Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jack-o'-lanterns lit for Ralph

Ralph passed away two weeks ago. I thought he might make it to the end of football season. He loved watching the Saints play. But maybe after so many years as a sports fan, he'd learned to quit while he was ahead.

There aren't too many people named Ralph anymore. I guess hearing Alice yell for Jackie Gleason on "The Honeymooners" eliminated all dignity for the name.

After falling in the bathroom last spring, Ralph took a downward turn and then it was just one thing after another. I wonder about the pain medication he took when he broke three ribs and what that might have done to his system, but no sense worrying now.

Ralph seemed more content in the final weeks than he'd been for a long time. He experienced no pain and loved the attention he was getting from family, friends, the Poor Clare nuns and 24/7 caretakers.

He kept the TV on all day long, watching "Judge Judy," "Dr. Oz" and the soaps. Folks read Shakespeare at his bedside and brought him home-cooked meals. He never stopped eating and consumed plates of crawfish and watermelon to the end.

It still seems impossible we had gone to the bargain matinees at the Prytania Theatre just a few months ago. I even dragged him to Frenchman Street to see the lindy-hop dancing and to Border's to buy a book after he'd read everything written by Peter Mayle.

He took care of Mojo when I went on vacation last winter and fell in love with her. I took Moj in the carrier to visit when he got sick and put up her pictures on the wall beside his bed. He called her his "little sweetheart." I think he'd never owned a pet, so was fascinated by kitty shenanigans.

Nobody knows what's in Ralph's will. Rumor has it he donated his 19th century house to Tulane University where he earned his degrees and taught philosophy. He wanted to be assured sweet peas would be planted along the fence every year. That was a big concern. I'm wondering who'll get his pirogue. I'd like it, but then it might be one of those things you covet and then put in a storage locker because you don't know what else to do with it.

I guess he's joined his mother and brothers by now. I sure hope there's crawfish in heaven. Otherwise, Ralph is going to disappointed.

I noticed yesterday that somebody had put tiny pumpkins up and down the front steps the way Ralph used to. He was born on Halloween.

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