To Make a World of Gold? Pay it Forward

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Uncle Chuck – his daughter on his lap with nieces & nephews piled around him

“It’s that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second. This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up. Others matter more than you do, so ‘don’t fuss, dear; get on with it’.” – Audrey Hepburn

A bitter sweet day

After fighting Parkinson’s Disease for nearly 30 years, my Uncle Chuck passed away on 3 March 2014.  He was a younger brother to my father who died 12.5 years ago.  Chuck Thorn was a hard worker and he instilled this trait by example (and sometimes force) in many family members.  He had a deep voice and resembled Sean Connery in so many ways – I cannot watch a movie with Mr. Connery without thinking of my uncle. He had hands like his father, my grandfather and he was every bit a Thorn; I feel fortunate to be a part of this family.

Years and miles keep families apart, but hearts are strong and yearn for reunions, even sad ones like funerals. On Friday, I will drive with my children across California deserts, through Nevada and traipsing a small corner of Arizona, into Central Utah to meet and greet loved ones from near and far.  We will celebrate the life of a man who fought so very hard against the ravages of a debilitating disease.


I could fly, but I am choosing to drive for many reasons.  As a young child, my family drove across those same deserts at least once a year to visit family and beloved grandparents.  My father was an ace packer, he would load us all (5 kids – sometimes more – and 2 parents with all their luggage) into a 1967 Volkswagen Bus, as we faced an 11-hour drive; the one respite being lunch at Circus Circus in Vegas.  On more than one occasion, that old bus broke down in the desert and we’d wait by the side of the road for assistance and a tow, typically back to Vegas for the night as repairs were made.

One such trip with one such breakdown, my Uncle Chuck, showed up in his shiny red truck, sparkling new camper shell and gave it to us for the trip – he let us drive it, use it, take it – while he took care of that old broken down bus, so we could continue on our way.  I remember not quite understanding as I tried to comprehend this selfless act –  he had driven for several hours to meet us and loan us his new truck.
This is the kind of man he was.

Pay It Forward

I am driving to feel that again: the wonder of selflessness and the gratitude it resurrects.  “Pay it Forward” seems like such a bland and forgotten concept, yet we can draw on experiences which assure us that it is a real ideal and it does make a difference -even today.  Forty-five years later, it still makes a difference.

“I come in a world of iron…to make a world of gold” – Man of La Mancha

Thanks for paving our streets with gold, Uncle Chuck… You will be missed.








by Rayanne Thorn

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