February 25, 2012

Always With Us - Suzanne O'Neal

Today is the eighth year of our loss which seems like yesterday. Rarely does a day go by without some kind of thought of Ray. We have many pictures prominently shown in our little den which we are in every day and I often stop to talk with "Ray". Yes, I do believe he is with us. I have to know that he is constantly proud of his beautiful daughter, our grand daughter, Rose. I know he is her guardian angel and that all our love keeps him present with us though his physical presence is missed beyond comprehension. The pain is one of impossible cure but our pride in what a lovely and wonderful man he was gives warmth to our hearts.

Rosie, your daddy was one of the best humans in the world and a daddy beyond compare. Though you only had him in your life for a very short time, you have to always know he is with you and that his love for you is beyond compare. Hold him close to your heart and and talk to him anytime - as he is there for you anytime.

Lovingly

Your grandmother, Nonie
Suzanne

May 10, 2011

I Never Met Ray - Andrew M

I never met Ray.

18mths ago I picked up Andrews book IAG as I was preparing for the big trip – flying to LAX to ride across the USA with some close mates. I couldn’t put the book down. And when I did, I grabbed my wife and 3 little kids and loved them up like I hadn’t done before.

We did the ride and I shared the story about Ray with my mates one night – we all toasted Ray and made a pact to cherish our friendships. It was a wonderful experience and I thought of Ray often on the trip.

Ironically, I lost my youngest brother suddenly at a similar time of Rays passing. Like Ray, a wonderful, beautiful person. The pecking order is so wrong, but I can only imagine what an incredible place it be full of guys like bro and Ray. I don’t know why but last night I picked up IAG again and re read it. Only then did I notice the website.

I just wanted to let u know Ray has touched so many around the world.

Regards,

Andrew M
Brisbane, Australia

April 01, 2011

Ray's memory is still with us at Bovis - Laura Guilfoyle

Dear Sophie and Rose,

I think of you so often.

Today I received a call from Joel Pickering, the founder of the Lend Lease Safety Academy, a 2-day intensive designed to change the way our employees, subcontractors and visitors think about safety, not just at work but in everything we do.

Joel wanted to know about Ray’s life and death to demonstrate that safety isn’t just reports and regulations. Tragedy has names, faces, stories and a family. I told him about Remembering Ray and Andrew’s book, and sent him a copy of the stickers we use on our hardhats and his obituary. Joel takes safety and the preciousness of life very seriously. He was very moved by how loved and admired Ray was—and still is. I know that by hearing about Ray, the people in the class will realize that there is no other choice but to take care of themselves and each other in the field, so that no other family has to experience what you have experienced.

At every safety event I attend I remember Ray, and remind people of you, and what you miss every day without him.

Love you,
Laura

March 01, 2011

Fond Loving Memories - Debbie Nevins

I spoke with Ron Etergino last week and asked him to remind me of the date that Ray had passed. I had Ray on my mind every day for a good week. I just knew that the date was imminent. Ron had shared photos of their visit with Sophie and Rose. What fun to see them. Rose is a true beauty. I also reread the poem Chet wrote of "Lost Brothers Are We". The only change I would make to his poem is the word "lost". The memory of Ray lives with us all for all time. We miss you, Ray!

Love,
Debbie and Tiff Nevins
Ray's Eastern Family

February 27, 2011

Ray O'Neal - Victoria Greely

It has been seven years since Ray died.

I spent the better part of an hour reading and rereading the notes on this site.

And looking at the pictures.

And remembering. Mostly remembering.

Today, as every year, my beautiful daughter and beloved granddaughter have "run away" to where they can breathe and commune with Ray and each other.

Today I stayed home and silently mourned the son-in-law I had come to love so much.

For all of you who were privileged to have known Ray-phone or write or email or plan a visit with Sophie and Rose.

That is truly a special way of remembering Ray.

April 22, 2009

It's all good... - Amy Larkin

I never met Ray, in fact i knew nothing of him until he had already passed away. I was on my first trip overseas on my own, i was a very naive 19 year old leaving the shores of Sydney, Australia and the safety of my family for the big wide world and going to take on the world in San Francisco. My Aunt bought me a book to make the plane trip move a bit faster, she picked up "it's all good" because she thought it was about an adventure across the USA (which it was i guess), and because the Daddo family are famous in Australia and she thought it was going to be a story of how Andrew Daddo made it big. It was so so much more. I can not express how different my life would have ended up if i had never read this book. I did actually get a car (def not as cool i know!) and drive from New York to San Francisco, and i made my sister fly from Australia to do it with me - it was the best experience of my life. But so much more then that it made me realise it was more important to be passionate about what i was doing then anything else, when i returned to Sydney 13 months later i dropped out of Law degree at university and started a teaching degree - sure my father wasn't happy, but i was and he in time would realise it is much more important that i am happy and passionate then that he can tell his mates at the golf club that his daughter is a lawyer.

