(Truly, I cannot believe it’s been Twenty Years!)
There are things that are good to remember; things bad to remember; and things important to remember.
The crummy part of all this is sometimes my brain is not too good at discerning which is which, or what goes with what.
My character (being flawed and neurotic as it is) has a tendency to default to the bad.
A shrink, I’m certain, would say it’s all about low self esteem, negative messages from childhood, etc. The reasons don’t matter.
Twenty years ago, today was the accident in which our daughter Molly was killed.
I was driving – this makes me ultimately responsible, as I was The Dad. The Protector. The fact the other driver ran the red light while speeding is of no consequence.
I carry a sidearm. I’ve done so for 41 years. Long before I even met Molly’s mother, I chose to do whatever I could to protect myself and my family and friends. It’s a roll I haven’t taken lightly.
And I took my assignment as Protector even more seriously when I became a father. It’s what father’s are supposed to do!
We were making a left turn from 44th Street, East onto Thomas Road. A little after 1 PM. Going to Monkey Wards after an earlier visit to Famous Footwear @ 20th St. and Camelback. Saturday’s with 12 year old daughters meant shopping! The signal didn’t have a left turn arrow back then. It was just like in the movies – in the midst of completing the turn, I sensed something was wrong. Based on the estimated speed of the other car, we were pushed across the intersection in about one-tenth of a second.
And many lives changed forever.
I’ve no memory regarding what happened next. Nothing to recall on the witness stand months later. I was told I regained consciousness enough to give my estranged wife’s phone number to the ambulance guy, when I was asked if there was anyone he could call.
I had early drugged hospital memories of being on board a ship(!) Not enough consciousness to ask why I was on a ship. Turned out, with one (now re-inflated) collapsed lung and the other half filled with fluid, County Hospital had me on a pneumatic bed which kept hissing and rolling, to keep fluids from settling in my damaged lungs. Ribs pushed into a lung. Broken collar bone. Broken arm. Tube up the nose, and IV morphine/ativan drip.
My sister, wife and friends were there, being supportive and keeping loving watch as much as they could. Not wanting to answer the obvious question: Where was Molly?
In my few awake moments, I remember asking about the funeral, desperately wanting to be well enough to attend.
My wife was told Sunday morning there had not been any brain activity, and had the courage to disconnect life support. Had our roles been reversed, I don’t think I would have had the bravery. I am forever grateful to her for this. A number of folks benefited from her decision.
The funeral was that following Tuesday. I was largely unconscious in ICU at County for another two weeks.
Ultimately, after being moved to Good Sam, being given Tylenol in lieu of the morphine/ativan drip (!) and weeks in the regular hospital and rehab, I was able to walk and breathe again.
I was deeply depressed and pretty much just counting the days.
Until I could pay my respects.
That came weeks later.
I’ll say it again, as long as I take breath – Tell your family and friends you love them, right now!
Because you may never get another chance.
AND be an organ donor.
I try to remember the good times. The IMPORTANT ONES. It’s what has kept me alive for the past twenty years.
My thanks to all of you, family and friends, for holding me up, until I could stand on my own.
(Commentary has been turned off – I know how you all feel. Thanks, again.)
I’ve posted before about sharing ‘the facts of life’ with my daughter. Not reproduction (although we did speak of such things) but letting her know I was discretely armed in her presence, and providing a few basic signals for her to keep safe.
Should terrible things happen.
Hand signals and verbal commands. To be acted upon without question.
I.E. We’re in a shopping mall, and I observe bad guys attempting to shoot other bad guys. The signals mean find cover immediately, and failing that, hit the deck! Things are getting serious very soon.
This doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve plans on engaging multiple gang members.
Molly didn’t know much about my immersion in the gun culture, except not to touch any firearms without permission, and sometimes Dad went shooting, until she was six. Then I shared the ‘facts of life’ (that I carried whenever possible for all our protection, and it was no one else’s business) and devised the signals.
It never occurred to me to consider my tactics when she was younger. A preschooler, a toddler, a baby.
And I think of that mother who was shot to death in the Walmart by her two-year-old!
LIMATUNES opened my eyes!
IF you are an armed mother (or father) involved in the protection of your charges, you should go and read her. She has THREE children of a young age, and considers things I never have.
Armed, with children, of any age is wholly different from just being armed.
