Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Remarkable Memorial

    Richard Ripper was often a shy and quiet man.  In this remarkable tribute to his life and death, friends and family shared in song, stories, music (Beth Baker sang Imagine and Love is All You Need, inviting us to sing along), and remembrances from his older brother, a son, and a long-time friend, Jeff Golden how truly generous, caring, and passionate Richard was, always present for the needs of others.  He touched so many lives, from friends he "coaxed and coached" to join him on Cycle Oregon trips, to his baseball team of Optical Illusions, to the Rogue Valley Harmonizers where he learned with music and fellowship to overcome his shyness.  He married his second wife, Marie, adopting her three children in 1982, and together they became parents to Jacob in 1985.  His passion and enthusiasm for being part of community and celebrating with friends increased, even as he was facing death; he welcomed all who came to his bedside, and they left enriched by his grace and wisdom, a special fearlessness that emboldened the spirit of those who served him and loved him.  As one person said, the passenger became the navigator. 
    We have no manual for how to live wisely, so we do need to listen to the deeper voices within and around us.  When we haven't much time left on our earthwalk, what we share with our closest friends and family makes a huge difference in how they shall face loss and death in their own lives.  Richard's wisdom and earnest, honest living obviously touched many people.  The sanctuary was over-flowing, and we all had a sense of Richard's loving spirit being very present.  He had instructed his wife, Marie, to have a Burden Basket Ceremony at this service, telling her to "lay the basket down on a table and I will be there, I will be there to take everyone's burdens away."  This was Richard, giving even after death, that the living might go on our journeys lighter, no longer carrying the secret burdens we may not have known how to address and release.  I was unable to stay for the reception, but feel honored and blessed to be a part of this tribute to a remarkable man who died at peace when "his too large Spirit left his too small body."
        Carol Browning 11/6/11

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