Glad I Got to See You One Last Time
Glad I Got to See You One Last Time come to light when my dear friend Jimmy Aspell used to call me regularly before he passed away. I’d say “hey, how you doing today?” and he’d say he was ok. He’d ask me could he drop by for a cuppa and a chat. Normally I’d be still in bed because he was an early riser and I’m the exact opposite. I’d always say “yes – come on over”. He’d be laughing so much at me when I’d open the door, my hair was long and I’d be scruffy as hell, up all night writing songs or watching TV, or whatever – a typical musician – gigging at the weekends and dossing for the rest of the week.
I’d bring him in and we’d drink tea and chat about music for hours but I was holding back one thing – I was already starting another song about him. I wasn’t sure where it was going at the time? I had two verses scribbled out on the back of an electric bill or something that resembled paper, I’m not quite sure? I wasn’t sure if we were going to do a duet, like the song I’d written before – When It Snows in New Orleans – but I couldn’t afford to let him hear it yet either.
I did a gig with him over the Christmas and he was in great form but also attending hospital for treatment – he was very sick but hiding it from me. Shortly after Christmas, he called over one day, it was a Tuesday and we were planning another gig. He was extremely sick with flu also – a real bad dose as he said himself. I had 2 Twirl bars ready for him and some strong tea – Jimmy really loved his chocolate. He left for home that day and when I rang him the following Thursday, he sounded so bad he could barely talk. I said I’d call over on Saturday to see him at his house.
His partner Mairead and youngest daughter Leah then called me and said, “Tony you better come now before it’s too late“.
I got there about an hour later. He was lying in bed. He was beginning his final journey. I tried to distract him with everything I could think of, like a song I was writing for him, I said “Why don’t we start a band?” He was laughing at me with light heartedness – I hit him with everything. He thanked me so much for giving him one last hit song. He even told me God had sent me to him because he’d turned to God and prayed for a sign or something to comfort him in his last months. I’m not overly religious and I dismissed what he’d said a little. Then he said “Tony, you came along from out of the blue – with a song for me“. I cried, I couldn’t hold it in.
He moved me emotionally that day and just before I left him, he kept saying “It feels like snow Tony“.
He passed away that night.
I didn’t go over to Kilcullen again until the day of his funeral. I met all his lovely family with Beverly, Lisa, Neil, Michelle and Mairead and Leah and there was a serious enlightenment in church that day – a musical funeral.
Shane McGrath and the legendary Brush Shiels were providing some wonderful music. I couldn’t help but feel the energy that was in church that day. Afterwards we all were singing in the church – it was like a massive choir, everyone was feeling it. We went to the graveyard then and Mairead, Shane and Pud Barratt asked me to join them in song at the graveside. Then – sure as the heavens above – it started snowing. Snowing like unbelievable and everyone was saying to me, “it’s snowing Tony – just like in your song – When it snows in New Orleans“.
We all went back to the Spout bar and we drank beer and sang songs all night. Over the next few days I was in deep thought and I finished off the final verse in my secret song and it went:
Hey I see the snow today,
you said it would come this way,
We all sang in church today,
and you said you’d be on your way,
I see your resting for a while,
you except faith with a smile,
Glad I got to see you one last time.
Glad I Got to See You One Last Time
After a couple of weeks, Mairead and Jimmy’s daughter Leah, came by my house. I couldn’t believe all the things they were telling me about Jimmy – saying when he was coming to see me, he was happy. They were seriously funny stories about Jimmy laughing so much at me opening the door in my underwear, my hair all over the place, ha ha ha – it was so funny. We had a great laugh that day and we’re all still great friends.
We now have a cancer research charity gig every year in the Spout bar in Kilcullen that is dedicated to Jimmy because he started it before he left us.
It’s now known as Jimmy’s Gig