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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

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

In Memoriam

For the RRR, sitting down now at 0530 to blog as a dramatic sunrise is beginning through the woods to the east of the cabin, looking back through Memorial Day weekend is like flipping through the pages of a book and turning back time. So...

In Memoriam: Sp 5 M.G., from Iowa, who on November 24th, 1970 went down in an L.O.H. Helicopter in Quang Ngai Provence in the (then) Republic of South Vietnam. A giant of a man with a heart to match who took a scared young RRR under his wing and taught him the lore of being a combat radio operator and became the first tragedy I used the radio to report.

Sp4 J.S., from Colorado, who on May 10th, 1971 carried the RRR's radio for him while he was on R and R in Australia and came home also in a box. A man, a friend, a fellow lover of the outdoors, and a volunteer.

One tiny child, unborn, name and gender unknown. Whose soul was gathered home to a Loving Father at the time of His choosing, and for His reasons, and for His purposes. Last Wednesday while Grandpa and Mrs. Ranger were visiting on their way back to northern Iowa from Texas, youngest daughter called, the pain and sorrow in her voice throat catching and obvious. Also on the way back up from Texas, but by plane to visit starting with her older sister in St. Paul, accompanied by her daughter Rangerette number 4, she began to have the signs that something was terribly wrong with the wee one in her womb. Her sister took her to the ER and it was confirmed.

What does a father say at a time like that? Express sorrow. Try to stumble through some explanation of God's will. And yearn to hold her and hug her and fight off all the pain that every man wishes to spare his child. She and Rangerette number 4 sleep in the room behind me now, for a couple of days back under daddy's roof and his protection and subject to his hugs. I called her husband down in Texas too, and we talked of the helpless feeling of being unable to intervene at such a time. And now, looking out at the gray overcast new day I remember too, that Mrs. RRR and I went through this twice so, a memoriam to those tiny ones also.

Grandpa and Mrs. Ranger left Thursday to go back up to the farm where I grew up. His radiation treatments for prostate cancer went much better than expected and who knows, he may yet be able to cuddle great, great grandchildren. They took me out for breakfast and we had a enjoyable reminiscence thinking back to my childhood when the farm was a “working” entity with dairy and beef cows, hogs, and chickens. So very, very long ago now. I went home to till the garden and they drove back to open up the old house and start another summer. When Mrs. RRR came home we planted the sweet corn (Kandy Kwick) and green beans (Jade) and beets (Johnny's all purpose).

Friday I cleaned the shop and arranged tools and got ready to do major transplant surgery on the Green Hornet. The engine started for the last time and the transmission worked in both directions and up on blocks it went, the wheels off, the battery out and I began tearing the unneeded stuff off the new engine. Mrs. RRR came home with six tomato plants Elder Raymond had left in her car at work. We planted those and I went back to the “new” motor. I want to take a moment to praise the “JDM” engines and transmissions available from . Japan has such strict inspection and emissions laws that most Japanese engines are junked out at 30,000 to 50,000 miles and shipped to America. The motor and transmission together cost me $715 delivered, less than the cost of rebuilding just the motor myself. I had to take off the bizarre looking Japanese carberation system and exhaust manifold.

Youngest son, his wife and little Rangerette number 3 arrived Friday evening just before Mrs. RRR and I came back from down having loaded up with Memorial Day supplies. Their delightful little girl was terribly tired, but stumbled about gamely and tried to entertain us and soon fell asleep. Saturday we tore into getting the motor out of the Green Hornet. Son and his wife did most of the work. By the middle of the afternoon it was out and leaking great gobs of Bardahl's No Smoke on the shop floor. Tragedy, the 1999 block seemed totally different from the JDM one and work stopped. I wrote an angry email to CNCmotors. Then Mrs. RRR went out to the shop with youngest son and I to look at the problem. Suddenly a light bulb lit over his head, the problem wasn't with the block, but a change in the oil pump. I went back to the instructions and sure enough, we were supposed to change oil pumps and oil pan also. I made another quick trip to the parts store, every major repair requires at least three, and by bed time the new engine was almost ready to put in. I forgot to say that at noon Mrs. RRR had met youngest daughter's in laws halfway in between their house and ours and had brought her and lovely daughter home.

Sunday morning she watched the two Rangerettes while her brother and his wife worked on the car and Mrs. RRR and I went to services at the assembly. Elder James has begun teaching his way through the book of John and did an excellent job with chapter 2. Back home we found the motor installed. After a great Sunday dinner we went out and did the final steps and started up the Hornet. It ran horribly, racing and fading and the brakes wouldn't work right. I was both sad and infuriated, but patient Youngest Son traced the brake problem and discovered a vacuum line unhooked and with the reattachment of that one tube, the Hornet ran like a new one. I praised it and patted it and treated it to two consecutive radiator flushes. Mrs. RRR drove it to work this morning. And no, I did NOT forget, I sat down and emailed an apology to CNCmotors.

Monday we slept in and Mrs. Youngest Son made us delightful whole wheat and oatmeal pancakes. Youngest Daughter and I lay the fire for the upcoming Memorial Day picnic. At 5, oldest Son, his wife and Rangerettes 1 and 2 arrived. I had prepared the fire to light easily and let 4 year old number 1 help me light it. The seductive magic of a fire coming to life, helped by a little cheating by Grandpa, of course. We cooked hot dogs and Some More's and had baked beans and Mrs. RRR's potato salad and took turns admiring the Youngest Ranger. For a couple hours after we came in the cabin rang with the happy chaos of 4 granddaughters and 1 grandson and general happiness.

Number 4 is crawling about the living room now, giving grandpa brilliant smiles and jabbering happily. Youngest Daughter is ready to be taken out for breakfast. I wish for all my readers to have a day as good as mine.


Blogger H. Jane said...

What a legacy, Dad. I wish I had been there to enjoy it with you all. Love, always!

1:27 PM  

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