Friday, October 16, 2015
A Morning of Mourning and Celebration
This morning found Linda and I in St David’s Park, Hobart, Tasmania, reading and listening, laughing and crying. It was not something we anticipated experiencing when we planned our trip.
Three days before we were to leave for Australia we received word that our son had suddenly died. As we thought about his unexpected death, our plans, and discussed the trip with our daughters, we realized that if Rich would have had any say, he would have told us to go. To experience Life, to not mourn his life, but to celebrate it.
As we sat on the park bench we had with us what was being read at the service being held at the same time in Carmichael, California. Most of it we had written over the past few days, we had the songs that were being played, and we had each other. If you want to know where our son is now, listen to Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum, here is a link to a Youtube video of it.
The following was part of Rich’s celebration of Life service.
Richard Alan Klyne April 15, 1975 – October 6, 2015
Son, brother, uncle, and friend, named after his grandfather and father.
Born shortly after midnight, six minutes before his twin sister, Rich uttered his first cry, something his family was to hear often over the ensuing months. His mother would put Rich and his twin, Megan, to bed in their separate small cribs and while Megan never moved, Rich was soon yelling at the top of his lungs, or as his mother says, yelling bloody murder, turned sideways, head against one side of the crib, feet pummeling the other side.
His first home was a small one story brick house in the Akron suburb of Stow, Ohio. At age two and a half he moved with his family to Greensboro, North Carolina. You could say Rich was a mama's boy because every time his mom would leave the house without him he would stand at the front dining room window and cry, chewing the wooden window mullion. By the time the family moved several years later he had chewed off all the mullions he could reach in that window.
It was during this time he fell in love with earth moving equipment. Driving along the road many times the screech, “Bab boo wooking”, his way of saying bulldozer working, would sound out from the back seat. One time the family drove over to the North Carolina mountains to do a cave tour. When they parked the van there was a “bab boo wooking” in the river in front of the parking spot. In the end his mom and sisters went on the cave tour while his dad stayed with him in the van so he could watch the bab boo wooking. There was no amount of coaxing, bribes or threats that was going to get him to do anything other than to watch that Bab boo wooking.
While in North Carolina he had his first boyhood friends and his first taste of school as he attended nursery school one day a week with his sister, and gave his mom a much needed sliver of time to herself. He wasn't clingy, but he did need to be close to his mom. He always loved boats and once his parents took him to see the Battleship, USS North Carolina. As they approached the ship, going up the walkway, Rich rushed to the rail, pointed down to a small cabin cruiser moored near the hull of the battleship and began yelling excitedly, Biggy boat, biggy boat. They never could get him to see the North Carolina as a biggy boat, it was just too big.
Rich had a blanket he loved, one with a satin trim. He rubbed that trim so much he wore it out and his mom had to sew a new one on the blanket. At the times he left his blanket behind, he would have his koala bear, or we should say, one of his koala bears as he had several, one that had a piece of the satin blanket trim sewn to it. You could say Rich was just a normal little boy.
When Rich started in school he excelled in his classes and enjoyed playing soccer. When he was seven the family moved to Carmichael, California and his mom gave him “The Don't Talk To Strangers” lecture. A few days later the family was sitting down to the evening meal when his dad said, “Where's Rich?” and his mom exclaimed, “Oh no, I forgot to pick him up from soccer practice.” By this time it was after dark and as they drove into the parking lot by the soccer field a head with eyes as big as dinner plates popped up behind a log on the far side of the field and just as quickly disappeared. It was Rich and as he explained later, mom had told him not to talk to strangers so he was afraid to go to any of the nearby houses and ask for help.
At Arden Middle School he was on the wrestling team, winning sometimes, losing other times but having fun. Then his weight began to suddenly shoot up and it was discovered he had nephritis, but luckily even though his kidneys were failing, it was caught soon enough that he made a full recovery, but he never wanted to wrestle again.
During this time Rich was in Boy Scouts and one of his proudest moments was when he became a member of the Order of the Arrow. He had always camped with his family, and his time in Scouts further helped forming his lifelong love of the outdoors. One fond memory was going on a scout camp out with his dad, something Rich's dad had done with Rich's grandfather.
