|Me on the left, Ron on the right,|
Ron was younger, but not by much; we were separated by 15 months.
Growing up in Fort Worth, we shared a lot of common interests. Like sports, fishing, playing cowboys and Indians. And bugs.
Our insect collection, housed in cigar boxes we got from our father, was even the envy of college students, one of whom did in fact borrow it for a class project.
We both loved to fish, and Ron was better at it. He knew how to mix the right amount of cornflakes and syrup to catch those "lunker" carp living on the lake bottoms.
Another common interest was horror movies.The local TV station, Channel 11, aired a show every Saturday night called "Nightmare Theater." It provided a steady diet of classic horror: Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, the Mummy. We ate it up. We even went so far as stage our own production in our grandparents' backyard. I was a mad scientist, Ron the Wolfman and our cousin was the Mummy (we wrapped him in strips of cloth cut from some sheets). We heard later the neighbors were curious about the makeshift tombstones we erected behind the garage.
One of Ron's first cars was a Pontiac Tempest convertible. He souped up the engine and jacked up the tires. Mom never liked that look much. But Ron always had a knack with engines, and was a damn fine mechanic. Good thing, too. That Tempest had a habit of breaking down with some regularity.
After high school, we found ourselves on very different journeys. Ron joined the Navy, and I pursued a career in journalism. But before our paths diverged, Ron was involved in the most important day of my life. That was the night he and Rhonda, the girl he was dating, invited me on a blind date with Rhonda's friend, Pam. You have to understand Pam didn't really do blind dates, so Rhonda had to do some major arm twisting before she reluctantly agreed.
The rest, as they say, is history. If it wasn't love at first sight, it was close. Pam and I got married less than a year later.
As for Ron and Rhonda, they went their separate ways. Through the years they would touch base now and again, but that was about it. Until a year ago, when our Mom passed away. Rhonda was there, offering her support. Both of them were single. And after all those years, they reunited. Four months later, they got married.
It was a fairy tale ending, except for one thing. Ron had been diagnosed with cancer, the serious kind.
I know having Rhonda in his life over the past year gave Ron hope and inspiration, and something to live for. During that time he even rediscovered his love of horror movies, and we watched a few together as Godzilla laid waste yet again to Tokyo. He became a huge fan of "Svengoolie," who hosted weekly horror movies on TV, as well as "One Step Beyond."
Since we lived in different states, we talked on the phone just about every day. With Rhonda's help, he mastered messaging as well.
Ron fought the disease with all the strength he had, until he didn't have any more. He left us on June 23. Thank you for the memories, brother, and the love. And thank you Rhonda, for coming back into his life.