Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | July 10, 2010

a wake at molly’s cafe

a dear friend of ours, john drabble, died about 10 days ago, so a week after he died we had a good-bye party for him. John loved parties and I enjoyed hosting a sort of house party at my cafe. It reminded me of the old days when I gave house parties three or four times a year.  John’s sister Stephanie set one computer up so the web cam was on so faraway people could see the party and the other was used for a slideshow of old photos of john. Seeing his baby and child photos I could really see his older son’s resemblance to him.

John was only 45. he had cancer and after 10 months of treatment and a few months of great pain, he passed on during a routine operation. Although he was not really ready to go, I think on some level he had had enough. The last time I saw john was in the cafe. He was very thin and very bald. His radiologist friend craig was with him. He was very solicitous of john, so I thought there was definitely something more than what john was telling us. In fact there was, as the cancer had invaded his bones. He left a lovely wife and two young boys of 6 and 9. his wife is afraid that they will not remember him, as perhaps they may not, but at the same time, he was with them for their first years and they will always be affected by that.

I think when someone dies before his time (as we think anyway– who is to say when one’s time really is) we all think about our mortality. And at a going away party like this one, I for one was wondering what people will say about me at mine. Everyone, bar none, commented on what a nice man he was. He was also clever and patient and interested in everything. He used to come to my place with other friends and we always had good conversations about all sorts of things, music, history, events. He loved to tell stories, as he had been a Grateful Dead Head. In fact, his wife brought a whole box of grateful dead cassettes to the cafe to see if anyone was interested in them. Not so far…

several people talked at the party about john, a series of good-bye speeches. I didn’t, as that is not my style. But as I said, the common theme was that he was a very nice person. i think for his students who had attended it was quite difficult, as they had probably not known anyone who had died before.  There were tears from many people, but unlike many Turkish funerals, there was no wailing or breast-beating, thank god.

Some of us felt John at the party. I am sure that if the ghost whisperer had been here, she would have seen him and would have been able to pass on his good-byes to us.

john holding arda with his lovely wife tibet to the right, 2003



  1. I remember meeting John once before while in Istanbul. He did seem like a nice man. So sad that you lost one of your friends.

  2. i havent been aware of his death until now… I’ll always remember him with our chats about Berkeley and american indians…

    rest in peace…

    Erman Polat (Koc Uni./Intern.Rel.-2001 graduate)

    • sorry you had to learn about john here.. he was a lovely person and we still miss him.

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