Grief

I got an email late last night, which I reproduce, complete with the email address (now redacted):

Hi Frank,

it’s Aimee, Kevin’s daughter.
Kevin passed away this morning with my sister and myself at his bedside. The sun was shining and the light in the room was beautiful, all was peaceful.

Either my sister Maria or myself will be in contact about the celebration of his life in the form of a few drinks. I would appreciate it if you could pass this on to your gang and let them know you are all very welcome to contact me and I can’t wait to meet you all.

Much love.

Aimee

It’s less than three weeks since me and Bucko and Twenty met up with Nisakiman at the White Hart at Ashton Keynes, to smoke and drink and talk.

I didn’t say so at the time, but the moment that I set eyes on him that day, I thought he was a dying man. It doesn’t show in the photos, but there was a greyness about his face, and the skin on his head had shrunk into tiny wrinkles. I really wouldn’t have been surprised to have got a phone call the next day to say that he’d gone.

We smoked and drank and talked like old friends that day, although none of us had met person to person, face to face, except as kindred spirits in the Smoky Drinky Bar. And we talked and we laughed. And he laughed too. And he knocked back several pints of beer over the three hours or more we spent together.

He wrote in the comments here the next day:

Yes, kindred spirits indeed. A very disparate group, and one meeting in the flesh for the first time.

And yet that wasn’t the way it was. It was like we were old friends who had sat talking over a pint innumerable times before. There wasn’t any awkwardness. No searching for something to say. No drying up of conversation. Just a very natural, easy situation. Frank mentioned that I was there for more than three hours, but I would happily have spent another couple of hours chewing the fat with such excellent company.

I was so pleased that the guys made such an effort, to come all the way they did just to see me. A humbling experience, and one which I’ll never forget.

It raised my spirits massively. Thank you Peter, Bucko and Frank. I cannot adequately describe how much that visit meant to me.

And thank you also to all the supportive comments that have been left here on Frank’s blog. I read and appreciate them all.

As we parted that day, and he was standing by the car that had come to take him away, I walked back to him and put an arm around him, and him around me.

I guess he never made it back to Greece. He’d been planning to go back to his wife and home in Greece, to settle his affairs, and then maybe move on to Thailand and his wife’s family there.

It had all been very quick, as he wrote in an email to me in early April:

Hi Frank,
Yes, it was all a bit sudden. My youngest daughter came to visit me in Patras, took one look at me and booked me a ticket to UK, where my other daughter picked me up and took me to the doctor next day. Following day I was here in hospital, being pumped full of drugs. Too much calcium in the blood, could be cancer. Had a CT scan yesterday, should get the results today. I’ve been on another planet with all the shit they’ve been giving me, only just today checked my email.
Thanks for your concern. I’ll keep you posted. Maybe try to drop in SDB soon.
Kevin

When we talked in the White Hart, he said that back in Greece he’d not been feeling very well, and had been finding it difficult to lift heavy equipment in his carpenter’s workshop in Patras. But within days of arriving back in England he was in an impersonal, faceless hospital as a terminal cancer patient, given jarfuls of tablets, handed a death sentence, and asked if he wanted to be resuscitated.

I can’t help but think he’d still be alive today, if he’d just stayed at home in Greece, tinkering in his workshop, not feeling too well, and continuing to ignore his wife’s pleas to see a doctor.

But who knows?

About Frank Davis

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41 Responses to Grief

  1. beobrigitte says:

    I am very much shocked to hear the sad news. I was hoping against hope that Nisakiman could be a repeat of my mother.
    Please send the family my heartfelt condolences.
    How about dedicating our SDB gathering tonight to Nisakiman? He did come in a few times and I think he’d like that.

  2. Carol42 says:

    I am so sorry to hear this news, not surprised though, he looked very ill in the photograph and no news was not good. Please pass my condolences to his family. I agree it might have been better to stay in Greece and he would probably have lived longer. A friend of mine did that in effect, to the fury of the hospital she left and despite giving her just a few months she lived for two years and enjoyed life, weak but happy until the last few weeks and died peacefully. I had a few emails from Kevin before you met up. I am glad you got that. Let me know if there is any place to make donations set up. I am just back from a funeral in Scotland, the second this year, so sad to come back to this. I will save Kevin’s emails as I saved Captain Ranty to read and remember sometimes. Thank you for letting us know.
    Carol

  3. Dirk says:

    Nisakiman was a wonderful guy. I’ll miss his wonderful stories and his joie de vivre.

  4. kin_free says:

    Sad sad news indeed. I will miss the excellent, thoughtful comments he made here and elsewhere. Please pass on my condolences too.

  5. buckothemoose says:

    Very sad news. Even though he looked quite ill when we met him, I didn’t think his demise would be so soon and was hoping he had the chance to carry out his plans
    So long old friend

  6. RdM says:

    Very sad, and so sudden.
    I felt as though i was just getting to know him a little, and that there might be years ahead.
    I admired his adventurous spirit, his attitudes, humour, and writings.
    Grief indeed.

    But thanks for breaking, sharing the news so immediately.
    Compassionate thoughts for his family and his wife.
    Loving kindness, sympathy.

    I hope they get all the support they need in going through this experience.

    Ross

  7. Emily says:

    I’m so sad to hear this. I only knew Kevin a short time and talked to him only on a few occasions, but he touched my life with his gentle and friendly spirit. I will miss him.

  8. irocyr says:

    Very saddened to hear this :-( I worked with Nisakiman (which means ”man from the small island” on the tctactics website and found that he was such an intelligent eloquent and passionnate man. I will keep good memories of him. May he rest in peace.

  9. junican says:

    Very sad news. We communicated by email from time to time. I’ll miss him.