From the time we are very small, we believe Life is about acquiring things. Food, warmth, love…stuff. It’s when we are a little older we realize that Life, too, is about loss.
And, most of us don’t understand or like that. In fact, most of us hate it!
And, it becomes a matter of degree. That toy that broke (with which we didn’t play, anyway), gives way to the lost book. The dog that died. The high school girlfriend who moved away.
And we choose to suffer for our loss.
But, there is a larger picture, if we choose to see it.
If we didn’t lose ‘it’, we wouldn’t really appreciate it.
My dear friend Bob (of the many Bobs I know) texted me yesterday, to advise me that on Friday he had his left foot and about six inches of his left leg amputated. He’s been diabetic for many years, and had already lost a toe. Even though I lost the use of my right hip when I was 12, I still grieved for him. I’m certain he has a long and arduous road ahead involving prosetheses, crutches, and much pain.
And grief over the loss of his foot.
Most of us don’t even think of our feet or legs, unless they are giving us difficulty. A blister, a bunion, a corn. Calluses. For me, calluses are difficult, because grinding them off is problematic with a fused hip. And, I too, am diabetic.
I still am fortunate enough to still have all my extremities, though. You can bet my nightly cursory examination of said feet was more than cursory last night, though!
I was wrong. And I survive here to do the suffering.
I love you and miss you, Molly. And sometimes grieve over you.
But, I also appreciate the time I had to know and love you. I believe so much more than if we had continued in our parallel life paths. Because of the yin and yang.
And I’ve my memories to keep.
Go and hug and kiss those you love, and tell them. Because you never know.
And, if you are diabetic, check your feet often.
I’m in whine mode.
(I know I said at the outset that I wouldn’t use this weblog for therapy, but, hell, it’s my blog, so here goes…)
Why? Not only do I not have any funds to get neat presents for friends and family, but, I’ve no one with whom to share the non-materialistic parts of the holidays. One terrific couple I know gifted me with a cool assortment of cheeses and beers (including Lindeman’s raspberry ale!), and all I could give them in response was a small bag of garlic goldfish.
Hardly an even trade.
I love my sister and her kids, and her kid’s kids dearly, but going to a family celebration alone with certain people in absentia is always painful.
Now it’s the downhill slide from the New Year, to Molly’s birthday, to the anniversary of the accident, in March.
We’re told the best way to get out of this kind of funk is to create a gratitude list. So here goes…
I’ve a roof over my head, and a working car. Thanks to my friends! I’m on Medicare. I’ve disability benefits, which, while in no way am I rich, I can buy food, gas, and pay rent. I’ve a select group of friends, both locally and on the Internet, who help out whenever they can. Many of these friends have gone above and beyond – for years – when I am unable to give back in kind.
This must mean something.
I’m disabling comments for this post. Because, in lieu of giving me an Internet “there-there”, or a virtual hug (or a kick in the pants), please stop for a moment and create your own gratitude list.
I’VE MADE IT, yesterday.
I’m not normally a superstitious person. I do sometimes say ‘knock-on-wood’ (jokingly) when wishing for a positive outcome, but really don’t believe it. I own no rabbit’s feet or lucky charms. I don’t throw spilled sodium chloride over my shoulder. I’ve not crossed my fingers since I was, well, 7 or 8.
However, I do pay attention to specific calendar anniversaries, and some events have meaning to me.
And sometimes, I’m compulsive about them.
Case-in-point: My Father passed away, after a series of smaller heart attacks in 30 days prior, from a heart attack, on August 14, 1977. He was 61 years old. His birthday was November 16th. MY birthday is November 24.
I am currently 61 years-of-age. (You do see where I’m going with this?)
We are of similar physical types, and have similar ‘issues’ – like weight ‘issues’, diabetes. Fortunately (knock-on-wood) I’ve no apparent heart problems.
Subtract 16 from 24, this leaves 8. 8 from 14 is 6.
YESTERDAY WAS AUGUST 6, AND I’M STILL ALIVE!
I don’t know why, but for the past 5 years or so, as I approached age 61, this loomed over me. My Dad’s dad lived until he was 68. My maternal grandfather until 85. This shouldn’t have been an issue, or even a blip on my radar. I’m a rational person.
But it was.
