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'Memories' by Nan Thomas

After the passing of our friend Ray Rucker, I wrote a letter to many of our friends and now reading about day’s gone by you may get a chuckle.

Ray has been a very good friend for many years in the A.R.E. family. Ray, as Frank said one day, was always one of the gentlest of men. He was non-judgmental, kind, considerate, patient, joyful and found humour in everything as well as being very tolerant of all those around him.

There were the many “van pool” rides to Ottawa, Montreal and Kingston. The time the van stopped on the highway between Kingston and Toronto; Frank and Colin Bambrick got out of the van, opened the hood and stood there looking inside. The rest of us in the van (and there were like 4 or 5 of us) were very quiet suddenly…and found out later that each one of us was saying a silent prayer. Frank and Colin got back in the van and we got to Toronto to deliver our passengers, and Frank and I arrived home in Kitchener safe and sound.

Then there was the trip to Ottawa when Ray was driving, and he and I were so busy talking we missed the cut off from the 401 to go up to Ottawa. (the others were asleep or reading in the back) This was likely one of the many times that Ray would explain to me, “ I was to understand my relationship to Frank” and reminded me that men do not think the same as women. When you ask about where they went and if they had a good time, all you were going to get is, “good, good.” Don’t expect a description when a one word answer will do. When the rest of the passengers realized we were “lost”, let me tell you, they were not particularly spiritual in their reaction, but we got to our destination in any spite of it.

Frank would always comment to Ray, “thank goodness you are here as now she (meaning me) would not aggravate him but aggravate Ray instead.” It was all in good fun and I got back as good as I gave out.

Many years ago, before computers, Sue Wilkinson would do a “mock up” of the brochure for the Canadian Fellowship Conference and Brian would meet Frank in downtown Toronto usually around Christmas to give Frank the brochure to have it “proof read” and then take it to Gary Christie for 'Fastforms' to print. One New Year’s Eve, Maisie Marven and Ray came for dinner to our home and then we “proofed” the brochure…..with a fine tooth comb as both Maisie and Ray could spot a grammatical error or any other error very quickly.

After dinner and the proof reading we sat around and talked as the night wore on. Maisie told a couple of stories about ‘stuffing the turkey’ and then as it got quite late she told about some friends that when they were tired and wanted the company to go home, the lady of the house would get out the vacuum cleaner and the man would stand up and sing, “God Save the King (it was the King in those days.”) We then had another drink and talked some more. Frank then stood up and started to sing, God Save the Queen and shortly thereafter Maisie and Ray headed back to Toronto.

Then there was the time several of us piled in the van to head for Montreal. On our arrival discovered there was no room for us at the 'Comfort Inn' and had to go to the Holiday Inn, where there were only two rooms left. Some of the group was to stay at the host’s home and Frank and I, Ella and Maisie were to stay at the hotel. Frank and I got the room with a queen size bed in it and Maisie and Ella shared the king size bed in the adjoining room. Those were the days that we drank the occasional cocktail of Orange Juice and Vodka. After getting into the hotel and giving everyone a drink we started to laugh and joke and Ella and Ray decided to show us all how they were taught to do a Bladder Lift as in the John Ray program. Well, if anyone would have walked in….there were 5 or 6 laying on the bed, pushing and pulling up very close to private parts.

I could always count on Ray to lend a helping hand here in our home or in the kitchen or setting up and “schlepping” chairs and tables wherever needed at a conference or event. He just knew what to do and quietly went and did it.

Wednesday morning, Ray passed away and then Thursday morning we learned about the birth of our first great grandchild. On Wednesday, I was feeling very sad and weepy, and at one point recalled when my pregnant daughter asked my dying mom to please help the little soul from the other side that she was carrying. I decided to ask Ray to help Sean and Renee’s little one. I was telling this to Sherry Browne and Sherry jokingly said, perhaps the baby is a reincarnation of Ray. “Well, when she gets older and brings wine to pot luck, we will know.” I don’t believe that I will ever serve wine again without thinking of Ray and raising a glass to the wonderful soul that he is.

My journey with the many ARE friends all over Canada and the USA has brought me so many lessons as well as laughter and love.

I hope you got a chuckle out of my memories of the past. Love and hugs, Nan

(To See Nan's submissions Just CLICK Right here-> 'Nan's Corner' or on the Tab at the Top of our Home Page and scroll down to see More - Enjoy!)

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