Mr Ralph died this past Friday.
And so did part of me.
A larger part lives even larger though, thanks to Mr Ralph.
My dad and Mr Ralph were US Marines. They saw a part of humanity and inhumanity I can’t even imagine. They both served in Korea, Viet Nam and on many other military fronts. They were both changed by these experiences ~ for the better.
After retiring from the Marine Corps, Mr Ralph officially became a teacher. He was always my teacher though. He taught me how to hold and throw a baseball – over not under. I didn’t really want to learn, but he told me I needed to know.
He was right.
And now I can.
Mr Ralph taught me how to talk to boys. I DID want to learn this. And since he WAS one and had three sons, I figured he was an expert. He was. He told me the most important thing to remember was that boys might like to look at pretty girls, but they want to hang out with girls who respect them. He said lip gloss was fine, but finding a boy I respected and who respected me was the most important thing. He also told me that if I was ever hanging out a boy I didn’t respect, chances were that boy didn’t respect me either – so I should dump him. Have to admit at 13, I didn’t believe -much less understand – this one.
He was right again, though.
And now I know.
Mr Ralph SO wanted to teach me how to create things from wood. He was a master craftsman. That one didn’t go so well. What he DID teach me was to treasure craftsmanship. That changed the course of my life. And through many moves and shifts in my life, I still keep fresh cheese in the cheese board/dome Mr Ralph made. I also hang my bananas from a tree Mr Ralph made. They are treasured icons of simply perfect craftsmanship.
And they will remain treasures, as long as I love Mr Ralph, cheese and bananas ~ which will be as long as I live.
These are just three things Mr Ralph taught me. There are many more – that resilience rules; the profound healing power of laughing out loud; that helping someone else is just What We Do; and that love is a verb.
So as I join Nancy, Craig, David, Paul and sooooo many others in missing Mr Ralph’s physical presence ~ I also stand with them in celebrating the difference he made and continues to make in this world.