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I remember Ross James, long-time Uxbridge resident who died August 17, 2020 in his 87th year

GERRY NOBLE Special to The Standard

I was stopped at the red-light, inspecting the signs of the town’s progress, all around. Nearby, the first house he built still guards the edge of the road, surrounded now by progress instead of hay fields. Time paved over a life that was. My eyes welled up, surprising me. I had passed his house many times before but today was different. Yesterday Ross died. Memories crowded. I pictured the paths beaten from years of eager feet and hundreds of trips across the farm fields connecting our rural homes so many years ago, like arteries carrying the lifeblood of a shared childhood. I did not have a brother, so Wayne and Larry were surrogates. Thrown together by fortunate coincidence in a rural neighbourhood that was a young boys paradise, we did everything together. Ross was Wayne and Larry’s dad. He owned a trucking business and was always busy. Marie was their mother, the prettiest mom of all my friends. Able to tame the truculence of young boys while responding to the needs of an industrious young entrepreneur, Maire was the perfect complement to Ross. I remember Ross as a decent dad when it came to dishing discipline to Wayne, Larry and I who were always testing his boundaries. He was patient with us as he helped us learn to ride Wayne’s “new” bicycle. He was forgiving, despite our noise during important Sunday afternoon “nap” time. He built our confidence, letting us steer his boat on Scugog and his skidoo in the back field. Cajoled by Wayne we hid in the garage and watched his dad display grace and empathy to an employee he had to terminate. As I reflect, using the long lens of experience, Ross was like a second dad to me at that stage in early life when character develops – and he was a fine example to emulate. He was hard working, loving, fair, tolerant, successful and he set clear boundaries. I have not seen Ross for thirty years, but I can still hear his laugh. It was a laugh that absorbed his eyes and welcomed all within range to join in. It was a laugh revealing a confident man, happy in life. Ross and Marie’s first home endures as evidence to the quality of their work and a testament of a rural life long forgotten. It is now an office of some trade, welcoming and disgorging clients through doors that once swung with the screams of young boys intent on their next adventure. His carefully manicured lawn that was host to numerous birthday parties and summer camp-outs now suffocates under layers of asphalt. The arteries connecting our rural community, long ago paved over by progress, echo memories of a cherished childhood. The passing of Ross summons a signpost: a time to remember a simpler time; and a time to celebrate a man who was decent; who lived a full life, with a positive influence in those who were privileged to be near him. I am fortunate to have many memories of those formative years in my life that include Ross and Marie, Wayne and Larry. My regret is that I was not able to hear that laugh once again before it too gave way to time. Gerry Noble now lives in Sunderland

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