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Saturday, February 20, 2010

In Memory of Ralph and In Gratitude to Mike

Today, as I was driving out of my neighborhood to take my dogs to camp so I could spend the weekend in Savannah with my Duck family, my good friend Nancy called to tell me that Clint’s partner had died during the night.  We knew Ralph was dying, had known even before Clint died.  They practiced medicine (urology) together for 28 years and we found it cruelly ironic that he was dying of bladder cancer.

Never close, they made a medical good team.  Clint’s laid back personality was a nice balance for Ralph’s temper, and I am certain that Clint saved many jobs when Ralph wanted to fire someone in a fit of rage.

Clint was a lapsed Roman Catholic and an agnostic.  Ralph was a dyed in the wool Southern Baptist and spent no small amount of energy tryng to save Clint’s soul and bring him to Jesus.  He was particularly  adament after Clint got sick.  Ralph would bring over books by C. S. Lewis or some Big Bad Baptist Blabbermouth of an evangelist, asking Clint to read them and think about his faith.  Clint always trashed the books, but at least he waiting until Ralph’s departure.

One time, Ralph asked Clint to pray with him but Clint refused, saying there was more than one way to God.  That didn’t stop Ralph from trying.   We have to give him that.

When Nancy called me this morning, I felt as though I had been gut-punched and that all the scabs on my wounds were falling away and they were once again oozing pain and loss and fury.  Out of nowhere wham! I felt as though I had been flung to my knees.   I lost my focus, so I pulled into the carwash down the street and bawled like a baby.  Another piece of Clint has fallen away. 

Distracted, I missed my exit to the dog camp by 14 miles and had to backtrack.  When will this poison, this sickness leave me to live the writer’s life I want to live and that I now know I can?   How many times do I need to be cut off at the knees before I am allowed to more foreward?  I have been wobbly and off balance all day and into the evening.

I cried quiet tears most of the way to Savannah, positioned the Land Yacht - a 1976 Lincoln Town Car that had been Clint’s - in the slow lane and drove the speed limit.  The frenetic drivers who weave in and out of lanes were more than I could deal with.  Even when I am at my most even tempered mood, those people make me want to shoot their tires out from under them.

Saturday Morning
Life Goes On

There was a big supper at Cancun, the local Mexican restaurant, in honor of Ellery’s Odyssey of the Mind team. ( Google it).  Their regional competition is this morning at 10:15.  It’s the reason I came down here.  Mike Duck knows how to have a good time, and as usual he took over the room, singing with the Mariachi band, grabbing me out of my seat to do some dirty dancing, and in general entertaining every one in the room.  A couple of the parents were a little dumbstruck when we were dancing, but I didn’t give a shit.  Dirty Dancing should be a required course in high school.  The kids didn’t seem to notice.  They have all probably seen the movie more than once.  I love that little coming of age movie, and I’m grateful to Mike for taking me outside of myself and dragging me out to dance with him.

So far, I haven’t cried today.  I’m still wobbly and air-headed, but last night Mike gave me the opportunity to be happy and laugh when I most needed it.  And for that I am grateful.

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