Sunday, January 23, 2011

Changing the Definition of Remarkable

Today’s Sunday newspapers in New Hampshire are all running headlines about the fact that yesterday Mitt Romney won their first-in-the nation Republican Presidential Straw Poll. Romney is by all accounts an extraordinary man with an accomplishment filled résumé . He boasts an impressive business and political pedigree as well as true conservative credentials. He is noteworthy and newsworthy; a truly remarkable man deserving of all the front-section reportage that will continue during the coming week. But somewhere in the back pages of the Laconia Citizen newspaper this week will be a very short story of a man some would call ordinary and unremarkable. The Laconia Citizen will run the obituary of Ron King who passed away yesterday and that obituary will read like those of everyone in that town who passed before him without fame or notoriety. It will be unremarkable in its content and tone. But, it shouldn’t be.

I first met Ron King and his wife Sue almost 7 years ago when their son Josh King married my daughter Cristina Andrews. Josh and Cristina had each been married previously and each of them brought a child from their prior marriage into the new marriage. Josh brought his daughter (Ron’s granddaughter) Maddison and Cristina brought her daughter (my granddaughter) Emma. It didn’t take long to see that Ron and Sue King welcomed Emma into their family and their hearts in exactly the same manner that my family and I welcomed Maddison into ours. To Ron King, Emma was simply one more granddaughter to love- - -precisely how I felt about Maddison. And then about 2 years later Josh and Cristina gave birth to Keegan King- - -a grandson who shared a bit of Ron’s blood and mine too.

At Keegan’s baptism Ron and I joked good naturedly about what a handsome little guy our grandson was with each of us claiming to be the source of his good looks. At one point during the day when Ron and I were just standing next to each other and quietly watching Emma and Maddi fawn over Keegan with big-sister delight Ron elbowed me, pointed at the three of them and said, “We did alright didn’t we Hal. . ." "Yes, Ron” I responded, “We did great. . .”

Ron King, a man of staunch Catholic faith, passed away yesterday. He had been shoveling snow off the roof of his house- - -a house he had built in a town he had lived in most of his 67 years, not far from the company he worked for his entire career. He went in the house- -the home in which he and Sue raised their two sons- - and told his one and only wife of 41 years, he was tired and went downstairs to rest. He passed while asleep in his chair.

By the current measure in today’s celebrity obsessed society Ron King, a rock solid husband, father and grandfather would not be considered “remarkable”. But given the frailties and failings of the people we look up to perhaps we need to give some serious thought to a new definition of remarkable- - -one that includes men like Ron King.

I don’t know how much more time on this earth God has allocated to me but, in the future I will remind my grandson Keegan that he was lucky enough to have had two grandfathers who loved him. It’s the least I can do for Ron. It’s the same thing I know he’d do for me.

God keep you and protect you Ron.

(c) The Sage of Tampa 2011

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