Friday, October 15, 2010

Remembering Ralph: March 1, 1940--October 16, 2005



On a bright October day in 2004 Ralph was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. He fought a valiant battle against the disease but lost. His journey ended on another sunny autumn day, October 16, 2005.

On this fifth anniversary of Ralph’s death, here are some things I remember:

He was an optimist. When the doctor told him bluntly, “You have a 95% chance of being dead in five years," he saad, “Well, somebody has to be in that other 5%. Why not me?”

He loved computers and never went anywhere without his laptop. I often felt we were a menage a trois—Ralph, the laptop, and me.

He saw himself as a problem solver and named his computer business Solution Providers.

In the hospital, he set up an office in the corner of his room and kept working through the chemo.

He was a math whiz but a poor speller. On our first date, on Valentine's weekend, he brought me a card with my name misspelled: T-h-e-m-a. He did learn to spell my name correctly, but he often called Gayle, our office manager, to check on spellings of words in his business proposals.

He adored our granddaughter Gabriella. The last thing he did before starting his hospitalization was to carve a pumpkin for her for Halloween. The last time he left his hospital room before he died a year later was to have a final visit with her. Because children were not allowed on the bone marrow transplant floor, his doctor arranged for a special wheelchair to take him down to the lobby so he could say goodbye to Gabriella.

Although he often said, “They’re just cats,” he loved his pets, especially Hal, the beautiful, striped cat he found in a drawer in our garage.

His favorite pet as a kid was a crow named Blackie, who stole clothespins off the neighbors' lines.



He was a great cook, often inventing recipes (unlike me, who always follows them to the letter.) On Thanksgiving he always cooked the turkey, and each year we were required to say, “Ralph, this is the best turkey you’ve ever made.”

He liked hot food, the hotter the better, and along with the turkey and regular dressing, he always made jalapeno dressing, too.

He was interested in politics, followed every campaign and even on his first full day in isolation in the hospital, which was also the day of the 2004 Presidential election, he badgered me about going to the polls.

He loved to tease, especially his sister Karen. One year at a computer show, he had a picture taken, then had it cut into a jigsaw puzzle and sent the pieces to Karen as a birthday gift.

He liked raising plants and made me promise I would not cut down the Monster, his enormous split-leaf philodendron that gobbled up more than half the space on our patio. I haven’t.

He could repair anything, from computers to cars, which is why I never learned to fix things around the house.

His favorite radio shows were “Car Talk” and “Prairie Home Companion,” his favorite TV show “Monk.” I have never been able to listen to or watch any of them since he died.

He encouraged and supported me in everything I undertook.



He was a good friend, a good husband, a good man, and I miss him. He was the wind beneath my wings.

15 comments:

Lynn said... [Reply to comment]

Thelma, this is a loving tribute to a kind and gentle man. You have honored his memory.

Marieke said... [Reply to comment]

*hugs*

Michael Krieger said... [Reply to comment]

Wow = made me all choked up = especially the part about Gabriella.

Patricia Kay said... [Reply to comment]

Beautiful tribute, Thelma. I remember Ralph, too, and he always struck me as exactly the way you've described him.

twilightme said... [Reply to comment]

I found my way here from the blog On Being Both. What a lovely, well-written tribute that gives a true sense of the man. Have you read Donald Hall's The Best Day The Worst Day? It's the story of his marriage to poet Jane Kenyon and her death from leukemia. Your post (and perhaps the entire blog) is certainly reminiscent of his book.

thelmaz said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks to all of you for your kind thoughts.

Linda Steinberg said... [Reply to comment]

five years. wow. you've written a beautiful tribute, and I like the music selection too.

Crystal Jigsaw said... [Reply to comment]

This is a beautiful tribute to an obviously well loved and respected gentleman. My post today reflects on Ralph's love of spicy food and cookery and I shall dedicate it to him.

With love and best wishes,
CJ xx

Walker said... [Reply to comment]

I love this post and the capturing of memories. Those of us who didn't know your husband are instantly transported through your descriptions. p

karen said... [Reply to comment]

As a sister who had many jokes played on by me by my older brother Ralph, I smiled and cried as I read through your tribute. Ralph almost had me convinced that I was older than he - that was an on going argument! God bless you Thelma for being the perfect wife for Ralph.

Widow in the Middle said... [Reply to comment]

I really enjoyed getting to know your husband and the good, decent, kind, intelligent, hard working, caring, humorous man he was. Thank you for sharing your dear memories.

Boo said... [Reply to comment]

So touching, beautiful. Thank you for sharing him with us xx

thelmaz said... [Reply to comment]

Boo and WinM, thanks for your kind notes.

Jenny Beattie said... [Reply to comment]

What a lovely post to have stumbled upon. Thank you for sharing those thoughts.

I'm popping by to say hello from one crusader to another.

Janey B said... [Reply to comment]

Beautiful post, Thelma. What wonderful memories you have. I can relate: "Car Talk" was one of my favorite shows too, because I am originally from Boston and I love to hear the accents.

 

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