Last week I lost my father, George Ramsey. He was 81.
They say heroes are the stuff of legend. The adventurers who climbed mountains. The pioneers who ventured into parts unknown. The astronauts who dance in space.
I don’t know this kind of hero.
The kind I know lived a simpler, more pedestrian existence, but one no less worthy. I know the kind who sacrificed all his life so his family could grow and prosper and thrive together. The kind who knew every good joke, most of which we didn’t appreciate. The kind who patched and spray-painted the rust on his cars in a shade that almost – but not quite – matched the car’s real color. The kind who had great trouble speaking his feelings, but felt them deeply just the same.
The kind of hero I know loved a good game of golf and the companionship that flowed so freely with it. The kind who, from his youth as a Navy flier, loved the crisp and clear sky and the magnificent feeling of control that comes from soaring through it – even during World War II when he played his role in saving the world. His sacrifice reminds me of the words of poet Stephen Spender:
I think continually of those who were truly great. Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history Through corridors of light where the hours are suns, Endless and singing.
Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields See how these names are fêted by the waving grass, And by the streamers of white cloud, And whispers of wind in the listening sky; The names of those who in their lives fought for life Who wore at their hearts the fire’s center. Born of the sun, they traveled a short while towards the sun, And left the vivid air signed with their honor.
The meaning of one man’s life is in the faces and the hearts of those he leaves behind and in the bountiful pages of our imagination.
Somewhere the fairway is always fast and clean, and the grill room overflows with fine beer and hearty conversation. There the skies are always sunny and the flying conditions ideal. There it’s always Saturday night on CBS with Archie and Bob and Carol. There every rainbow ends at a gift that might just contain…golf balls.
Not the conqueror of mountains, this man, not the pioneer, not the space cowboy. Not that kind of hero. But a sincere, honorable man with a loving family who owe him their all. He will be deeply missed and fondly remembered forever.
This is the song sung for my hero.