Sometimes, my narrowness of vision can be a little embarrassing. For the longest time, I just thought Ron was an ordinary New York City oddball (folks from New York will know exactly what I mean by that). He wrote weird poems that rhymed, volunteered at a 7th Day Adventist church, and had a perpetually awkward way about him. But for all that, I now see that I misunderstood him terribly.
I don’t really remember which family function was Ron’s first. He appeared out of nowhere on the arm of my Aunt Mary, the doyenne of my Irish clan. It was around the time she was first diagnosed with cancer, I think, so it must have been in the late 90s. At first, the most notable thing about him how completely opposite of her previous partner he was. Uncle Paul had been with Aunt Mary throughout my entire childhood and she couldn’t have found anyone more different in Ron. Physically, Ron was Laurel and Uncle Paul was Hardy. Uncle Paul was outgoing and affable, Ron was reserved and withdrawn. The whole thing just didn’t add up to me.
Flash forward to February 21, 2009, when this picture was taken. We’re at Aunt Mary’s bedside as she hangs on the edge of life. I have my C220 and am quietly snapping photos, mostly because I don’t know what else to do. I see Ron sitting by the window, seemingly removed from the proceedings. I snap a shot of him.
A year later, when I finally develop the film, I see what I had been missing the whole time – that Ron had been a constant and patient companion for what must have been the most difficult years of my Aunt Mary’s life. That at the moment the war was finally over, he was exhausted and ambivalent, as much relieved at the end of hostilities as pained at her passing. That the awkward man I never fully embraced had performed a service to me and my family greater than anyone could ever know.
So let’s call this my day of atonement, a moment to honor one person’s service to someone I loved. Thanks, Ron.
(Sorry to get so heavy, but I that’s just what happens with some photos.)
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