This past weekend, we spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon celebrating the life of my step-dad who passed away unexpectedly several weeks ago. Ralph was “Papa” to my kids and my sister’s kids. He was a rough and tough outdoors-man with an enviable cache of hunting rifles and a beautiful garden full of corn and field peas. He was the kind of person that you never forget meeting. He had the crazy ability to annoy the heck out of you and make you love him to death at the same time. He held a wealth of knowledge about almost every topic under the sun and some pretty strong opinions, too. He was a man that showed his love for you through actions far more often than words.
Ralph loved to load all the kids on the back of his “tractor” and take them for drives around the acreage or turn on the garden sprinklers when he spotted the kids playing near the crops. (Kids need watering, too.) He relaxed every afternoon on the screened porch that he built with his own hands to watch the deer, turkey and other wildlife wander across the property. I don’t think I ever knew him to be afraid of anything, except maybe for that tunnel that goes under the Mobile River. (He was not going through that thing for anything!)Ralph made a huge mark on my life, and I’m very grateful to have known him. He will be missed far more than words can say.