Sunday, 19 February 2012

Stage two–19:47:50

Hospice volunteer worker Frans would be in with dad from 19:00 to 23:00 today, to give mum and Maya an evening off. When Frans arrived he went upstairs to say hello to dad, and opened the bedroom door to find dad sitting not on his hospital bed, but in the middle of the double bed. (It wasn't the first time in the last couple of days that dad had sneaked back into his own bed...) Dad had his legs folded underneath him and his back was as straight as can be. Frans was immensely astonished by this perfect 'lotus position'. When he told Galen about it later, Galen knew dad's legs hadn't actually been properly folded for it to be a lotus position. Despite that, Galen was also rather impressed. He told me that the way Frans had described it to him, Galen imagined dad to have a clarity and absolute serenity about him, and the way dad sat there in the middle of the bed, in the middle of the room, was much like dad would sit at the side of the mat during Aikido class, overseeing it all.

Frans went back downstairs to make a cup of tea for dad. He heard some stumbling about upstairs and at that moment, Galen came home. Galen corrected Frans' tea-making method before they both went upstairs to bring dad his tea. Dad was now sitting at the foot end of the double bed, with his feet on the floor. Frans had tried to explain to dad it might be a good idea to get back into the hospital bed. Apparently dad had eventually been persuaded and was on his way there. "Gaat de goeie kant op!" dad said. Whatever that meant... but Dutch it was!

Galen stood to one side of dad, Frans to dad's other side, each holding one of dad's hands to help him up. Frans started counting, "Eén, twee..." but then decided English might be better half way through, and started again, "One, two, three..." — and dad just stood up. No difficult pulling and pushing and hassle for 30 minutes before he was able to hold himself, no, just one, two, three, and up. Just like that. Dad crawled back into the hospital bed and started the mumbling game where he talked and talked and Galen was stuck trying to make clear to dad that he was incomprehensible, followed by more mumbling. Then suddenly dad sat up again. He wanted to go outside. Now. Frans explained that wouldn't be a very good idea. And besides, it would be a hell of a task to get dad down the stairs... But dad really wanted to go outside. He even said "Please," which made Galen feel bad. But no, going outside was really not an option.

Eventually dad lay back down into the bed. He started mumbling again—more urgently this time—wanting something. Galen deciphered that a word sounding like ship might mean drink, so he asked, "Ginger ale? Tomato juice?" and got a "Yes" back at tomato juice. So Galen got dad some tomato juice. Dad started breathing slightly quicker than he had been, which disconcerted Frans. Galen noticed Frans got a little nervous, as he started talking more and more, trying to calm dad down (or was it himself he was trying to calm down?) Galen held the tomato juice straw by dad's mouth, but dad wasn't able to close his mouth around it. Galen held dad's head steady with one hand and tried again. Frans' talking continued, until: "Shutup," dad said without opening his eyes. It wasn't exactly unmumbled, so Galen checked, "What was that, did you say 'shut up'?" "Yes." Then dad started drifting, shivering a little. Galen wondered if this was it. Or whether this was just sleep... or maybe the coma. "Ik geloof dat je vader nu naar de Hemel gaat..." Frans said. Galen thought that was a silly way to put it...

Galen still had one hand on the side of dad's head. He looked at dad—and was watching when the exact moment arrived that dad stopped moving, completely. Galen checked his watch: 19:47:50, February 19th, 2012. Dad had been lying still of course, but lying still is not as immobile as... an empty body is.

Bye, bye, daddy.

With a 5 eurocent coin and a 10 yen coin for the ferryman.


  1. Dear Simon, i wish you rest in peace and condolence to all your family and friends.
    Niek Remkes

  2. Rest in peace dear Simon.


  3. Dearest Simon. Thank you for all you contributed to Aikido, thank you for the warmth and humoristic friendship you offered. We go a long way, sometimes close and sometimes in distance. I will miss our talks in English and especially the way you always addressed me as 'Dame Lydia'. You will be missed by so many! Our Aikido ancestors will now await you in the life hereafter. RIP Lydia

  4. Many years ago, I met Simon in Aikidojo in Amsterdam. At the time I was struggling to involve new people in organizing the NCAF. Simon came to talk to me and in his usual friendly stride inquired what I was trying to achieve and with his usual disdain for formality sort of gave me his opinion.
    Quite opposite from what I expected from the conversation initially, he sort of changed his opinion. He never became one for meetings and organization, but he was always involved, always had a considered opinion, always supported whatever we tried in his own manner.
    Who has trained with Simon has an example of what sempai can mean: the warmth of a senior who will share his experience, look after you, cherish you in his own way. I have experienced that feeling outside of the training as well.
    I have known Simon for more than 20 years. I am certain I will remember him vividly for the next 20 years. I will miss the support, the reality-check, the humor.
    But I will also miss one of the reasons to actually be involved in organizing Aikido: friends in dojos that make the effort worthwhile.
    Let's all take a bit of Simon into our lives he will be with us always. And remember, he is probably having a good time with the ferryman.

    Finally, my best wishes for Liduina, Maya, Tasmin and Galen. If we miss him so much, you must miss him so much more.

  5. Dear Simon,family, friends and of course his students,
    Many thanks for the lessons aikido I had the pleasure to experience during the past two years by Simon. Sadly another great in the Dutch Aikido world passes. He will be missed by expertise and also a lot for his great company.

    RIP Simon.