A few days ago in this post I said that I would tell you more about these neighbors.
This was a fun family in so many ways. Vicky was the mom. (I am not sure if that’s how her name is spelled because, oddly enough, I wasn’t concerned with spelling when I was this young). Anyway, she always had fun things planned. She helped us bake and decorate cookies whether it was a holiday or not. She laughed a lot. Maybe I was an exceptionally funny child, but more likely, she was just joyful. We did crafts, had dance parties, played “dress up” with her clothes, and had little competitions she thought up in the backyard. I remember her as being full of life and love. Going to her house was guaranteed to be a great adventure.
Ray wasn’t always there. He was a veterinarian who had a huge heart. He travelled from village to village with all his medications and instruments. He mostly treated cattle in the Maasai villages. He always rode his motorcycle so he could cover more ground.
When he was at home, he was fun! He would chase us around filling the house with squeals of delight and peals of laughter. When we wanted to play “Beauty Shop”, he was our willing victim. He would sit and let us fill his short hair with teeny ponytails, pink bows, and little plastic animal barrettes. He brought laughter and smiles wherever he went.
Life in Kenya is raw. Tragedy seems to strike more often, somehow.
One day Ray was riding his motorcycle to a village. As he began signaling to turn off the main road, a matatu (a small public transport van notorious for their terrible driving) struck the motorcycle.
That day, the world was robbed of the presence of a man of enormous heart.
His wife and three young children had a funeral and then returned to the States. I think my parents kept in touch for a few years, but I don’t remember. I do remember not being able to imagine this family without him. I could not fathom a world without Ray. It was the first time I understood that life can and will end. It is not a guarantee.
There doesn’t seem to be an appropriate way to end this entry. Just with the thought that life is fragile. Use your days to fill life with love, laughter, and joy.