... A tribute to a friend
In a room full of guys wearing baseball caps, Richard Legault was the tall man, off to the side a bit, wearing a scally cap....backwards. That's how it was the first time I noticed him as part of the crowd, but with a definite difference. The hat was part of his style, because he never had the need to "just go along" with the crowd. He could be perfectly comfortable as the maverick in the room, but, there was so much more to him.
Richard came to Melrose a short while ago and settled into the building prepared to be pleasant but not involved. He had his home place, and his stereo, and his new computer. It was enough....for a start. When the apartment became too small for him, he expanded out into the elevator lobby. Pictures on the wall and green plants gave the area a welcoming look. At Christmas time he decorated a tree with lights, tinsel, ornaments. People came by to see the wonderful display.
He came on board at the Senior Center with a job title, but an undefined role which suited him. It gave him scope to do what needed to be done and he quickly became a presence in the afternoon. The wasted coffee each day was no problem for him; he taught the attendees to make a fresh pot, as needed. When the coffee situation was resolved he introduced donuts to the refreshment table. With an offer from a local coffee shop,Richard recruited a volunteer to do the pick up, bought the bins to transport the donuts, and then stepped back and let the ladies do the rest.
The computer room became his location of choice, although he was amazed at his ability to teach seniors. He took his skill and expanded it and when that wasn't enough he was able to wing it while seeking more answers. All this done with a whimsical charm. When I told him this was just because he was a natural "alpha male" he claimed it was a gift from his Jewish grandmother. He mentioned her often as a fount of wisdom, but what came through was a sense that she loved him dearly.
Recently, Richard had discovered his joy in using a digital camera to capture images of people and was exploring nature studies. He produced a series of candid shots of scenes and objects viewed through his artist's eye on a rainy day.
He liked to stroll out front and sit on the bench in the sun. The bench had been there for years and looked it. He had it power washed and spent time and energy applying tung oil to bring out the beauty of the wood. And so it became a place to sit and pass the time of day. The plaque on the bench says "Friends of the Aging". He was a good friend during his time with us.
Richard spent a short time at the hospital and then passed away. How typical. The prognosis was not good and he moved quickly on to the next phase. I take comfort in the thought that he is again with his Jewish grandmother, and she is guiding him around the hereafter, while he checks things out and decides what comes next for him. No doubt he is wearing his scally cap...backwards. The man had his own style. We greatly miss him.
March 2, 2007