Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Last night at the fairgrounds, we paid tribute to a man who was, in a lot of ways, the personification of the Kent County Youth Fair. Ron Wenger was the man most people thought of when they thought about the fair. He was, typically, ever-present at the fairgrounds. Not only during fair week, but most times. You would usually see his truck parked down there and he'd be tinkering around with something or another, wearing his hat and signature plaid shirt.
No matter when I would show up to work on something for the fairboard, he was there. And usually ready with a good story to tell while I sat at my desk doing the tedious work that is bookkeeping. :) He made the evenings enjoyable with his good humor and camaraderie. We would laugh about the stupidest things while I wrote checks for the fair. I loved his whacky sense of humor and I think he kind of liked mine, too. Or we would hash out some dilemma or another while I worked on a report. Over a short time, we became friends. Even more, he became like a father to me. He worried about things that I was dealing with, and tried to come up with ways (some of them pretty out-there. lol) for me to change what wasn't going right in my life at the time. In short, he cared about me. And I about him.
When it became evident that something was going on with Ron's health, we all grew more and more concerned. And as the weeks passed, we could see that his condition, unknown at the time, was deteriorating.When it was discovered that he had ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) we were all heartbroken. It wasn't long after that diagnosis that he left us. And when he did, he left a big hole. Not only at the fairgrounds, but in our hearts as well.
In memory of Ron, some people who also loved him here at the fairgrounds decided to have a luminary tribute to him during fair week. The luminaries were given out last night with a donation, all of which is to be donated to the ALS Association in Ron Wenger's name. The night couldn't have been nicer for this beautiful tribute. And watching the lanterns float up in the sky was a peaceful, moving sight. My daughter was with me last night. She wanted to light one for Ron and for her grandma, my mom, too. She asked, in a true innocent child's way, "do they float all the way up to heaven?" I told her that they just might. But, in reflecting today, my answer is yes. I know they do. They float right on up to heaven full of the love we still have in our hearts And the souls of the people we love and have lost shine all the brighter for it.