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Location: DownByTheRiver, Central Iowa, United States

Husband of the world's most wonderful wife, father of the world's four most brilliant children, grandfather to the world's eight most beautiful granddaughters and two handsomest grandsons

Saturday, April 23, 2005

One Perfect Day

To the practicing Jew, a day begins at sundown and runs for 24 hours to the next sundown. For the RRR whose claim it is to be a practicing Christian and who worked night shift last night, the 14th of Nison, the Jewish month of liberation, year 5765 began when the alarm went off at 9:30 p.m. First, the sleepy-eyed stumbling about to dress, gather coffee and other paraphenalia and begin the long commute to the Big City. In the cloudy windy darkness it didn't seem like the perfect day was starting. The CBC was on public radio displaying their usual bizarre priorities that led to last night's blog.

But recorded report from the 3-11 shift was succinct and to the point and the night started well. The perfect shift on psych involves no emergency admissions and 14 Nisan was no exception. There WERE crisis, not the least of which was an emergency rush to the ER at the request of the house supervisor Mark, a gulf war vet and very much a fellow ranger. An angry couple, woman committed as a psych patient to the adult floor against her will, the husband angry and wanting to protect his spouse. A very real threat of violence. But Mark was great. The hospital police were great and the incident passed. A few more issues emerged back on the unit, but the night went quietly.

Then the drive home... Drinking fresh Columbian Supremo coffee and enjoying the sun shining on the new day. I collected my duty weapon and changed into scruffy clothes and Mrs. RRR and I drove to the county firing range for Sheriff's Office weapon's qualification. At first tragedy seemed in the offing. In my rush I'd forgotten to bring last year's duty ammo to qualify with. I was upset, embarrassed, wanted to run home. But one colleague had brought an ammo can of reloads he assured me worked "fine". I have disdain for someone who uses untested ammo, yet I did it. The gun jammed, and jammed, and jammed again. Feed well it might in his Kimber, my 1911 Officer's model could not digest it. And worse, in my upsetness, I'd fired all 7 shots on the wrong target! I was ready to hide under my car till everyone left, and I'd done this in front of Mrs. RRR, the first time she'd ever come to watch!

But things were not as bad as they seemed. The deputy shooting next to me had done so poorly that even my 7 shots in the middle of his target couldn't save his score. So I joined the other officers for the shotgun portion of the shoot. I drew the old Smith and Wesson shotgun. I could NOT load that thing quickly, I fumbled, dropped shells, made a fool of myself, but when finally I stepped to the line at 50 yards, the world turned sweet, the huge slug made a hole dead center on the FBI "Q" target. Could that cranky old S&W shoot! 5 hits and no misses, run forward to the next barrier, 6 more hits. Up to the next one 5 more hits. Not one miss, not one pellet of the 00 buck on the last five out of the kill zone. I carried the perfect target back to the scoring table, thinking... "What if... What if..?"

Lt. Tom pressed an extra box of last year's .45 duty ammo into my hand. This time I didn't shake as I loaded the magazines. Down to the barrier at 25 yards to start the pistol qualification over. Whistle blows, hit the dirt to shoot prone, 1st shot dead center. I can DO this! 6 shots prone, 3 kneeling strong hand, 3 left hand. Remember what the Lt. Said, both thumbs on the side near the barrier. 6 more standing. Still all hits. Holster, take deep breaths, arrange the magazines. Run forward, draw, shoot, Right hand, left hand, still no misses! Over half done, run up again, still no misses. Way up close. Empty gun into target FAST, right hand, left hand, change magazines, slap the magazine home, the slide bangs forward, empty the gun. Stand there staring. 50 holes in the kill zone. A perfect target. Turn around to see if Mrs. RRR is watching. The sun shining twinkling on the trail of empty Chip McCormick magazines leading back to the 25 yard line.

Walking up to Lt. Cox asking him to ask me how I did. Bragging and reminding him and myself that it doesn't work so well when the target isn't paper and it's shooting back. Our eyes meet, the Lt. KNOWS. Eyes meet for a moment older than time. Years ago a madman in a nearby town charged out of his house a gun in each hand firing. The Lt. had given his body armor to the local police chief. But he stood and fired and put his man down. Only one other officer got a shot off that day, a fellow reservist. As I said, he KNOWS.

Mrs. RRR and I drove back to the cabin in a happy daze, the two targets folded up and sitting beside us. She made her special high protein, low carb pancakes, slathered with real butter, garnished with pure maple syrup. I called and left messages with Grandpa Ranger, oldest daughter, and younger brother. Oldest son I got to brag to and youngest son and his darling rangerette and youngest daughter and her's. Happily gave advice to her husband on what pistol to buy for home protection.

As I was falling asleep, Grandpa Ranger called me back. Dear father who taught me to shoot and made me my first .45 from used parts. Who taught the 2003 national champion to shoot whom I bought the Officer's Model from. Talked about his health and mine. Fell asleep at the age of 54 smiling with my father's praise warm in my ears.

H-jane, oldest daughter and ranger reader said on a comment to one of my blogs, "Dad, do you know how beautiful your life is?" I know, H-jane. I know.


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