  10. Grandad says:

    I had been dreading this news. I never actually met him but through his comments, his site and our email conversations he became a close friend. I will miss him greatly.

  11. Rose says:

    I’m so sorry to read this, a wonderfully clever man who wrote so eloquently in a way that I never could. I shall miss him a great deal, please give my condolences to his family.

  12. (this is The Blocked Dwarf -for those who don’t recognise this nick): I was brought up to believe that the only proper written expression of sympathy for loss was a simple sentence saying so; “sorry for your loss” or ” in deepest sympathy” etc. I have always tried to keep to that rule, and find this modern habit of ‘gushing’ about how much someone meant to me and how keenly I feel my own loss to be tactless and thoughtless towards the deceased relatives….even rude.
    Don’t get me wrong.Kevin’s friends expressing their grief here is right and proper, just not directly to the next of kin.
    However my email to Aimee ,expressing my condolences, did include something a bit more ‘personal’ and I want to say that here- here being a better place for discussions about Kevin.

    His blog became one of my ‘must reads’. His writings were of such a quality that I always felt the world had missed out on a great travel writer.

    As Carol has said, Kevin’s emails and letters are worth keeping just for the well-craftedness of his writing. I hope Kevin’s next-of-kin will consider leaving his blog up as a memorial.

  13. legiron says:

    A great loss. I wish I had met him, but never did.

  14. Pingback: Another remote goodbye | underdogs bite upwards

  15. Tony says:

    Very sad news. I neither met nor corresponded with him which was certainly my loss although I always enjoyed and admired his comments.
    His blog was wonderful. Great story telling giving tantalising glimpses of a remarkable life. Had he written his full autobiography, I suspect it would have been a bestseller.

  16. Very sad news. He was an amazing and brilliant man, who I never would have known of, if not for your blog.

  17. Vlad says:

    Sad news. At least he didn’t suffer too long. I’ll miss his comments.

  18. Dmitry Kosyrev says:

    Sad. Lived like a man, died like one.

  19. Twenty Rothmans says:

    Vale, Kevin.
    My sincere thanks to Frank for making the White Hart happen. Meeting Kevin in the flesh meant a great deal.

  20. Philip Neal says:

    So sorry. I knew him from his excellent blog which should have gone on for far longer.

  21. Joe L. says:

    I’m so shocked that the sadness hasn’t really set in yet. While I only spoke with Kevin a few times in the Smoky-Drinky Bar, I feel like I knew him well from years of conversations here in the comments section of Frank’s blog. His presence will be greatly missed. My thoughts are with Kevin’s family.

    R.I.P. Nisakiman

  22. garyk30 says:

    RIP Kev

    My prayers for his wife; who not only has a great loss, she must settle his estate in a strange land with a language she does not speak.

  23. Barry Homan says:

    So glad Peter, John, and Frank got to meet with him – he sure enjoyed that.

    RIP old boy, you’ll always be in our thoughts. I raise my glass to you.

  24. Inspector Alleyne says:

    A very great loss to our community but obviously even more so for his wife and family. Is there any way in which we could possibly give some practical help to his his wife? I can only imagine the devastation she is suffering.

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  26. Smoking Lamp says:

    I will miss reading and corresponding with him. His voice will be missed. RIP Nisakiman.

  27. Nisaki, you’ll be missed and remembered… and we’ll keep on fighting all the harder.

    – Michael

  28. Lepercolonist says:

    Sad to hear about Nisakiman. Admired his beautiful and cogent thoughts.

  29. waltc says:

    I’m shocked as well as saddened by the suddeness of this. Words fail. RIP

  30. Old Peculier says:

    Very sorry to hear this, condolences to his family. RIP Nisaki, you had a rare gift with words and will be missed.

  31. margo says:

    Great shame. We’ve lost a very interesting and special person. Condolences to all his family.

  32. Frank Davis says:

    I pass on another email I got from Aimee today:

    I would like to thank you all for your kind words.
    My father was a brave and stubborn man to the end and I mean the end!
    In the last hours of his life as the lights slowly began to be extinguished he was still there, at one point he removed his oxygen mask to inform my sister and my self that he felt shit and then not long after to tell us how fucked he felt. He even went so far as to inform us that nobody seemed to know what was going on! This was his typical cry to me throughout the illness when he needed me to fight in the form of harassing a doctor or nurse for drugs or an examination, this time I took his hand and told him that we knew what was happening; that he was dying and it was alright because I was going to get him more morphine so it didn’t hurt anymore, if that is what he wanted; he did.
    The room the hospice had provided was on the corner of the building facing into the garden and adjoining fields, with all the privacy a man like my father needed. He even had his own door out on to a small patio with table, chairs and of course an ashtray!
    The staff at the Prospect hospice treated him with dignity and respect and his comfort and quality was all they cared about.
    We could not have asked for a more wonderful location or a more beautiful passing.
    My sister and I guided him through each step and each breath, ensuring there was no fear and that he knew he was loved, we soothed and stroked his head and told him it was ok now. He died peacefully and naturally.

    • waltc says:

      That’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do and it sounds as though you did it with bravery and grace. Bravo.

  33. Carol42 says:

    I got that too, loved that they provided an ashtray even if he couldn’t use it. I made a donation in his memory to the hospice today. They are wonderful places.

  34. Frank Davis says:

    I sent Aimee a link to the above blog post, so she could read it and the comments under it. She replied:

    That was great to read.

    I have received several emails offering condolences which have really made the last couple of days a little more bearable.

    Once everything is booked I will let you know when the cremation/drinks will be happening.

    The day you all came to see him was one of the few days I saw the sparkle back in his eyes; it was a pleasure to witness. He spent the rest of that day continuing to be his old self and provided much entertainment and gave me the dad I once knew, if just for a few hours.

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