Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ronald Lee is 30!! (a re-post on the occasion of a later birthday!)

It must've been somewhere in the summer after my Senior year of High School when, just like a few years earlier when number six came along, Dad called us in for an announcement: “Your Mother and I are going to be adding another baby to the family. Sometime next Spring number seven will arrive!” And did he ever arrive! On this day those 30 34 years ago, Ronald Lee Huff joined our family and we've never been the same – a good thing!!

Unfortunately for me I was off to college when he was born but I still remember Mom flying to South Florida from Kansas with an 8-week old boy so she and he could be with me and my older sister for a week or so. It was some kinda hot and the little brother made some kinda noise, but it was all good!

A few years later I was home for a year and was around for Ronnie's birthday-suit trek through the neighborhood and his attempt to climb on the roof at age 3. I still remember how determined he was to get up there and help us on that hot, steep roof. One time he climbed a radio tower up to the eave of the roof. Mom was the only one home with him and had to climb up and retrieve him herself! Even though I was not home a lot during those years, I always remember how huggable and lovable he was as a boy, a lot of fun for the family and all who knew him.

As he grew into elementary school it slowly became just he and older brother Robb at home with Mom and Dad because the rest of us were gone with our own families or college or work. Robb and Ron were close buddies. Then when Ron was nine we all suffered the loss of Dad. After 20 years it still hits you in the gut, and perhaps Ronnie most of all. I still remember Ronnie – nine years old, trying to take it all in, resting in the strengthening presence of family. After the graveside gun salute he was gathering the spent brass cartridges out of the grass. He held out his hand to show me 9 cartridges: “I saved nine of these for the nine years I had with Dad.” This was Ron – thoughtful, tender, missing the biggest man in his life, and knowing enough to always remember.

In the years to come and up through High School we always loved it when he and Robb could visit our home with Mom. He always had a ready smile and laugh, and we loved him so much. Couldn't help ourselves. I remember once after our first son was born and Ronnie was visiting. He went out to ride around with me and he was old enough by then to help me some. He was only eleven so I should have known better, but I found myself pushing him, insisting that he 'get busy'. I didn't let up very well either, mean ol' big brother that I was! And then I noticed that he was just quiet and thoughtful – not doing much. “What are you thinking?” I asked. He took a moment before he replied.  “Life isn't just all work you know," he said. "Just 'cause I want to be out here with you doesn't mean I'm wanting to work all the time.” It was late, cold and he was right -- "wanting to be with me".  There's a life lesson in that.  Maybe a 30-year old guy could think of something more fun to do with his eleven-year old brother than work and more work. Ya think?

And so along the way we have had a great deal of fun. I wish I could remember some of the jokes. They were often nearly unspoken. One time in particular we were in Indiana for Thanksgiving, enjoying a domino game around the table. He would've been about fifteen I guess and we had discovered a very kindred spirit, meeting somewhere in the exquisite world of “Far Side” and “Calvin and Hobbes.” The worst of it was that we could seldom make our remarks without busting into uncontrollable laughter. Before one of us could finish some wise-crack, the other knew where it was going and we would lose it. The rest of the table had no idea how whatever-it-was could be so belly-laugh funny. Maybe we didn't either – it just was, and this is a special connection we have always enjoyed.

Another connection is this sort of crazy love of big-word-talk, for lack of a better description. It goes something like this: Instead of asking “Why did the chicken cross the road?”, Ron might proffer the following: 

     “Should inquisitions propose grammar leading to quest of determining poultry motive in situations  where horseless carriage ambulations must be transversed by said poultry, such determinations shall be disallowed from being sought via annoying query signs beside said routes of transversing.” 

Perfectly clear, right?

My favorite expression of his was when he referred to people as “sentient beings.” It was LOL funny -- after I looked it up to know what it meant.  Soon I shamelessly stole it for my own retorts. Of course mystified onlookers wonder what marbles we have left, but we don't mind. We might even describe said state for you if you like!

So there has been a lot of fun, and some hard times along the way as well. I remember when Ron decided to join the Army. I had the very poignant privilege of taking him to the airport for his departing flight to boot camp. The memory of that trip and his departure is surreal. I wish I could go there again, hug him again and shake his hand, feel the mix of pride and challenge and knowing life can never be the same again. We drove some 60 miles and made small talk. My kid brother had grown up and was going to do something none of us had done. And it was a life step I will never forget.

I am so proud of Ron for joining and serving in the Army. He has been less than enamored with his memories and experiences, not uncommon I am sure. But the love we all feel for him, and the pride and appreciation for his service and sacrifice will always be real in our hearts.

In the last ten years there were times when Ron lived within a few hours drive and 2 or 3 times I was able to meet him for his birthday. Once we met at this cool sub place in Cincinnati. Another time he took me to a new-to-me Mexican place that served huge portions. It was always so very good to get together with him, talk about old times, new times, good times, life. Like always he was funny, thoughtful, articulate. Good times.

Now he is 30 and I can't believe it, but I get to take a few minutes and say something real, something I mean, something like this straight to my much-loved kid brother: “Hey man, I miss you. Wish Kansas and Virginia were not far separated by, you know, roads and mountains and miles and stuff. You OK? Working hard I'm sure – that makes me happy and proud. I love the memories, Ron, and the blessing of a brother like you. I'm thankful for the now and all we can know and love. I believe in a better Tomorrow but am very thankful for all the todays. Let's stay in touch better – ok?  

"That's all for now except to say again, Happy Big 3-0.  I hope you have many, many more and that I get to celebrate some of them with you.  This thousand miles away stuff just doesn't cut it.  Oh and I almost forgot -- I love you, Bro.”


1 comment:

  1. Awesome post. I actually started to cry a few times. Thanks for sharing.