Hey Romig, Get Up Here!

21 02 2016

He was well past his prime when I first met Dick, not brought on by age, but due to a Rock _ndebilitating heart condition that had robbed him of the ability to lead the active life he once did. That’s not to say he couldn’t do anything, even with a cane securely held in one hand Dick busied himself with chores around the house, raising flowers and yard work, helping his beloved Phyllis, or Phyl as many called her who had health issues herself, going to visit and check on others; plus squeezing in trips to the Y several times a week for some lap swims. Yeah one might say Richard was down, but he certainly wasn’t out!

This man became a part of our lives ‘86 when my wife Cathy reunited with Phyl her biological mother, who Dick was married to. On our numerous trips to Ohio to visit, Phyl and Cathy would chat for hours, but Dick would sit content just listening. As I drew conversations out of this quiet individual I came to learn a good deal about him. He had been a business owner where he sold tropical fish, and like me he loved to work with his hands. Besides Phyl, who had physical limitations, he was active in caring for his mother until she passed away. His love for her was evident not only by his actions but how often he spoke of her, and a love that only a mother and son could share.

Married twice Dick laid claim to 10 children total; six from his first marriage (2 passed away) three stepchildren when he was married Phyl, and then along came my Lady who he treated and loved as if she was always one of his. It was no wonder she easily learned to refer to him, as Dad.

Now by this point if you said, “Well Dick sounds nice and all, but really he and his story is no different than a lot of other men,” you’d be right. I’ve met a lot of men similar to Dick and he certainly wouldn’t stand out in the crowd as anything special.

But you see God has taught me to look at individuals in a new light, the way He sees them. In doing that I’ve met some extraordinary people like Dick that otherwise I might not have noticed. I’ve redefined how I classify someone as a hero, and what actually earned them that title. These are the “Travelers of the Rock Road” that have touched my being and taught me much more than they’ll ever know.

Anyway, Dick could be content to sit back and listen as others talked, he was comfortable with that. Ask him how he was and you’d get a slight overview of his health, but not much more. Then ask him how his mother was and he would talk of what they did recently, what moment they shared, and how he was concerned for her. If he got on the subject of siblings you would hear a man speak of them not just as brothers and sisters, but as friends, best friends. Ask him about his kids and he would tell of accomplishments that they had and how proud of them he was. But my favorite moment was watching his face when we talked on the subject of grandchildren. The head would go back a little and a smile would come to his face, as if he was seeing them at that moment. It was there he drew much life, happiness and love from each of them.

But without a doubt his favorite subject, his strongest love and concern was for the person whose voice was generally filling the room when we were together, his beloved Phyllis. She could get loud, have a strong temper, joke with him and referred to him as ‘Romig’ (his last name) and there was nothing that could make him love her any less.

This last year the family suddenly suffered the loss of their beloved Phyl, with this loss I believe a part of Dick faded also. He moved out of the house they shared for 34 years and into a healthcare facility near loved ones, but illness was quickly taking him down and in a few short months he followed his Lady into Heaven. As I related his story to a fellow writer I could see him pondering every word I told him. Then he started; “Your Dick sounds like a man who put others before himself even through his infirmity. His heart was so focused on the love he had to give to Phyl and others, it acted as a combatant toward any and all ills he possessed. When he no longer had his love to watch over, the heart was no longer strong enough to fight for life, or even want to.”

I once heard a quote that said, “If you really want to receive joy and happiness, then serve others with all your heart. Lift their burden, and your own burden will be lighter.” Perhaps my friend was on to something.

On the day of Dick’s funeral, a group of people came together to celebrate his life and how that life had touched theirs in a positive way. At the church, I was privileged to be part of a rather large procession that entered and counted themselves children of Dick Romig. And my thoughts were, ‘Maybe the world wouldn’t recognize a simple man who had his share of hardships for any great achievements, but today the proof of how far reaching his influence over others was evident.’ He gave of himself all that he had to offer, much more than he probably realized, just like any “Hero of the Rock Road.”

“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.” C.S. Lewis

On that day we gathered together as family, I heard someone say, “When he was close to the end he probably heard Phyl yelling to him, ‘Hey Romig, get up here!’”

Perhaps, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he heard a quieter voice calling, “Your work is done Dick, time to come home.”

To finish with words of someone much closer to him than myself, “Love you Pop!”

See ya next time.


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