My grandfather, Louie Ribas, passed away early this morning.
He is one of my heroes.
He loved my grandmother, Molly, his daughters, Marion, Marcella and Elizabeth. He loved his grandchildren, Cheryl, Louis, Andrew, Peter, myself and Emily. He loved his great-grandchildren, Lauren, Brian, Sonya, Nicole, Brandon, Ace, Tink, Katelyn, Elise and Ian.
He loved and provided for his family for his entire life.
He lived his life in a small circle. He rarely left his home in Clarksburg, WVA. When I was a child, he would only stay away from home for one night. In his later years, that sometimes extended to 2 nights. If you checked his suitcase, you would find a pair of pajamas, a toothbrush, a package of Oreos and a bottle of Wild Turkey. Those were his only necessities outside of his family. He lived his life in a small circle, but he touched so many people in that circle. Louie was always there when you needed him without question, without judgment. In a time when so many people put themselves first, Louie always put his family first. It is a rare and wonderful thing.
Louie taught me about acceptance. When something had to be done, no matter how difficult, he just did it, without comment, without struggle. He accepted whatever was in front of him and dealt with it calmly. In his 90s, he would put on his golf cleats to mow the giant hill in his yard because it needed to be done. He would take his time. He wouldn’t hurry. And the lawn would get mowed. He would say to me, “You think too much, my girl.” He would say to me, “Take it easy. You go too fast.”
Louie was a carpenter, a craftsman. He built the green house on the hill where he raised his family, where his grandchildren and then great-grandchildren would come stay. Louie made beautiful furniture for everyone he loved. I sleep in a bed he made for me when I got married. Ace sleeps in another bed made for me by Louie when I was a child. Tink plays with the doll house Louie made for her, complete with tiny pieces of wooden furniture. He shipped furniture to his family all over the country. Whatever you wanted, he would descend the long flight of stairs into his garage workshop to create.
Louie went through life accompanied by many beloved pets. His dogs would accompany him to work, riding next to him in the cab of his truck. His cat would take naps with him, curled in his lap and purring loudly. Louie cared for these animals, loved the animals, but for some strange reason, he couldn’t come up with names for these animals. First there was the collie, Star, and then there was the next collie, Star. Lucky dog #3 received a new name — Fluffy. Dog #4, a collie-shepard mix, was also Fluffy. Then Cat walked into Louie’s life. We called this no-tailed cat, King Tut, because of his regal attitude, but Louie just called him “Cat.”
Louie had a twinkly, ornery smile that lit up his entire face. He laughed a lot.
He and my grandmother teased each other, played together, fought with each other, laughed together and loved each other for 59 years.
He was a wonderful dancer. At family functions, he and my grandmother would glide across the floor like they had danced out of a Hollywood movie. I loved to dance with him and even though I never knew how to dance properly, he always danced with me, ignoring my awkward trips, hops and stumbles as he swirled me around and around.
Louie Ribas was a good man, a rare and wonderful, good man.
I am fortunate to be his granddaughter.