My exquisite friend Howard Ringwood has died. He wore his many gifts lightly and he blessed all around him with them. The two of us found somewhere along the way that we had attended the same university in the same years. He had played football with the man my twin sister married. They were captain and co-captain of the team and I remembered his name.
We became acquainted on Sundays on my street. He would stop if I was outside, he looking regal in a dark blue suit on his way home from church. He would say hello to me and ask in one way or another if I was all right. I would usually be fooling around on a motorcycle or trying to fix a lawnmower and my “I’m fine” at first meant “Don’t pray for me, Provo, Utah.” I soon saw what an elegant and gentle man he was, not espousing a party line, not laboring under the heavy hand of duty. His light was from within. The line that most comes to mind is the mysterious “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
He lightened many burdens for me. He shoveled my sidewalks at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning. They were just done when I looked out on a snowy morning; I didn’t even know who’d done them for a long time. He told me when I suffered an acute injury doctors said I would not recover from, it will be okay. And it was. I came to understand having faith in faith and to count on his advice, always farsighted, longsuffering, ecumenical. If he began as a shepherd of balls across courts—any ball, any court—and he took home all the trophies—he went on to shepherd men and women in his wise, unassuming way. The last thing he asked me, in great suffering now and under a very heavy mandate himself, was “Are you all right?” The thought of him lights up my heart.
That heart goes out to his courageous and wonderful wife. I had the opportunity to work under her leadership providing services to residents of a nursing home some years back. Like him, she led by love, and I learned to see that love comes in many stripes and sometimes, yes, it is organized.
I extend my deepest condolences to her and to the seven heartbroken children these two had. They altered my, if not reckless, than perhaps heedless life.