Monday, August 4, 2008

Ralph Smith


aka Uncle Ralph

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Ralph Madigan Smith was born on August 5, 1954, in Twin Falls Idaho, the youngest of three siblings, the two older being identical twin sisters, Virginia and Veronica (my Mom).


He was a vibrant boy, the life of the party, fun loving and outgoing. Uncle Ralph also loved to ski (something I also inherited from the Smith side of the family), and spent a lot of time in Sun Valley, and eventually came to memorize the runs like the back of his hand.

After graduating from Pullman High, he went to Evergreen State College where he was editor of the school newspaper and obtained a degree in journalism.


People remember him as a hilarious and very loyal friend. Once you met him you were his friend for life, and this applied to everything he did: later in life he moved to Canada and became a social worker in Children's Services and rescued literally hundreds of children from abusive homes. He was a true champion of the underdog as well as an incredible social activist. He also enjoyed sailing (as in the top picture) and spending time in his cabin on the lake, but most of all he cherished his family: His wife, Maria, stepdaughter Palmira, and youngest daughter Jesse.


In July of 1993, he was diagnosed with Acute Myleogenous Leukemia and immediately began chemo. I remember visiting him in the hospital in Vancouver, B.C., and while the seriousness and magnitude of his disease could be seen and felt, he was always the first to smile (in fact, he was ALWAYS smiling) and say a joke, anything to lighten the mood. Jokes about missing hair and other side effects were always at the top of the list.

Here he is with Jesse.
He fought valiantly, receiving a bone marrow transplant and several other treatments, but sadly he passed away in April of 1994, just four months shy of his 40th birthday.
His wake was filled with family and friends, all coming together to celebrate him and his life. There were lots of jokes and fond memories shared.

Uncle Ralph chose to have Van Morrison's "It's So Quiet in Here" played at his wake. I was in fifth grade when he died, so I'd never even *heard* of Van Morrison, let alone really understand the song. Now that I'm 25, well, it's an awesome song, just like Uncle Ralph. :)

Here are the lyrics:

Foghorns blowing in the night
Salt sea air in the morning breeze
Driving cars all along the coastline
This must be what its all about
Oh this must be what its all about
This must be what paradise is like
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
The warm look of radiance on your face
And your heart beating close to mine
And the evening fading in the candle glow
This must be what its all about
Oh this must be what its all about
This must be what paradise is like
So quiet in here. so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, yeah, so peaceful in here
All my struggling in the world
And so many dreams that dont come true
Step back, put it all away
It dont matter, it dont matter anymore
Oh this must be what paradise is like
This must be what paradise is like
Its so quiet in here, so peaceful in here
Its so quiet in here, so peaceful in here
A glass of wine with some friends
Talking into the wee hours of the dawn
Sit back and relax your mind
This must be, this must be, what its all about
This must be what paradise is like
Oh this must be what paradise is like
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
Big ships out in the night
And were floating across the waves
Sailing for some other shore
Where we can be what we wanna be
Oh this must be what paradise is like
This must be what paradise is like
Baby its so quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, you can hear, its so quiet
----------------------------------------------------
And while Uncle Ralph is sorely missed, he is remembered with loving hearts.

4 comments:

Sandsitive said...

I love the hat Ralph has on in the sailing picture. Reminds me of one my Dad wore. Sounds like he had to have a sense of humor with twinn big sisters! Yikes!
Too soon our loved ones are called away. This is a wonderful thing you are doing. Good luck with the marathon and I'll keep checking back.
Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm fairly new to it too. It's a whole new world!

I like Jimmie Johnson too but you can keep Stewart lol (and I'm a Hoosier too!) My best friend and sister are Jimmie fans also.

Osh said...

another beautiful post! brought tears to my eyes...

love the picture of your uncle and his sister's...I see you and Ginger in that picture too!

hugs!

lawgirl said...

It sounds like he was really a special person. I am sorry for your loss. Always remember the good times, keep him in your hearts, and be inspired by his goodness.

Good luck!

Pal said...

Hey Elsbeth,

What you are doing is great and the blog is wonderful!

Good for you!

Love,
Pal