The Thing About Ronny

I seem to start most of my conversations about my friend, Ronny, with that phrase. “The thing about Ronny is…” If you knew Ronny Jo Villarreal, you know how lucky you were. If you didn’t know her? I wish you had.

The thing about Ronny is that she was tough. Ronny was tough without being hard. She took on so many challenges and conquered most of them. We would all be better with a fraction of her toughness.

The thing about Ronny is that she was caring. Ronny wanted to know how you were. If she asked you, she really wanted to know, it wasn’t just a platitude with her. And no matter how busy her world was, she always wanted to know.

The thing about Ronny is that she was funny. This woman made me (and most people) laugh so hard I’d get cramps in my side. A few weeks ago I sent Ronny a little gift. In her thank-you note she said, “The plaque went perfect in my bathroom, so I hung it in front of the toilet. Now I think of you every time I have to go.” Only Ronny could work using the toilet into a thank-you note.

The thing about Ronny is that she was thoughtful. The number of times I got a something small from Ronny, at exactly the right time, is too many to count. Flowers when Mark was in the hospital, baby gifts for both of my boys, phone calls, notes, texts, emails, compliments, advice. No matter how long it had been since we had talked, I knew she was with me. I told her just the other day that I think of her and Andy most nights when I cover Tobin in the blanket they sent when he was born. It made her happy that she was in my thoughts, and she was, often.

The thing about Ronny is that she was smart. She wasn’t just book smart, although she was that, Ronny was also clever. She was good at reading people, she was good at judging situations, and she was creative.

The thing about Ronny is that she was driven. Ronny achieved. She worked her butt off in school and college. She worked hard to become a cheerleader. She worked hard to succeed professionally. She worked hard to perfect her photography. She worked hard on her relationships. She worked hard to make a home. She worked hard to have her Maddy. She worked hard to be a good mom and wife. She may have worked too hard at school, I mean, who doesn’t miss any school between kindergarten and her senior year? That’s just weird.

The thing about Ronny is that she was proud. This is one of my favorite things about Ronny. She was proud of her extended family, proud of our tiny town, proud of where we came from. Ronny was proud of her accomplishments without being boastful. Ronny was proud when her hard work resulted in success. I think that’s a rare quality in a lot of women, and it’s something I’m always striving for.

The thing about Ronny is that she was radiant. I would challenge *anyone* to look at Ronny’s smiling face and not smile back. That woman’s smile was an amazing, contagious, wonderful sight.

The thing about Ronny is that she was loyal. I don’t know that I’ve ever met someone else who had the quality of friendships that Ronny had, for the length of time she had them. She was a fierce friend. But she wasn’t blindly loyal, she told you what you needed to hear for you to be a better person, even if it hurt to hear her say it.

The thing about Ronny is that she was courageous. Like her pride, Ronny’s courage is one of my favorite things about her. Ronny was courageous in her thoughts, she didn’t believe in injustice and didn’t let others get away with it around her. Ronny was courageous in her actions, becoming a college cheerleader, getting married again, moving across the country and away from her family, trusting her instincts enough to follow her passion for photography and putting her career on hold. Making the hard choices to fight the cancer when it probably would have been easier and less painful not to. There are big, tough men who don’t have a speck of the courage that this one small woman had.

I’m lucky that I got to be Ronny’s friend, it’s just that simple. There is so much more I could say about Ronny, and so much more I’ll never know about her. I’m glad I got to share a tiny slice of her life.

Mr. and Mrs. Villarreal ~ You raised an incredible person.

Andy and Maddy~Thank you for sharing Ronny with us. You didn’t have to, but I’m so glad you did.

Ronny~ I know you’re looking down on me and telling me to suck it up, enough with the tears. I love you so much. Thanks for being my friend.

Note: If you would like to make a donation to Stand Up 2 Cancer or The Livestrong Foundation you would have one happy angel looking down on you!

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  1. Wow you hit the mark
    Sherry. From the time we graduated HS to now she was always”Ronny”. She never changed who she was. She was the coolest cheerleader OHS ever had. Not your typical cheerleader who only hung out with the “cool people”. She was everybody”s friend. Awesome blog. R.I.P. Ronny

      1. This is so beautiful and so true. I had the privilege of being her teacher and she left a lasting impression on my heart. The world was a better place because she was in it. I have no doubt she is with the angels.

  2. Crazy timing that i come across this. My family … We lost a dear friend Ronny last week to cancer, and it totally does suck.

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  3. You are absolutely right about her. She is beautiful person who has given us hope during time of uncertainty. I love her so much. She has given me inspiration to how I can improve myself. Thank little sis for all the good times we had. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Oh Sherry! You made me cry! Everything you said was right on the button. She was very funny, driven, loyal, courageous, but most of all RADIANT! Her smile was what I remember most. She will be missed but her memories will live on. Thanks for bringing back the memories I had of her as I read on. She was one of the coolest friends ever. R.I. P. Ronny

  5. Sherry,
    Amazing. Absolutely amazing. I could spend my whole life writing words for Ronny and never do her justice the way you have. If you don’t mind, I will share your words with others.
    Thank you,

    1. Andy~I am so glad you felt like my words captured some of her spirit. There was so much more I wanted to say, but I stopped at 900 words. Please know that I’m always here if you need to talk. Love you!

  6. Sherry this made me cry. Ronny emailed me when my grandmother passed away. She would email me to see how I was doing cause she had noticed I hadnt written anything on facebook. She would wonder if I was ok and thats just the type of person she was. She was miles and miles away but yet she seemed so close to console me and talk to me if I needed to. She was the type of friend I would want to keep in contact forever. She was caring, thoughtful, radiant, vibrant, smart, driven, proud, loyal, courageous and strong willed just as you say. I loved her and her contagious smile. I come across alot of people and its hard to find a good kind hearted friend, a friend that really does care. She is a friend that will never be forgotten. Ive been thinking about her and I truly am sad that she is gone. I am sad because I wont be getting an email from her anymore. I wont be opening her jokes in the morning that would brighten up my day. Im missing her and will continue to miss her……..until the day we meet again. I will continue to have the family in my prayers. The thing about Ronny was beautiful Sherry.
    May God Bless you and your family.

    1. Laurie~I thought the same thing, that I’m sad I won’t be getting any more emails or texts or notes. She had an amazing impact.

  7. Your words couldn’t have been more perfect. No matter how hard I try to not cry, I just can’t stop the tears. She was an amazing woman who has given strength to so many people from afar. We miss you Ronny!

  8. Beautifully written. I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear friend Ronny. My heart goes out to you and everyone that knew her.

  9. Perfectly written Sherry…Her loyalty and toughness are things that I will always remember. You were also spot on with her courage, she had more courage than most of us could dream of and we definitely admired it from a far. She was definitely an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and helping me remember all the amazing things about Ronny!

  10. I just today learned of Ronny Jo’s death, and my heart is so heavy for family and friends. Sherry, you have done a spectacular job of capturing the Ronny that I remember as a student at OHS and the Ronny that I caught glimpses of as an adult. Thank you.

    1. Ben~I have always loved the photos you took of Ronny and Andy. I especially love the one of Andy sort of dipping Ronny with the sun setting behind them. I also love the one of Ronny singing as she got ready. You really captured the incredible person she was.

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