For just a few years I knew him,
Maybe nine or maybe it was ten,
It doesn't really matter, but I knew
He was well past eighty then.
Alternate Saturday's I'd collect him;
He'd sit there stiffly and he'd try
So hard but he just couldn't stop
That sad quiet little cry.
I'd park the car quite close
And say ok Jim, no rush I'll wait,
As he wandered off to two graves
Near the wall by the cemetery gate.
He'd clear away the dead flowers
For those he held in his hand
I would see his lips slowly moving
The only movement in his ramrod stand.
We'd go for a pint then.
It was his only way
To say thanks because
I wouldn't accept any pay.
We would talk for an hour or so
And I learned so much of his life;
The flowers were for his so much
Missed daughter and his late wife.
He'd been an artillery Sergeant Major
And he'd served in both Great Wars.
He knew the true value of a life
Though didn't want his any more;
But he laughed and he cried
And went through the motions,
Any thought of self destruction
An unconsidered notion.
I suppose in a way
You could say we were friends
He was certainly an inspiration
As he calmly waited for his end
I move away, and as you do,
Unintentionally lost touch
I‘d not thought of him for years
I didn't go that way very much
Until last week I passed his old home
And old memories flooded my mind.
I hope they're all together now
And his ending was quiet and kind.