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  • Towards the end of our trip in the tropics, I dreamt of a dark room and a bright cold outside. This dream brought me home ahead of time, back to life with Mini and Mr Dardani. It was somehow disturbing.

    We got back to discover Old Bert had passed away.

    I was sad. Everything he said took on extra meaning. Every thing he gave us. His golf cap. He had it on every time I saw him outside. It was from a golf tournament in the Caribbean. I wished I had paid my last respects but he was probably buried in Georgia.

    Then one day at choir our neighbour across the road mentioned that Mr Dardani had been buried according to Catholic funerary rites. I looked down from the choir loft at the spot, below the raised altar, where the priest and non-ordained assistants give out Holy Communion, where Old Bert had laid at rest at last. I felt a surge of joy at being where his physical presence had been.

    Much as I had endeavoured to be just there for him - in the wider circle of friends and neighbours silently accompanying him - in his time of loss, his was the immeasurably greater comforting presence, for having weathered many many more years. And for being "Old Bert."

    He loved his children. His wife. His family. WHO he must have been at his place of work. It was the most natural thing in the world to hold him in high regard . He said he did not go to church every Sunday. He thought pictures must be taken in bright sunlight. He never said so but I had the feeling he believed my photos would come out best taken around the middle of the day. (The shutterbug that I was took pictures as the moment dictated, not light.)

    He gave us one more gift that must mean the world to him: his children's wooden sled.

    In the bright cold outside he said, "It's just right for sledding." His voice held uncharacteristic urgency.

    He died February 22nd, 1994. Having lived only seventeen months more before joining his gal.

    I hear him now, urging us to go out and live; the conditions are just right.

    Yes, Mr Dardani, sir. I row my boat gently down the stream of consciousness, for merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.
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