Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Miss Papa

May 30, 2006. I'll remember that day. It was the day after Memorial Day when we were all together and had a family barbecue at our house. James and Kristi came down at the last minute. In retrospect we were all glad they came. After dinner the boys were running around as usual. Grandma and Elle were enjoying themselves. James and Michael were talking shop and Kristi and I were playing Soduku on the computer. Daddy was just sitting back watching...taking it all in. We had all noticed that he was doing that a lot lately. Just sitting back and watching us. We wonder now if he might have known.

Daddy was supposed to leave work early that Tuesday so that Mom could go to a doctor's appointment. She had fallen in the driveway and popped her shoulder out of joint. Although back in, Daddy insisted that she be seen for it.

She called me at 3 o'clock to say that he hadn't come. At the time I didn't think much of it and re-assured her that everything was fine and that he probably had some things to do.

She called me at 5 o'clock to tell me that he still hadn't come home. At that point I was concerned. Then she told me, "Aimee, can't feel him." Mom's always had this special connection to Daddy. She called it "mind sync-ing". Up until then, if someone had told me that we can feel the ones we love I wouldn't have believed them. When she said that, I thought of my father and there was a void in my consciousness. I couldn't feel him either. Until that moment I never realized that I even could "feel" someone.

It's strange to think now, but my first phone call was to the CHP to see if there had been any reports of motorcycle accidents. The man I spoke with said there was nothing, but wanted to get all Daddy's information just in case. It should have struck me then... I referred to my Dad as Ron, but after giving just enough information to the officer he referred to him as Ronald. I suppose it's a policy not to give information of such a sensitive nature over the phone.

After getting all the information from me and then my mom within minutes my mom got a call from the Oakland county hospital that Daddy was there and in critical condition. She called me, I called James and then immediately got everyone loaded up to pick mom up and take her to the hospital.

When we got to mom's house I ran in to get her so we could go. She was visibly numb and at a loss of what to do next. I was in such a rush to get there I didn't pay much attention to the police car that had pulled into the court. I figured they were there to tell us about the accident. Whatever. We've got to get to the hospital! When we went to the door to go out both the boys were there. I flipped out. "What are you doing! Get back in the car! We've got to go!" Michael had just unloaded them and they were very confused. I stormed out to Michael who was in the driveway. "Why'd you unload the kids?! We've got to go!"

His face was full of so much compassion to my ignorance, sadness for my loss and sincerity in what he had to tel me, "Aimee, your Dad didn't make it." My mind started racing, "No...he's in critical condition....we've got to go"
My first impulse was to punch him really hard for playing such a cruel and sick joke.
"Aimee, I knew as soon as we pulled up and the police car was already here. They don't come unless it's to tell you that the person has died. When you went inside I went over to the officer and said, 'He's gone, isn't he' and he just nodded."

I went in and told my mom the news. She didn't have a reaction. She just looked back at me. I told her there were officers there to give her the news. She went downstairs to the officer and cleric and said bluntly, "I understand you're here to tell me my husband's dead." My mom and the men talked. Michael started making phone calls. I knelt down to the boys and told them, "Boys, Papa crashed his motorcycle..." Hunter got excited and threw up his arms, "Hurray! CRASH!!!" "No, honey...Papa got big owies. Papa died. He went to heaven to be with Heavenly Father." "Papa died?" Ethan somewhat understood, but Hunter had no concept of what was wrong or why I was crying...other than Papa had owies.

I called Ann, my visiting teaching companion. I told her what happened and asked if she could take care of the boys while we went to the hospital. When we got there she came out and hugged me and we cried together. I don't remember crying before that...just being numb.

We went to the hospital anyway. Michael had called the Foley's and they had dropped everything and came right over. Jenny was over at their house when they got the call. She told me later she's never seen them move so fast. Mom rode with Foley's to the hospital. Michael and I went with Elle. I'm not sure now why we went other than to have something to do. We talked to the attending physician in the ER. He said they were surprised how good he looked coming in for just having been in a motorcycle accident. He was able to tell them his name and then suddenly went downhill. They did everything they could to save him.

The Bishop, Shawn, and Steve came to the hospital to meet us. It's moments like these that you in part realize the amazing support structure of the Saints.

James and Kristi came about an hour after we got the hospital and talked to the doctor. They walked into the room, with expectant looks of optimism. I wonder how we looked. We all looked around at each other. Who was going to tell them? Mom stood up and broke the news. Kristi gasped and James looked as if he had been punched in the face. Kristi accusingly asked me if I knew when I had first called them. I knew she was feeling the same way that I did when Michael told me. I shook my head no.

James just stood there in shock. Michael took him outside, "C'mon man...I gotta tell you something." I guess it takes another man to understand the delicacies of personal mourning. Outside the room full of familiar faces and into the hall full of strangers, Michael bulled into him with a hug and they cried together.

Kristi said she felt like she was experiencing her father's death all over again. We were there when she got the news. It's awful to be on one side of the conversation...knowing someone has died, witnessing the grief... and not knowing who to mourn.

