Jim and I lost a very dear friend on July 9, 2012 to prostate cancer. We will miss him always. Below are the remarks I made at his memorial service. Since he meant so much to us, I thought this would be a good way to start blogging. Darlene – this is for you, too. You had a love that transcends death, I believe.
When we learned in November that Ronnie was sick and that his cancer had come back, we were hopeful that he would beat it again. At that time the doctors said that it would take 10 years for this kind of cancer to kill him. This proves that sometimes the doctors just don’t know what path a cancer will take. We lost him last week, only eight months after we knew he was sick again.
We met Ronnie when we moved next door to them in July, 1988. We had just moved from Kansas City, and knew nobody. He and Darlene welcomed us to the neighborhood and we became fast friends with them both after that. After eleven years, we moved back to KC. The hardest thing about leaving Tulsa was leaving Ronnie and Darlene. We continued to see each other several times a year, taking turns traveling the 4 ½ hours.
I will always remember Ronnie’s food. He smoked the best brisket and ribs that I have ever tasted, and since I am from Kansas City, I know my barbecue. He worked hard to make his meat come out just right. He was not only a master of the smoker, but he could (and would) cook anything he set his mind to. I consider myself a cook, but Ronnie was a self-taught chef with the greatest instincts for what would and would not taste right. We all shared many dinners, not to mention all the fresh herbs I could use, particularly the rosemary. In February, Darlene baked me the only birthday cake that anybody made for me. I was so touched at their caring.
We also went to the Nightingale Theater several times. The first time was a crazy mash-up of Christmas stories, narrated by the reindeer, if I remember correctly. Another time required our participation and I found myself up on stage – at Ronnie’s urging. So much fun.
We went to other places too. We chased floods all through Tulsa, and went to all the great restaurants that he knew about all over Oklahoma. We will always have those memories to hold dear and learn to be able to smile and not cry when we think of him. He was an extraordinary man, and his absence will be difficult for all of us, but especially his partner and wife, Darlene. Her loss is a million times worse than any of ours. We will all do our best to be there for you.