t always go to plan.

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    1. Thank you. Even though it wasn’t unexpected I’m still trying to get my head around it. The words started coming to me on Saturday morning, so I thought I’d see what came of it.

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      1. Loving and heartfelt was what I read. And I understand about the hope. Life is all we really understand. We know death is inevitable, but somehow it also seems…impossible.

        -big hugs-

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  4. What a good thing you knew this man, to appreciate his unique gift to life, not afraid to be himself right to the end ….. your words are a wonderful eulogy elladee …. sadly missed is how we would all like to be when our time comes too …. even if we may not all be such a legend as the GO’s mate

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    1. Thank you. It is a good thing and our friend will be well remembered for exactly those reasons. The G.O. said last night, you never truly die so long as someone remembers you and speaks your name.

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  5. I am so sorry to read about the loss of your friend.
    Reading between the lines, your love and affection for him shines through.
    I’m sure he would have been with you in sprit as you and the GO raised your glasses and shared memories of him.

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    1. Thank you. As you know well, sometimes putting it into words helps, and I feel fortunate to have the forum, and one day when he’s ready the G.O. will read them too. And yes, our friend will always be there in spirit, as his was indomitable 🙂

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  6. Oh EllaDee what a lovely tribute to your friend. I’m sorry I missed this post–it is so poignant. Saying goodbye is so hard and watching someone disappear is hard. I agree you have to keep hoping even when it feels impossible or improbable. The alternative is to dark to contemplate.

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    1. Thank you. Last weekend we learned our friend’s house is up for sale, sad for us, it’s been difficult to become accustomed that he’s no longer there but hopefully new people will enjoy living there as much as he did 🙂

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