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[2009: JAN-FEB] The Greatest Ride of All


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:: A woman, Terran in her mid-nineties, is standing up in front of a podium, dressed in Starfleet whites, arboring the rank of Commodore. Grey-white hair, shoulder length, about 5’7". Blue eyes. She looked at the crowd for a moment before speaking into the microphone. ::

Woman : During one hundred and forty seven years, things are bound to change, everybody will agree on that. The tallest mountains can crumble, the rivers dry up, stars burn out. Even the most hard-headed people among us will one day change, evolve, become something different. :: She smiled :: Difference is something that takes an important meaning today, as you all can figure out why.

:: She glanced around, taking a short pause ::

Woman : Today, we celebrate the life of a man who always was different from the others. Never did things the way we expected him to do, even through his last day in this universe. He always did his best with what he had, even when people didn’t believe in him. His courage and his tenacity made sure he got through anything life could throw his way, and many of you here today even owe him your lives. He never hesitated to risk everything to do what had to be done, no matter the consequences. He was very criticized for that, but people got around to appreciate that aspect of him.

:: Again, another pause ::

Woman : He has been many things in his life, but a Starfleet officer was the thing he was the most proud of, even though he never actually admitted it himself. Although many people never expected him to last, or even to belong in Starfleet in the first place, he faced adversity with all the courage we can credit him for, looked Life right in the face and stood his ground. Yes, he had to do his part in the process to try and blend in a little more, but deep down he never changed his ways.

:: She looked in the crowd at specific people. An even older woman, her mother. A man in his advanced eighties. A few more people all ranging from their sixties and below ::

Woman : A ranch hand. A scientist. An artist. A loyal friend. A dedicated husband and father. A proud grandfather. A Starfleet Officer. A man whose legacy isn’t about leaving behind huge accomplishments or material things. Family, friends and those who got to know him even a little have inherited his profound sense of humanity. This man that was far from perfect who accepted his flaws has shown all of us that you can do anything if you believe in yourself and if you stand by what and who you are. He taught us that no matter how we look like and no matter what we do, we are all imperfect. And by being imperfect, all of us are equal. Of course, he wouldn’t exactly say it like that...

:: Laughter in the audience ::

Woman : Why don’t we let him say it himself, then? Ladies and gentlemen, my father, Pedro Alonzo Sanchez Ramirez.

:: A big round of applause as the lights turned off in the room. A big screen up front lit up and an old man appeared. Wrinkled by his 140+ years of existence, but his look as sharp as people remembered it, a huge smile on his face ::

Ramirez : Thank you. Thank you! Please, no pictures!

:: Laughter, then complete silence ::

Ramirez : Well... Apparently, you were able to get rid of me that easily after all... Took longer than most people wished it would, but you won! :: He chuckled :: What can I say that I haven’t already said over and over again in my life already, now that I’m dead? Does « The Ram » have anything left to surprise people or did he become predictable? I suppose it wouldn’t be appropriate to say that I’m butt-naked in that casket, would it?

:: Again, laughter ::

Ramirez : Don’t bother checking, I’m not. I know my wife wouldn’t let me do something that foolish, even though it would’ve been funny as hell... :: He chuckles again :: It’s a bit weird to talk as if I’m already gone since at the moment of this recording, I’m not... But then again, am I really dead? I’m no religious man, everybody knows that, but who knows? Maybe I’ve been wrong all my life about that and I’ll end up in Heaven with a lot of explaining to do... But at least I know I can go with a free conscience that I’ll still be around through my family and friends.

:: He paused ::

Ramirez : You know, life’s got a twisted sense of humor when you think about it. The guy who wanted to be a galactic superstar spent his life working in labs and got more awards for his artistic works than for his scientific accomplishments. The guy who people could barely tolerate in a 10-mile radius ended up with so many friends. The man who never thought he’d ever love anyone found a wife and had some kids. And after all those years of listening to me brag about my skills, push your buttons all the time and irritating the hell out of you, there you all are still listening to me talking about myself. Now THAT is funny, don’t you think?

:: He laughed out loud. Not as loud as he used to, but still good enough for an old man ::

Ramirez : And to those who I might not have said it already, I appreciate it. I know I haven’t always been an easy person to be around, but you’re still there and I thank you for it. Life’s short but some times take too long to pass, but you were all worth passing through them. You might not know this, but you’ve all made my life worth something and cannot thank each and every one of you enough for that. Having a purpose has always been very important to me and you all are the best purpose a person could have to live his life to the fullest.

:: For one of the rare times that people could remember, he actually wiped a tear from his eye ::

Ramirez : I want you all to do one thing for me... Whenever things get tough on you, ask yourselves « What would The Ram do? », then stand your ground, put a big grin on you face and kick some butts!

:: He laughed out loud again before his face turned into a serene and sincere smile ::

Ramirez : It’s been a great ride, people. As I used to say back in the days : « This is The Ram, signing out! »

:: Then, the shot got wider and the people could see him holding a guitar. A very old guitar at that. Everybody knew that guitar. He started strumming it gently, playing « Worried Life Blues » by B.B. King & Eric Clapton ::

Ramirez : Oh Lordy Lord, Oh Lordy Lord, hurts me so bad for us to part. But someday, Baby, I ain’t gonna worry my life anymore...

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