He’s all used up

He’s all used up.

A trip I have put off with a myriad of excuses, a list of lies, but none the less I must present myself

To mortality.

He’s all used up

Bereft of reasons I make the trip and realise the miles aren’t all that bad.

We sit his wife and I and talk of times old, sifting through photos, and other paper moments.

He’s all used up

Not a one in his crew, in his photos, in his logs is still alive. They all gone. Bad luck, the atom, the agent, but still medals lie long forgotten in hallowed draws for Queen, for country, for coming home alive instead of being cut hanging from piano wire.

SO I enter the place he swore he’d never go – and I see him – all used up. The heavy bones of dinner plate black smith hands are all that remain wrapped in paper thin skin.

I see him searching in his mind and he realises albeit fleetingly that I too am the only one left alive. A spark of a smile and I shake his hand.


He talks in whispered riddles but focuses for the time allotted in the cigarette I light him.

And we talk while the moment lasts and then it’s “someone will have to clean that jet oil up” so it’s time for us to go.

Of this my mortality I ask: is this me. My namesake trod the same path and I pray let this not come to pass. Let me go as his father went – cutting wood.

We sort now through things he will never use – I try a hat, or a coat – it’s all the same. It’s all too small. When did he get so small? – this is not the giant I remember. Where is gone the officer. Where is gone the father.

I realise the tragedy is only in our minds. He’s gone where he needs to be, where it all still makes sense, where his world is still real. Too much loss, too much pain and perhaps nature really is merciful to a mind that refutes insanity. We were never built to last. We were never built for 50 years of war, or service and he is all used up.
Sqn Ldr HJ Lawton died peacefully at 15:30 24th June 2012 at the Winara Retirement Village, Paraparaumu, Kapiti Coast, New Zealand. He hadnt been at home for a very long time and found refuge where he needed it.

“Let me go out upon the wind . . .”

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