Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ron

Yesterday, August 27th, was Ron's birthday.

When someone passes away, certain dates are both sad reminders of the loss as well as reminders of all those memories that you shared. Both good and bad. They're days for reflection. And though sometimes bittersweet, they serve a purpose. As you take a moment to reflect, you allow those who have passed on to live again, if only in your mind.

I have heard people say that you get over death, but that's not true, you simply learn to live with death. What is true, in most cases, is that time does help you remember with a smile instead of a tear.

I don't believe anyone can argue against how much Ron loved life. He also loved people, and never ever truly met a stranger. I wish he had written down his escapades, because I guarantee you, there were many! Just the ones I knew of were head shakers. I can imagine what the ones I didn't hear of were like! After some of Ron's escapades, my dad used to shake his head and mumble, "Only Ron." Which expressed so much with so little words.

Ron also had a bad habit of reacting first, thinking later. A broken arm because he thought he could take on a very large tree. The tree won. A silver cap for a front tooth after a fight with a skipping stone. You guessed it, the stone won. Driving my grandpa's Olds right up a tree, not harming the car or the tree but leaving my dad completely flabbergasted! Walking through glass patio doors because Ron thought they were open, crashing through the high school smoking court glass windows because of a cherry bomb, burning a hole in the back seat of the Duster because well, who knows why. I always assumed it was those great big speakers he had placed back there and someone's careless cigarette ash. If someone hadn't noticed the smoke, I imagine the whole car would have been toast even though surrounded by water. It was how he told my parents, I most remember. He walked in after being at the lake, got something to drink, fixed a sandwich, and said, "Oh, by-the-way, I burnt a little hole in the Duster's back seat."

My mom went out to look, and then I heard, in fact the whole neighborhood heard, "A LITTLE HOLE? A LITTLE HOLE!" Turns out that little hole was dang near the entire back seat. I laugh now, but it wasn't so funny when I inherited that car with the burned up back seat!

It's kind of funny what memories choose to surface on reminder days. Things I'd almost completely forgotten, but still things that were fun to recall. Ron used to like to "scare me." Now that could be turning doughnuts with the car, me held captive by the moving car while he performed these daredevil feats in the snow or in a dirt field. Or, trying to spook me by hiding outside in the dark and making spooky noises beneath the window. He usually found himself locked out!

When we lived in Oakwood, we had a live-in great aunt who I now consider to have been more than slightly kooky. She took care of us while Mom and Dad worked. I say kooky because, well, she was. Between her and my grandpa, Ron and I were surrounded by eccentrics while our parents were away. I never completely understood why Mom and Dad didn't notice. Or maybe they did, but that was long ago and a far different time than now.

Grandpa used to sit on the front porch and throw bazooka bubble gum at the neighborhood kids, not just toss, I mean bean them. It was like target practice for him. The kids loved it, they dodged and teased and got free gum, if not a few bruises for their efforts. My great aunt, which my grandpa actually did not like at all, was responsible for "watching" us.

Needless to say, we were pretty much on our own. My aunt was a character just waiting to be created in a book. And she may be if I ever find the time to write a story that suits her. She was a heavyset, old maid, who was passed from family member to family member as she had no place to go. I think she thought becoming out babysitter after my grandma (her sister) passed away would be an easy job. I mean, we were SO well behaved.

Well, her idea of behaved and ours clashed and strange as it seems, we had an Allie in Grandpa. Anything that made my aunt have to get up from watching Billy Graham or the daily soapbobbers was encouraged and a victory for my grandpa.

Looking back, I really don't think we were bad, but we were kids and we enjoyed being kids. My aunt enjoying kids? Not so much.

When she lived with us, Ron and I had to share a bedroom. It was neatly divided. My half had my dolls and other girl stuff, Ron's had models of monsters and monster posters and those horrid plastic gummy like bugs that looked very real. I hated those bugs! Ron hung all those monster models from the ceiling. Vampires, werewolves, the monster from the deep lagoon or whatever that reptilian thing was, you name it, if it was a monster, he had a model of it. At night, with only the moon shining through the windows, the effect was quite surreal for a very young girl and the cause of many a nightmare.

Our room bordered next to my aunts. Every night I would fall asleep with the shadows of those monsters drifting over me and the sound of my aunt's voice in prayer. She'd start low, but her voice would build and then she would begin to wail for forgiveness for the day's sins. I remember thinking that she sure was bad to have to be up half the night asking for forgiveness.

Ron and I both recalled her with mixed feelings, she was a kook but at times a very fun kook. She had very long hair, very long, which she wore in a long braid coiled about the back of her head. When she undid her braid and washed her hair, it reached to the floor. As it dried, she'd allow us walk through it. It felt like a curtain of soft silk. And she was the only adult that would serve us brownies for supper.

When my mom found out, well, that wasn't pretty, but as kids, we sort of thought we had hit the lottery. I suppose feeding brownies to kids for supper was one of those sins she prayed to be forgiven for. Who knows. We enjoyed it!

Memory lane is fun to stroll down, especially when you can do so without the sharp pain of loss. As I noted, they are bittersweet, but serve to remind us of those who have gone on before us...and in that remembering, they truly do live again.

Happy belated birthday, Ron, wherever you now roam.

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