Having bid adieu to parents, relatives and close friends, I believe it is up to us survivors to preserve and honor their memories.
Having bid adieu to parents, relatives and close friends, I believe it is up to us survivors to preserve and honor their memories. We should remember these past lives not just with Facebook postings or photo album entries but in oral histories, anecdotes and narratives shared with strangers and loved ones alike.
Seven years ago, I added a remarkable man named Ron Wise to my honor roll of reminiscence. We were pals through five decades. He was my surrogate big brother, teaching me many things, but most importantly how life was to be savored. Ron’s energy and upbeat spirit were contagious for all who crossed his path or were caught in the wake of one of his boogie-boarding West Coast waves.
Our friendship began not in sunny California but in the bitter cold of Northeast Ohio, where Ron hailed from. On that Friday night in early 1976, we met at a nightclub called “The Last Moving Picture Company” in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square. Four years older than I, who had recently moved to town from upstate New York, Ron became my tour guide in those wild and crazy disco days and for years thereafter.
The fun and laughter came easy, but we also supported each other during tough times. We pushed on to the next get together, the next poker game, the next great hurrah … cue any of Ron’s famed Super Bowl parties or the legendary trips to Las Vegas (his true spiritual home). I can still hear him reciting his mantra: “Vegas! Vegas! Vegas!”
Years later, we both entered the next phase as devoted family men, talking as excitedly about our wives and children as we once did a red-hot gambling streak. Time and circumstance had changed, but Ron’s zest for life never faded—even when illness laid him low. He fought cancer until the very end.
When someone as beloved as Ron Wise passes, how do you pack up the memories, knowing there will be no new ones to add? When I said goodbye, I closed the door to a once brightly lit hallway now forever dimmed.
In the end, what’s most important is how we forged our brother bonds. And now I honor that rare friendship with tales from our best of times. That’s what we memory survivors are meant to do.
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