His first two years of high school were at Rio Americana, he then transferred to Mira Loma so he could take classes in the International Baccalaureate program. During this time he was also very active in the youth group at Carmichael Presbyterian Church, he very much enjoying going on the annual spring mission trip to Mexico. The Church gave Rich a foundation he would go back to during the rest of his life whenever alcohol would drive him to a new low. Faith gave him hope before alcohol would once again get him in its grasp.
Following graduation he attended Chico State, the Alma mater of his older sister. Doing excellent at school his first year, it was also a time when alcohol began working its way into his life. It was during this time he gave his first cry for help, contacting a family friend who had previously been an alcohol counselor. That summer was his first contact with AA, a wonderful organization he would repeatedly reach out to and reject during his all too short life.
In the end his drinking ended his college days and he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He dearly loved the Marines and proud to be a Marine barely describes the feeling he had toward the Corps and his fellow Marines throughout the rest of his life. He was proud to be a M249 machine gun fire team leader, but the act of carrying that weapon, spare barrels and ammo boxes damaged his feet, resulting in pain that was always with him.
Returning to civilian life after his enlistment, he stayed at his parents house as he considered what to do in life, there not being a lot of machine gunner jobs available, as he would joke. Settling on the software business, he spent hours teaching himself to type and immersed himself in learning several software languages. He knew it wasn't likely he would get a software developer position right off, so he applied to a temp agency, marketing the only real skill he had, his ability to type fast and accurately. That led to job as a fill-in receptionist at a company called JC Produce. It didn't take the company long before they realized Rich was a real gem in the rough and he was soon working on improving their software programs.
When 9/11 occurred, Rich ran up and down Fair Oaks Blvd waving a large flag. Later he mounted a flag on his new blue Ford Ranger pickup truck and drove around honking his horn as his show of patriotism. That truck was his pride and joy for years and he was heartbroken when he wrecked it during a drinking binge a few months before his death.
Rich was unswervingly loyal to his employers, consistently doing outstanding work until his drinking would force a parting of ways. As he once remarked, “I was never fired from a job because of my work, it was because I couldn't go to work because of my drinking.”
He knew he had a problem with alcohol, he entered rehab several times, he simply couldn't do without a drink. He was a person that would do anything for you, anything, that is, but give up drinking.
Though he never married, he did have a love of his life. Shortly after he moved to his Folsom apartment he met a girl by the pool, becoming friends, then far more. In many ways Lisa was his rock. Many were the photos he would have of them on weekend camping trips in El Dorado National Forest. As the years went by they became closer and closer, then in 2013 Lisa passed away from cancer and Rich was devastated. A downward spiral turned into a free fall and by Christmas that year he was in the hospital, literally one breath away from death as he later put it, with pneumonia and H1N1 flu.
After that brush with death he spent several months with his parents in their RV in Sacramento, finally checking himself into the Sacramento Veterans Resource Center in South Sacramento. There he got the help he so desperately sought, rebuilding his self worth. Leaving the program, he rented an apartment, living a very simply life with few material items. He had been a long time amateur radio geek, and for a while his radios and everyday attendance at AA meetings were his world. It was during this time that he made many friends in the AA world, realizing that if they could do it, just maybe he could to.
Slowly he began to return to the world and finally let his parents know he was ready to find a job. And find a job he did. As he told his parents, if there was such a thing as a dream job, the one he got working for Rabobank was it. Daily AA meetings, frequent phone conversations with his parents, life was good. Once Rich asked if this was what living a “normal” life was like, and when told yes, he said he really liked being like this.
Christmas 2014 was a wonderful time, Rich oftentimes did not celebrate Christmas with the family, preferring to drink alone at his apartment. This year was different, he was to all the family Christmas activities including a Christmas Eve service at his sister's church. It was a time his family will cherish forever.
By late spring he had started drinking again, lost his job and eventually wrecked his truck. He no longer went to AA meetings and slowly withdrew from those who cared for and loved him. The end came mid morning on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 in his apartment. He had on his special orthopedic shoes, the ones that lessened the pain in his feet, and was walking from his kitchen to the living area when he suddenly collapsed and died. At last he is at peace.
Posted by Bob and Linda at 7:56 PM