- Tony Ahern
- Madras Pioneer - Sports
> Contrary to popular opinion about the media, good news always trumps bad. How wonderful it is to report the finding and recovery of Gene Harris' body.
Gene, the longtime Madras-area farmer, drowned Sept. 6 when he jumped into Lake Billy Chinook in an attempt to rescue his son, Mark, who had been injured while skiing behind the boat Gene was driving. In the tragic accident, Mark was killed. He was pulled from the water but could not be resuscitated.
Meanwhile, Gene had gone under while trying to rescue his son. Since then, his body had been lost to the lake, and remained so until Friday, when a recovery team discovered it 115 feet below the surface.
The recovery effort was undertaken by Gene and Sandy Ralston, of Ralston & Associates, of Kuna, Idaho. These guys are cut out of the mold that should be used more often. They volunteered their time, equipment and expertise, and asked only that the local sheriff's office provide fuel and lodging expenses. They came up here and got the job done.
The Ralstons provided the Harris family particularly, and the entire community in general, a huge service. During the Thanksgiving week, those guys deserve a big Jefferson County thank-you.
Saturday night was a tough one for us Duck fans.
The 17-14 loss to Stanford ended what was shaping up to be a dream season, quite likely a national championship berth, maybe a title, the pinnacle for the program and longtime Duck fans. But similar dreams blew up in Waco Saturday night for Kansas State, and a week before, for Alabama. It's sports. That's what happens. It's best not to invest your emotional health into it.
But it took me a long time to learn that, too long. Back in the day, I would have booted my chair further (and more accurately) than the Ducks' kicker managed with the football Saturday night. Angry, four-letter words would have pelted the TV as I'd wonder what I'd done to upset the football gods, and for days I'd be so surly that the dog would hide.
But after Saturday night's overtime -- during which the Ducks missed yet another field goal, then missed falling on an easy fumble to regain life, then watched Stanford kick the winning field goal -- there was no explosion of anger, no walls punched. Just, well, just a profound sense of bummer.
But, after watching the game at my brother's house, I didn't have time to wallow in it. It was way past the bedtime of my 5-year-old girl, who was across the room, tired and red-faced from an evening of roughhousing with her cousin. Real life re-emerged. I had to find her socks and shoes.
On the way home, she didn't want to discuss the Ducks' inability to make key third-down stops, or why the offense didn't throw downfield more. Apparently, she was too tired to talk much about anything. She was asleep in minutes.
During the quiet 15-minute ride home, I had already come to grips with the big loss. That bummed-out feeling was still there, for sure, but so was the realization that, as far as real bummers go, this doesn't really qualify. Real tragedies, like those referred to in the opening of this column, are when people die, when lives are broken.
As she's learned to do, my little girl rolled from her car seat into my arms without waking up. As I packed her upstairs, careful not to wake her, I thought how, back in my 20s, following such a gut-ripping loss, my right toes would be sore from a chair kick, my knuckles swollen from a wall punch, and throat raw from screaming at the TV. Tonight, instead, nothing hurt, and I had a sweet load of little girl to carry into the house.
Getting old isn't much fun, but at least, sometimes, you magically become a little less stupid.
Enjoy Thanksgiving, everyone. Also, come Saturday, enjoy the Civil War -- and may the Ducks wake up from last Saturday's nap just in time.