On April 19, 2013, Ron West was taken by (or, from another vantage point, finally broke free from the clutches of) the same illness that took Jacques, Lewy body dementia.
My God, Ron was only 70. I’m just realizing that right now. I didn’t know him, but his wife of, now, 48 years, Marianne, and I met virtually in an e-mail support group that has been a lifeline for those of us taking care of spouses with “Lewy” (yes, we have been known to break into a chorus of “Lewy Louie”). We’ve witnessed one another’s struggles, provided practical tips and vital information, permission to be human and lose it from time to time, sources of faith, strength, and laughs . . . and most of us have stayed in touch even after “graduation.”
That’s how I found out Ron had passed, and that’s how I got to read this magnificent word portrait of him by his youngest son, Doug. I asked permission to share it here because it is just the essence of what you want a father to be and how you would hope to feel about your father. It just makes you love and admire the man, wish you’d met him, and feel that you have. Sail on, Ron. Thank you, Marianne and Doug.
* * *
You taught me the real meaning of Honor by living it every single day of your life and holding yourself to a higher standard than to where our world tries to tear us down. Honor is the most difficult when dishonor has become fashionable.
You taught me Compassion by your actions towards all the things that needed that little extra helping hand; especially that tiny, awkward and misshapen runt that had choked on a piece of big-dog food. I watched you furiously fight to remove the blockage and then breathe life back into its limp form. You named him Lucky when you set him down on the ground and he wobbled over to stand on your shoe. That very same puppy you had rescued a few days earlier, along with its brothers and sisters, when the wood shed flooded from a terrible rain. With lightning striking, you laid yourself down in a pool of water and reached under the wall of the shed to pull out pup after pup, refusing to give up until the entire litter was safe.
You taught me Patience, Forgiveness, Wisdom and Worthiness, by taking the time to be sure that I knew precisely what I did wrong, why it was wrong and how it can hurt others, but most importantly ourselves. It wasn’t until I was long grown that I was able to look back and remember those two to three hour long lectures and see that you spent the majority of any free time you had available striving to being certain that I knew right from wrong.
You taught me Love by hugging me tightly every night and never being afraid to tell me you loved me every chance you got. I remember the many times while I was in chronic pain, you would sit with me, my head on your lap and your strong, callused hand gently rubbing my back. At my darkest moment, you turned a two hour distance into less than an hour, just to sit with me. I don’t even think we said ten words, but your presence drove away the darkness.
You were never boastful and you were never cruel. You were a lion facing our fears and a lamb facing our sorrows. You could thunder wrath, crack your quick wit and smile whenever we were nervous or frightened and nothing could ever hurt us.
You were the oak that stood strong during all of our storms and your roots will hold our ground together forever.
Thank you for being my Dad! I will love you always!
~ Douglas West (Colorado Springs, CO)