I flew to California to visit our granddaughter. I had no time for blogs. Lots of baby time. I loved that.
Then my brother died and I haven't had the heart to write anything.
His full name was David Randall Montague Risser. He was the oldest of five children, but as the first he got loaded down with a lot of names. He was always called Randy and I never got a good explanation as to why he wasn't called David or named Randall first if that was what they were going to call him. He was David to most everyone else and Randy to us.
Randy was plagued off and on with major health issues. He hated that and did as many outdoor and physical things he could possibly do to compensate. We went to Yosemite and my grandfather's cabin a lot. My father was fond of hiking. Randy loved that so much he took it a step farther and started going on very long hikes. My parents would drop him and a companion off at one campground on a Friday and pick him up at another one 100 miles away on Sunday afternoon.
Randy had my dad's sense of humor. He liked to tease and they both found things funny that other people didn't. Every time Randy drove the long trip to Calico, he would stop at a diner. For some reason he started requesting a Green Death. They, of course didn't have a Green Death, because Randy had made it up. Naturally they asked what that was and Randy said it was a lime soda and chocolate ice cream float.
I know. You are thinking, Yuck! But he persisted. Finally, when he asked AGAIN if they had a Green Death, they DID! They had managed to find lime soda and then Randy had a Green Death on every visit from then on.
Randy went on to earn his PhD in Anthropology at UC Davis, even after becoming horribly sick a few months after collecting fruit flies in South America for genetics studies. During summers he parlayed his love of the outdoors into a Ranger position at Mount Rainier in Washington. He had to learn to use ice axes and crampons and used to regale us with stories about walking on glaciers, having to safely navigate a crevasse and rescuing hikers. Back in the Sixties Rangers were called Tree Pigs.
Randy and his wife Jeanne took many jobs in Universities all over the United States until he discovered an interest in epidemiology. He went back to school and got a Master's degree (if you are counting, that is one BS, two Master's and one PhD) and ended up in Texas at the Texas Cancer Registry in Austin. His son Darwin was raised there.
Randy had several very serious illnesses and came back from every one. This took a toll on him, however. His most recent issue was a serious liver disease that would eventually require a new liver. They hoped to keep him going so long, that it wouldn't be an issue, but he took a turn for the worse. I asked him about a partial transplant, because I was willing to be tested for a match, but that wasn't the part he needed. Someone would have to die to give him the liver he needed.
Translants are a scary thing. Rarely does a healthy person get a transplant. You have to be sick enough to get on the list, but not so sick that they don't think you can survive the surgery. Randy went from being too well and too sick a few times. Last month, he was well enough and a liver became available and they didn't have long to decide. Randy and Jeanne decided the risk of the surgery was a better chance than the certainty of a rapidly failing liver and went for the surgery.
The surgery was a success and the liver started working right away. Randy turned back to being pink and said he loved his liver. He spoke to his wife about what they would do when he was finally healthy again. They were going to take their son to Mt Rainier. He hadn't been born when they were there. Then the doctors had to go back in to fix an issue, then another came up, and another. The liver was working fine, but complications arose and this time Randy couldn't fight his way through. He died fighting with all he had. Jeanne had been by his side, working with him all their married life and his son had just gotten married. There were things he wanted to do.
Sadly, this was one obstacle he wasn't able to overcome.
This summer Jeanne will take his son and daughter-in-law back to Mt. Rainier, the place he loved above all others. He still has friends from his hiking, college and Ranger days. Those that can, will meet this summer and Jeanne can show Dar all the places Randy had spoke of showing him. He can meet the friends that helped to make Randy the man he became and hear the stories of his father before he was born. None of us knew our parents in their youth, but illnesses had taken their toll on Randy before Dar was born. He never knew the man that could hike 100 miles in three days or rescue hikers in a snowstorm on top of a glacier. The one that would volunteer to live in a sweat box of an antique trailer hunched over a rocky hole in the sandy desert. Because he was interested and he found it fun.
They will hike to Randy's favorite places and tell stories around the campfire. Dar and Michal will learn about the man they never knew and the man they loved all the way to the end. I'm sure it will be fun and fascinating and heartbreaking. I'm going to be there.
I was at my son's house when my brother Roland called me with the sad news. I was away from home and it was hard to bear. We all had been so hopeful. The next night for dinner, my son Travis fixed a special dessert. We all had our first taste of Green Death. It was pretty good. And sort of gross. It made me cry.