Thursday, July 24, 2008

Eulogy for Nicholas Welsh Ritter

I find myself in the most uncomfortable situation that I can imagine, writing a eulogy for my own son Nick. When I was 13, I lost my 18 year old brother to an automobile accident. It was bad enough going through the grief of losing a sibling and I always wondered what kind of living hell it must have been for my parents. I now know exactly what they went through and it hurts to the core of my being.

What to say about Nicholas. He had many nicknames, but hated all of them. There was Bubba, Nickles, Nickle Pickle, buddy, bubbles, pickle boy, we mainly called him Nick.

Nick had a great sense of humor and his life's ambition was to be stand up comedian. I told him that he had to work on a routine and hone his delivery and we'd take him to open mike night at the Comedy Castle. He was excited about the opportunity to work blue. Nick was funniest when he was making off the cuff jokes. The other day just before surgery, I asked to see how his rash, which prevented the first operation from happening in March, was doing. With a sly look on his face and his best female southern accent, he pulled up his shirt while saying, “I just turned 18”, an obvious reference to Girls Gone Wild. Needless to say I cracked up.

Nick was a competitor and absolutely hated to loose at anything. Any of you that went to Special Olympics competitions with our group saw that first hand. There they'd be, the top 3 up on the podium, with 4 or 5 other participants. They dole out the ribbons to the 7th place kid who was happy as can be, and then there was Nick, on the second place podium slot, mad as hell that he didn't get first place.

Nick always wanted to play hockey and we were fortunate enough to learn about a local Hockey Program for kids with special needs. Nick immediately became a scoring machine for the FAR Flyers hockey team. In some games he'd score 7 or 8 goals. He played with FAR for several seasons, making it up to the Varsity team for a couple of seasons.

Nick never had it very easy. We knew in the womb that he would require open heart surgery shortly after his birth. The doctors wanted to wait as long as possible before operating to allow his heart to grow. His first 9 months were spent surviving, until the surgery. As he grew, we found that there were some learning disabilities that he now had to deal with. He started in a special pre-kindergarten program at the age of 3 and was in the Bloomfield Hills ARP program up until his graduation from Andover just a little more than a month ago.

Anyone that ever knew Nick loved him. He didn't have a mean bone in his body and got along with everyone he met. He was special that way. He was caring and gentle.

Before his surgery, I sat down with Nick to go over his will, and living will and directives. Not an easy thing to do with an 19 year old. When it came time to determine what should be done with his organs in case he should not survive, without hesitation he opted to offer them for donation. In talking to the medical staff at the U of M hospital, all of those involved with his case were stunned at the generosity of this 19 year old, and wanted to know more about him as a person, not just as a patient. The Michigan Living Organ donation representative was brought to tears by Nick's gift. She called him a true Hero and she was right.

Nick, your mother, sister and I will always love you. There will be a hole in our souls for as long as we live. You will live on in our memories. We miss you terribly Bubba!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A tear jerker about my son "WolverineNick"

This is probably one of the most difficult letters I've ever had to write to
family and friends. Our whole family is reeling and in shock with the news
that our young nephew, Nicholas, did not survive his heart surgery on
Friday, July 11th. By the time you receive this letter, his life support
systems will likely have been removed. Although the heart surgery itself
went well, other, unforeseen problems, developed resulting in brain
seizures which effectively destroyed his brain before they could be brought
under control. He was such a young man. Only recently Nick celebrated his
twentieth birthday.

Nicholas's life was a miracle to begin with. He was born with a congenital
heart condition which prevented him from doing the things most children do
before their second birthday. In Nick's case, all his energy had to be spent
in merely surviving. Once he reached the age of two, doctors were able to
perform surgery to repair his damaged heart. From that time on, life for
Nick was a series of struggles as he attempted
to 'catch-up'. Because of the distance between our families, our memories of
Nicholas are like snapshots taken at various stages of his life. We didn't
see him often, but each time he left an impression. We first met Nick in
person at a family reunion in Rockglen when he was three or four. At that
time he was wholly involved in the Ninja Turtle culture, popular at that
time in the cartoon world. He spent much of his time slashing his arms about
and performing other dangerous Kung Fu moves to overcome the 'bad guys'. He
was well on the road through a very imaginative childhood.

