My friend Ray died this morning, in his house with his family by his side. It stinks that he died, it stinks that his last year was all chemo and radiation and doctors and hospitals. And most of all, it stinks that there aren't that many men like him these days, and we'll miss the pleasure of his company.
Ray found out he had metatastic cancer last August. He and his wife Shirley were on their long-planned trip to Alaska when suddenly, he couldn't breath. He was flown home, underwent tests, and got the very bad news - multiple organs, lungs, brain. It is phenomonal that he did so well for so long, but Ray decided he had things and people to take care of.
He continued in his volunteer position with our Property Owner's Association - sometimes he was out of pocket due to hospitalizations and treatment - but there was a neighborhood that needed taking care of.
Ray also made sure his family was taken care of so they would have no day-to-day worries when he was gone. He took care of the paperwork to give his son his truck. He sent the kids out with Shirley to get her a new car so she would have a warranty and no service problems. He even made his own funeral arrangements, so his loved ones wouldn't have that burden in the days after his death.
Ray arranged for hospice care when he got the latest bad report. He came home and prepared to die. He discouraged us from visiting him these last couple of weeks, and I'm convinced he was once again taking care of his friends so they wouldn't remember him with sadness.
I definitely won't remember him with sadness - admiration, respect, fondness. How can you be sad about a man who knew exactly how to live, and - when it was his time - knew exactly how to die?
Forget the sports stars, the movie stars, the politicians and musicians - my friend Ray was a role model for how to be a Real Man.
I'm sure gonna miss him.