Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Memory of Ray Hamilton
My father-in-law recently passed away. His name was Hugh Raymond Hamilton: “Hugh,” a given name inherited from his father, and like his father, a name more foreign than familiar. “Raymond,” a formality reserved for only his mother. Mostly, though, it was, “You can call me Ray.” Unless, that is, you were his wife, Joan, or one of his buddies from the old days- then it was “Butch,” a term of endearment for Joan, but I suspect a fitting nickname that might best describe his years growing up on Strawberry Hill in Kansas City, Kansas.
Over the years answered to “Mr. Hamilton,” if you happened to be dating one of his daughters, and “Coach,” if you were part of his many CYO football teams. But if we could ask him, an only child whose descendants number almost as many as the descendants of Abraham, I bet he would say he was most comfortable being called plain old “Dad,” or “Grandpa.”
Whether you called him Ray, or Butch, Dad or Grandpa, all of us who knew him recognized and admired a big man with an even bigger heart, a man’s man with an easy laugh who valued family and faith above all else.
Yes, Hugh Raymond Hamilton. There’s a song, and, sorry Dad, it’s not by Waylon or Willie or Johnny, the song is by Bruce Springsteen and it goes like this: They say you can’t take it with you, but I think they’re wrong. Cause I woke up this morning and something big was gone. Gone into the ether where you’re still you and strong and bold. When they built you, brother, they broke the mold.
Alzheimer’s is sometimes referred to as the long good-bye and nearly all of us have had a family member affected by this dreadful disease. Ray taught my family that Alzheimer’s may take his memory, but it can never take his spirit that lives on in each of us.
Members of the Bickimer Homes family will be participating in this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 6th. It’s a fantastic fundraising event and I encourage you to lend your support. Go to ALZ.org for more information.