Thursday, July 8, 2010

Memorial: Birthday of Martha JuliRae Rank

Martha in November, 1972

The sun has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest, and families are crowding the local Washington beaches and waterways. I listen to the news of recent swimming accidents, and I remember losing my family on the water during an especially beautiful summer.

My little sister, Martha JulieRay Rank, would have been 47 years old this Fourth of July, 2010. She drowned at the tender age of 10, at
Ozette Lake, Clallam County on July 11, 1973, with my family; Dad, Robert Ray Rank, (44,) Mom, Joyce Merilyn (Black) Rank, (44) and brother, David Alan Rank, (8). She, and my Dad, were never found.

As the 37th anniversary of their passing nears, I remember them with fondness, and sadness. I wasn't able to share their lives into my own adulthood or with my four daughters. They lost a set of grandparents, and aunts and uncle that I know my four daughters would have treasured.

Cold water drownings are a fact in the Pacific Northwest. The outdoor temperature may have quickly risen past 85, but Snohomish County lakes, rivers, and streams of Washington State
Lake Ozette, Clallam County, WA
Ozette Lake, Clallam County, WA
are still quite cold. Every time I hear news of another family's possible loss, it brings my family's accident back as if it was yesterday.

Hypothermia is an equal opportunity killer. Sure, sometimes the victim is brought back with fast medical intervention; but not always. I listen to the radio, and hope that at least today's news feature family will be able to find their lost loved one. With the lakes so cold, and the waters traveling fast on the rivers, it's oft times difficult to find the body. It's bad enough they are gone, but to never find your loved one, is a special kind of sadness.

When you visit one of our wonderful parks or recreation area, please take care. 
Read up on where you're going, scope out what others had to say about the location. Be aware the water is always colder than your body can handle, past a certain point. Hike, swim, and visit parks and wilderness areas as a group. Wear a simple whistle. Leave a note in your car, telling everyone where you're going. Keep your cell phone charged, even if it's left at the car. But more important than anything else; be prepared with a short talk before you go. Let your family know that you love them.

Please make a will before you go on an extended vacation; just write it into your travel budget. Our family died intestate, (no will,) and with my father's body never found, adopted and step-children left behind, plus a few real estate properties, the lasting legal mess was *awful*.

Just take an hour or two with a
trusted legal adviser, and make sure you never leave your family in that position. Leave them tangible proof of your enduring love and concern. You'll sleep better, knowing this all-important detail is settled.

Enjoy our overdue summer sun, but remember; because our local cold waters are so beautiful, they can sometimes cause tragedy even when used with respect.

I'll be thinking of you out there.

Stacey Mayer
Everett, WA
We recommend the personal legal services of:

James T. Hendry, 
(425) 387-9719
Attorney at Law, Everett, WA.

*Update Nov 2012 Teresa, a classmate of Martha's from Sacajawea, sent me this precious new photo. An internet miracle! Readers of my blog have contacted me about their past connection to my Rank family. Three of Martha's classmates from Sacajawea Elementary, Seattle, WA, and two of my Dad's music students called or emailed recently to share their priceless memories, photos, and memorabilia.

This reaches back in time thirty-seven to fifty years. Getting to know those who knew, and loved my lost family members, has been priceless. I'm so thankful for your contact. Emails are welcome: mayer.stacey (@sign) gmail dot com or @SnohomishLiving on Twitter.

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1 comment:

  1. Today is forty years since the Ozette accident. I found myself reflecting on who I was when the phone rang that day, and who I have become.

    To my family; I miss you every day, and always.