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GUNS Magazine Digital March 2011 - Page 98

ClINGING TO GUNS, RElIGION, AND… d ear Jeff: What a difference a day makes! Fearless leader, both you and his esteemed editorship, roy huntington of American Handgunner, told me basically to take the summer off, as i was so far ahead i could afford to relax somewhat. So i took both of you at your word and spent much time this summer shooting with friends and family; however, i could not completely play without doing some work. it is simply part of my makeup to always stay well ahead. This attitude goes back over half a century. it was this time of the year, 52 years ago, when i first met the lady now known as diamond dot. We were married within three months. a.m. so they could travel 500 miles and spend the weekend in Portland, Ore., at a quilt show, come back home and switch to the Chevy pickup, and then meet my friend Denis in the desert for some fun shooting followed by lunch a Teddy Bear!? The decision was made for me to go to college, but how? Especially since we had our first baby on the way. Dot would stay home and I would work the night shift in a factory while attending classes during the day. Over the next four years we had three babies, and I took care of school and work while Dot did everything else. We went nowhere except church and the grandparents’ houses, and she never complained. It was the toughest time of our life and we learned to totally depend upon each other. I also knew if I ever fell behind I would never catch up, and in fact, be steamrollered. That has stayed with me ever since. So this summer, in addition to gathering some data and taking some pictures to prepare for writing this winter, I also kept up with any deadlines. My last deadline was the cover feature for the January/February 2011 issue of American Handgunner, which was due Oct. 15. I mailed it on Sept. 22. The next day was to be a totally enjoyable day. I would deliver Dot and her friend to the chartered bus at 7:30 at El Tenampa. Friday would be more of the same. Saturday the kids and grandkids would come over to watch Boise State play football. Great plans. I got up at 6 a.m. to dress and load the pick-up and it looked like a beautiful morning. I had just finished dressing and all was well and then Bobby Burns (The best laid plans of…) and Murphy’s Law both hit me at once. As I walked out of the bathroom I experienced the most excruciating pain of my life. It is often hard to pinpoint real pain but it seemed to be coming from my back and throat. At first I surmised I had pulled a muscle and would just tough it out. Then the dizziness came and I knew something was drastically wrong. I worked my way to the other end of the house and told Dot she better call 911. I went into the front room to sit down and wait for the paramedics. They were there in what seemed like only minutes and I remember them putting me into the ambulance, starting the ride, however, I do not remember arriving at the hospital. The rest of the day plus some of Friday is just a blur. If the pain had not been so bad and if Dot had not called 911, I would have died within a few hours. What had happened was a tear in the artery to the aorta of my heart. I was on my way to bleeding out. The emergency operation took almost six hours. They had to open the sternum from top to bottom and then spread it apart to get to the artery and repair it. The prognosis is two to three months of virtually no physical activity whatsoever while the sternum bone heals. I can still be writing and thankfully I gathered data during the summer. I won’t be alone as I have a new companion to help with the healing. You both know I have a house full of animal trophies; now I have a new one which will receive a cherished spot when this is all over. I did not get to do any fun shooting for those two days, however, by Saturday afternoon I was out of continued on page 97 98 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • MARCH 2011

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