Dave Richards for November 13th….…………
--I’m not feeling much like writing this week. A strange thing, when some important event happens which requires action and quick thinking, I’m right on it and I busy myself with what needs to be done. Yesterday we buried my pal Dave Balfour. Since his passing last Wednesday evening it has been busy, busy. But now that there’s nothing else to be done I feel it. The sadness, the finality of the separation. We’ve all dealt with it.
It wasn’t a well-known fact, but Dave Balfour and I were very close friends on many levels. We were not the kind of friends who go on vacations together or attend each other’s family birthday parties, but we quietly, looked out for each other’s interests and comforts. We were fraternity brothers. He sponsored my petition. He always loved his earlier years in radio, I facilitated his return to the airwaves in his later years. Little things like that, you know.
As I say, the relationship was special. When Dave’s wife, Dorothy, passed away and he fought hard to continue living on his own in his home in Cumberland, the temptation was to visit frequently and do things for him. But that’s not what Dave needed. He needed the adversity. He needed someone to talk straight to him and tell him when he was wearing a dirty shirt. Or to tell him ‘suck it up’ and keep moving when his knees would cause him pain. That was what he really needed, and that was my role.
You see, Dave was a strong man. And he was a fighter. But like anyone, he needed the encouragement to keep fighting. It kept him going through three long months flat on his back in the hospital. We all thought he’d make it out, right up to the last day.
However, in his second bout with pneumonia, the word came of the cancer in his stomach. Well, Dave knew it was time to fold his cards and exit gracefully. And that’s what he did. Hours after the diagnosis which made it clear he would not be leaving the hospital alive, Dave literally said, “Well, I’ve had a good life.” (he really said that), he sighed, and closed his eyes for good. On his own terms. A very strong man, indeed.
I want to thank all of the many people who have contact me and the staff with an outpouring of sympathy and good wishes. I have relayed each message to Dave’s family as best I could. I will remind those who are inclined to do so that the family has designated The Milk Fund for “in lieu of flowers” donations. Checks can be mailed to the radio station at 985 Park Ave. in Woonsocket.
--Many times we look back and think that things were so much better in years gone by. I see evidence of the opposite. Oh, I do agree that life seemed to move a bit slower and simple comforts seemed more abundant, but “better”?
When I was a lad, many Americans treated the members of our Armed Forces badly. Not so today. Yes, it is true that there used to be parades attended by thousands of people we don’t see any more. But the fact is that there are fewer and fewer veterans able to walk in the parades. And, if they all passed by in cars…..well, we can see a bunch of cars passing by almost any day, it won’t draw a crowd. So we honor them in other ways today.
For instance, the recent Veterans Appreciation Dinner held in Woonsocket packed the hall at the Senior Center, much to the delight of the veterans in attendance. A 96 year-old veteran of World War Two made the front page of the paper with his remembrances of his time working with General Patton. And it really wasn’t that many years ago that Rhode Island established the 265 acre official Veterans Cemetery in Exeter. A beautiful place, indeed.
All of these are improvements in my view. They are different. But ‘different’ isn’t always worse than what came before.
--Father Kiley writes to reminds us in an email about plans for the Annual Ecumenical Thanksgiving Observance which will take place at St. Charles Borromeo Church, 190 North Main Street, Woonsocket on Sunday November 24th at 3pm. The general public and church members of all faiths, and even no faith at all are invited to attend. A free will offering collected at this service and given to the Harvest Community Church Men’s Shelter on North Main Street. With our early debut of bitterly cold weather, it really drives home the need for shelters of refuge.
When I was young, I never saw this kind of cooperation among churches. I am glad I see it today.
And I’m mindful that there are many people today who do not attend church regularly. There may be many reasons for this. There may be a concern that if they attended once someone there would pressure you to make a commitment or expect you to come back again and again. Perhaps this would make a person uncomfortable. But I can tell you that this service will have none of that. If you wish, this can be a ‘one and done’ visit if that is what’s right for you. But I can also promise you that if you do go, you will feel a benefit. Give it a try.
--That's what I think. What do you think? Comments to: email@example.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332. Thanks for reading.