Phone of a tall man, legs crossed, sitting in a great chair, holding up a glass of wine. He's seated in a living room with family photos and a lamp in the background.

2021 Grateful 17: And then the lily opened

When I was told this week that the inimitable Ray Grindley had breathed his last, I felt a curious mix of emotions. I say curious, but perhaps only to others. I was reared in the echo of the tenet that there are worse things in life than death. It would be a few years before I’d fully understand what my mother meant by this oft-repeated phrase, but the first time I heard her say it, it made a lasting impression. It was said with such certainty that it knocked death off its pedestal and made it an ‘also ran’.

The emotions that hit in rapid succession (seconds) were shock, regret, sadness, relief, heartbreak, and helplessness.

I had known Ray hadn’t been in the whole of his health for a while but I hadn’t realised how serious things had gotten. The news came as a shock. I regretted that of the many recent times I had planned to go see him, none had materialised into an actual visit. I was sad that I wouldn’t get to chat with him again. I was relieved that his suffering was over and he was at peace. I was heartbroken for Orsi and those much closer to him who would feel the pain of his passing so acutely. I felt helpless. There was little I could do to help make this better for my friend.

Ray was a patron of the Caledonia back in the day when it was a second home to an eclectic assortment of characters each of whom added an interesting thread to a comfortable tapestry. He always had a smile for me, a ready word. At times mellowed by that one beer that opens the door to reflective melancholy, he’d tell me that he had great time for me. If both of us were smoking, he’d give the nod and we’d step outside to his outer sanctum where he’d impart some of the immeasurable wisdom gleaned from being around a tad longer than I had been.

Our conversations ran the gamut from politics to religion, from Irishness to Britishness and he was never shy about offering an opinion, solicited or otherwise. Even on his quiet days, he’d have something to say. We didn’t always see the world in the same way but we shared more than we differed. He invited us to dinner shortly after himself moved over where he proceeded to vet him over Peking duck. He got the thumbs up. I was highly amused. What can I say? The man made me smile.

He had that gangly, long-leggedness that I’ve long associated with Peter O’Toole. He always seemed so, well, so foldable. I’ve stood beside him in the stands cheering on Big Z’s soccer team and sat beside him in the pub watching the Six Nations. He was a regular at the Gift of the Gab, back in the day. A solid supporter. A cheerleader. A fixture.

Part of a legendary group of friends who came to mine one Easter Sunday for lunch – and then stayed for tea and for supper – I, in turn, had a seat at his table when he celebrated a noughty birthday. I remember being particularly honoured by the invitation because although we had our share of deep and meaningfuls, I never really knew all that much about him, about his life. On my mental timeline, he was more of the present than the past.

Lilly in full bloom in a Fruit Tea bottle.
Of the flowers by his hospital bed, one lily opened in full the day Ray died.

Time these days being what it is, I’m having trouble remembering when I last saw him. I’ve spoken about him rather than to him, and always with a smile. He was a gentleman.

The featured photo was taken in the UK the day he decided to move to Hungary. I, for one, am grateful that he made the move and that our paths intersected, however briefly. Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.

 

 

 

 

 

Subscribe to get notified when I publish something new.

2 Responses

Talk to me...

%d bloggers like this:

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information on cookies and GDPR

Cookies and GDPR Compliance

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

General Data Protection Regulation

If you have voluntarily submitted your email address so that you can receive notifications of new posts, please be assured that I don't use your address for anything other than to do just that - and that's done automatically. I might use your address, if I knew how to, but I don't.

This blog does not make money, it does not carry sponsored content, it has no ads for which I receive any form of payment. If I review a place or a restaurant or a book, I don't receive any compensation from anyone. I wish I did, but that would require marketing myself and life is too short. If something changes, I will be sure to let you know.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe or manage subscription links at the bottom of every email you receive. When you comment on a blog post, Google Analytics tracks where you're posting from. This is stored and I can check my stats to see how many clicks I had today, where people clicked from, and what they clicked on. That's it. Nothing more.

I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, particularly to other commenters. If you want to have one of your comments deleted, the please get in touch with me at: mary@irjjol.com. I'm all for the right to be forgotten so will happily oblige.

So, in a nutshell, if you give me your email address voluntarily to subscribe to new posts or if you opt to subscribe to new comments, then you email is just used for this. Nothing else. Promise.

Close