Eulogy for Friend


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Eulogy for Friend


My name is Deborah, and I’m one of Ron’s many friends. Karen asked me to share about Ron from a biker’s point of view.

At many memorial services, eulogies are sort of like fish stories. Mean people are suddenly remembered as good-natured, self-centered people as generous, sinners as saints. Positive traits are exaggerated, negative ones swept under the rug.

But today, it’s not necessary to stretch the truth. With Ron, what you saw was what you got. He refused to play games with people, and he was adamant that he “didn’t have time for nonsense” like politics and petty disputes. What he DID have time for was people. He was amazingly attuned to other people’s feelings.

In my case, Ron would always notice if I started getting tired and quiet while we were riding. He noticed before my husband of 30 years did—before I did myself!—and would invariably stroll over with a handful of Tootsie Roll Pops and pink bubble gum to give me a sugar shot. Once he discovered that I shared his enthusiasm over Tootsie Roll Pops, he always made sure to keep a big enough stash to “cover” me on trips.

He was attuned in other ways as well. On group rides, I usually take the tailgunner position at the end of the pack, which means that I sometimes have to babysit unskilled riders who constantly speed up and slow down, or who fall back so far that the rest of the group vanishes from sight. I usually don’t mind, but now and then when somebody who should know better rides like that, it drives me crazy. Ron would always sense when I was getting frustrated, and at the next stop he’d say, “Why don’t I ride at the back for a while and give you a break?” He didn’t make a big deal out of it, but he helped keep rides fun for many of us.

Ron was master of a thousand small kindnesses.

He also took setbacks in stride, small and large ones alike. One time we were heading south toward Austin, and Ron and Karen were riding in front of me. Suddenly there was a small and colorful explosion on the road behind their bike. I looked down and saw pills--lots of little pills!--bouncing in every direction. Then two more explosions occurred, and this time I saw that the bottles were coming from their T-bag.

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I signaled, we all pulled over, and Ron and Karen learned their T-bag had ripped and was spewing expensive vitamins everywhere. Ron just shrugged and calmly pulled out a bungee to secure the bag. As usual, he didn't waste time “crying over spilt milk”.

He demonstrated the same calm outlook when it came to leaving this life before he'd planned.

When it became clear several months ago that he was losing the fight against lung cancer, Ron said simply, "It's my own fault—I should've stopped smoking." For all of us who loved him, it was a heartbreaking statement to hear… but it also demonstrated another of Ron’s most exceptional traits. Instead of wallowing in useless self-recriminations, he forgave himself in the same way that he forgave the rest of us for weaknesses and faults.

It was a lesson in living I won’t soon forget.

Ron had a unique sense of humor. If you were ever in a crowded room and heard loud laughter from across the room, it would NOT be Ron… but it might very well be a group of people around Ron. His dry observations often provoked gales of laughter while he stood by quietly, a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

A couple weeks ago I stopped by Ron and Karen’s to visit, and Ron was in his hospital bed, hooked up to oxygen and listening to a Walkman. Karen took out his earphones when I came in. We chatted for a while, then as I was leaving I asked Ron if he wanted the earphones back in. He said, “Yeah,” so I put one earphone in and reached for the other. Trying to help, Ron put his hand up and accidentally pulled the oxygen line out of his nose, so I dropped the earphone and repositioned his oxygen line. As I reached for the earphone again, Ron suddenly clutched his chest and gasped out, “What did you do? My oxygen’s not working!!”

I hastily checked the oxygen line to make sure I hadn’t crimped it, then checked the machine. I couldn’t find anything wrong, so I said, “Ron! It looks like it’s working, but I’m going to call Karen!” at which time he said, with a twinkle in his eye, “Just messin’ with you.” He watched in obvious amusement as I dropped into the chair next to his bed to try to get MY breathing under control.

It was typical Ron. He didn’t let his impending death change the way he interacted with friends. After visits, we usually left with tears in our eyes and a smile on our lips.

* * *

Ron loved his family. He loved his friends. And he let them KNOW he loved them.

In the Bible, 1st Corinthians Chapter 13 says:

"Love is patient, Love is kind, love does not envy, love does not boast, love is not puffed up, love does not behave indecently, love does not seek it own way, love is not provoked, love does no evil, love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, love rejoices in truth, love covers all, love believes all, and love expects all, love endures all, loves never fails".

If there's any person I've known in my life who can honestly be described by 1 Corinthians 13, it's Ron.

Let me end by explaining something for those of you who might not be familiar with motorcycle customs. Those of us here today in leathers and bike gear aren't being disrespectful--we're giving the ultimate tribute to a well-loved brother. We're here today to “walk our brother home”. If you look around, you'll see that many of us are wearing patches that say, "In Memory Of Ron Smith, July 5th, 2003". This is a custom among bikers that perpetuates the memory of a friend, allowing them to ride forevermore in the wind on the Colors of their brothers and sisters.  It's a living memorial to Ron.

We'll never forget.


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