I had the good fortune of attending a memorial on May 30th, 2010 in honor of the life of a special man. Willie Ramirez was a graduate of Torrey Pines High School, Del Mar, CA. in 1976. He died in April 2009 at the age of 51, succumbing to cancer in a short period of time.
Inspiring. Moving. Touching. And so preciously beautiful the memorial was yesterday in honor of his life. I didn't know Willie all that well, only my junior year at TPHS from the fall of 1975 until the spring of 1976. But in that short time, I do remember these things; his kindness, his smile, his vigor, his vitality, his uncommon gift of speed and agility on the football field, and his hat. Oh, his omnipresent hat. It WAS Willie. Where Willie went, the hat went.
What his wife Natalie, and the entire Ramirez family, did yesterday was something so incredible it's hard to put it in the proper words. What immediately came to mind when she first got up to speak was that Willie's heart, his zest for life, his soul was working through her and touching us all. At first I wasn't certain if I was aware of his presence within her but as she continued on, and particularly as she closed her remarks, I was convinced of it. And for that, I can say only this. She is a very blessed and lucky lady. Not many people in this world ever have anything like that happen to them in their lifetime. To have a loved one who has passed on and to live on in another in such a way, as what I and all of us observed in Natalie yesterday, is very rare, very special, and very inspiring for those souls who come in contact with someone such as Natalie Ramirez. She, and others like her, are the sort of people that I want in my life; people who journey and exist among us living their lives with sincerity, their heart, their soul, their passion for LIFE itself.
I'm honored and grateful to have been one of those lucky souls to have been with Willie and his family yesterday. Honestly, I can think of only a handful of times in my life when I was moved in such a way. So, perhaps this is my first step in "paying it forward", passing Willie's kindness on to others, not asking for anything in return, only that those that are on the receiving end of kindness do the same. Pay it forward.