Richard Tocci

Richard Tocci
Just when you thought it was safe, I show up...

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Goodbye, Old Man

Grahame Menzies Williams succumbed to cancer and died on June 26, 2011. He was a subsea petroleum engineer, loved rugby, Astros Baseball, NFL Football, and played lacrosse till he was 40 years old. He hated broccoli (often referring to them as miniature trees), loved sausages, and knew every single terrible pun in existence. His favorite swimming pool maneuver was to flip forward into the deep end, come up, and spit water from his mouth. When I was with him in his pool, we mastered the 2-Man Cannonball.

Now, unless you ran in subsea petroleum engineering circles, he was not that famous to you. He never made it to professional sports, so no one outside of his friends and family knew he loved sports. He loved to travel, take cruises, and tour islands in the Caribbean or anywhere else he could find a good deal.

His most famous role, however, was that of grandfather to my sons Alex and Hayden.

They called him Papa. Alex was the apple of his eye. Hayden was his special little grandson. Grahame was exuberant every time one of them hit a major milestone on their lives. Towards the end of his life, pain and exhaustion kept him from doing the things he loved most - taking walks with the boys in the park or the golf course, playing catch or hitting the wiffle ball or a golfball in the back yard with Alex, or rolling the ball on the living room floor with Hayden, or getting the computer out and going to pbskids.org so they could learn. Grahame single handedly taught Alex the alphabet and his numbers.

He was there for me and Fliss, too. He helped us get the house we lived in and played the Grandchild Card when I expressly forbid him from buying Fliss a Dyson vacuum cleaner by buying it anyway and declaring it was good for his grandsons. We had discussions over politics, religion, the jackass that cut him off on 529 in Houston, giblet gravy, and "Morons".

When Fliss and I divorced, I didn't see him or his wife, Diane, for about a year. I drove down to his house to pick up the boys one afternoon, and when I got there, he assured me that while relationships end, he held no animosity toward me. I'm the father of his grandsons, I treated them well, and he didn't feel I needed to stay away because of a divorce. That set my mind at ease, and I made sure I visited as often as I could.

Grahame was diagnosed with cancer 7 years ago, and after he appeared to beat it a couple of times, it spread to his lymph nodes and he deteriorated from there. After the pain became unbearable this past Friday, he was given ungodly amounts of medication at the hospital, and was sent home for hospice care but didn't make it through the night.

As soon as Diane is ready, she'll have a pool party to celebrate Grahame's life. There will be no mourning at this party. There will probably be at least one burnt sausage, and I guarantee an encore performance of the 2-Man Cannonball...

This post is simulcast in full living Technicolor on www.richardtocci.com and on Facebook.

4 comments:

Simon Griffiths said...

Well said Richard. I played lacrosse with Grahame back in the day and he will be sadly missed but many of us at Bath Lacrosse Club have very fond memories of Grahame which will live on.

markilott said...

Wonderful Bloke, from memory he did have a dry wit about him. Had some great times playing in attack with him in the second team at Bath, he was always ready to lead when the going got tough for the team, and can still remember when we won the Flags final and 6-a-side comp together. Last saw him at the club's 20th Anniversary meal, but was good to catch up with him then.

Nik Roberts said...

Well written, Grahame was an all round good bloke, played alongside him for many years at Bath, sad loss to the world in general.

Diane Williams said...

Thanks Richard, you got it all right,he was a wonderful husband and we had a great 20 years together, and as you said his boys were his life he just lived for them, I am so happy he saw Alex's first recital it made him so proud. I miss him so much, even if he did sleep at lot at the end of his time here, it was a comfort just to know he was always there for me.