On Thursday a friend of mine passed away.
By worldly accounts, he was probably the richest man I ever knew. He was a founder of the Ultramatic bed and, along with his wife, one of the largest personal contributors to Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, ON with a stunning two-storey glass and steel encased lobby named after them. He owned several high-end cars, and a handful of custom Harleys. He loved his gold rings and his flamboyant attire, and was more of a fashion statement than I’ve ever seen on the cover of a magazine. His own circle of friends included celebrities and he had a long-standing friendship with Canadian icon Gordie Tapp of Hee Haw fame, who was the spokesperson in many Ultramatic bed commercials.
But it won’t be his material wealth, his bling, his vehicles, or his famous connections that I will remember about him. It will be his spiritual riches.
It will be that NOT ONCE in 17+ years of knowing him did I ever hear him complain about anything or say something mean spirited about anyone. NEVER. I will remember him extending his hand to everyone and anyone who took their very first and very long walk down into the church basement we hung out in on Friday nights. I will remember, although I don’t even know why, he always called me ‘woman’, not in a gender-judgemental tone, but rather in a cheery and respectful manner. I will remember his often use of the word ‘pleasure’ and his monumental thumbs up. Above all else, I will remember his smile.
When I saw the obituary online with his service details, at first I was saddened. Not just my sorrow in losing a friend, but my disappointment in that I won’t be able to attend his funeral. It’s being held on Tuesday afternoon but that morning, I go in for day surgery for my skin cancer tumour. I was doing what us mortals sometimes do, feeling sorry for little ole me just because I can’t go, instead of feeling the sympathy and empathy I should have been feeling at the loss of a man loved by so many of us. And then I smiled. My eyes landed on the feature image above, which is in his obituary. And yet once again, even after his passing, he made me smile when I didn’t feel like it. Not just from seeing the pic, but with the sudden realization that he will be with me during surgery, giving me his angelic thumbs up to tell me “everything’s gonna be okay woman”. I instantly felt at peace.
So goodbye my friend Mr. Ron. I will miss you dearly. Your presence was greatly missed at last night’s meeting. But Marty was sitting where you normally sat, and I know he will be one of many who will keep your legacy alive within our circle of friends. I hope you enjoyed the big meeting in the sky I’m sure you were at, as where else would you be on a Friday night. I look forward to sitting beside you once again at that meeting, whenever I may arrive there. And I’m sure it will be you at the door to welcome me in with your fancy rings, bright coloured suit, and a thumbs up. And of course, your beautiful smile.
Until then, with pleasure I will see you on Tuesday. Marianne
The following is the poem that is inscribed on a very large piece of granite Ron had made into a bench and placed on the front of the lawn at his home in Burlington, ON as a place for any and all who wanted to stop for a spell and just sit along their travels in his neighbourhood. I actually didn’t even know about this bench until I Google image searched it after seeing it in his obituary and found the story behind it in the Hamilton Spectator. I guess I know where I’ll be heading first before going to our meeting in Burlington next time.
The Value Of A Smile
A smile costs nothing, but gives much,
It enriches those who receive,
Without making poorer those who give.
It takes but a moment,
but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it,
And none is so poor but that he can be made rich by it.
A smile creates happiness in the home,
Fosters good will in business,
And is the countersign of friendship.
It brings rest to the weary,
Cheer to the discouraged,
Sunshine to the sad,
And is nature’s best antidote to trouble.
Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen,
For it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.
Some people are too tired to give you a smile.
Give them one of yours,
As none needs a smile so much,
As he who has no more to give.
In response to today’s Daily Prompt: Sing
Image source: The Hamilton Spectator