Not all letters are written and mailed to Ellen and Reid. Indeed, no letter was prepped last week as I was due in St. Paul to see them both.
But a letter did go out to the widow of Ray Sculfort. He was a good friend to many. I was not able to attend the funeral; Jan would hear from me nevertheless.
May 6, 2014
Jan: I wish there were something to say that could somehow ease things for you, Andie and Joe and your grandchildren.
The best I can do is is recall, like so many others have done in the last few days, what Ray meant to the Scarpinos, Eldreds, et al, plus the countless others like me in Des Moines and outside it.
Ray was among my truly good friends although the last few years I’d done a poor job of holding up my end of the bargain. When the news reached Charlotte this past weekend (from several sources) there were a flood of memories of campfires in Minnesota, your backyard cookouts and lots of Harley rides. And that’s just a start. Those good times really are beyond count. I sent a quick note to Ellen and Reid and within a few moments Reid had responded: “So many good memories.”
Some of the very best times in my adult life were in the company of Ray. Our frequent hunting trips (so often empty handed but that was never the point) to spots south and west in Iowa were seldom about the shooting and the game, but rather the small talk in the car as we crept along dusty roads hoping that the coffee would last and that, with any luck, a bird might appear, not that they were in any particular danger from our less-than-accurate marksmanship. It was just a hell of a lot of fun talking to Ray and simply being with him.
I guess, too, what really strikes me was that Ray was just a good guy. That’s pretty high praise and no doubt how the rest of us would like to be remembered. The sum of his parts included smarts, astuteness, playfulness and and an unfailing sense of caring. He was fun to be around (although despite his urgings, he could never turn me toward the GlenLivet). When your time with Ray was done, my automatic assumption was ‘let’s do that again.’ You wanted there to be a next time for whatever it was you’d been doing together. You’d look forward to the next time.
We don’t ever replace irreplaceable guys like Ray. I don’t think Andy and Joe have fallen too far from the tree, and that’s a testament to you and your husband. How your kids turn out is a good measure of how the parents have done their job. Ray (and you) did that nicely.
Not long ago, I started thinking about the potential of retiring and perhaps moving back to Des Moines to be closer to Ellen and Reid. And you know who was in the top tier of folks I wanted to rekindle things with? You and Ray. That really had a lot of appeal for me. Now, though, I will still hold on pleasantly to the memories of your husband who was my good friend and the good friend to so many others. I think that is the most lasting and highest honor you can bestow on someone who meant something in your life: That they were the type of person you want to remember. And you can be sure I will.
Best regards, Jan, to you, Andie and Joe. If there’s anything I can possibly do, you have only to let me know.