One might easily get the wrong impression based solely on the
title. I am writing this to those who knew Richard although they
may not realize the impact that this one man had on my life.
My first memory of Uncle Richard was when I was about 10 years
old shortly after his massive heart attack. We were up at my
grandfather’s farm in Northern Colorado during the wheat harvest. On
this particular day he was working on one of the combines that had
broken down. He tinkered on this and tinkered on that as I just watched
in sheer childhood amazement. I remember that we talked and he was so
positive and so up beat. Always smiling while he worked.
A little while later it came time to fix the outside of the
combine. Something had happened to the auger boom that was used to
transfer the wheat to the grain trucks. There was a large crack that
needed to be mended.
I was told by my grandpa not to let Richard do any heavy
lifting because of his recent massive heart attack. So we both walked over to get the
welder. I don’t remember why but we found the welder not working. I had
no idea what we were going to do now!
We walked over to the Quonset to get the cutting torch. I
helped him pull it out and Richard asked me to push the two bottles
that were put on a cart over to the combine and he would meet me
there. I was pushing the cart and just thinking to my self. We have a
crack to fix and we are taking the cutting torch over to it? This made
very little sense to me. While I pushed the cart around the house to
the combine I noticed Richard went into the house. I couldn’t figure
out what he went in to get.
Once I arrived with the cart at the combine Richard was coming around back carrying hangers! Talk about one confused boy.
I stepped back and let Richard answer all the questions racing
through my mind. I hadn’t seen brazing or anything similar. Richard
took the hanger and fixed the crack by melting it with the torch. In my
mind I look at Richard as my very own MacGyver! I was very impressed
and as you can see this memory has quite the lasting impression and
began my admiration for Richard.
For many years, I enjoyed every moment that I had the
opportunity to visit and see Uncle Richard. He was so calm and
collected with the biggest genuine smile for anyone who needed it.
I admired the way he treated people especially his wife (my
aunt Dorothy). I want to grow old with my wife (Marianna) and be just
like them. I know that there were many hard times and trials that
brought them to this point but the two of them could often be seen
smiling. Even when Richard was being a bit ornery, Dorothy would just
smile. I could see an underlying language of love that the two
communicated so effectively.
June 2007, I heard about a large family reunion. There
was talk that many who usually didn’t come were planning on coming. For
some reason I just knew I had to go. In my heart I felt that this might
be the last time I would see Richard.
Following the reunion festivities and 50th wedding
anniversary of family I wasn’t too familiar with, many of us went over
to Grandma’s house to play games. Among us were Dorothy and
Richard. Several of us wanted to play the card game Phase 10. Dorothy
and Richard had not played this game and so we taught them. I recall
mentioning to Marianna, “watch Richard, his mind is incredibly sharp
and I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t win the game.”
Sure enough I was right. Richard did wind up winning the
game. He started out way behind but throughout the game I could see
those wheels turning up inside his head. It was so wonderful to see him
remain as sharp minded even as progressed in years.
This is pretty much why it is hard for me to actually mourn
for Richard’s passing. Yes, I will miss him but I recognize that about
18 years ago I almost never met this treasure. I have many more
memories of Richard but I wanted to share the first and last. These
were the beginning and ending memories that I was able to have because
he was not taken during his massive heart attack. I remember my mom
telling me that the doctors only gave him 6 months to live after that.
I am so very blessed to have known my Uncle Richard. He was
the most caring and genuine person I have ever met. He always had a
joke to cheer you up and you couldn’t help but feel your blues fade
away around him. I am ever so thankful to G-D for the wonderful
memories I was afforded to have. I can only hope that some day I too
will be remembered in a similar fashion.