Thursday, January 03, 2019

My friend Ray

My old buddy Ray died the week before Christmas. I've known him for as long as I can remember. He never finished high school, but he was an incredible carpenter.

The year after I retired from MaBell, I decided to remodel the house. We spent weeks rebuilding the decks, building arbors, and putting concrete siding on the house. He showed up at 7 a.m. daily and worked until quitting time.

Every couple hours, he'd take a break. We'd find a shady spot in the backyard and sit for a few minutes. He drank ice tea from his thermos and smoke unfiltered Camels. He never ate lunch because he said it slowed him down.

When we started back to work, he'd stand for a long moment organizing his actions in his head before reaching for his hammer or saw. He measured carefully. After make a mark with a flat pencil he kept behind his ear, he would study the marks just to make sure they hadn't moved. When he cut and placed the wood it always fit snugly.

A few years ago, I had a little work that needed to be done. When I called him, he said he'd been having problems with his heart and that he wasn't doing much work.

Several times when Jilda and I passed his house after that, we'd see him out on his porch swing or sitting on the tailgate of his truck. He had always been thin as a reed, but the last time we saw him at the grocery store, he looked frail.

When we got word just before Christmas that he'd died, we were saddened, but not surprised.

I always admired Ray. He was a craftsman, and as straight as his ruler. If he told you something you could take it to the bank. I never heard him cuss or talk badly about anyone. I will miss my friend.


  1. I am so sorry. And your tribute makes it very obvious that he will be missed by everyone who was lucky enough to know him.

  2. Ray's attitude about lunch is hard to explain, but I smiled when I read it, because that was me. I was also a high school drop out and tried many avenues, but it was the hammer and nail and the smell of the fresh sawed wood that made my day. Yes, I appreciate your respect for Ray, and this tribute. My mentor, Luke Tucker, WAS RAY! Good words for a Better man! I like RAy! I knew him (or one like him)
    Good read. (BTW 'em 'galloses' really do help!)

  3. A beautiful tribute to a good man. That man made the world around him a better place.May he rest in peace.
    Hugs, Julia

  4. A really good tradesman knows how to work fast slowly.

    Sorry for your loss.

  5. It is sad to hear of someone who was a special person leaving us. He is a good example of something I have long said. Education does not equal intelligence. Your friend was obviously dedicated and content with his work. I hope the life he lived was a good one.

  6. Anonymous12:41 PM

    I join you in saying goodbye to a good man!!

  7. Sounds like a great guy. Sorry you lost a friend.

  8. he sounds like a good man and a good friend, may he rest in peace

  9. He sounds like a very talented and good guy. Sorry for the loss of your friend!


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