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Remembering Ralph

Editor’s Note: I didn’t know Ralph Essary very well, but the announcement of his passing was a hard thing to hear.
When Ralph would come to our newspaper’s office to drop off his column, his bright smile and warm personality were always welcome. I don’t think he ever knew me well either, but he always took the time to ask how I was doing and spend a couple of minutes speaking with me about whatever was on his mind. He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met – which I think is evident in the columns he wrote. As a small tribute I searched our archives to find one of his past columns to reprint today. It was from March 25, 2007, and was titled “This is a really rotten disease.” My heart goes out to the Essary family and I want everyone to know what a magnificent person Ralph was.

I think that anybody that really knows me realizes that Alzheimer’s, this really rotten disease that I have, is beginning to take a heavy toll on me and the people I love. This column that I write periodically is now transcribed and interpreted with the help of the people around me. My thoughts are all over the column, but the transmission to people that don’t live in my world requires some outside assistance.
I am now more dependent on Ruby than I have been at any time during our life. She is my lifeline to the outside world. She is the person who has to come behind me and explain to people that I have this blasted disease that might cause me to say something inappropriate or forget somebody’s name that I have known for a lifetime.
I can still fake it with people who don’t know me that well. I can smile and ask where they are from or what they do for a living and if the conversation doesn’t last too long they would never know that I have entered the second stage of Alzheimer’s.
But, for those of you who know me, you know the difference. I want to tell the stories and they are at the tip of my tongue, but for some reason that has everything to do with the disease’s effect on memory, I just can’t put my finger on the details.
I know this is silly, but let me tell you one of the things that I am missing the most. I am no longer totally independent. I can no longer drive. I’ll forget that I said that in less than 15 minutes but yes I said it, I can no longer drive.
It all started last July when Derry flew into Dallas and Ruby and I picked him up at Love Field and drove back to Ennis. Before the day was over he had driven my red pick-up truck back to Houston. Two weeks ago, my grandson, Bryce, came to Ennis and Ruby and he went down to the tax office and changed the title into his name and now my red pick-up lives in Oceanside, Calif.
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t think of a better use for that truck but I think you get my drift. That was a blow to my self-image.
Over the last couple of weeks, the people who love me most have decided it is time for me to not drive again. I’ll forget they said it and continue to question the decision, but I know they don’t make these decisions lightly. The loss of that one activity has had a more profound impact on me than I would have ever imagined.
My life is still full and I am basically happy. I enjoy my trips to the coffee shop and will continue to do that with Ruby’s help as a driver. I still enjoy my afternoon walks on the golf course. I am looking forward to another year of Ranger baseball and hopefully they will do well this year while I’m still able to appreciate it.
We will take our occasional trip to Rockport that I continue to enjoy and I hope to still be cognitive enough to enjoy another season of Ennis Lions football in September. Ruby and I will continue to attend Tabernacle and enjoy our time together.
At the end of this month we will travel to Houston and attend the wedding of our second grandson. That will be a happy occasion and one that I’m glad to be alive to see. In October, we will celebrate the birth of our second great-grandchild and again I hope that I am aware enough to understand the significance of that event.
Over the next year, my columns will appear less and less frequently, but every once in a while, something might appear. This has been a great life and Ennis, Texas, has been a wonderful part of it. And when I say Ennis, Texas, I am really saying the people of Ennis.
I can’t tell you how much it has meant to me for people to acknowledge this simple little column. I appreciate the Ennis Daily News for allowing me to do this.
One final request: if I meet you on the street, or at church, or at the coffee shop and I don’t recognize you or know your name- simply remember that there was a time when I would have stopped, called you by name and bored you to tears with a story.
Remember that person when you think of Ralph Essary.

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Posted by on Jan 29 2009. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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