A Real Knight in Shining Armour
Richard’s story …
Some of the best love stories take place during wartime and the hearers benefit greatly from the retelling. One fabulous real-life romance transpired for a local guy during the Vietnam war. This is the story of Richard Love (who currently is receiving rehab care at Briar Hill Health Care in Middlefield) and his wife of 51 years, Ladda – Ladda Love, get it? She has had some fun with this name over the years.
It was in Thailand where Richard first laid eyes on Ladda. He was a mechanic for the United States Airforce. She was pretty, petite, of Thai heritage and widowed with a young daughter.
It was after an exhausting work day when Richard entered the mess hall hoping to find nourishment. He was hot, red-faced and hungry. Ladda worked daily, attending to and cleaning up after the soldiers. On that particular day, she was serving ice cream. She was making her rounds when Richard requested an additional serving. “I saw he looked hot,” Ladda recalls. Feeling compassion for him, she looked to her left and then to her right to make sure no one in authority was watching, and dished him out another scoop. He was smitten. She says she was just doing her job.
Richard then made every excuse to see her. For months, he pursued her. Ladda remembers she had to be careful; at that time, relationships between the two cultures were discouraged. But Richard was not to be deterred. After several months of following her to her place of work, he presented Ladda with a ring symbolizing an engagement. Language and cultural differences provided a barrier. Ladda did not realize he was proposing but she accepted the ring. They had not even dated but once; some friends set up a movie-theater date, whereby Ladda showed up thinking she was meeting friends and Richard was there. “He held my hand,” she smiles. She turned down many proposals from Richard simply because she was unsure.
Finally, Richard asked her tall, intimidating father for permission to marry. He replied, “She can do what she wants, she is grown woman.” Ladda says she discussed it with her friends, realizing he was a good man, she conceded.
Richard was then scheduled to head back to the States. He thought officials hoped to separate the couple. He used the opportunity of being State-side to secure her status and the marriage. He found out that nothing, no paper work, was necessary. He had no money but wanted to quickly return to Thailand. He was forced to fly standby on five different flights, a trip took him several days. By the time he returned, Ladda had moved and was now living with an aunt. He found Ladda. “My aunt loved him,” says Ladda, so they were married.
Richard left Thailand and Ladda behind for a time and returned to Oklahoma. Eventually, she followed with her little girl.
One comical memory Ladda shared, happened when they moved into their first tiny home. A little boy came knocking asking Richard if his daughter could come out and play. (He was referring to Ladda.) “This happened more than once,” Ladda laughs.
Richard adopted Ladda’s young daughter and together they raised another. The family eventually moved to Leavittsburg, where Richard took a job at a tire service center. One of the more affluent-looking clients helped secure a position for Richard with Packard Electric in Warren. A few years later, Richard chuckled as he read an article in the local newspaper, in which that same gentlemen was reported as having ties to the local mob.
Richard has an affinity for cars, Chevy cars. He still owns his very first 1970 Corvette as well as several others. Ladda just sighs when asked about his collecting habits; she refers to his prize possessions as “a lot of stuff.”
Richard was admitted to Briar Hill Health Care recently following complications from open-heart surgery. When he arrived, he was unable to walk, was administered nourishment through a feeding tube, and he required help with daily grooming needs. Today, he is up and about, eating regularly on his own, beginning to care for himself independently and walking upwards toward 200 feet consistently. “Every day is better,” he says. “I would highly recommend this place. They treat me so well.” Ladda visits frequently, shares events and receives from him helpful direction about running the household. Richard is looking forward to going back home, soon.
The Ohman Family Communities make outcomes like Richard’s their goal, and progress like his is the desire for every rehab patient, so eventually the patient can once again enjoy their prior lifestyle. At Ohman Family Communities it is an honor and a true privilege to serve our Veterans as a grateful thank you for their service to us and our great Nation.