Blue Water Healthy Living

The Blind Man’s Son

By Janice Wagner

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His father went blind after an accident on the farm. He was only two years old at the time of the accident. It would shape the boy, young man, and the man he would become. He remembered shining a flashlight into his father’s eyes…over time, that light became darker and darker, until one day it was black.

Richard R. Kring, 1951

My father grew up as “the blind man’s son.” Everywhere he went in his hometown of Findlay, OH, people would say, “Oh, you’re the blind man’s son!” It became something my father would grow up to hate. He wanted to be Richard…

As a young boy, dad had some big responsibilities put on his small shoulders. It was part of his life. He needed to be his father’s “eyes” on many occasions. Dad started to drive at a very young age. He would sit as far up on the edge of the car seat as he could without falling off, stretching his legs all the way out. Still, only his toes would touch the gas pedal, and away they would go!! They had a route to sell grandpa’s brooms. Dad would drive place to place so grandpa could make a sale.

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One day my grandpa was in the shed working. Dad climbed onto the fence behind the shed and stood on the top bar. He jumped down from the fence…but his heels got stuck and down he went, hanging upside down with his hands on the ground and his shoes stuck in the fence. He started screaming for help. Grandpa came out to “see” what happened and dad had to tell him how to get to him. Once grandpa found him, feeling the fence the whole way, he stood dad back up on the fence top and helped him down.

Dad had a friend whose father ran the Findlay Airport. He invited dad to go for a ride. Dad went to the airport and ended up taking a flying lesson. He was hooked! For the rest of his life, he loved planes and loved to fly! He worked for Cooper Tire in Auburn, IN in the 60’s. As luck would have it, they owned a small plane. When dad had to go on business trips, the pilot would allow dad to pilot the plane. It couldn’t get any better that that…or could it? He went on a hot air balloon ride, a B52 bomber, and he rode the Concorde home from Paris…in four hours!

He served in the Korean War in the early 50’s. I remember one of the first times I saw my father cry was around 2003. He was telling me about when he arrived in Korea. It was winter and cold. The truck was an open back truck that took the men to their first camp. There was gun fire and bombs going off all around. The truck pulled into camp and they all piled off and ran for shelter. He was one of the lucky ones…being five miles from the front line.

Dad was offered a job in Port Huron in 1968. He and mom moved our family here and most of us are still here. Several years ago, we noticed dad forgetting things. He was diagnosed with Dementia and finally, with Alzheimer’s Disease.

It was sad watching dad forget who I was. I would take him for a walk, first with him, then with him and his walker, followed by him pushing his wheelchair (in case he got tired), and finally, with him in the wheelchair. He would talk the whole time. Mostly about Korea. The same stories over and over. And I would give him the same comments over and over. It didn’t matter to me. I was spending his final days with him.

Dad passed away in October, 2013. He was 83 yrs young. Ironically, “the blind man’s son” became blind in one eye a few years before he passed. I miss him everyday. Love you, Daddy!

Richard Kring with his daughter, Janice 1959

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