I believe we don’t value the time with the people around us as we should. Time is valuable and you never know when something might happen to a friend unexpectedly. We should all live each day as it is our last and treat others like it is they’re last also.
I started a new job at home depot in Harrisonburg in October of ’08. All the people were really nice to me. I’m an easy person to get along with. I was the one that says hello and asks how everybody is doing each day. I seem to be getting warm welcomes into home depot from every single employee except one. It seemed like he just didn’t want to get close to anybody. I could tell that he doesn’t really care if he knows you or not. Ray in hardware always seemed like a mean person but I totally misjudged him. As a month went by Ray began to come over and talk to me. He turned out to be a really sweet person and he had a great sense of humor. We picked on each other all the time. I enjoyed every moment getting to know Ray and continued to learn more.
The one thing Ray talked about the most to me was about his kids. I could tell that he loved his kids so much. Ray has four kids. He has two, twin girls that is going to college in a different state, two boys in high school. One boy is a senior about to graduate and the other is spending his life on the basketball team. Ray always told me “I told my boy when he graduates if he goes to college like his sisters he will always be welcome to come back home to live. But if he doesn’t go to college he is expected to move out right after he graduates and provide for himself.”
Ray and I were always caught comparing tattoos. He has two tattoos, one on each of his forearms that he just recently had done. One said, What will stand if freedom falls? And the other said Do not go gently into the night. Almost every day I asked Ray what they meant and every time I forgot what they meant. He never got mad at me asking. He was so proud of his tattoos. They became a symbol of Ray.
One day I came into work early in the morning and I seen Ray pacing back in forth in the break room. He was trying to walk a straight line. I looked at him like what are you doing? He explained to me that he was having an adverse affect to his heart medication and they were causing him to become dizzy. We both sat back in the break room and laughed our butts off because it was so hilarious to watch him try and walk a straight line. That day I saw him the happiest I’ve ever seen him. He thought it was hilarious that he was unable to walk a straight line. He told me “Now I know it appears that I came to work drunk but I didn’t. I haven’t drank in thirty sum years.” It was the highlight of my day.
Ray called me his little sign maker. I made all of Ray’s signs, however many he wanted and whatever he wanted on them. If I wasn’t there to make his signs then he would wait until he saw me the next day. As soon as I walked in with a big smile on his face, I would hear “there’s my little sign maker.” Whenever I heard someone say that I always knew exactly who it was. It always put a smile on my face.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 51 year old, Raymond Earle Harsher died driving to his home in Luray late that night. Road marker 266, Ray was coming up on his exit to New Market on Interstate 81. The roads were a sheet of ice from the ice storm we had that day. Ray was changing from the left lane to the right lane so he could get off for his exit and a tractor and trailer clipped the end of his small, blue ford focus and caused Ray to wreck his car ending in a tragic death.
I now know that all the times that I could have spent getting to know Ray were gone. I will miss having conversations with Ray about his tattoos and his family. I will miss looking out in front of me on power hour and seeing him greet customers. I feel like I wasn’t done getting to know Ray and that I had a whole bunch more to learn but I now won’t have a chance. This is why we need to cherish and value the time with our friends and the people around us because we will never know when something unexpectedly will happen.