However, Nick's life would never be easy. He had learning difficulties at
school since he was, in effect, two years behind everyone else
developmentally, having lost those first two years of his life. He started
school in special classes where he received a great deal of one to one
instruction and speech therapy. By the time he was in his early teens, with
guidance from his parents, special assistance from his teachers, and his own
hard work, he'd caught up with the rest of his group and was able to attend
regular classes. He was a bit of a card by then and his unique sense of
humour made it easy for him to entertain his classmates as the class clown.
When we met him at that stage of his life we really enjoyed his ability to
cut to the quick of a situation and come up with a quip, an impression or a
cutting remark. I think because he was such an observer of life he saw the
essence of many things. He wasn't inhibited by thoughts of any social faux
pas, so his humour was innocent and truly hilarious. I have a lasting
impression (and photograph) of Nick imitating a pig with an apple in its
mouth during a kitchen discussion the family was having at Barb's about why
people put out bowls of fruit on a table. Were they to be eaten? Were they
just decoration? Should a person actually take a piece and eat it or would
that ruin the intended effect? Around and around the comments flew. The next
thing I knew, there was Nick demonstrating exactly what the apples were for!
He was snorting and grunting like a pig and laughing so hard he could hardly
keep the apple in his mouth and his eyes were just dancing. Naturally, we
all ended up in stitches, and the mystery of the bowl of fruit was solved.

Another snapshot I have of Nick is the memory of him piloting the pontoon
boat -- loaded with family members -- on Lake Angeles. He had on a
captain's sailing cap and his grandfather had just turned the wheel over to
him. He took the responsibility very seriously, and proudly assumed command.
Gary never grabbed the wheel or turned it for him, he'd simply say, "A
little to the right, Nick," or "take it slowly here," and Nick responded. He
was a very competent skipper.

When I was talking to Barb (Cliff's sister and Nick's grandmother)
yesterday, I mentioned that Nick's life had been a miracle to begin with and
that perhaps we were only allowed one miracle in a lifetime. About two
minutes after we'd hung up, I realized how wrong I was. Nick's life began
and ended with miracles. In fact, a great many miracles will be a part of
his passing. You may recall that Nick was to have his heart surgery in March
but that it had to be postponed due to a rash of unknown origin. There was a
fear of infection. At that time, the doctors discussed with Nick and his
parents, Lisa and Bill, all the possible problems that might result from the
surgery and all the possible side-effects. One of the things they discussed
as a matter of course was the possibility of organ donation should the
surgery go wrong. About a month ago, Nick went to his parents and asked
them to take him to a notary so he could sign an organ donation form.
Because of that action, several new miracles will be able to take place
using Nick's gifts.

Nick grew up to be a gentle, quiet man with a quirky sense of humour and a
quick smile. About a month ago, he graduated from high school with his
regular class. When his name was called to come and receive his diploma he
walked across the stage, but unlike the other grads, he stopped and shook
hands with each of the dignitaries seated there - one by one. Unlike you and
I, Nick had to be taught the social graces. He didn't absorb them from
social cues around him. His stopping to recognize each of the people
present was a great achievement. He realized that this was a time of
importance and these people were putting themselves out for him and his
classmates. He thanked them all. I hope they remember Nick. I hope they
never trivialize what he did. It was Nick at his very best.

Today and the days ahead will be very difficult for all of his family. To
say that we know how they feel or what they're going through would be a
mistake. We don't know. We can only imagine the pain and the grief that each
of the family is feeling. Our thoughts are with them and our hopes that they
will find deep inside the strength and courage they need for the coming
weeks and months. We want you all to know how deeply we feel your loss and
much we share your sorrow. We send our love. We will all miss Nick.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An old friend of mine died of cancer today

Scott was a long time High School friend, not a real close friend but one who I have known for years. Dead at 47 or 48 years young. He was a great athlete, Michigan HS tennis champion and played division I tennis at a Big 10 university. #1 seed.

I had lost touch with Scott over the last 20 years, although we lived within 2 miles from each other. Occasionally I would run in to his wife, but never him. We were all too busy with our lives, working, raising kids, etc. We would of course say, "let's do dinner," ... "It's been too long." We never did.

