"Rich was a good man."
I've heard that over and over the past few days. The thing is, he really was. Oh sure, he wasn't perfect (who is?), but he was a good man.
Born in May of 1941, Rich died Friday, January 2, 2009. He was 67 years old.
Honestly, I don't know that I knew Rich that well. To me, he did not seem to be very demonstrative with his feelings. He was quiet -- kind of a "still waters run deep" kind of guy from what I knew of him. He never really said much to me, but I do remember him surprising me with a sentimental and sincere phrase or two while we danced at our wedding reception back in 1991.
Rich did what he could to balance the responsibilities of his "first" family -- MIL and three children, with that of the family he gained when he remarried. It wasn't always easy for him, but I believe he was proud of the things his children accomplished. He (and MIL) raised some fine people.
Rich loved his grandchildren -- Punkin, Sweet Pea, Buddy and Emme. He would get a little silly with them, and teased every one of them at one time or another with "I'm going to get yer gizzard!" There were photos of him playing in a sandbox with them, blowing out birthday candles, wearing a fuzzy-feathered tiara, holding a magic wand, and surrounded by his grandchildren.
In 2006, Rich was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. At one point early in 2007, the doctors were unsure that he would live another two months. He rallied and surprised all of us by making it back from that. The diagnosis had an impact on us all, and his children tried harder to be there for him -- to connect more with him.
A year or so ago, Rich, Hubby and Buddy all went to Rochelle, IL to watch the trains. It was a rare event, and Hubby will always remember that as one of the best days he spent with his Dad. Rich liked trains and would frequently share his Train magazines with Buddy (who refuses to part with any of those issues).
Rich was "fighting the good fight", doing what he needed to do to get through the ups and downs of his treatment. Over the last few months however, his peaks and valleys began to become more pronounced. The valleys became more difficult to climb out of.
He was once again admitted to the hospital on Christmas Eve with an infection. Rich was able to come home from the hospital on New Years Eve with Hospice care for the evenings. However, early in the morning of January 2, 2009, Rich's breathing became shallow. He passed away shortly after 2am, joining his mother, father, and four brothers who had already gone before him. He leaves behind a sister, three brothers, three children, four grandchildren, a host of other family members and many friends.
Rich, you were a good man. We take comfort knowing that you are finally at peace, and not plagued by the burdens you had when you were here. We will always remember you.
Love ya, Rich.
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Rich surprised me once by commenting on something I wrote on my blog. While my family and friends know about my blog, I don't believe a lot of them read it. (Perhaps they get enough of me in real life...) After I conquered the ability to make an edible grilled cheese sandwich, I vividly remember him asking me "So... what are you going to do now that you've done that?" I laughed and told him I wasn't sure, and to 'stay tuned'.
Thank you for the prayers you may have said on our family's behalf and good thoughts you have expressed. We appreciate every one of them.