The reason i am writing this to you now is that i have just finished reading the book for the second time, 3 years later for some reason i picked it off the shelf. I have just graduated as a Teacher (with honours) and am happily teaching a 2nd grade class, and love getting up every morning. And no matter what, no one can ever ever take the memories that i have with my sister exploring the US away from me.

I never met Ray...but he most definitely changed my life.

March 24, 2009

Warm Memories - Debbie Nevins

Today, March 24th, Tiff and I were enjoying a leisurely lunch in our living room in our Maryland home. There was a "feeling" of Ray about the room today. In fact there has been that feeling of Ray ever since his fateful accident. But today Ray's presence was everywhere. We looked at the picture of Ray and Tiff behind the wheel of Yankee, wind blowing, jacket collars raised high, and sheer joy and happiness shared by both. Another photo is of Ron, Ray, and Chet taken at Chet's rehearsal dinner party in Nassau...again the feeling of laughter, joy, and partnership. Tiff and I both felt this aura and re-read the Memoriam Poem that Chet wrote.

Sophie and Rose we want you to know how much we think of you. We are still your "Eastern" family. We miss you both and hope that you will find your way East to visit us this summer.

March 08, 2009

It's still All Good

i just re-re-read It's All Good on Rose's & my runaway - so incredible to hold a book in my hands filled with stories & pictures of Ray. Of course it's filled with stories of Andrew too, just as much, but that's great - it's amazing to me that those two managed to find each other, both the same mix of macho/bravado & utter goofiness - setting up dramatic photo shoots of themselves, c'mon. Andrew's remembered Ray is far more laconic than I think of my chatty question-man husband, and I reallllllly struggle with the image of him falling asleep at one point, the wrong point -- but that IS the point for me. These aren't my memories, these are Andrew's, and they add to our collective picture & knowledge of Ray. I can't thank Andrew enough, I hope everyone gets to read IAG.

February 28, 2009

Mike Patt

(My mom received this email from Mike Patt, a great friend from childhood who's a captain in the SFPD)

Dear Vicki,
I stumbled upon the special notes written by you and Sophie in the Chronicle today about Ray. I remember the day of his accident very well. Up until this time, I have chosen not to share a story I have for fear of opening wounds, or provoking more pain and heartache on top of what is already so cruel and brutal. Having never met Ray in person also tempered my enthusiasm to chime in. If you feel it is appropriate, maybe you can cut and paste this to "RememberingRay", as my tech abilities and the work computer are hampering the post. Here goes...

On that morning, I was working in the fire station, with the usual half of an ear toward the radio which dispatches units city-wide. I heard the call come in for a fall victim, with responding units and officers/medics I know personally. The Captain on scene it turns out is one of the most competent and "tough" in the city, bar none. As the day went on, the incident faded away in my memory, as so much goes on in this crazy city everyday. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I would soon have cause to call the Captain and find out exactly what happened.

I actually saw the Captain in person before I had a chance to call, and eagerly inquired about the tragic accident, now knowing it was Ray who was hurt. The usual response to such inquiries is typically generic in nature, with a mundane description of circumstances and details. This time, however, my inquiry stopped the Captain in his tracks. His blank stare and obvious introspection caught my attention right away. "You knew that man Mike?" "Well, not exactly" I replied, " I know his wife and her extended family very well from childhood." Cap became very serious, and simply said... "Mike, he was the toughest patient I have ever seen in all my years on this job." " There was something about him that was so different." His eyes trailed off into the distance. I told him of Sophie and Rose, I could feel his heart break.

To this very day, when we greet each other at an incident, or cross paths at the firehouse, a certain feeling fills the air. It's a feeling of sadness, gratitude, and grief, all rolled into one. It's knowing any day could be your last around here. So in his own certain way, a man named Ray whom I've never even met helps me appreciate my own family each and every day. Thank you Ray, until we meet someday.

February 24, 2009

Fishing in the Mountaints camera.gif

One of the many Ray notes I have, this one still stuck inside a kitchen cabinet, is a postcard he sent us from a fishing trip. In his Ray-spelling he wrote “Hi My Love I hope your having a good time, I’m fishing in the mountaints & look forward to sharing this spot with you both. We’ll have a great time sailing on Sat. LOVE you. Rose – don’t forget your life vest, its in the garage hanging on the drawrs.” He drew us a picture: a stick figure fisherman Ray, with a very big fish at the end of his line. Over his head is a thought bubble of three little stick figures, holding hands.

