Randi Fladland Nogosek, a childhood friend, passed away from cancer a few days ago. I was unable to attend her memorial. If I were able to attend, I would have shared my favorite story about our adventures together. This is what I would have said:
The day began with a taste of freedom. Randi had asked me to stay overnight at the Fladland farm, which was a real treat for me. Before moving to a large city, I had lived on an acreage outside of a small town. I had the sense of freedom growing up on the prairie there. Moving to the city, I missed that breath of fresh air and the freedom to roam. Then at the Fladland farm, well, it was like getting that special freedom all over again.
The day began quietly. After breakfast, we decided to go for a hike around the farm.
Randi gingerly walked out the door, looking for the farm’s bully,
the mean-looking rooster with an attitude. She was so afraid of that rooster.
Randi claimed it deliberately hunted her out to chase her.
Anyway, it was elsewhere, so we started calmly out to the pasture behind the barn.
We had no particular place we were going to, but just to enjoy nature, fresh air, and girl talk.
We were about a quarter of the way across the pasture,
when we became aware of Curly, Fladland’s curly top bull.
(Up to this point, we were gabbing all about movie stars, TV shows,
and Connie Stevens, Randi’s favorite. – you know- the important stuff)
Now I must tell you that this bull Curly hated all people, except Randi’s father, Mr. Fladland.
Moreover, we were in HIS pasture.
Randi and I were watching Curly in the corner of our eyes. We walked slowly. We figured that if he thought we were not scared of him, he would leave us alone. However, we noticed that bull getting closer and closer. The closer he got to us, the faster he was going! Suddenly it dawned on us, he was charging!
Screaming we ran to the hay bale stacks and started climbing. The hay bales were piled like mountain tops in a huge wooden open-top enclosure. The good news was that the top was higher than Curly. We were climbing just outside his reach, just like in a horror show, when Curly crashed to a stop. He snorted and stomped to let us know who was boss. On the top, Randi and I hooted and yelled down to him,”Nya-nya-nya-nya-nya! Curly, you are so dumb. You can’t get us!” All the while Curly kept snorting and stomping.
Randi and I were tired out from the run,
but we figured we could stay up here all day if need be,
so Curly could snort and stomp all he wanted to!
It was at that moment that we felt creepy and itchy. We looked down.
YIKES, there were MILLIONS of gigantic black hairy spiders in the hay bales
and they were crawling up our legs!
Moreover, we were wearing shorts!
Now Randi hated spiders; but I hated them even more!
Because of those spiders, we got a burst of adrenaline. It was a good thing too, because we had to keep jumping up and down to keep the spiders off our legs! We did not dare to stop jumping! I do not remember how much time passed, when Curly finally went to the other side of the pasture. As we were jumping, Randi and I tried to figure out how much time we would need to run to the opposite side of the pasture.
At last, we thought we had enough time, if we kept the hay bale structure in between Curly and us. We forgot one thing: the millions of spiders on the SIDES of those bales. We had to watch where we put our hands and our feet. Halfway down, we could not take the spiders any more. We both jumped to the ground and lit out for the fence. We made it to the other side and to safety!
That is not the end of the story. Randi was really ticked off at Curly. I mean really ticked off. Really really ticked off! Come to think of it, I was not too pleased with him either. She went into the farmhouse and asked her dad if she could practice her driving in the pick-up. He said sure. In the pick-up, we drove into the pasture where Curly was grazing.
Yes, the idea was not a pretty one.
Randi was determined to teach Curly a lesson,
so we started to chase him in the pick-up.
We drove around and around the outer limits of the pasture chasing that bull. Diverting the chase, he tried to escape through the middle of the pasture. Being proud of ourselves that we were teaching this arrogant bull a thing or two, alas, we were not paying attention to anything else. It was at that point, amidst our laughter, when the pick-up suddenly lunged and stopped. There were no seat belts back then, so we were lucky we did not fly through the windshield. The pick-up was stuck, really stuck, deep in mud in a slough in the middle of the pasture! Being stuck was not the worst.
It was the thought that accompanied it and that thought was that this stupid bull Curly had planned this.
He purposely ran through the slough and got us stuck in the mud.
To think that Curly WAS, indeed, SMARTER than two teen-aged girls
was more than one can bear to admit!
Randi and I climbed all over that pick-up trying to figure out a way to get the pick-up unstuck. We could not walk out, because the mud was like quicksand. Randi tried that and almost lost a shoe with the first step. Only thing left to do was to climb on top of the pick-up and scream, “HELP!” We were hoping that the wind would carry our cries for help and someone would come.
As night was falling (and believe me, it seemed forever), on the gravel road outlining the pasture, a county sheriff deputy spotted us. He waved and then called Mr. Fladland. Mr. Fladland, a saint of a man, came to the rescue with his tractor. He hooked up the pick-up, and all the while, did not mention a single word to us. He pulled us back to the farmyard and went into the house.
I thought Randi and I were in for a terrible beating, but Mr. Fladland said nothing. He was not even raging inside. In fact, his quiet manner impressed me. Through this gentle man, I understood why Randi was free to be herself. He knew she would make mistakes, and through them all, he truly loved her.
That whole day has stuck in my memory. At first, I envied Randi for having such a father. Then I realized that we all have a loving father like Mr. Fladland. It is God the Father. He knows we make mistakes but He loves us all the same. What a blessing God’s love is.
I will always remember Randi Fladland Nogosek. Being with Randi not only gave me a sense of freedom and adventure, but also made me eternally grateful for our Heavenly Father who loves us all so very much.