I went out to Michael and James. It occurred to me just then....Only weeks before we had been at Jen and Dave's house with James and Kristi. James said something to Michael which perked my ears and Michael tried to play it off. But it was too late. The beans were spilled. Apparently some time previously Daddy was fixing something on the underneath of Mom's dining room table with his drill. His depth gauge failed and he drilled through the top of the table. This is the table that mom has kept covered with pads and thick sewn table cloths for YEARS. Daddy never got to see the wood. But, he always said that at his funeral that he wanted the table to be bare wood. We were laughing so hard that day in Jen's kitchen, because now....at Daddy's funeral with bare wood mom would see the hole in her dining room table, but then it would be too late to get mad at him. "Surprise mom! Dad left you a parting gift!" So in that moment of our grief and anguish...it occurred to me, and I said to James and Michael, "Well, I guess mom will find out about the table now." The look on their faces was priceless. It was the first time since we found out that we laughed.

We got the details of the accident within the next few days. Michael posted the following to the online community of iH8mud

On Tuesday May 30th Cookiemonsterette's father lost control of his Gold Wing motorcycle when he hit a small patch of gravel on Hwy 24 just before entering the Caldecott tunnel. He remained unconscious until arriving via ambulance to Highland's Hospital in East Oakland. The attending ER physician we spoke with said he came to & was able to give his name but that was it. As they began assessing his injuries he went down hill & the ER staff attempted all life saving measures with no success. He was only 57.

Even with 40 years of riding experience, it wasn't enough to prevent something as little as a patch of gravel. The cause of death was multiple blunt force trauma, due to internal injuries. His helmet was slightly cracked where it impacted but his neck & head were fine. It was his internal organs bouncing around off his rib cage & elsewhere that was the problem.

The family is strong & we know he's doing just fine. It has been a very long week. Tough cause now our little ones don't have a grandpa since my father also passed approx. 4yrs ago. Sucks but we know that he has other things to attend too.

The days of getting back to "normal" were horrendous. I spent the first day wandering around the house in a fog just crying non-stop and listening to Josh Groban, "To where you are" over and over. That first day Hunter kept throwing himself on the floor crying and kept saying, "Miss Papa! Miss Papa!"

We all have our moments. Some better than others. Hunter mourned the longest. We wondered if he would ever stop crying. We took him to Build-a-Bear to pick out a Teddy Bear. We named him Papa Bear and told Hunter that if he ever missed Papa that he could hug Papa Bear. Hunter cherishes his Papa Bear unlike any other toy.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Hunter for Hire

The continuation of the saga...A boy and his bottles.

Ethan hired his younger brother Hunter (2 1/2) to help him on his recycle route. The first day that Ethan asked him to come with him I thought, "Hmmm, 25 cents sounds reasonable"

"Hey Ethan, how about if you give Hunter 25 cents for helping you?"
"Ok. Hey Hunter. Do you want a dollar if you help with my recycle route?"

Well, I guess it's only appropriate that they negotiate the terms without my getting involved. You'd think I would have learned my lesson by now.

$1 for 15 minutes of collecting bottles and cans....that works out to be $4 an hour. Despite the minimum wage in California being $6.25 both boys were more than happy with the arrangement. Imagine that!

They were so excited to work together that they took off with out me and I got out to the curb just in time to see two VERY excited little boys running down the street at break neck speed. I started running after them but, they were nearly a block ahead of me running as fast as they could. One pulling, one pushing. It seemed at any moment the little red wagon would achieve lift off.

If any of the neighbors have thought that I'VE been the one pushing him to do his recycle business.... surely the sight of me chasing my boys down the street would have been a testament to the contrary.

Hunter was a very hard little worker. He did have his moments when he didn't want to help anymore, but Ethan would remind him of the dollar waiting for him at the end of the route. (Yes, I realize this is a carrot (Kiyosaki's illusion) and it is NOT my intention to train Hunter to be an employee. He'll have his chance once he can speak a little better and is out of diapers.)

When all the bottles and cans were collected and the wagon was full the race back home was on! The boys were very efficient working as a team. Ethan cut his time out on the route in half. Once we were home Hunter and Ethan each got to wear a pair of rubber gloves and sorted the bottles and cans into their respective bins.

When they were done and back inside Ethan told his brother, "I changed my mind. I don't want to give you a dollar anymore." I stepped in at this point (The LAW & Proper Role of Government). Hunter kept his end of the agreement and Ethan was obligated to pay him one dollar. Ethan got out his wallet and I helped him count out one dollar in change. Ethan was very upset that so many of his coins went to his brother. I think he still is learning that different coins have different monetary values. Right now he'd rather have a pile of coins than one bill even though they might be the same face value. He must think it's worth more since there's more. But if HE values quantity I guess it really IS more valuable.

Hunter was SO pleased with himself and his big handfuls of coins. He sat patiently dropping each little coin into his piggy bank. Ethan got over his angst when he took his load of bottles and cans to the recycle place and got $32 for them.

Ethan takes Hunter on his recycle route any time he can. Ethan gets help and likes it. Hunter gets paid... quite generously and likes it. I get home faster and LOVE IT!