Sometimes I like to think that’s where he is, fishing in the “mountaints,” thinking of us.

How can it be five years? How can he be gone?

Rose is 9 now. This birthday was so hard for me, one of the hardest ‘milestones’ we’ve faced together. To know that from that point on, and more so every day, she has lived more days without him than she had days with her beloved daddy. That’s so wrong.

I wonder sometimes if I push remembering him too much. But I ask her, and she says I don’t. Mostly it’s those offhand, little things, that strike me – like this weekend, the way she always makes her special French toast is his way. They loved to cook together. She likes to be reminded. She sometimes will remind me, or tell me something I didn’t know, about him and their time together. Mostly she’ll do that when I tell her it’s ok if she can’t remember very much. Even I forget sometimes, the entirety of him. It’s those sharp, deep fragments that make up my remembering now. But there is no option for me but to remember, he was my Ray.

We went to Yosemite last weekend, our annual gathering. It was spectacular, more snow than I’ve ever seen, so much fun. When we were on our way home she was happily telling me how lucky we were: so lucky to have the cabin to go to, so lucky to have such a great family, to have so many fun things to do together – sledding, ice skating, the snow ramp Uncle Blaise & Uncle James made on the back porch. I added how lucky she was to have such wonderful uncles, who do things with her that her daddy would have done. And she said, wonderingly, “he would have?” It killed me. How can she not know? I know that’s unfair, but it hurts.

I don’t mean in any way to take away from our wonderful life, how lucky we are, the many friends and family that we have who love us, who contribute to both of our lives. Or to take away from what a special person Rose is – believe me, she’s not just amazing because of how much she’s like Ray, she’s incredible in her own right. And I know her remembering and her knowledge of Ray is a deep and important part of her. But of course I want more.

I’ve just re-re-read through all the wonderful postings on this site, thank you. It’s good to remind myself that the stories, the little moments, the connections ARE good, are important, are part of what we all try to learn from Ray. It’s important to tell your loved ones that you love them. Rose knows that her daddy loved her, knows that she is a lucky girl to carry him inside her. In many ways she doesn’t need me to tell her these things. But then again, she does. We all do. We need the stories.

Rose and I are heading out today, another ritual, our annual runaway, to go where the ocean and sky are big enough to help get us through the horrible day. Just being there, just living, IS remembering.

Remember Ray. Tell someone you love them. Tell a Ray story.

February 24, 2008

Genetics

I picked Rose up last night from her carpentry class. Yup, you read that right. She's taking classes at the Randall Museum, a wonderful hobbyist's dream location in the woods, with a gorgeous big workshop full of workbenches & heavy machinery & power tools. Glassed in on two sides, so I stood outside and watched for awhile. She's building a boat (I'm not supposed to know that) and was fiercely concentrating as she hammered & clamped & glued. Oh, you can imagine, a bit, how I felt watching her - overwhelming love, and joy, and inexhaustible sadness.

I used to think I fell on the "nurture" side of the famous equation - I believed that most formative influences on a person's character came from their environment. But I am so delighted to witness the supremacy of "nature". Rose is so much Ray's child. Carpentry, camping, playfulness, and natural athleticism. And her nature, her spirit, brings me such joy - she is an amazing child: thoughtful, curious, open to the world's wonder, a wanderer. But the part of her that is most like my Ray is her enduring sweetness. She tucks love notes into my pockets. She makes me breakfast. She sent me to work one day with a bag of treats - including a spray of flowers and a ziploc with a votive candle & matches (for that serene moment at my desk?). She takes care of me when I'm sick.

Four years. Remember high school, college - 4 years was such a momentuous, significant, eternity of time. Four years without my Ray? How can that be.

To all our beloved friends and family who've reached out, and who've held us close - thank you. Please forgive our hibernation, and know that we love you, we know you love us, and we know you love our Ray.

February 26, 2007

Victor Perry

Sophie, my thoughts and prayers are with you and Rose. Ray was one of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with. I hope that your understanding of how many people he touched gives you comfort and helps you through the day. I will never forget Ray.

February 24, 2007

Vicki Greely

Three years...the blink of an eye.

Three years...an eternity.

Three years!!

Tomorrow it has been three years since Ray died.

Three long years in which Sophie and Rose have had to learn to be a "two family".

Sophie and Rose are doing "OK", but they need the love and support that we all so emotionally promised them three years ago. They need to know that we are there and that we care.

So, pick up the phone and call, or sit down and write that letter, or, better yet, arrange to come for a visit!

