March 01, 2004

Dean de Freitas

Ray was one of those people you always hear about - you know the kind. Everybody, and I mean everybody, who met Ray liked him. He was as genuine a "good guy" as there ever was. He would give you the shirt off of his back if he thought it would make you happy, and he'd do it with a huge smile and his arm over your shoulder, making you feel like it was no big deal that he had just saved your life.

I have many memories of Ray, but my fondest is related to my wedding. He had quit his job, bought a motorcycle, and had embarked on a cross country trip to California with a friend of his. He had no job there as yet, but figured he'd find one eventually. You see, nothing in life really seemed to bother Ray. He just took things as they came, worked through them, and moved on... all the while smiling and jovial. He told me he couldn't make it to the wedding because his route was to take him far north from the festivities in Amarillo, and I said goodbye to him at Club Nevins.

Well, at some point in his trip, Ray decided he didn't want to miss out on the party. So he left his friend temporarily and rode two days by himself to get to our wedding. I was awakened quite early on the big day by a phone call to the hotel room I was sharing with my parents. Through the fog of the post-rehearsal dinner hangover and a deep sleep, Ray informed me that he had ridden all night to get there, that he was in the lobby of our hotel at that very minute, that he had a bottle of champagne and some orange juice, and that he was on his way up to drink it with us so we'd better get decent. A few minutes later, my parents and I were having mimosas with him in the room.

He was that kind of guy.

Ray and I had lost touch over the years, but he affected me more deeply than he knew - as I suspect many others will say. He will always be a part of my life. After his memorial service this Wednesday, I hope we'll all get together, reconnect with old friends, kick back a few more beers than we should, and remember him - just the way he would have wanted us to.

His sudden and unexpected death last week made me remember a few things.

First of all, life is fragile. We need to relish every moment, because we never know when it will end. Old news, I know. But it never hurts to be reminded.

Secondly, don't lose contact with your real friends - you'll regret it someday.

Third, don't put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today. You see, there may be no tomorrow.... more old news, but we tend to forget in the rush of everyday life.

Fourth, and perhaps the most important, if you treat everyone you meet in life with love and respect, there will be a horde of people that will get together when you are gone to regale each other with tales of you and your exploits. They will drink one too many beers, maybe sing stupid songs, and perhaps bear hug each other like only drunk men do. And when they do, they will pay tribute to a great guy - a guy who even in death, will manage to bring many old friends together.

Rest easy my friend, and warm up some bar stools in heaven for us.