On Nov. 3rd, 2009 our lives change when our dad was rushed to a Kearney hospital for unknown reasons. We all prayed for the best, but in our gut we all feared the worse. We will never know how long the tumor was there for- weeks or months, – it made no difference- we braced ourselves for the outcome and encouraged Rick to fight. He too did not want to be another victim from the same killer that took his father 21 years ago.
A lot can be learned about a person with cancer by how hard they fight. And for 6 ½ months our dad was just as stubborn towards brain cancer as he was to us his whole life. He refused to let it get him down- as he opted for every treatment possible. After undergoing surgery- he was the most determined person as he sat in his hospital bed and rehabbed himself back from paralysis. He was determined to get back in his tractor and live his life on the farm.
Even though Rick only had two girls he tried to make sure they would be able to handle themselves in any situation. Our dad taught us how to shoot a gun, fix fence, drive a stick shift, hammer nails, and that if you put a high pressured water hose down a snake’s hole it would shoot the snake out of the other end. He enjoyed terrorizing the town with Jennifer and using Danielle as the son he never had.
He enjoyed his daughters, but he enjoyed his son-in-laws and grandson even more. He was the proudest grandpa ever when Cash Quinten was born two years before Rick died. We don’t know if he was more excited about being able to buy him John Deere toys, having someone new to show off his farm too, or that he was named after his favorite singer Johnny Cash. He loved Betty more than anything- he enjoyed her help on the farm and probably knew more about the banking industry and crop insurance than any other farmer. He was proud of my mother and even though she thought he had selective hearing and didn’t listen to her- he always talked to his daughters about what she had been doing.
Those of you that know our dad know that he was a man of few words, but would help anyone out when in need. He viewed almost everyone as equal and I can still remember him dropping whatever he was doing in the shop to build or cut whatever our neighbor Randy Sulzman was needing done. Randy was always so proud of whatever dad would do for him. Rick loved tinkering in his shop more than anything.
In a nutshell dad was a country boy, who loved animals, farming, John Deere, and country music. He sported classic overalls and cowboy boots almost everyday of his life and taught me within the last couple months of his life that AM radio still exists- as he insisted on listening to it everyday- all day long.
Most people here can relate to Rick’s 1976 Ford F250 pickup that he liked to drive and took him to the cemetery, per his request. The pickup would fly through town on his way to the field or on his way to go storm spotting- which has probably seen more tornados than any other person in the area. Over the last 30 years, the pickup and Rick have seemed to deteriorate at the same pace. Much like our father, the pickup began to rust, and dad’s hair began to fall out, so the bed was replaced with a flatbed and the top of dad’s head was graced with the presence of a hat. And then the steering began to go, much like dads balance. It was hard to keep both of them going in a straight line. And then recently 2nd gear disappeared in both the pickup and our dad. The pickup was now handicap and so was our father. Within the last month the pickup became harder and harder to start as the battery cables were becoming looser. It was almost as if the tumor was too affecting the pickup.
Even though he fought a short battle- he was tough and continued work on the farm as much as he could. His personality showed through by making sure his farming was complete before leaving us- as it was just two weeks before he left us that his corn was planted in the ground. After Cody finished planting Rick’s corn they sat and had a beer- Rick sat down in his recliner and relaxed. He took a couple deep breaths and knew his job was finished. I suppose we will never know why bad things happen to good people- I guess God just needs angels to look over us on earth. Each one of us will remember Rick in their own unique way- whether it was his stubbornness or orneriness, whatever it may be, just remember that he’s now watching over all of us.