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  • Writer's pictureEthan Dezotelle

Remembering Ralph

One of our residents, Ralph Kane, passed away on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020.

Ralph lived at Franklin Carriage House for well over 10 years. He was, as they say, “a real character.”

Alison, one of our universal workers, wrote this remembrance of him.

I’ve had the honor of serving residents at Franklin Carriage House for less than nine months now, so I’m a bit of a novice at the art of service. And each person I work with has a piece of my heart. Obviously, Ralph Kane was no exception.

This is what I knew about Ralph.

On the days I worked, after breakfast had been served and washing dishes was nearly done, I’d see Ralph, sitting on his walker, shuffling down the hall, always in reverse. He’d turn his head to check for obstacles once in a while, but really it was up to you to avoid colliding with him.

He’d first stop at the menu posted on the bulletin board in the front hall. If the food we were making for dinner (we eat dinner at noon and supper in the evening at the Carriage House) suited him, he’d eat it; otherwise you’d find him in his room, carefully chopping vegetables and laying out a bologna grinder.

And always chocolate milk.

“Don’t forget my chocolate milk,” he’d yell.

With one ice cube every time.

His next stop was the kitchen.

“Ralph,” we’d say. “Are you having lunch today?”

Chicken? Nope.

Fish? Nope.

Beef? Ayup.

If it was a Wednesday or Sunday, he’d mention how much he loved crisp bacon. Those are our bacon days, as he knew, and sometimes we’d have a couple of extra pieces left over. Of course, I’d offer it to him, and of course he’d accept. He’d carefully wrap the pieces in a paper towel and stick them in his shirt pocket for later. He’d then shuffle (in reverse) to the back door, where he’d study the trees and sky and offer a weather report for the day based upon these observations (and the TV).

I’d always ask if he’d like to go outside.

“No, no, no. But the flowers sure look pretty out there,” he’d say.

And I’d head outside and pick him one. A daylily, usually, as it was the height of summer then. He’d carefully take it with two fingers, and that, too, would end up in his shirt pocket for a vase in his room. And he’d always exclaim “Awwww, a posey!”

All flowers were posies to Ralph.

His hands were thick and calloused. Years of farming will do that. He was also hard of hearing, so when I would talk to him and he’d say “Yup,” I knew he didn’t hear a word I said.

His stories were the point of it all. From feeding a baby bear maple syrup from the sugarhouse to tales of far away places, his stories, when you get them out of him, were rich with life and adventure.

Then, before I knew it, he would be shuffling from the kitchen, backwards, back to his room to prepare his vegetables and watch his westerns.

I miss him. I miss the hard time he’d give me – and anyone else, for that matter. I miss picking posies for him and sneaking a piece of bacon or ripe apple. And I’m honored to have, for a brief moment, known him and been a small part of his life.

Rest in peace, Ralph. See you again someday.

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