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Finding A Ralph

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One of my favorite quotes is by Imran Khan: “Compromise for your dream but NEVER compromise on your dream.” 

I am inspired by people who won’t compromise, particularly when it comes to their principles and partners. 

I counsel my sons that the worst compromise they’ll make is in choosing their partners in business and life. 

The story below appears in my book, How Fathers Change Lives, and has been one of my favorites since it was relayed to me by Lise Johnson. 

Lise’s mother, Joyce, passed away in 2007, and her dad, Ralph, has carried her photo and cherished her memory every day since. 

* * *

They were married for 48 years.

Mom became terminally ill. The road to the end was painful and long. Dad stopped work and stayed home. Caring for Mom was a full-time job. His business folded. We lived off savings.

Mom loved it at home. She wanted to spend her last days surrounded by family, memories, the things she knew.  Dad would have it no other way.

Friends and family pitched in to help, but Dad was “on duty” ’round the clock.

In the final two weeks we moved Mom to Hospice. She needed professional care.  

Dad slept there. Ate there. Ensured Mom was warm. He held her hand while she slept.

I’d urge Dad, “Go home. Take a break.” I had to kick him out just to go home and clean up.

When the final moment arrived, Dad knelt next to Mom’s bed. Her hand was cupped gently in his.

It was heartbreaking to see Mom go. But it helped to see the remarkable care she received from my dad. Others saw it too.

“Your dad’s devotion was astounding,” said one nurse wistfully.

“Never in all my years,” a doctor shared.

Then something happened that changed my perspective on love, on life.  

A nurse who had spent considerable time with Mom approached me. I can still see her face vividly. “Lise,” she said, “I have something to share. I was engaged when I started your mom’s care.”

“No longer,” she continued. When I expressed sympathy, she interrupted, “Don’t be sorry. I’m not. This was my choice.  My man was no match for your dad, Ralph.

“I didn’t know devotion like that existed in this world.

I decided I would wait until I could find a man like your dad. I want a Ralph.”

* * *

I hope you found a Ralph. I sure did. 

-Greg Hague

The story was shared with me by Lise Johnson.

Lise is an Executive Editor at a book publishing company. Her mother, Joyce, passed away in 2007. Her dad, Ralph, goes to their church each day to “visit” her. He carries her photo wherever he goes.

“The most dangerous negotiation is the one you don’t know you’re in.”

-Christopher Voss

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