A Spirited Boy

My brother Ed always knew when I was wearing a hat to hide my hair. He’d pull it off.

As kids, I’d ride on the back of his snow mobile across ice covered fields—into ditches, up over high mounds of snow at top speed—and not be afraid. In college, he’d drive me home on his motorcycle—90 miles, against the wind in pounding rain at night—I’d feel safe.

He used to laugh at the way I’d pose for pictures—turn head, lower chin, smile. He tried it himself. It gave him a double chin and a super high forehead.


Joan, Georgine, Ed, John, and me doing the pose

He was named after Mom’s dad, Edward William Rahn—who loved baseball. Ed Rahn and some friends had gone to a game in Chicago during the summer of ‘51. They were on their way home when a truck was stopped along the highway—the driver changing a tire. The car Mom’s dad was in collided with the rear end of the truck. The trucker wasn’t hurt. The friends were injured but recovered. It was believed that Ed Rahn died instantly in the crash. He was 48 years old—one year after Mom and Dad’s wedding.

Mom never talked much about the accident but she’d tell me how her dad was great at taming a wild horse. She’d sit on the fence and watch, frightened by the brute force of the animal—awed by her father’s strength while he wrestled with it. Roping, wrapping and eventually calming and corralling it in. They were farm stock—stoic and strong.

After Mom’s dad died, her mom went on to buy a small house away from the farm, in town on Main Street. Years of gardening, canning and cooking for family and friends—lots of corn, beans and tomatoes along with slip-downs, dumplings and noodles, prepared her to get a job at the school cafeteria. She never talked to us about the accident—preferring to focus on life’s opportunities rather than her troubles. Her attitude was passed on to Mom and then to my brother, Ed. As our big brother, he was always good at leading the way.

Dad told me this story about Ed on the way to church last Sunday as I grabbed for a pen and paper out of the glove compartment….

“After the Christmas at Keikhever’s log cabin when Uncle Harry closed the fireplace flue at bedtime and nearly smoked us out, Ed told a couple of his buddies about it. Of course, they were immediately intrigued and wanted to see the cabin. So they saddled up three of the horses and Ed led them through the woods.

Follow me

Ed ready for trouble

One of them got the idea to go inside the cabin. It’s no surprise that while we were there, Ed had noticed there was a skylight. He told his friends he thought he knew a way in. Standing on his horse, he could reach the roof and he climbed his way up to the skylight. He was always good at taking things apart and putting them back together again so it was no problem for him to unhinge and re-hinge the skylight. He and his friends made it into the cabin and back out again without too much trouble. That is, until Roy, the property caretaker, showed up at our door.

Roy let me know someone had gotten into the log cabin and wondered if maybe our boys knew something about it. I told him I was sure they wouldn’t know anything because we had just spent Christmas there. But then Roy told me they had found a lot of huff prints in the snow all around the cabin. So I asked Ed if he knew anything about it—he didn’t even have to answer me. I could tell by the look on his face that he did. So I told Roy I would take care of it and he left.

Ed and I had a talk. I told him that this time he had gotten himself into something I could not just take care of. What they had done was breaking and entering. I told him I’d have to report it to the police. So that’s when I called a meeting at our house with the three boys and their fathers. I felt strongly that it was important the boys knew how serious what they had done was and that we needed to report it to the police. Forrest Robinson, the father of one of the boys, agreed with me. The other father looked aghast and said to me, ‘I am not going to report my son to the police!’

I called the police department and told them what had happened. They asked me to bring the boys in so they could talk with them. Ed, his friend Gary, Forrest and I went to the police department. We left the other son out because the father was so opposed.

The police took the boys into a room to talk to them. He told them what they had done was breaking and entering and a serious violation of the law. If they continued with that behavior, they’d probably end up at Wales Reformed School for boys, or when they were older, go to jail. Ed was different after that. Years later, we found out that the son who wasn’t turned in, got into some big trouble for robbery and ended up in jail.”

After Dad finished the story he looked at me and said, “I thought you could tell that story and include the scripture about the importance of disciplining children.”

“Okay.” So I looked it up….

“You mean the one that says, ‘Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track’ (Psalm 32:9)?”

“No, that’s not the one I was thinking of….”

How aboutTrain up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it’ (Proverbs 22:6).”

“Yes. That’s it.”

“It may have taken you a little while Dad, but I think that’s exactly what you did.”