The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Farewell old friend

One of my oldest blogging pals, Charlie, passed away yesterday.

I've heard it said you can measure the Internet in doggy years - it moves at about 7 times the rate of the rest of the world. If this is true, then I knew Charlie for over 40 years.

I never met him in person - the Atlantic Ocean kind of got in the way - but it didn't stop me counting him as one of my closer friends in life.

A few years back I wrote this description of him:

Although I've never met him in person, my image of him is a wild haired, unshaven guy wearing an old dressing gown, sitting on a doorstep smoking a fag while winking at any women walking past. Periodically the resident of the house, a tall man in a black cloak carrying a scythe, stops to ask if he's ready to come in yet. Charlie thinks for a moment, glances through the door then says, "Maybe in a minute," before lighting another fag off the stub of the one he's just finishing.

Of course by this time he'd not smoked for some time. However, the emphysema had already settled in and he knew his time was limited.

For 6 years he'd been telling me he was on his way out. Over 3 years ago he told me he'd been given only a year to live, if he survived the winter. 18 months back he was rushed into hospital and we were all convinced this was it - I even had a condolences card at the ready - but in the end I had to score it out and scribble "get well soon" on instead.

I became so used to the idea of him sitting on death's door, without actually going in, I was beginning to think it might never happen - that 20 years from now he'd still be telling me it wouldn't be long now, and I'd beat him to it.

Charlie's intelligence, wit and humour was to be found in all his writings, but his compassion was to be felt behind the scenes.

Like everyone, we've had times of difficulty where blogging about it just wasn't an option. Longer term readers of this blog will occasionally have come across hints of things, but with Charlie I was able to pour it all out in emails, knowing he'd be non-judgmental and be able to offer clear insights, or supportive words when you need them the most.

Partly because of his condition, his blogging was always a bit sporadic. He would go through long periods of time where not a word was typed. Indeed on at least 2 occasions he deleted his entire blog - usually just after I'd mentioned on this one that his was a blog worth visiting.

During these gaps I would begin to wonder if the worst had happened and would eventually prod him with an email just to see if he was still with us. He began to refer to these as the "are you dead yet?" emails, which seemed to amuse him no end.

Unfortunately I can't send him any more of those.

Charlie, I hope you've finally found the peace you desired.

Miss you, my friend.

24 comments

Elisabeth said...

We shall all miss Charlie, even those of us in the blogosphere who did not know him so well as you. Thanks for a beautiful memorial here.

Carole said...

So sorry. Wonderful post about him.

Mimi and Tilly said...

I'm so sorry Kim. This is a beautiful post about your friend , I'm so sorry for your loss. Em :)

Attila the Mom said...

Lovely tribute, Kim. I'm going to miss him too.

Mimi and Tilly said...

Please excuse the smiley face on my comment Kim. It's a bad tired day and my fingers wrote it without my brain connecting.

Pat said...

Thank you for that. It was through you that I 'met' Charlie and he was one of the special ones.
I suspect - like Old Horsetail Snake - he will always be around.

savannah said...

thank you for posting this, kim. like you, i never met charlie, but he will always be my friend in arizona. he was a pal, not only to me, but my children. he will be missed. xoxoxox

happykat said...

For a while he was a much needed father figure, but first and foremost, my friend.

He was a good person with a great sense of humor.

Good bye, Charlie.

debra said...

(o)

angryparsnip said...

Sorry to hear this news.
This is a wonderful memorial for your friend.

Allen Capoferri said...

That's sad Kim. I always felt very aware there's someone in many ways similar to myself I've connected with when blogging.

Cusp said...

I think people who aren't bloggers could never understand how close you can become to someone through a 'virtual' relationship. Some of the loveliest people I've had the pleasure to know have been through blogging and I hold them dearly in my heart. Sympathy for your loss (*)

Theanne said...

I hope he has found that peace too Kim...isn't the blog world a wonderful thing...we get to meet characters who enrich our lives from all over the world!

mapstew said...

You 'knew' him probably more than most of us Kim, and like others above I think it was through you that I was introduced to Charlie. He will be missed.

hope said...

I'm sitting at my desk at work, trying not to cry. Not 2 weeks ago, Charlie sent a box of audiobooks to my senior citizens. He'd even made me laugh, referring to my small temporary broom closet size office by asking, "I know it's personal, but are you ever gonna come out of the closet?"

How could you not love a guy who made you laugh? So what if we never met face to face. Thanks to your intro Kim, we all had a chance to visit with him soul to soul.

Philip said...

Spot on Kim. I think we view him in very similar ways. Lovely, wise, funny, snarky. In short a proper sort of a person. Thanks for putting this so well.

erika said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Kim. I wish I had known Charlie. Hugs.

Vicky said...

I read about Charlie's passing yesterday. It will leave a hell of a hole in the blogging world....

Morgen said...

Condolences.

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks to each of you for your thoughts and warmth.

Mary Witzl said...

Oh damn it, Kim. Should have seen this one coming.

I was thinking about Charlie just the other day, how he got a big hug from a stranger once, just when he really needed it.

RIP, Charlie.

Kim Ayres said...

One one level, of course we knew it was coming. But then it's been coming for all the time I knew him - over 6 years. It was easy to believe it would never really happen :(

Ron said...

KIm,

I didn't know your friend Charlie but please accept my condolences on his loss. I could tell by your post that you cared a great deal for him. Fortunately, I haven't lost any of my blogging friends...yet. However, this past year I have lost three of my former co-workers and classmates that I was in touch with. I notice at at my age (70) I the losses are more frequent. My best to you always Kim.

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks Ron.

This is the 2nd blogger I've known to pass away. The other was 2 years ago - a man my age. I'd only discovered his blog a few months before and he was an excellent writer.

Unfortunately a year or so later his domain name was taken over by some stupid spam company, which just felt like salt rubbed in the wounds

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