“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” (Marcus Aurelius)
A day after hearing the painful news that a relationship I had for the past year filled with joy, adventure, spirit, goddess and wilderness had ended, I learned of the passing of a very dear friend. Later that week I attended his Celebration of Life in Lumby BC. Words alone are always inadequate as a means of expressing the depth of such a loss, the meaning of such a wonderful man, but here is my attempt.
Hello everyone, my name is Johnny Stork.
Although I don’t know most of you here today, I share with all of you the loss of a dear friend, a husband, a brother, a father, a son. I have never spoken at a funeral or Celebration of Life before, but there was simply no way that I could not come today. As is always the case with the most important, powerful, heartfelt experiences in life, words alone fail to adequately express the depth of feeling, the breadth of meaning, of such a loss. Please forgive me as I attempt to express with words alone, what Richie meant to me.
I met Richie when I was living in Prince George around 1998. I was sitting at the bar of a local biker pub and in walked this giant of a man with the most beautiful long black hair I had ever seen. He pulled up a stool beside me and we started chatting. I don’t recall exactly what we talked about at first, but what I do recall most of all was how I felt sitting next to this beautiful giant of a man. Rather than feel anxious, threatened or intimidated in any way, what Richie exuded was a gentle kindness more befitting a Saint in a Church rather than a physically large man with long hair and tattoos in the sometimes intimidating atmosphere of a biker bar. I immediately liked him, I felt safe and we shared a curiosity over the bizarre antics of one of the dancers which we tried to understand and debated what might be behind her strange behaviours. Again, although I don’t recall many more details of our conversations what I noticed, what I felt, was the complete lack of judgement or criticism and a delightful open-mindedness in how he viewed the world and the presence of a kind and gentle soul.
I left the bar that evening feeling that I had been blessed, fortunate, to have met such a gentle-giant of a man with an inquisitive mind and an open heart. I don’t think we exchanged any contact information at that point but over the next few months we continued to run into each other and our friendship grew.
Over the years of our friendship, the depth of Richie’s kindness, the strength of his love for Leona, his son Robert, his daughters Victoria and Lacey, his sister Shelagh, his parents Mary and Jim along with the rest of his friends and family, was evident in everything he said or did. He often spoke about his love for his wife Leona, his daughters and during the time he and Robert lived with me in Squamish, I saw first hand the extraordinary love and respect he had for his son. I witnessed the words and actions of a father who felt blessed to have a son and the constant pride he felt for Robert was enormous. More than once I saw his eyes well up when he spoke of the pride and respect he held for Robert.
There was only one thing larger than the enormous physical size of this beautiful man, and that was the size of his heart. Not only for his family but for his friends. On the day before he went away, we chatted at length about a recent loss in my own life, and he immediately offered me many options moving forward, including coming up to stay in Lumby. But his last words to me were to tell me that he was looking forward to spending more time with his wife, his kids and his family and it was time to start working less and living more. I think Richie would have wanted all of us to do the same in our own lives, even though he may not have had the chance to do so himself. He recognized the importance of family and the need to keep those connections strong and so this is one of the many messages for my own life, that Richie has gifted me.
For me, Richie has not gone anywhere, he is very much inside everyone one of us here today. The impact he had on me, in my heart, will continue to move me forward in my own life and will continue to guide and support me through all challenges and will continue to remind me of the many blessings that come from living a life filled with love, family and friends. I will not say goodbye to you Richie, because you cannot leave my heart and I will thank you for the blessing of your kindness and friendship until we meet again. Thank you my friend.
A Good Man
What is a good man?
Is he handsome?
Is he rich?
Is he famous?
Is he strong?
I will tell you what a good man is.
A good man is a man whose heart is larger than himself.
A good man is a man who knows his family is more important than himself.
A good man is a man who knows his friend’s are more important than himself.
A good man is a man who can crush you with one blow, yet extends his hand in kindness instead.
A good man is a man who stands up and defends those who cannot defend themselves.
A good man will give of himself before he takes from anyone.
Richie was all this and more, Richie was a man’s man.
Richie was, Richie is, the model of a man, a father, a husband, a brother,
a son, a friend that we should all seek to become.
Richard Melvin is and always will be, the most extraordinary father,
parent and friend I have ever known.
With all my heart, I love you Richie.
Wonderful poster created for Richie by one of his cousins.