Dave used to live across from me. A quiet man, large as a tree, as broad as a tree, with long hair and genial personality. He kept to himself, worked as a doorman in a pub and led a good life as far as I know. He lived all his life in the same house. His mother died in her nineties having lived in the same area all her life too. When his mother died, Dave continued to live alone. He used to drive a large white Opal car which he drove fast and screeched to a stop at his door. Then his eyesight failed and he stopped driving. Gradually his visits to the continent to look at war graves and historical sites also tapered away. He complained of gout. Still, this large man, continued to work and in the evenings treat himself to fish and chips and a glass of beer.
And so it passed, for a few more years. Dave would occasionally be seen plucking at the weeds in his minute (10′ by 10′) garden. Then one New Year’s morning I heard insistent loud knocking at his door. There was a woman (let us call her Susan) all the worse for drink at 5 o’clock in the morning (I mean falling about) with three small children in tow. I think they had been sort of friends for sometime. I often saw her talk to Dave at his door. He never let anyone inside. But this morning, as I watched he opened the door wide and let them in. Dave and Susan started an affair and in time she moved in when her children grew old enough to live by themselves, with support from her. They had a few good years. They went on holidays to her home town in Ireland and looked really happy. She had men relatives who took advantage of Dave’s nature and even moved in when they were homeless. But Dave took it all in with his usual equanimity.
Then one day, out of the blue, he had a stroke. He was rushed to hospital, probably too late. Paralysis had set in and he ended up in a nursing home. That was three years ago. All through Dave’s illness Susan who was a carer by profession, devoted herself to him, looking after his every need. She visited him regularly although the he was in a home far away and she did not drive. She worked, helped her children and she looked after Dave. I would see her on the street and ask after Dave.
Today at 8am Susan knocked on my door. She said “I am sorry to say but Dave has passed away”. I gave her a hug and asked after her. She went away saying she will let me know when the funeral is going to be.
Now I did not know Dave except to say hello and exchange a few words. He would always put a card through my door at Christmas with the simple word “Dave” written roughly. But he was a gem of a man and there are many like him who serve in their fashion and die quietly. I know this is a long post devoted to him but I owe him that, to memorialize him, a good man.
His aunt continues to live two doors away. She is in her nineties, a beautiful lady. I stop by to exchange a few words with her. That is the sort of street this is.
Here is a poem by e.e. cummings that came to my mind while I was writing this. Dave was no hero in the conventional sense but he was a hero to somebody and if not, he ought to have been. Read the poem through and through. It takes some reading loudly to appreciate it.
Buffalo Bill ’s
Buffalo Bill ’s
who used to
ride a watersmooth-silver
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
he was a handsome man
and what i want to know is
how do you like your blueeyed boy
So Long Dave!