Forty Years, Eight Months: If I Die Today

Larry (Tiny) Whims, Rittman High School Senior Photo
Larry (Tiny) Whims
Rittman High School Senior Photo

The lives of three would change in ways I could not imagine if I died today. My wife would feel abandoned, overwhelmed, angry, and sad.

Larry, JoCilla, and Tim Whims, Rittman, Ohio, 1970

Me with Mom & Dad
1970, Rittman, Ohio

My little girls wouldn’t be able to express their feelings of living in an incomplete family, but it would affect them forever. Without their daddy, without her husband, the near future would be terrifying.

Immediate support that follows such a tragic event would fade quickly. Like it did that one time. And then it would be just the girls, together, but alone and unsure. Their new lives would be hard to manage at first. Who would kill the bugs? But the crying would subside, and they would all grow stronger every day.

Larry, JoCilla, Jamie, and Tim Whims, Rittman, Ohio, 1970

The Whims Family
1971, Rittman, Ohio

I would miss so many smiles, and so many laughs, and so many of those funny dinner table moments.

I run the checklist as I lay in bed waiting for the moment; am I right with God? The columns of triumphs and failures race unevenly.

I’m sorry. A thousand times I’m sorry. I love you.

And the bills, and the yard work, and the home repairs, and the bugs….

It’s all in perspective now. But why now? Why not then?

The last picture I took of him

Dad – 1979
I remember taking this
It was the last photo I took of him

Playing outside, taking family vacations and making breakfast on Saturday mornings. Time, really. Just time, together. This is what’s important. Nothing else. How stupid of me.

I’m so frightened.

What do I say? Please. God. What do I say? Give me strength when the littlest comes to say goodbye.

I remove the mask. “We will meet again at some other time, in some other place. I love you.” That was all I could manage. Little did I know it would be a foundation for belief.

Forty year and eight months seems so young. It’s so unfair. I can’t go. Not now, Lord. Please.

My purpose must be served. So I trust. And I die.

Forty years and eight months. If I was my father, I would die today.


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Confusion: Defining Rittman and Beyond

Rittman, as in Rittman, Ohio, was at one time the center of the universe—at least for me. I never wanted to leave my beloved city of 7000ish where Indians football ruled, the dividing line between the hill and those who lived below rested at Grandview park, and churches outnumbered the bars by only a few. It’s a strange little place.

Had this town surrounded by rectangular patches of feed-grade crops been an actual breathing entity with conscience thought and a daily routine, it would certainly have an hour a week booked at the relaxing seat of a qualified counselor. This, I believe, is the root of all issues when things go bad for the Rittmanites.

Ya see, Rittman is suffering from gender confusion.

Until the problem is resolved, bad juju abounds.The City of Rittman, as it’s known, isn’t reallllllly a city. Wiki proclaims, “a city is an urban area that is differentiated from a town, village, or hamlet by size, population density, importance or legal status”.

I guess this really falls on the definition of what or is.

It isn’t really urban, or urbane for that matter. Population density is pretty much right out the window. The importance of existence was great at one time. But now that I’ve had some time past the gates, as defined by field of corn XXX lying in all outskirt points of the compass, the importance subsided a bit.

As for status, legal or otherwise, I know Rittman has been on Cleveland TV News at least twice that I can remember; once involved Popeye parent’s bar, the Sleepy Owl, a rifle, and someone barricading himself in the attic. I think it was 1988, and the rifle was a .22 gage…or something like that.

The schools are defined as an exempted village. The only exemptions I’ve ever seen are during the times of local and state funding. “The Rittman School District claims its solemn right of exemption to all funding. Why should we pay higher taxes when our kids aren’t getting the education they need.”

Ergo—back to the comfy cuckoo chair.

Don’t get me wrong; I love Rittman. I relish my experiences from childhood, and I would never trade my teen adventures with JL, MB, VM, TB, DM, GK, RC, JS, DC, KE, SB and all the rest. (I had to get a RMS Smoke Signal reference in there).

All I’m saying it that before Rittman can move past any undermining juju, it simply must make a decision as to which of the defining ors best fit. I vote for hamlet.

Henceforth, I go to Worlds Beyond Rittman. Don’t worry; I’ll make sure to visit. I always do.


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