Right way. Wrong way. Rick’s way.



2 most influential men of my life.  Dad (L) Uncle Rick (R)

2 most influential men of my life. Dad (L) Uncle Rick ®It never rains in Denver.


It never rains in Denver.

Well, except for the last 8 STRAIGHT ****-in’ days when it literally hasn’t stopped raining.


I saw a damn DUCK sitting under a pine tree this morning! You know how WET it has to be for a DUCK to seek dry ground?


Pissed off duck sitting under a tree.

Pissed off duck sitting under a tree.

Tomorrow’s forecast calls for snow in the morning with an 80% chance of a locust plague by Noon and frogs falling from the sky by dinnertime.


Baseball cancelled. Soccer cancelled. Too wet for yard work.


Nothing to do but watch the rain and think.


And today I find myself thinking about my Uncle Rick who passed away suddenly in January 2014.


I can’t figure out if there’s a rain/Rick connection that I’m missing.


Maybe. Maybe not.


As a rule he tends to cross my mind more when it’s car washing, lawn mowing, flowerbed clearing kind of weather.


That connection is obvious because Rick was probably the single hardest working guy I ever met in my life.


I can remember being a teenager, pretty much in peak physical condition, and damned if that guy wouldn’t run you around a yard planting, mulching, raking, mowing till you felt like your arms would fall off.


In hindsight, Rick knew that. And I’m sure he found great enjoyment in that as well.


Working with Rick was kind of an adventure in and of itself because as anyone who knew him will attest, there are only 3 ways to do something:


  1. Right way
  2. Wrong way
  3. Rick’s way


And in my experience it really didn’t matter if you were building a fence, mowing a lawn, trimming a tree, pouring a patio, or washing a car, Rick really DID know the best way to do the job.


In fact, once you gave yourself over to that reality, things tended to run a lot more smoothly!


Up to about the age of 18 you just had to admit to yourself that you didn’t have nearly enough experience or insight to truly a suggestion to Rick about how to do a given job.


It’d sorta be like Michelangelo’s brush cleaner looking up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and saying to the great Master, “Less Blue. More mauve.”


Best you could hope for at that age was to take direction well and do it the way he said to do it. (An approach not without its merits, it should be noted. Because Rick was the first one to reach into his pocket to buy you lunch or dinner or throw you some “walking around money” after a day of work.)


But when I look back on things, I find it interesting that for all the insight and experience Rick had, once you reached a certain age (maybe 18 or so?) and had proven yourself to him, he really did listen to your input and suggestions.


And I’ll tell you, when you spend so much of your life working with a man you respect, and admire, and look up to, few things felt better than standing shoulder to shoulder with him and saying, “You know, I was thinking about maybe doing it THIS way”, and him running a few scenarios in his mind and then saying “That’s a good idea, Michael. I like that. Let’s do it that way.”


This is not to say that Rick was going to take every suggestion of yours. Not by a long shot.


And even if he DID take your suggestion, that didn’t mean that Michelangelo and the brush cleaner had switched roles.


You may have gotten promoted to palette holder or something, but there is only ONE great Master on every job.


After all: Right way. Wrong way. Rick’s way.


But I held him in such high esteem and I wanted so badly to earn his respect, that it always, always meant the world to me when I felt like I had.


By the way, “earning his respect” shouldn’t be confused with “earning his love”.


I always knew I had that. Unconditionally.


I’m pretty sure there were moments out on Crestview Drive or St. Clair Drive when the teenaged me wished that the sun would set on a seemingly endless day of working beside Uncle Rick so I could head out and meet my friends.


Because, you know, that’s how teenagers are.


They don’t realize that the really special moments in life, those moments that shape you, and define you don’t last forever.


30 years removed from those days, I wish Rick were here so he could call me and say, “I got 3 yards of mulch being delivered on Saturday. What time can you be here?”


Right way. Wrong way. Rick’s way.



PS– It would also be okay if it stopped raining, too.











One Comment

  • Aunt Buddy wrote:

    Mike, what a wonderful tribute to a very “big” man! I miss him every day and hope that he will continue to be an inspiration to me in my care of family and all mankind.
    Maybe Rick was talking to you through that rain :)
    Thank you!

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