About a month ago I blogged about having to make a decision between two pieces of work, two sets of characters, two novels I have been tinkering with. I wanted to concentrate on one of them, stop shilly-shallying and move it along briskly - I know I can do it once I actually apply myself. Eventually I plumped for 'The Daisy Killer' a novel that is based very very loosely on my grandfather's life. I had mentioned the novel to the last surviving member of my grandfather's family - my lovely uncle Tom Kennedy. Tom was delighted , I told him I was inventing an affair for Grandad in Detroit - a city where he worked for some years in the 50s. 'Well, he deserved it,' said Tom, 'I'm sure he would have a good chuckle over it.'
I was delighted and told Tom I'd be dedicating the book to the Kennedys of Glandore Road and more particularly to him. My lovely Uncle Tom died last night - a young man, he was only in his mid sixties and he joins the rest of the Kennedys of Glandore Road somewhere outside of this dimension we know. They all died young these Kennedy siblings, Norah in her forties, Mam - Elizabeth in her fifties and Tom - the baby of the family - in his sixties.
But by God did Tom enjoy life! He was the a firm believer in living in the moment, rarely worried and always got by. He reared four lovely children in Swords, where I now also live, and his family were always close. He adored his wife Margaret and they were well known about the village - enjoying socialising with others - they have a wide circle of friends and loved a good meal, a few drinks and lively conversation. Tom was a great raconteur - he always had a yarn for you and if he met you out at night nothing suited him better than a chat and a pint - he'd dodge out for a fag and possibly a bet over the course of the evening-he delighted in taking money from the bookies! He was very like Grandad in his gentleness of manner, in his courtesy and respect. A lovely man.
Tom and Margaret were like Darby and Joan - they went everywhere together and were great pals as well as lovers and parents. My heart is sore at the thought of how Margaret must now be feeling. The other half of her gone. But he is truly only gone in the flesh. For Margaret is surrounded by their loving children and many grandchildren. And in every one of those children and grandchildren Tom lives on. In a word, a look, a smile, a laugh.
I could ramble on for hours about Tom, tell loads of stories about him but there is one that I feel is particularly apt for it shows his sense of humour - that which kept him buoyed up even in the darkest days and nights of his illness. Tom's Dad, my Grandad- died when I was about fourteen. Grandad had been in the printing game as had his father before him and Tom was also involved in printing. In the funeral car Tom sat in with the driver and I sat behind with my mother, grandmother and other elderly relatives. Tom lit up his ubiquitous cigarette and started to regale us all with stories about his Dad - a man he loved very much. Grandad had been very friendly with the Kirwan family - a long established undertaking firm in Dublin . At one stage they were wondering how they could go about advertising their business and brought up the subject with Grandad. Grandad promptly came up with the legend 'Kirwan's Kosy Koffins Make Korpses Komfortable'. My mother, the driver and I all burst into laughter - smothered quickly by the look on the Great Aunt Norah's face. That was Tom - a man who celebrated life and enjoyed every minute he drew breath. A life lived in the only way it should be - fully.
Coladh Samh Tom - I'll miss you. x