Thursday, May 20, 2010

By Ray Aldrich

You all know him as “Raymond,” but for me, he was always, “Big Raymond.” You see, we share a name and for as long as I’ve been around, I’ve only known him by that moniker. This, of course, implied that I was referred to as “Little Raymond,” which made sense in the early years. It eliminated confusion when he would visit and the two of us were under one roof. At some point, I chose to be called, “Ray,” which worked with new people I met and still works today in my adult life. But, when I started going by “Ray,” Raymond never followed along, always referring to me in the long form. I think he felt it was a little cheap and inelegant than the full, two syllable name. For me, it was a point of differentiation and marked my independence.
He was pleased when I informed him that I thought I had figured out what our name meant. “King of the world,” I said with great confidence. I was completely wrong. I thought of “Ray” in terms of king (Rey in Spanish) and “mond” as in le monde (French for world). Raymond is, in fact, from Germanic origin, from the name “Reginmund,” composed of the elements ragin ("counselor") and mund ("protector").

To be sure, there are no two better words to describe my friend Raymond than a counselor and protector. He was my first true friend who was deeply interested to know about everything I was doing, why I was doing it and with whom. In my teen days, I referred to outings with girlfriends as “going out with them.” He wanted details and “them” would not satisfy him for a moment. Over time, our relationship grew and I found ways to counsel him as much as he counseled me.

Of course, one of my ways of helping him was through the many hours of computer technical support. It’s my fault, I guess. I encouraged him to get a computer. When I lived in Los Angeles, I remember countless times when I would venture up the hill to his house for “one small issue” that would lead to a marathon work session. Printing his spreadsheets for his taxes proved consistently a challenge. Raymond was so detail-focused and had to have every column lined up perfectly on every single page. I’ve always been a patient person, but Raymond, at times, pushed very hard against my reserves. But, he always appreciated my help and thanked me profusely. It wasn’t until later that I grasped the depth of his tenacity and passion for getting things perfect. He hated anything not in its place or any piece out of alignment or any modifier dangling. Hopefully, anyone? (The debate on this word rages on.)

For me, it has been a wonderful life to have had Raymond in it. I’ve always called him my adopted uncle, which probably undersells our relationship, but to the outsider, was easy to digest. Since his death, I can’t go a day without running across something he would love to talk about. A new techie gadget, a new movie or especially, a good joke. Raymond and laughter were inseparable and will forever inspire me to use my sense of humor to make life better for those around me.
When my six-year-old son, Turner Raymond Aldrich, heard of Raymond’s passing, he told me he had hoped to get a picture of the three of us. “You know, little Raymond (himself), medium Raymond (me) and big Raymond together.” I told him that would be very nice and that, if he wanted, he could call himself, “T. Raymond Aldrich.” Only time will tell if he takes this on, but I know we will both be better having Raymond with us wherever we go. My name is Raymond Louis Aldrich.

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