His name was Roy Eldon.
He was 72.
If I had met Roy I would have told him a tale of a wonderful day not long ago, and it would have gone something like this:
“This morning I wandered off to the greenhouse, armed with a mug of strong black coffee, a beautiful Bjorn Thurmann Rhodesian pipe and some of Troy’s precious gift, ‘Krumble Kake’; some very old, well-aged ‘Krumble Kake’.
I loaded the pipe, not really paying it much heed and set it to one side. I settled into the garden chair, looked at the general untidiness of the place, sighed, took a sip of coffee and basked in the glory of a bright sunny morning full of promise – to heck with it all – I was going to sit, relax, smoke a fabled blend, and come up with words to say to my old friend.
Absentmindedly I applied the char light and let it go out, put the pipe to one side and sat back. Then I tasted the smoke. Oh! That’s nice, really nice. Only, ‘nice’ is not the right word – I don’t know what is…….I was missing something….
Outside the wind was blowing, rattling the glass, and the sun was playing hide and seek behind the clouds as they floated serenely across the sky – each time it disappeared the temperature in the greenhouse dropped, only to shoot up again on the Suns reappearance. I took the pipe, and lit up. This black, moist looking, tobacco was sending up lovely thick smoke and taking light easily – not so moist after-all – and it stayed lit, settling into a fine even glow, soon covered by a layer of ash as it consumed the tobacco.
I drew gently on the pipe, resisting the temptation to take great gobs of smoke – it tasted so good, I wanted to consume it all in one, like a glutton let loose on the buffet bar, with a plate fit for a giant. I settled into the smoke, consoling myself that a gentle pace will reap its own rewards, the quality and longevity outweighing the quantity and brevity of an all-consuming surge. I would savour this – for, I realised, this was a quite gorgeous tobacco. It was soft, appealing, easy, smoky and something…..something…..
I smoked, and I sat, and I smoked. I held it in my mouth and I let it slip out slowly. The sun warmed me, and the breeze caught the smoke as it drifted out the open door and whisked it away in a swirl and flurry to the far reaches of the universe. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a movement to the left. A wolf spider prowls across the raised bed, speeding, stopping, changing direction, racing across its lunar landscape in search of something….something……
On the path at my feet an ant wanderers across the desert that is a flag of Indian red sandstone, navigating great boulders – moving, with intent up the board that creates the edge of the bed and onto the mountainous region, scaling peaks, and descending valleys, unceasing, untiring, in search of something……something……
Outside, through the open door, I hear a robin challenge all comers, and, one-by-one, I hear the sparrows, and the thrush do the same. The wren hops around the stem of the black current bush, in search of something…..To my right I see the foxgloves, blowing in the breeze, their bell-like flowers ringing silently……..
The spider is watching the ant, and the ant is oblivious – it is navigating it’s ever changing world – one waft of breeze and the boulders, in reality little specks of soil, will move, changing the landscape forever, until the next one, or I move a foot and create great mountains of dust and debris to be overcome – the ant is lost in its purpose – the only consistent, and unchanging thing in its life – as is the spider – as are the birds, the orchestra in my garden…….
The tobacco smoulders like peat on a chill winters evening, a warm gentle, enticing glow, releasing cool, fragrant, creamy-thick smoke. The smoke winds its way up the shank, through the gracefully curving stem, and rolling over my lips, before crashing gently onto my tongue; splashes of flavour fall all around, sending sensations coursing through my taste buds – then slowly, slowly, seeking the freedom of the cosmos, it’s released through my nose, rewarding me, gratefully, with rich, bitter-sweet, deep tones, interlaced with honey-sweet flutters, that linger, and develop, creating something……..something……..
The foxgloves are descended from a single plant I ‘acquired’ 11 years ago on a road trip to Brandon, in Kerry. From this one plant, after 11 generations, 11 lifetimes, the progeny have spread and grown, lived and died, to spring up again, and again………and the bells ring silently……drowned by the birds orchestra performing for me…..for the love of it….from sheer exuberance……for love of life……for a purpose…..life……..
The ant contemplates an ocean, vast, unfathomable, immovable, then changes direction, intent on its purpose. I contemplate the tiny splash of water, left over from watering the beds, and think it insignificant, fleeting, soon to evaporate in the warmth of the greenhouse…….
Sweetness!! Pure, fizzing, tingling, sweetness. I’m jolted back to childhood and tongues touching the terminals of a 9v battery, and the tingle of electricity running through my taste buds, only now it is an unexpected, pure, unadulterated sweetness.
An epiphany! The something! The ‘something’ about this tobacco. It is all around me. In the actions of the spider and ant, the song of the birds, the rise and fall of the foxgloves, the bells ringing endlessly, unheard – I’m surrounded by a riot, hardly noticed until now, this day, hour, minute…this second – a riot of colour, of sound, of purpose…….. a riot of LIFE.
Vital! This tobacco is full of vitality. It is alive. I’ve not had this experience before. It is as though all the vital essence of all living things had been captured and distilled – concentrated – then woven into the very fabric of the leaf, animating it, vitalising it. Charging the very smoke with its purpose, its life….entering into me, I’m tingling. I’m surrounded by life. I’m watching it, listening to it. I’m holding it in my hand, and breathing it in.
I sit back in the chair. The ant is gone and the spider is off hunting once more. The birds tussle the dried leaves in search of food. The robin is victorious, without throwing a punch. The wren, hoping around the stem of the black current bush, is catching midges and flies.
The flame that usually consumes and destroys, instead, created and released. This tobacco is wonderful – it is full of energy, vitality, life – it is waiting patiently for the match, the catalyst of change, of release, for freedom, and rebirth.
My coffee is cold, untouched. The pipe has gone out, and I sit in quiet reverie.”
Sometimes a Eulogy can be silent – it does not need to be declaimed.
The breath of a life well lived enters into those it meets and vitalises them, carrying them forward. They stand on the shoulders of that giant who vitalised them, and in so doing reach closer to their star.
Troy, there is little to say, or that can be said. You are a giant amongst men, a vital force; your enthusiasm and wit are infectious and you elevate the spirits and souls of those who know you. You bestow gifts, and magical moments, and in so doing create life-long memories full of joy and happiness, awakening souls and consciousness.
This is what I would tell Roy – his eulogy is in your life, and the lives of all those who knew him
We arrive and begin to travel,
each in our own.
And to learn the learnings are sometimes too hard, too late.
We can only be a being and a being is always inging, in action, changing and adapting,
and learning lessons,
at a last grasp
we may reach
z e n i t h
yet the peak
is ever unreachable,
maybe that is a good thing,
for it perhaps keeps us going and keeps us searching.
trying to find the
f o u n d
a t i o n
In lightsides along with darkshade we are made
and we are always in making.
May the circle be unbroken.