Ron's Memorial at
©2021, Gary Gocek,, @garygocek,
Gary's memorial to his best man.
Ron's Memorial at

I was in eighth grade, on my way to an extracurricular event. I was riding a school bus picking up participants at schools around my district (Liverpool, NY). The bus stopped at one of the schools and a student climbed the stairs and looked over the front barrier and exploded into my life. I was 13 years old and I didn't really know what a "best man" is, but I knew Ron would be that guy for me.

I suppose others thought Ron was that guy, for them, as well. But, Ron and I knew we would change the world and cure cancer and inspire the huddled masses. Maybe not together, forever, because all our worlds change, constantly, but that which was me and Ron would exist, forever. We were buddies through high school and went to college in Rochester (I at RIT, Ron at U of R).

I don't have an actual brother, but the nice thing about that, when I was getting married and figuring out what a best man was, I got to pick my brother! There was no other option but Ron.

For years, Ron lived in Buffalo and I in Rochester, and in July of 2021 we hadn't seen each other in a few years. Recently, the mother of a mutual HS friend passed away, and a memorial service was scheduled for July 24 in Liverpool. Ron was being wishy-washy about attending, which seemed impossible; this family was just too important to us to miss the service. All Ron would say was that he had "mobility issues". So, I figured I would visit Ron in Buffalo and plan how to get him to the memorial service. We set up a date for my visit, but it got postponed due to a repair issue at Ron's condo, and then another date got postponed when Ron's sister and (actual) brother planned a sudden visit. That memorial service occurred, and Ron sent flowers, but no one in our group of longtime friends could figure out what was really going on with Ron. And for me of course, apart from Ron, work was busy, a family trip was being planned, another friend got a cancer diagnosis, and, and, and...

Ron passed away on August 16. My friend, my best man, my brother is gone. What do I do now?

Did I mention Ron worked for Roswell Park Cancer Center in Buffalo? He really did it! He fucking cured cancer! My purpose is clear.

Inspire the huddled masses and leave this world a better place. Just like Ron.