Monday, January 21, 2008

A final note

I was happy to see a couple Letters in this morning’s Gazette partially criticizing their coverage of but mostly lamenting Neal Ryan’s tragic loss, killed by either bumping his head after being hit by a slow-moving car or dying from other medicinal problems triggered by the shock of the accident.

Kind of like arguing about what killed Benazir Bhutto, the assassin’s bullets or the bomb. Either way they are gone. And their respective communities diminished.

Because of his disability (that many saw as a gift) he didn’t’ drive, and when the PVTA buses were on reduced schedule Neal walked everywhere. This month of course, with the University and colleges on intersession, the buses barely run.

Neal joined the Amherst Athletic Club a few years ago to lose weight and reduce high blood pressure. He was always wearing headphones and could rattle of trivia associated with whatever artists he listened to. A 1982 graduate of Amherst Regional High School, friends said he was picked on for being older than fellow classmates and, even more, for liking Elvis.

On Thursday morning, the day of his accident, Neal unexpectedly came in at 6:00 am to exercise--and he worked hard. His personal trainer later told me that he had promised her he would add an extra workout to make up for slacking off the previous week.

A promise kept…a promising life lost.


Greg said...

Thank you for this, Larry.

I worked at the Hampshire Mall in college, and always saw Neal heading to work at Friendly's. I never actually met him, but he's one of those people who is lodged in my own mental landscape of the Pioneer Valley. I'll miss seeing him around town.

- Greg Saulmon

LarryK4 said...

Hey Greg,

Neal was definitely a hard to miss character (in the positive sense of the word). Now lots of folks are going to miss him.

PhilJ said...

neal lived on mclellan street at the top of beston where i lived in the early 70s.

he was one of the "special" kids that no one really saw, much less understood, in school. very rainman-esque, was he.

many ridiculed him, but he blew me away with his encyclopedic knowledge of the beatles and elvis (the range of my musical library at that time).

i met him with my family on the street when i moved back. he couldn't place me at first (his mental database had to do some deep retrieval since he hadn't seen me in some 25+ years, i'd guess). when he "found" me, he promptly recited the date of our first meeting and subsequent interactions, my sisters' names, and etc.

we were all floored.

"i read the news today, oh boy"

it made me cry.

rock on, neal!

LarryK4 said...

"If there's a rock and roll heaven..."

holiday occasions said...

Condolences to the family. You know what, God has a purpose as to why he allowed such thing to happen. Be strong at all times.