They need to know that we really are REMEMBERING RAY!

I love you and miss you, Ray, every day!

Vicki Greeley

Janet Shaver - 3 Years Ago

My dear Ray,

It hasn’t been until this year that I have been able to mourn your loss. The first year that you left us was a blur of sadness combined with the necessary strength to get through the shock and crappy busy-work that ensued. The second year was just a hollow emptiness as the space cleared to feel the loss of you. And this year, I just straight-out mourn.

I miss you. I miss you calling me ‘Net…no one does that anymore. I miss what you were for my best friend every day that you were in her life. I miss your goofy smile and your pride & adoration of your daughter and your excitement over ever little thing that came across your path. I miss laughing about the silly things you did, and I miss how you would command a room simply by entering. I miss how the party would start just by you arriving.

Ray Ryan O’Neal. I miss you dearly, but am so happy to have known you.

December 13, 2006

Jennifer Rafton - It's All Good

Hi,

I have just finished reading Andrew Daddo`s Book, Its All Good.

What a beautiful story for Rose to have and remember her dad.
I`ve had a look through the website and can see what a loving father and husband he was. I`m sorry for you both to have lost a wonderful man.

Chin up and keep on Remembering Ray.

God Bless.

Jenny

November 09, 2006

10 Years

10 years ago today, my true love asked me to marry him.

What a day. What a night. (ouch) what a night before.

10 years. Ten years. Such a good, long, substantial, solid amount of time.

But. Except. If only.

Happy anniversary My Love.

August 26, 2006

Bruce Facoory - It's All Good

Yesterday my partner and I decided to visit Borders Bookstore in our home town Auckland New Zealand. As we were leaving we spotted a book "It's All Good" by Andrew Daddo. Without any hesitation we picked up the book, paid for it and left the store. That evening I picked up the book again and read it from cover to cover.

After reading the book and discovering the website rememberingray.com on the last page I went straight to have a look. Thank you Andrew Daddo for sharing your memories of your road trip.

How nice to know that Ray is still travelling around and making an impression through this book.

Thank you

Bronagh Withell
Auckland
New Zealand

July 12, 2006

Jane Mock - Lasting Impressions

Today at work I was looking through my bookmarks for a certain resource and flitted by "Remembering Ray."

Visiting this site and looking at all the great photos, and reading people's submissions is like getting a dose of a great "life force." Ray was a marvelous example of someone who reached out, took interest, made connections and, now, has left a legacy. I think it's true that we carry people inside of us, even when they're gone, and can hopefully model some of our intentions and actions after them. How fantastic, too, that people who didn't even know Ray have visited the site after being touched by the Chronicle notice! Talk about making an impression.

There are times when I remember the day I got the phone call about Ray's death. It's usually on some quiet and still night, and it just turns me inside-out to think what his last moments were like, and what Sophie endured. But I also remember--with much more frequency--the incredible acts of kindness and resourcefulness that I saw happening around Sophie and Rose in those days immediately following Ray's death. Kirsten, Janet, the Ford, O'Connell, O'Neal and Julien families, and more of Sophie's friends and neighbors stepped in and did the things--big, small and everything in between--that needed to be done. To me, this is such proof that we're never alone. A friend of mine lost a baby at the end of last year, and during that time, I was able to participate with others in giving a level of support that I don't think I would have understood had I not seen the exemplary people that Sophie had around her.

Rose, you're lucky to be part of an amazing tribe.

Well, I get to see Sophie tonight at Girls' Night, so I'll sign off now!

Love,

Jane

June 11, 2006

Birthday

Happy 40th birthday, my love

April 30, 2006

Andrew Daddo - It's All Good

I'm not really sure how to start here...

Funny that.

I rode across America with Ray a long time ago. A lifetime. No kids, no wives and probably not that many expectations. We were both heading west, Ray was stopping on the coast, I was searching for my own about a million miles further on. Back home. In Australia.

Like you, I was gutted to hear about Ray's death.

I was a long way away and unsure how to help. Somewhere in my brain, a penny dropped. I get the feeling it's dropped for everyone who's taken the time to write on this site.

I decided to write a letter to Rose about our ride. It was easy to start, "Dear Rose." was pretty obvious, but from there it got trickier. So over the next year or thereabouts, armed with photos, a road atlas and some memory, I did my best to get it down for Rose.

What began as a letter has become a book.

It's All Good.

It comes out tomorrow, Australia only, I'm afraid, but maybe it'll come to where you are, too.

Ray was a mate of mine. A "forever friend."

I trust It's All Good does him justice. I thank you, too for your memories, some of which I have borrowed to flesh out the book.

Best

Andrew Daddo