As I write this I can see Tom's little house through my window and it's easy to imagine he is still there.It's not hard to believe he'll be walking by shortly with his heeler cross "Brocky". If he did I would be hearing his "coo-ee" ring out, a sound rarely heard these days. But Tom was an Englishman who wanted to be as much Australian as possible. He even used the word "cobber" whenever he had the chance. A freeman of the city of Coventry he had survived the blitz but was unable to remember it. Perhaps this merciful act of Nature had some effect on his spiritual capacity as well as blotting out some unbearable memories. But whatever the reason, it seems he was able to get a message across Death's void in order to ease the sorrow of someone who would miss him.
The day before he died I was talking to him about his ill health. He'd just seen a doctor who thought there was something wrong apart from his chronic heart disease . So a blood sample was taken and he would have to await the pathology report. Tom felt, and looked, very ill indeed. But he tried to cheer up, for my sake I reckon, because I couldn't hide my feelings. It was just like him to be thinking of another. Having separated from his wife, he did all his own house work and cooking. And seeing his unhealthy pallor I couldn't help thinking that diet was half the trouble. He had a weakness for pies, going to the trouble of buying a pie making outfit so that he could make his own. But this didn't stop him from buying them as well. And he knew of every variety of pie that mankind has ever produced. I often teased him about it. About an hour after I last saw him his estranged wife arrived, having been told of his bad health. She decided to seek further medical advice and before the day was out Tom was in a hospital bed. He never came out of that bed alive. A massive heart attack soon after being admitted left him in a semiconscious state that lasted until the end. He was just able to press his wife's hand by way of communication and she told me a tear had come into his eye when she promised to take care of his dog.
The local cemetery is on a hilltop overlooking the sea, and on the burial day an icy wind gusted in from the south. Scurrying clouds kept away any warmth from the sun. Both Tom and his wife had always made it clear they had no religious convictions, and there was to be no formal service at this interment. I stood not far from the empty grave and next to a pine tree to shelter from that sharp breeze. Nearby I could see Brocky with his widowed mistress and a few of her friends. When the hearse drove through the cemetery gate, the dog raised his head and barked wildly. He did the same when the coffin was lowered. I reckoned he was getting vibes from Tom's wife for surely a dog couldn't have known what was going on. Altogether it was a sad time and I wasn't sorry when it was over.
My daughter had driven me to the cemetery and on the way home she said, "You'll probably think it silly but I dreamt about Tom last night. He wanted to talk to me and he said I should tell you not to feel bad about his death. He's quite happy and contented where he is." I said politely, "that's interesting." I would never sneer at such a statement from Sue. She'd had a difficult time coming into this world and I always felt that stress undergone at that time may have had a lasting effect. She was stillborn and was only brought to life after fifteen minutes by a dedicated and determined nursing sister. She often reports what many folk would call "paranormal experiences" and I usually listen without comment. But later on, when we were nearly home, Sue said. "There was something else in that dream, but it doesn't make any sense at all." I said "Let's have it anyway." So she told me , "There seemed to be something about pies. Can that possibly mean anything to you?" Well, there it is. Sue had never discussed pies with Tom on the few occasions she'd met him, and I certainly never told her about his liking for them. If there was one thing that would identify Tom to me, that was it. And I have to wonder now if Brocky was able to receive some kind of message too.