Monday, September 14, 2009

In Memoriam

Raymond Martin Acunto
February 2, 1930 - August 18, 2009

Ray's father passed away last month after several years of slow health decline due to many ailments that had left him pretty much unable to be self-sufficient. The past couple of years had been particularly trying for both him and his beloved wife Mary.

Big Ray, as I always referred to him to differentiate between him and my Ray, was a fun loving, people person, who never disliked chatting with someone. Being of Italian descent, he and I viewed many things the same way, especially when it came to money, which probably endeared me to him while the rest of the family shook their heads ...

I sadly realized recently that I never knew Big Ray as a healthy individual. By the time I met him in 1997 he had already suffered a heart attack and a stroke, and was virtually legally blind as a result of years of undetected glaucoma. All that had left him pretty much dependent on others for anywhere he needed or wanted to go or even for simple tasks like reading a newspaper column.

Luckily for him, he was gifted with such a bright and optimistic personality that I never heard him complain about anything, even though he had plenty of justifiable reasons to do so. Whenever you asked him how he was doing, he'd say "Perfect!" or "Wonderful!," and would immediately ask how you were doing.

Many times I felt like saying, "Oh boy, who cares how I'm doing, are you sure you're doing fine??" But I guess that's just who he was. He took life the way it came and never complained. I believe he considered himself fortunate and was content with what he had. He was a glass half-full kinda guy.

Big Ray had been a teacher, the perfect job for a guy who liked meeting and talking to people, and he used whatever leverage he had throughout his career to help others, whether students or teachers, get more work or better opportunities.

Big Ray was probably the biggest influence in my husband's life. So many times Ray told me he became a teacher because he was proud of what his father had accomplished, and most of all, Big Ray was the main reason Ray wanted kids of his own, to be for them what his father had been for him. So far, I'd say he's doing an exemplary job.

I see so much of Big Ray in my husband and I occasionally tease him about it, "Just like Big Ray ... ," but it's always done to point how the positive in his behavior. Big Ray was a guy you were wise and right in emulating and whose example deserved to be followed.

He leaves behind a wife with whom he shared 41 years of ups and downs in marriage (plus five more before their wedding), a son and daughter, and three grandchildren who will never forget him. Towards the end, he used to say he was about to rejoin his adored son David, who left us unexpectedly two years ago.

Ray told me a few times already that he misses talking to his dad. I know it's true, but in a way I feel like he can always talk to him. Big Ray was such an open book, you always knew what he was going to say when you asked him what decision would be best or what advice he'd give you.

He's now gone, but he's still always with us.

Goodbye Big Ray. Rest in peace.

No comments: