Uncle Ray - Passing of a Piper Legend
By Aunt_HeatherPiper on December 31, 2013
Whether you like it or not, you're forced to come to the realization that death is out there. But I don't fear death, I'm a fatalist. I believe when it's your time, that's it. It's the hand you're dealt. ~Clint Eastwood
Today is bittersweet. As we move from one year to the next, God has brought home another one of His blessed sons. It saddens me to talk about the passing of my Uncle Ray and yet I am very proud of the man I knew and shared the surname Piper. I am also very happy he is no longer suffering and reunited with my Aunt Clemmie. I bet Ryan is showing him around!
My heart goes out to my cousins who lost their grandpap, great grandpap and father. Also to all of my cousins, family and friends of the family everywhere, may you be comforted to have simply known Uncle Ray and the truly upstanding man he was. Stories of Uncle Ray will be told for years to come, for he was one of the good ones who lived a very full life.
Naturally, everyone on Facebook is sending their thoughts and prayers to the family. My cousin Brook, one of Uncle Ray's grand kids commented on Facebook that Uncle Ray was shot in the chest at age 19 in France while fighting with Patton's 3rd Army. What? Really? Wow! I had no idea! I'm sure over the years, I'll probably learn more about Uncle Ray then I could ever have guessed, certainly more than my little world ever knew. So let the stories begin! Uncle Ray has earned center stage!
Uncle Ray was my pap's brother on my dad's side. Yep, Uncle Ray was a Piper through and through. Of course, I cannot speak of Uncle Ray and exclude his late wife, my Aunt Clemmie. They were two peas in a pod, and admittedly a couple of my favorites.
It's funny, but most of my memories of Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmie included Halloween. No joke! My family grew up on a ridge, not the one Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmie lived, but a connecting one. It's great living away from town except for the fact there are no walkable neighborhoods to trick-or-treat during Halloween. Minor downside. Mom would always take care of that situation by driving all of us ghosts and ghouls around to collect our share of sweet treats. In addition to acquiring more candy (because you know there is never enough) and extending the Halloween fun, trick-or-treating the Piper ridge was a great excuse to see family, aside from the Piper Reunion in July. Me, Ryan, Nicole, Casey, Joel, and Elizabeth, and later Mikey would pile in the car. Usually mom took us because Karen had Marla and later Stacey. We would make our pit stops all along the ridge, hitting up family and friends of the family.
Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmie's stop was a favorite, also one of the last ones. I loved going back to their house. It was always so creepy in the darkness and among the trees. Perfect for Halloween, loved it! Uncle Ray always made us homemade potato chips in the barn. To this day, I can still smell the grease and taste the crunchy starchy goodness of the chips. Growing up, mom and dad never kept junk food among the cupboards, so the homemade potato chips were a real treat!
As a kid, I hated to wait for chips to finish bathing in the oil, and let's not discuss the patience I had to demonstrate while they cooled. (I was never very patient) When Uncle Ray added the salt, I knew it wasn't long before I would get a taste! Looking back on it now, how many kids were blessed with freshly made potato chips made from a real cowboy?
Throughout the summer,...
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