It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since Carl left us; as Barbara said, on the one hand it seems like it was just yesterday and on the other, time seems to have stopped. Barbara and the boys quietly celebrated Carl’s 51st birthday with brownies that Miles baked. They are in the process of moving out of Kenyon Street, something everyone is facing with mixed emotions. It is a place friends and family revolved around for so many years and everyone has some great memories of it, but let’s face it: it’s a behemoth for one person to take care of. Their new house is smaller but in a very nice area which is much quieter and safer, with good schools for the boys. I know that everyone wishes them the best in their new home and new surroundings.
ODE TO A FRIEND
CARL LUDLOW RICKETTS
August 12, 1953 – April 23, 2003
"They came in the evening, then, and found Jonathan gliding peaceful and alone through his beloved sky… As it had shined across him all his life, so understanding lighted that moment for Jonathan Seagull… He could fly higher, and it was time to go home.
He gave one last long look across the sky, across that magnificent silver land where he had learned so much.
‘I’m ready,’ he said at last."
- RICHARD BACH – Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Carl always viewed life as an adventure. Growing up in South Windsor by the Connecticut River surrounded by open fields and farmland, he was free to explore and to discover, and his deep sense of family roots and ties helped make him the unique man he was. He loved to tell people about where he grew up, and his joy and zest for life were infectious.
Son of Christine Berry Ricketts and the late Cedric Ricketts of East Windsor, CT., he leaves his wife of twenty years, Barbara, and his sons, Miles and Justin. He also leaves a loving sister, Chevron Ricketts, and brothers Cedric and Cornell Ricketts, as well as many devoted family members and friends.
His courage and spirit touched all of us who knew and loved him, and his special light, his vitality, and his exuberance will never be forgotten.
WORDS OF SADNESS, WORDS OF HOPE…
Mark Taylor’s Eulogy at Carl’s Memorial Service, April 27, 2003:
My brother David and I met Carl next door, at a coffeehouse named "The Ark" in the late 1960’s. I was 12. David was 13. Carl was 14. For us, it seems fitting to say goodbye here where we met. Our family has known Carl for over 35 years. Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen more of him than I have in a long time – in fact, it had been far too long since I time spent time with Carl. But during our last days together, I believe that I had the chance to see him far more clearly than I ever have in the past.
Carl was always fun to be with. We had many adventures together, beginning when we were teenagers – most of which shouldn’t be told here today, especially not in church. The thing I remember most about him was his laugh. He brought great joy and enthusiasm and playfulness, as well as great insight, to most everything he did. And he had an incredible ability to lift the spirits of every one around him.
Last week, Carl made me sadder than I have been in a long time. But he left me with a great lesson. He fought his illness with great courage, and for a lot longer and a lot harder than I could ever imagine for myself. The reason he fought so hard, especially in the end, was to be able to return home to be with his two boys, Justin and Miles. The way he put it was: "I want sit and have a talk with them." He said that he wanted to be sure that they knew he loved them – more than anything else in this world – and he wanted to be sure that they knew that in their hearts. As you know, Carl never made it home to have those last moments with his children. Fortunately, he has our voices to carry his message to them.
Last Tuesday, Carl decided that he could do no more to fight the illnesses that had wracked his body for so long. He chose his time to say goodbye. By late afternoon, surrounded by his family and friends, I held his hand by his bedside, at first with a firm grasp, and then more gently as his mother spoke to him with words of comfort, as he slipped from consciousness. Later that night, with Barbara, my brother Andrew and his cousin William by his side, he passed away peacefully. Goodbye Carl. We love you and we will miss you very much.
In our lives, we’ve probably met and gotten to know a lot of great men and women – not all of them have been great people. Carl Ricketts was a great person. He exuded personality, and through his charm and charisma and love of life, he was a man who found great success in his relationships with other people. Our family will always remember him as a true friend. We loved him like a brother.
To his mother, and his brothers and sister: Thank you for giving Carl to us, even if it had to be for too short a time. To Barbara: Thank you for caring for him so well during his illness. It was not fair for you to have to carry such a burden, but you did it with all of your heart and soul. Thank you for supporting him and giving him the opportunity to be a loving husband and father. You and Miles and Justin meant everything to him.
From Kumi Sato:
Carl was a unique individual who had the ability to make people feel special just by the way he interacted with them. His sense of fun and mischief, his loudly-expressed opinions, his generosity of spirit, even his irascibility all somehow combined to make the perfect blend of an unforgettable friend and human being. Balanced out by the level-headedness of Barbara, he displayed unfathomable depths of courage and will throughout his long illness.
It was only at the last stretch that his usually indomitable spirit faltered as his body began to betray him. He battled for as long as he could, first for himself, then increasingly for Barb and the boys, and when he could no longer fight for himself, it was Barbara who shouldered the extremely difficult burden of letting him go. All of us who witnessed her quiet dignity, strength, and courage in carrying out Carl’s wishes were deeply moved by her love and commitment to him.
I know that all of us are shocked and shaken by Carl’s passing, but I hope that you will find comfort as I do in the fact that he left us very peacefully, with Barb, his dear friend Andy Taylor, and his cousin Billy at his side. His spirit is now free and he has gone on ahead of us to the next great adventure. As saddened as I am that he is no longer among us physically, I am deeply thankful that he was a part of my life, and I know that many of you feel the same way. We each have our own special, treasured memories of Carl and as we share them, one day soon they will bring more laughter than tears. I hope that you will all continue to support Barb, the boys, and the Ricketts with your thoughts, prayers, and offers of help in the difficult months that lie ahead.
Do not go where the path may lead,
Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
- RALPH WALDO EMERSON
GOOD-BYE DEAR FRIEND, UNTIL OUR PATHS CROSS AGAIN…