Saturday, February 11, 2017

Lessons Learned From Ricky

On Friday, my cousin, Rick who I always called Ricky passed away. He was 65.  He had lived far beyond the years the doctors gave his parents when he was born. Ricky, the doctors, advised should have been put into an institution. That's what the recommendation was in those days for a child born with Down's syndrome.  They also called them "retarded".  However, my Aunt and Uncle did not heed that advice and they took their baby home and they loved him, and they raised him and they believed in him.  The world said he could never, he would never, and would never be....
But I am here to say, the lessons I learned from Ricky were invaluable.

My first memory of Ricky was when I was about 4 years old. We were at a family gathering at another relative's house. This house was an old hotel, at which some of the older cousins had convinced us little ones was haunted, LOL.  This house, in my memories, was amazing. The yard was great for playing chase and hide and seek was awesome there. I remember that fall day in North West Florida. It was still shirt sleeve weather but there was a slight coolness in the air.  I was busy, running, playing and trying to stay away from whoever was "IT".  Ricky was sitting on the porch, the huge porch rocking in the rocking chair, or it might have been a porch swing, so not sure on that.  He watched me run by several times, and I remember him saying "Ritar Ann(what he called my mom)...that youngin better get her shoes tied are she's gonna fall down"  So there it was, my first lesson from Ricky, keep your shoes tied. From that day on, I was aware if my shoes were tied or not.  I remember he was really, very concerned that I would get hurt.  His compassion was one of the key things in life that I remember.

Ricky loved big and deep. He never saw bad in anyone. He loved you with all his heart.  He had a talent for keeping everything in its place and I mean exactly in its place. You could move something on his dresser a fraction of an inch, and him walk back into the room, and he would know it was out of place so he would fix it. Order was important, yes, I learned that from Ricky.

He gave hugs freely and gently. It was as though he could sense who needed a hug and when. He held no conditions to his hugs. He didn't force a hug but he knew how to hug. Hugs that were filled with so much love.  I learned hugs are never overrated and that hugs are good for so many different things.

He could not tell time, but he knew when his favorite shows came on. He could not count but he could set the table for all that were present by naming their names. I never knew him to get it wrong. He didn't do it like everyone else but he got it done. I learned, be yourself and it's okay to do it differently when it works.

I remember when one of our precious Aunts passed away his deep grief. He unashamedly showed his grief and didn't try to keep a stiff upper lip and pretend like he wasn't in pain. I learned it's okay to grieve, it's okay to cry and it's okay to mourn those you love.

He never forgot you. He knew whose kid you were and whose sibling you were. He always asked if you were okay.  AND HE ALWAYS SAID I LOVE YOU when you were leaving. Not once did I ever leave his presence without him telling me I love you. I learned I love you is always important to tell someone

One of my most favorite memories of him was on my wedding day. It was after the ceremony. I stood next to him my arm around him and his arm around me and we just stood together loving one another.  My husband walked up and Ricky said" I gotta tell you one thing" My husband said, "what is it, buddy". Ricky said, "You take care of my girl, cause she's a good girl".  My husband promised to take care of me and Ricky hugged him.  That moment is so precious to me.  My Ricky, passing the torch of taking care of his girl to someone else. Now, he may not have totally understood but he did understand on a level. My heart always belonged to Ricky and it always will in a deep bond that only cousins can have, best friends.  He knew that my heart was now shared with someone else and he held no jealousy.  My Ricky loved and loved deep.

One of my last memories was at the last family reunion I got to attend. He saw my children and he told me they were beautiful. And then he said "You did good, real good" as he watched them. My word that meant the world to me. He saw my kids were good and sweet and he knew it.

So what I learned from those is never be afraid to tell others to take care of each other and never be afraid to let someone know they are doing good.

Ricky was a precious soul. He loved deeply. He loved unconditionally. He had faith. He had joy. He loved and he loved and he loved some more. So the biggest lesson is always love. Love deeply. Love unconditionally. Once Ricky loved you, you never lost his love.

Goodbye, my Ricky, I love you and I will see you again in heaven. You did good Ricky,  you did real good.


Anonymous said...