Friday, May 10, 2024

Friend's Friday - A Loss

Most of us have friends who pass through our lives; some meaningful others road stops along our journey.  However, some are like a life’s tattoo that leaves a mark that is so meaningful they are always in your thoughts even with decades of separation.

Ray MacDonald Wilborn, Jr.
September 30, 1947 — May 8, 2024

I was twelve and had just lost my mother to a devastating bout of cancer.  My grandparents were there as my landing place and I knew they would now be my forever parents. They were amazing and their acceptance, love, and caring, was better than anyone could ever want in parents. I only wish I had told them “I love you” more. 

Early in my life I was conflicted between genders. I relished being a boy, yet there was a girl component that I could not shake. Scottsburg had a boys club. Nothing was organized but they all played ball, built forts in the woods, launched rockets, and did all the things boys do. I wanted to be in the group.  

Just after my mother passed Ray and his family moved three doors down; maybe a distant cousin. I believe he felt empathy and took me on as a project. We clicked and he facilitated my entry into a boy's life. Ray was easily accepted and I tagged along at first; then became one-of-the-boys too. My life changed.

I hung out at Ray’s and he ate many meals at my house.  My grandmother was a terrific cook. He called my grandmother “Granny” too.  Thanksgiving and Christmas he spent with us.  

Three inseparable boys emerged. We rode our bikes from dawn until night. Played cards, took apart lawn mower motors, and had a tool shed/shop behind Ray’s home.  We were always tinkering with our bikes.  There was Wingate, Ray and myself.  We hung with the others doing the boy stuff already mentioned. 

The Rocket building turned into a passion for a while. We experimented with dangerous stuff and did launch several of our aerosol can rockets. Early one summer night, one blew up with such force it shook all of Scottsburg.  We all ran to our respective homes, denying everything.  

David and Jimmy Priest, Bobby and Sammy Walden, Jimmy Gully, Bobby Conner,  Frank Loyd. Johnny Moorefield, Butch Moorefield, Ray’s younger brother Stacy and myself. What a pack.

Ray, had it not been for the love and caring you shared, I would have never become the man I did. 

Although later in life I rediscovered the gender continuum and play along it today, I so treasure my boyhood youth and such a significant friend as Ray. You molded my entire life. I so cherish our memories. 

Just this past fall I did get to spend time with Ray and we laughed, cried, and reminisced about our times 60 years ago in Scottsburg and the gang. I did get to tell him how important he was to me. 

Lesson learned; never put off thanking and sharing important memories with people you love.  


  1. Please accept my sincerest condolences on the passing of your dear friend Ray. May such warm remembrances as you've shared here fill your heart forever.

  2. A heartfelt story.
    Angel Amore

  3. I'm sorry to read about the loss of your friend. Thank you for sharing such lovely stories of your friendship. Your "lesson learned" is one of the most important in life: tell people *today* what they mean to you!

  4. Beautiful tribute, as you had told me last October. 🥰

  5. Many transgender people, myself included, struggle with denying our boyhood. It feels like somehow embracing our past as boys negates our journey as women. But for me, boyhood wasn't all bad. I enjoyed hanging out with my male friends and doing "boy things." However, there was always a longing to be a woman. It's a complex puzzle, perhaps unsolvable.

    Coincidentally, your story about Ray arrived the day after I lost a close childhood friend. Your words ring true: never wait to tell someone how you feel. Thank you for writing this Paula G