Saturday, July 9, 2011

Goodbye, Ray

Somehow it seems fitting that a family friend died on July 4th.  He was the last surviving WWII veteran I personally knew. 

Ray was a neighbor to my aunt and in later years, he would ask my aunt's help with a few things and before we knew it, he was part of the family.

My Dad didn't realize this until one Christmas when I told Dad that instead of his nephew picking him up for our annual Christmas party, "Ray will be out and pick you up."  Dad thought we just had a random person do a chore of picking him up and got so upset until we explained that Ray was like one of the family.  At that, Dad had no problem riding to the party with Ray, and proceeded to call him "Razor" all evening.  (A nickname I felt was not respecting of a WWII veteran, but as Ray used to say about my dad, "Buck was always an adventure.")  People say of Ray he could pack so much wisdom in one statement, and yes, Ray, Dad was always an adventure.

At my annual ice cream party one year, my aunt bought a cake for Ray's birthday, and we all sung to him.  A friend of mine realized he served in the war, and he rounded his children up to make a point to talk to him.

One of my favorite memories of Ray was when I had a navy uniform to put on eBay.  I wasn't sure the date of it, so I asked him to identify it.  As he was looking at it, he pointed out the thirteen buttons on the pants.  His eyes twinkled and he gave me such an ornery look and said, "We used to say it gave the girls 13 chances to say no."  He later asked my aunt how we took that story because, of course, back in his day that was not something you would say to a lady. 

He loved anything with a rooster motif and I'd keep an eye out for anything "rooster" for him. One year with a promotion with Amazon, I was able to get an outdoor temperature gauge with a rooster on it for free.  He absolutely loved the gift, and I always enjoy giving a gift that someone enjoys so much.  That will probably always be one of my favorite gifts I've ever given.

Today's service was so touching.  I watched the WWII veterans including a lady who had been a nurse, as well as Korean and Vietnam vets salute Ray in the church.  I'd never seen a military tribute before.  A 21 gun salute and Taps. 

A fitting tribute to a man who was part of The Greatest Generation.

1 comment:

  1. That was great! Thanks for sharing! Loved the button part!