Tuesday, June 21, 2016


It is ironic that my theme of Signs came up for this particular week. I was going to pass on participating, but remembered this picture that was handy. We were visiting our son in Oakland a couple of years ago and went to the museum there. They had a participatory alcove where you could have your picture taken with various museum labels. Ranney chose this one.

I will use it as my header.

Ranney passed quietly away last Thursday, after squeezing my hand, surely a final sign of love.

My son Jeff (of Oakland) posted this on Facebook:

Ranney Sharman was born in San Francisco on January 23, 1944 to Duncan and Eileen Sharman. He was an only child, born fifteen years into his parents’ marriage. He had pneumonia at birth. The only thing that could save him was penicillin. But it was in short supply due to wartime rationing. He almost died then. But the hospital got ahold of a supply in time and he lived for another 72 years.

He was raised in a house near his father’s tavern in Ukiah, California. He played cowboys and Indians with his friends, Butch, Billy, and Jackie in an underground fort that they built in an old orchard. On Saturdays they listened to Big John and Sparky on the radio and then let themselves into the tavern to watch Space Patrol on the television. In those days, Log Cabin Syrup came in a container that was shaped like a log cabin and Crusader Rabbit endorsed 7-Up with milk.

He attended kindergarten for one day, but found it too boring to continue. He attended a Catholic primary school where Sister Jeanette cured him of his left-handedness by hitting his knuckles with a ruler when he wrote with the wrong hand.

When his mother went away to visit San Francisco his father prepared Chicken Fricassee on Toast for dinner.

His high school years were spent as a boarder at Bellarmine High School in San Jose, where he held the office of class clown and was told that he wouldn’t amount to anything. The school mascot was a bell and it was once stolen by a rival team before a basketball game. In science class, he and a classmate set out to prove that tobacco was bad for one’s health by demonstrating that cigarettes would dissolve in sulfuric acid.

He visited the World’s Fair in Seattle in 1962. His mother left him and his father to go shopping. As soon as his mother was out of sight his father said, “You’ll be fine on your own for awhile?” He left him to wander on his own for a few hours. So he went up the Space Needle.

He attended college at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, where he met his wife Kathy. Decades later, at a party, they told an acquaintance that they had been together since college. She said, “I know. I remember you guys. I was a freshmen at Gonzaga when you were upperclassmen. You were quite the campus couple.”

He was married in 1967 and had six children born between 1968 and 1980. They lived in Omak, Seattle, and Yakima, before settling in Grandview, Washington in 1975. On their first day in the new house, they learned that a freeway was going to be built through their property. They had to have the house lifted off its foundation and moved to another lot two miles away. He lived in the relocated house for the next forty-one years.

Kathy once showed him a purple microwave while they were shopping. “Look. A purple microwave,” she said. He took this as a hint and returned later to buy it as a surprise gift. She was surprised as she’d only pointed it out because it was ugly.

He worked as a case worker and a social worker for the State of Washington for 31 years and 4 hours. Constant cutbacks and ineffective management left him frustrated. To receive his full pension he had to make up four hours of work that he’d lost in a brief labor strike years before, so he worked until noon on the 31st anniversary of his start date.

In retirement he volunteered with Lower Valley Hospice and with Mount Rainier National Park. He traveled to Scotland and Russia, went on camping trips, and visited his children and grandchildren who were scattered across the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest.

He continued to travel after his cancer diagnosis, sometimes leaving directly from chemotherapy appointments to go camping.

He would speak to anyone he met, tell them where he was from, and describe how to find it on a map. His lack of self consciousness sometimes bordered on a lack of self awareness. Many found that charming, but it embarrassed his children when they were younger.

He was a born storyteller, telling his children and grandchildren stories of his life that were rich in detail, but light on point.

He made some bad decisions a long time ago. He was humbled, forgiven, and he rose above it. He was a devout Catholic and was the least judgmental person you’d meet.

He helped and cared for people. It was his job, but he also helped people in his volunteer time, and on his own time.

He enjoyed mystery novels and Star Trek. He listened to Rush Limbaugh and NPR. He made scrambled eggs for breakfast on Sundays and ate liver and onions when it was on the menu at a restaurant.

Why do obituaries never give the cause of death? He fought cancer, kidney disease, and dementia. He fought it in a careful measured manner, just as he lived. He fought it until it was too painful to fight, until he started to lose himself. Then he went into hospice care and then he died.

He died in the morning on June 16, 2016 in Yakima, Washington. His wife, my mother, held his hand. He tightened his grip briefly and then let go.

He is survived by his wife, six children, sixteen grandchildren, and a purple microwave.

You will find signs from the other participants in our header challenge by following the links in my sidebar.


Lew said...

Beautiful statement of a life well lived! Ranney gets my vote this week. You have a wonderful family and friends. I am sure they will be a great comfort to you at this time.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Beautiful post Kathy, thanks for sharing this week of Ranney's passing. Take comfort in a life lived wonderfully.

Christine Soto said...

What a wonderful, fascinating, love-filled story, and an amazingly appropriate picture to accompany it!!

imac said...

One of the most fascinating Life Stories Ive ever read Kathy.
This wins, not only the Gold Shield but the PURPLE Heart Award.