Richard C. Graef
Most of you won’t know this man but he was a very close friend for the last 23 plus years. Everyone deserves a small memorial upon their passing. Rick will be cremated next week and I’ll honor his wishes and spread his ashes somewhere off Green Turtle Key in the Abaco Islands when all this craziness is over. For now, this post will have to act as his funeral and memorial. Richard Crane Graef was born on May 30, 1943 and lived most of his life in South Florida. He was married three times but the last was to the love of his life, Nancy Graef. After she passed about ten years ago, he kind of gave up on himself and life. Eighteen months ago, he accidentally burned his house down with a cigarette and spent the last year and a half living at Atria Willowood Senior Living in Fort Lauderdale. I would like to explain this photo, the only one I can find of the two of us. After the fire, I went back to the house before we had it knocked down and took one last shot to find any personal effects we could save. I put on a mask (prior to COVID...who knew) and walked inside this burnt out shell of a home that was his life for over thirty years. I found a frame with glass that protected its contents next to the front door. It was black from soot. I took it outside and broke the glass only to find a chalk drawing that his great grandfather (who was a famous artist) had drawn in 1860....yes, 1860. I saved the drawing and framed it last Christmas. I surprised Rick on Christmas Eve with that drawing that he thought was forever just a memory. I think it was the best moment of our long relationship. Today, it still hangs in his home and I look forward to hanging it in my house to remember my friend. Rick was fiercely independent but definitely needed help the past couple of years. Today was very unexpected and Rick was fine until three weeks ago. We even got him a new (used) Cadillac only 9 short weeks ago. It was my honor to be there when he needed me most. People would ask why I was there for him. Everybody needs somebody. Once his wife was gone and he was very alone, I guess I was his somebody. It was one of the greatest honors of my life. His wife, Nancy had a daughter, Jill and a granddaughter, Kim who both live in Montana. Rick was very fond of both of them. He also had a sister, Pat Graef who lived a few miles away in Oakland Park, Florida. As far as siblings go, they had an unusual relationship with some periods of silence between them. However, when the house burned down, Pat proved her love of her brother and was there for him in the blink of an eye. For that I’m eternally grateful. I know his family will miss him with all of their hearts. This morning, after his passing, I looked through his phone and called his short list of close friends I’d heard about for decades to advise of his passing. Everyone had such beautiful sentiments when they spoke of Rick. He had an amazing voice which belonged on the radio and also had a great wit. My friend, I’ll miss our daily chats and will think of you often. As I end this first day without my friend, I received a text from an old friend of Ricks...He said the following: Rick spoke of you as if you were the son he never had, the brother he always wanted and the deepest of friends. Thank you for being his best friend. That was very comforting to me and so appreciated. I hope you are at peace and are with your wife, Nancy on the other side....
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