They moved to France for 2 years and we never knew they were gone. My brother in law married his sister a few years ago. It didn't matter, we still never saw them. More recently they moved to Cleveland to take a position as the company President, but unfortunately he almost immediately was diagnosed with cancer.

His oldest daughter graduated from HS with honors this past Sunday... One week before Fathers day. He was not there. Scott was on his last legs.

She stayed here in Michigan to finish up her Senior year, only to miss the last few months of her fathers life. So sad.

Life is too short. Please make an effort to keep in touch with your friends. Before you know it, they could be gone before you have a chance to say good bye.

Fare thee well Scotty. You will be missed by many friends and family.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I'm Back

I've been busy lately and didn't have the patience to upgrade the account.

Anyway much has happened in the past few weeks. I finally sold the offiec that my dad bought in 1962. Apparently we never threw out anything!! 45 years of crap and old, useless furniture = 4 20 yard dumptsters.

The closing was about 2 weeks ago now and we are just settling up the final bills before we close the books on Ritter-Smith, once an for all. Sad ;( End of an era. Sorry Dad but I couldn't hang on any longer.

On to the next great experience, Archon Electronics. I and my short lived partner, established a new company several years ago to represent Chinese circuit boards. I am finally about to start shipping the Microheat boards. Any of you who have spoken with me in the last 3 years have heard about this part. It is a heated windshield washer system that melts snow and ice and improves general cleaning of the windshield. They are currently offered in GM vehicles and are going to be offered in many other vehicles in the very near future. I am excited as this is a great new product and will be a great base from which I can expand.

I'm working on some other boards but can't talk about them now, otherwise I would be in breach of my confidentiality agreements.

The furture's so bright, I gotta wear shades.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Do Something Democratic Congress

So far we are about 30 hours into the Democratic controlled congress and just what have they accomplished?

Passed the 9/11 recommendations. What took so freaking long?
Passed the increase in the minimum wage. Yea 315/Nay 116! Veto proof
Passed Stem Cell research bill. Yea 253/Nay 174. Not veto proof (need 290), damn.

So far so good! I can't believe that there are still 174 congressional members that oppose stem cell research. Obviously they don't know anyone that has Alzheimer's, MS, ALS, Parkinson's or any other debilitating disease. Don't they realize these "embryos" are really just frozen, amorphous clusters of cells. They are going to be destroyed after a period of time anyway, why not donate them to research just before they are to be destroyed? I just don't get their logic.

Don't tell me that they are human life. You can't freeze me for several years, thaw me out and expect me to live do you?

I just heard one idiot express his concern that this would be the "slippery slope" that will lead to cloning. Why would that be the case? I know this is difficult concept for the Republicans to grasp, but try some oversight.


It's all good, for now.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Nuke, nuke, nuke... Nuke Iran, ran ran, ran...

I am not planning on this becoming a strictly political Blog, (Lord knows there are plenty of them out there) but is anyone else concerned about the actions of Swinging Dick Cheney?

Seems Dick has his bionic heart set on nuking Iran. This is from the "American Conservative" magazine and was written by Philip Giraldi: (via [UPDATE 1/6/07 1:04pm]

"The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Cheney's office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM), with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type attack on the U.S. The plan includes a large scale air assault on Iran using both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons....the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the U.S. Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing - that Iran is being setup for an unprovoked nuclear attack - but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections."

Holy shit!! These bastards are nuts. Note to Dick Cheney - just because you are about to die, doesn't mean you get to take all of us with you.

Who the hell is Dick Cheney to be giving these directives? Isn't he just the VP? Shouldn't he be more interested in going to the Grand Opening ceremonies for the new Walmart? Here Dick, take this shotgun and blast the big red ribbon. Shouldn't the President be giving these directives?. Oh, wait... Never mind.

Strike Iran with nukes regardless of their involvement!?!?! WTF, that is crazy. I can sort of see it if they were involved in a terrorist act, but to nuke them for shits and giggles? Stop the insanity.

Lastly, no one in the Pentagon has the 'nads to object to this plan for fear of career suicide!?!? Great. This really fosters an environment for open discussion on strategy and policy. They listen to the commanders on the field until they disagree with them.

January 2009 can't come fast enough. I just hope we are all here to see it.