I'm not sure how you go about summing up a man's life. How you put down in finite, bounded words all the things that make a person who they were. My friend and comrade, Dave Silcock, died a week ago. I didn't know till this morning and its taken me all day to decide that a good man's life needs a written tribute.
Just a couple of days ago I was trying to explain to someone that us commies don't believe in a great man theory of history; that the death of Rosa Luxemburg was a small ad endum at the end of the German section's Conference report to the Third International. And I don't think I was wrong.
But our class, the working class, we need to give the respect that's due to our lifelong fighters. To the men and women like my friend Dave who never give up knowing that they are on the right side.
Dave spent time talking to people. He'd argue with anyone who'd listen; and who he thought he might be able to shift. He knew exactly what he thought and he didn't mind saying it. A brazen bravery of position I've always respected.
And he was kind.
I think whenever someone dies, we find in ourselves all the little stories; those moments that its only later we know are as close as it comes to having a profound knowledge of someone. Everytime I've seen Dave, he's talked to me about politics. Once it was me who was the active one - with meetings every night and a new campaign every week. Me trying to convince him to join Workers Power again and later PR. But never hard - I always knew he was a man who made up his own mind. Recently, its been him contacting me about union action; about coming to branch meetings; about being active again. But never once had he tried to make me feel bad or guilty. He just kept quietly reminding me that the struggle is still out there and it still needs good people to be making the good fight.
Its that kindness I'll remember.
I'm not sure how you go about summing up a man's life. You can make all sorts of statements about the people they loved and who love them; about the lives and minds they touched and changed; about the actions they took which made the world just that little bit better a place.
I don't know if in the end we are all more than sums of our parts.
And I don't know if this was one of the Grateful Dead lyrics Dave liked...but its one I've always liked and I thank him for making me listen
There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone.
Like Trotsky, I'm an intransigent atheist, I don't believe there's anything after death. I'm not sure, but I think when we say that people live on in our memories; we're really only trying to soothe ourselves in our immediate grief. But I will miss you Dave; I will think about you and remember you and try a little harder to be the good person, the good friend, the good comrade you have been.