8.2.12

RIP Tom Dowler

i got the news today that my great-grandfather, Tom Dowler, died peacefully this morning at 0920. he was very old and suffering from the advanced stages of dementia, so the family has been expecting this for a while, but i guess you can't ever prepare properly for this kind of shit.

we called him Farver - that was all we could pronounce out of "great-grandfather" as tiny kids. he and my great-grandma Doll-Doll lived very close to where i grew up, just a couple of blocks away, and they were always involved with us, always happy to see us when we came to visit. they'd break out the biscuit jar and let me eat as many ginger nuts as i could cram into my face, and they kept a stock of proper Schweppes lemonade for us. Farver would press a pound coin into our hands as kids, when it was a fuckton of money to us, and grin and tell us to go and spend it all at once. later on as i left for the University he'd give me a tenner when he saw me, even though they don't have very much money to live on. he would always bear hug me and tell me, "Stay lucky, kid. Be good."

i was lucky enough to get a proper goodbye, which was more than i managed when my gran died. lucidity was incredibly rare by last Christmas day, the last time i saw him, and i thought it had been gone completely for quite some time. for the most part, it had. he was still cheerful, and we (me, my ma and my nan) opened his presents with him in the care home and made sure his giant pillowy bed was comfy, just sort of chilling and fetching the occasional drink and talking shit with him. he was the nurses' favourite guy in the whole place. they'd just changed his bedding, given him his meds and made sure he was okay, and we'd come back in to hold his hands and make sure he fell asleep knowing there were people there with him. before he went under he looked straight at me and said, "It's okay, kid, I'm still your Farver." i gave him a hug and he fell asleep.

he was a good person who did some bad things and some really fucking good things. he fought in the Second World War, driving an amphibious tank called a duck, and helped liberate the camp at Flossenbuerg. he was also a good friend of the Kray twins. he never spoke about this - to us, he was just Farver. he loved us.

i can't say he's in a better place, but he's not suffering any longer. recquiescat in pace.

L

23 comments:

Naib said...

I'm glad you were able to see him as himself recently. It always hard when someone passes, even harder if they aren't themselves. My grandfather passed several years ago after nearly a decade of a degenerative mental condition. I never had the chance to know my great-grandfather. How old was he?

infraled said...

You really can't ask for more than that, both for you and for him. Sounds like a good grandpa though. Mine used to swear constantly, which to a Catholic, meant yelling "Jesus Christ" =)

Usul said...

*hug*

Sometimes words are so very lacking.

Max said...

You're incredibly lucky to have had a proper goodbye. That can make a big difference, especially in cases where dementia is involved. I didn't have that when my gran (who was also in the late stages of dementia) or my dad passed away. Yours sounds just like out of a children's book. Sounds like he left a happy family and many wonderful memories. He sounds like a wonderful great-grandpa.

[He sounds a lot like my grandpa. Our grandparents used to live next door, and we call them "Bopa" and "Mia" for the same reason. They spoil us with candy and the occasional monetary gift, much to the chagrin of my mother. My grandpa's a carpenter, and he's a real work animal (even though he's technically retired, he never stops working). We like to joke that he's too busy to die and will just live forever.]

ryepdx said...

Glad to hear you got to say goodbye. Sorry to hear about your loss. Sounds like he was a great guy. :-(

Anonymous said...

My condolences for your loss. My grandma sufferend from dementia and another connected illness, which tied her to the bed for almost 8 years in a coma-like state. She was awake but not able to talk or in any other way interact with her surroundings. It was 8 long years for my mom to visit her mom, not knowning if she could hear what she said to her or if she even realized she was there. Her illness came so quick and lasted so long, that a "good bye" like moment was not possible. It is good that you had that chance.

Greets,
N.

Anonymous said...

He lived to 920? :O

Mitchell said...

Today's featured article at Wikipedia is about another Tom D who was also a "friend of the Kray twins". What Does It Mean?

malces said...

Sounds like your great-grandad was an alright guy. Always a shame to see a loving person die, but there's no real solace apart from perpetuating their better aspects.

Me, I never really accepted my grandpa's death until I found myself at a poker game. He taught me how to play... which is to say that cards were really the only thing we shared together, him being an ornery old racist and all. Shuffling the deck, it hit me all of a sudden that the piercing gaze I'd grown up with will never seem to turn my cards transparent again-- that presence was gone. So whenever I meet someone new, I always invite them around for cards, especially if they've never played before. It's the only honest memorial I can give him (plus I do pretty well against the chumps in my little circle, which would have made him cackle like a madman.)

Anyway, I hope your memories of your great-grandad make you smile.

Anonymous said...

>Today's featured article at Wikipedia is about another Tom D who was also a "friend of the Kray twins". What Does It Mean?

Well Mitchel, since he died in 1976 I doubt it means anything. Tom is a very common name and having a last name that starts with D isn't that uncommon either. The rest is just an uncanny coincidence.

Schneider said...

Sorry for you lost! A bit late but i just discovered you blog..

I know what you're going through, as Max said, you had an incredible chance to say a proper goodbye.

It's not given to a lot of people, cherish this moment!

Sheaman said...

I know, but I like the sentiment.

"Death is but the next great adventure!" ~ J.M Barrie

Usul said...

Lepht my dear, we miss you!

g-d said...

ponder this: your grandfather was born in a time well before widespread use of antibiotics, when people died regularly from pneumonia, before the invention of sunglasses, the trampoline and the electric guitar. even the modern toilet brush.

however well i think i can grasp the concept of death, the concept of age eludes me completely. and it is sad how big a part of human culture that disappears pretty much daily.

Anonymous said...

Come back lepht...please!!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't like it when someone I know dies. But, over time, I have learned that there is nothing we can do, the earth will still rotate, the stars will still shine, people will continue on with their lives. Nothing ever stops. I am sorry for your loss =(. Good luck with your life. =)

Anonymous said...

I'm coming to the post late, but I still wanted to extend my condolences on the loss of your grandfather. He sounds like an interesting man who contributed positive experiences to your life. I hope you find the solace and support you need at this time.

You comments at the end -- how he was friends with the Kray Brothers (netflix has a film about them, btw, don't know how accurate) and how he did both good and bad things -- it made me realize how much grandparents parcel out aspects of their life to us. We only see the one side, hopefully the loving and caring Grandparent Person. But there's this whole other complex history behind the person that we rarely are privy too. A history that is sometimes filled with dark things that later as adults leave us conflicted. It sounds like you have a healthy acceptance of your grandfather as more whole person, and can still enjoy the sweet childhood memories. That's a rare thing and I'm happy you have found such a good balance.

Again, I'm sorry to hear you lost someone important to you. Wishing you health and comfort.

Motoko Kolster said...

sorry to hear that, lepht. sometimes everything is lacking.

Anonymous said...

Hello, you don't know me but I am following interested your Blog and maybe my words can help you on your way. I lost 2 brothers and my father and it felt like somebody cuts meat out of my body and puts it in a coffin to decay. Well, I know that kinda pain. Death is inevitable. We are all forced by laws of nature to exist and also we are all forced by laws of nature to die.

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Motoko Kolster said...

that one is going in my heart- "stay lucky." damn.

Meticulous Geek said...

Haven't heard from you in a while, how are you doing Lepht?

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