Tuesday, March 21, 2023
I asked my mother years ago why we call John Richard, Rick or Ricky and she said she just liked the name and it stuck.
When asked about my brother Rick, I used to describe him by saying, “Children and dogs love him.” And I think that’s about the finest thing that can be said about anyone. Because dogs know—they have a sixth sense about who can be trusted. And children feel—they feel in their heart who loves them and recognize a kindred spirit. He was fond of all animals and he adored my daughter Laura, Rick was her godfather, and my son Jeffrey and they both adored him. I still remember at Sunday dinners at Ledbury, he would be on the living room floor playing and rolling around with my kids along with Lorraine’s children, Jackson, Brooke and Lucas. What a crazy scene. After that he was known as Uncle Buck. If you have seen the movie, you know what I mean.
In 1959, when he was 4, Rick was arrested by the police. He was a bad kid. Well not quite. Jim and I and the other kids were playing on the street and a police car pulled up. We thought we were in trouble. There was Rick sitting in the back seat eating ice cream. Of course, we were jealous of the ice cream. He had wandered off on an adventure. That started his travelling quest to the far east and Europe.
I remember a photograph of Rick at 5 years reading a children’s book of science. That started his love of science and math. In high school he even corrected the physics teacher on the difference between momentum and inertia. Most people don’t know.
But as we grew older, I bonded more with Rick than with Jim. He and I were always playing sports, like ball hockey.
In the mid-60’s we started building rockets together or by today's standards, pipe bombs. He even took one to school and lit it. The kids in the school scrambled in all directions. I still can’t believe we still have all our fingers and eyebrows.
In the 70’s I was away at school for 5 years and then worked up north for another 5 years, so Rick and I grew apart. However, in the 80’s I moved back to Toronto and we became close again, you guessed it playing pick up ice hockey every Saturday and Sunday and every chance we got. He got mad at me for criticizing his passing and shooting skills because I thought they were too weak. I found out later he didn’t want to break his stick that he had carefully repaired by glue and tape. I then checked out the blade and it just snapped. Boy, was he mad. He had to buy a new hockey stick. Problem solved.
In 1982, Rick and I travelled to Florida for a vacation. We went to the beach, so he could show off his muscles, Disney World, so he could act like a kid again and to Cape Kennedy Space Center, so he could become an astronaut, well almost. What a great trip, lot of laughs and fun.
Rick was always quick with a smile, a good laugh and interesting conversation. That is why people liked and loved Rick. He was eager to help people.
Rick was also extremely brilliant. When he worked for Pratt and Whitney, he was designing new aircraft engines to get better efficiency, thrust, lower noise and weight. Truly advancing technology. I am very proud of him, not many people would be capable of doing this kind of work. I once bumped into him on the subway when we were both going to work. He had a math textbook open on his lap, always studying to better himself, but his eyes were closed. Of course, I had to scare him awake. That was my job as an older brother.
In later years when my parents needed help, it was Rick who stepped up to look after them. Dad passed away in 97 and then my mother slowly developed dementia. Rick faithfully looked after her everyday to the end when she passed away in 2003. He was a devoted son and an inspiration to all of us.
I find peace in knowing that he touched your life and that you also touched his heart at some point in his life. I know that he will live on in all of our memories. He lived a good and happy life. One that we will forever cherish and we will continue to remember.
I’d like to read a poem, by Joyce Grenfell:
If I should die before the rest of you
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone
Nor, when I’m gone, speak in a Sunday voice,
But be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must
Parting is hell.
But life goes on.
So sing as well.
God bless this gentle man and his gentle soul.