Friday, October 16, 2009

Last week's episode of Stargate Universe had a subplot that dealt with loss of loved ones. The character was reliving a painful part of his life. He'd loss both parents at a very early age and their deaths haunted him, though he had suppressed it. One of his lines, and I can't recall his exact words, only the essence of it, was, "Some things you never get over."

I find this very true. Loss affects us. It wounds our spirit. It leaves its scars. Some wounds are so small that they're little more than a skin scrape, but some wound very deeply, the wound barely healing before something comes along to open it again. You never truly heal, never truly become whole again.

Death of someone near and dear to you is like that wound that never heals. Time dulls the pain, but it never fades. It doesn't take much to bring it to the surface. A song, a whispered word, a stray memory that opens a floodgate of memories and there you are, dealing with that loss all over again.

In time, you adjust, and you even find joy again. You move forward but you take with you those scars of life. The memories still come, unannounced, out of the blue, and give you pause. At times, they might be bittersweet; other times, they might be a welcome stroll down memory lane, a magical moment that lets them live again. I think it depends on what memory surfaces.

Once in a while, I look out across an open field, or drive down a road, and I think about all those people who occupied this space before me, and I wonder about all those who will take possession after I'm gone. And then I see my dad or my brother looking at the same field, or driving that same road and I always think: Yesterday they, too, were here, and today they are simply gone.

Vanished from scene.

"Some things you never get over."

October 20th will be two years since Ron left us. Hardly seems possible to me, but there it is, two years. I hope some of you will share your memories with us and allow us to celebrate a life well lived, though short.

Remember, we never truly fade away, as long as we are remembered.

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.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Another blog, Another Touching Memory

I wanted to share this link with you. It's from a friend of Ron's, Gretchen Jones. She wrote a very touching tribute to Ron that I hope you all will find as special as I did. She has a great photo of Ron at the bottom, one that captured his sparkle.

One of the things that really touched me was her mention of Ron's childlike joy at seeing Christmas lights. He loved holiday lights, and the decorating, and everything Christmasy and I thought it wonderful that she choose to write about that.

I hope you'll surf over and have a read.

Gretchen Jones Memories of Ron

Gretchen has also been kind enough to upload several photos from the Just Say NOE to Cancer Benefit. I hope you'll surf over and view.

Thank you, Gretchen!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wealthest Man in the World

It's a funny fact of life, it seems that one never fully comprehends, and for many, appreciates what they have, until it is gone. I think deep down, Ron always knew he was a rich man, even with all his self-doubts and insecurities. Yes, he truly did harbor these fears within him though I think he hid most of them well—fears of not being liked, of being unable to find success, of not being loved…all plagued him.

He faced some of those fears a few years before our dad passed away. A sort of cleansing that I think they both needed. And though at the time, I thought it might have been an unnecessary hurt for a man who tried to raise us the best he could, in retrospect, I think it helped them both. They laid the demons between them to rest, while they could, and had no regrets. Not many of us can say that.

But I digress. I do believe deep down Ron knew he was a rich man, and always knew it though rarely took time to explore that knowledge. Not rich in material possessions, but wealthy beyond belief in friendship and loyalty. And I don't think he truly understood what that wealth was or meant until the day of his cancer benefit. That day I saw it in his eyes, and heard it expressed in his voice, and felt it expressed in his emotions and in the emotions of those who surrounded him with hope and concern.

I remember when he first told me others wanted to do a benefit for him, how he seemed reluctant to accept. His pride making him uncomfortable with not only asking for help, but also realizing that he wanted that help. Whether he viewed agreeing as a failure on his part or a weakness that may have translated into failure, I don't know, I only know that on the day of that benefit, he knew he was the richest man in all the land. As I stated at the start, many of us rarely understand this simple truth. Rarely do we realize just how much we mean to others or how much others mean to us. It's a rare gift when realized.

The outpouring of love, support, and hope he received that day left him in awe. The fact that others cared so much for him that they came in droves to help, both family and friends, touched him, and offered him hope.

Now, don't get me wrong. Ron loved attention, loved to be in the limelight. He thrived in that light and he relished the social aspects. My dad used to like to say that Ron never meet a stranger. And that was pretty much true, because within moments of meeting someone, he or she was already a friend. I have always envied him that natural ease with people.

But, there is a darker side to being social, to needing to be liked, and to not wanting to be alone. Sometimes his judgment wasn't so sound, sometimes he trusted people who he shouldn't and often, he got hurt. These hurts, betrayals, if you will, cut him to the quick. Yet, he was so worried about others seeing him as a failure, that he showed only the "I'm OK, I'm doing great," face to the world.

As his only sibling, I was privy to many of these hurts and betrayals. Some he committed, others committed against him. When his relationships went rocky, I usually knew why. Yet, some betrayals hurt him so bad, or caused such a sense of shame that even I didn't find out about them until after his death.

Ron and I drifted apart during one such betrayal mainly because he refused to see the truth and I could no longer stand to watch the destruction. He didn't want to admit things were as bad as they were, his pride would not allow it. That fear of failure again, I suppose. He really didn't want others to judge him and find him lacking. Sadly, few would have, but how do you tell someone that when they aren't ready to believe? So, in my own way, I betrayed him, too.

After he told me he had cancer, we talked, and I learned a great deal about both hurt and strength and soldiering forward even when all he saw ahead of him and around him was hopelessness. I watched as he never gave up hope, how he fought to live, and never stopped believing in miracles. He just never truly gave up on himself even when so scared.

Yes, Ron was a wealthy man, and to some extent, the bravest man I have ever known. Despite the cancer that robbed him of life at such a young age, I think he was also the luckiest. Brave because he faced his demons and refused to lose hope, and lucky because of the vast wealth of friendship he possessed.