It didn’t help that I was born premature, with an unnamed twin brother, who died – I nearly did; Lost my Mother in grade school due to emphysema; had a near-fatal automobile accident (in which my daughter was lost); have had flesh-eating bacteria, diabetes and two kinds of cancer. Life and Death have cropped up more than with most with me, I think.
I’ve made it, AGAIN.
Still flipping off the Reaper! :-)
PS – If I suddenly fall off the Internet, in the next couple of days, you’ll know he was delayed in traffic.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the accident.
Had she lived, she would be 31. Instead, she is permanently 12.
She was a terrific kid, blossoming into a terrific young woman. Smart, funny, aware, and a good citizen.
I love you and miss you Molly.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
IF YOU TAKE NOTHING ELSE FROM TODAY’S POST, GO AND HUG AND KISS THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE, AND TELL THEM YOU LOVE THEM.
BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW…
(and no place for comments today – you’ve all been kind enough, thank you! – Guffaw)
My good friend Old NFO discussed this most recent of ‘infamous’ drug deaths. I was reminded of the PBS Series on JAZZ. They’d mention some historic jazz figure, and then, more often than not came this line:
…and then, they died of an overdose…
Is it the artistic personality, fame, fortune or humanity which binds all these folks together? Are we all, at our core, addicts of some sort? (Wikipedia – List of Drug/Alcohol related deaths)
I come rife with an addictive personality. I have excess weight, due to compulsive overeating. I’m neurotic, but not particularly artistic. My real mother died when I was in grade school as a direct result of her cigarette addiction. She had emphysema. ( I remember her turning off the oxygen tank and lighting up!) My father was an alcoholic, ate too much and smoked cigars. I come by my addictions honestly. Even though I’m getting ‘help’ for my addictions, in all seriousness, I don’t expect to see 85, like my maternal grandfather did. My fraternal grandfather made it to 68. My own father to 61.
Today is my daughter’s birthday. She would have been 31. Auto accident, age 12.
At least it wasn’t drugs or alcohol. :-(
I’ve always loved Halloween.
From my own childhood as a pirate, or a hobo; a cowboy or a secret agent…it meant getting to be out of the house at night, after dark, extorting goodies from neighbors and even houses far away. Homemade popcorn balls, cookies and caramel apples sometimes weighed down the trick-or-treat bags of commercial candy though. (As if this were a problem!)
It was ‘safe’, in the 50s and 60s.
Then, not long after my Man-From-Uncle/James Bond excursion into the night air, I was too old. :-(
I didn’t go out trick-or-treating again for many years, when I accompanied my daughter Molly. I remember a number of years of fairy princesses followed by ballerinas – Molly had started taking dance lessons.
Guffaw’s Rule of Weather (in Phoenix) – It never really ‘cools off’ until Halloween. People have short memories from the previous years, and think when it reaches October it means cooler weather. Not necessarily so.
I remember one Halloween escorting young Molly door-to-door, resplendent in her costume, covered by my insulated Ike jacket. It was something like 45 degrees, breezy and humid. The drill was I was to wait on the sidewalk and remove the jacket while she raced all sparkley to the next front door, rang the bell, got candy, then raced back to the jacket I warmed up until her next house! Next house after next house… GEEZ, it was cold!
Then, she had gotten old enough she no longer wanted an escort, and good enough with her Mom’s sewing machine to make her own costume – Jean Grey from X-Men. Did her own makeup, too! She and her best friend had been making a killing buying, trading and selling X-Men comics at school.
My daughter – the 6th Grade capitalist entrepreneur!
She would have probably had another year before she was too old, but Jean Grey was to be her last.
You made a terrific Jean Grey – Happy Halloween, Molly!
Remember to hug those close to you and tell them you love them, because you never know.
My Dad was a very complex individual. He certainly had courage, but he had his unresolved fears, as well. He had amazing will power, but not in all areas of his weaknesses. Guess that’s why they’re weaknesses.
My Dad did a stint ‘working on the railroad’ back in the forties and fifties. He was still living in Connecticut, and his father (the former Marine sharpshooter) was a Lieutenant in the NY,NH & H Railroad Police (The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad). This was long before AMTRAK.
I’m certain, at least in part, my father obtained the RR police job through nepotism. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t qualified, but getting a railroad job was exceedingly difficult.
One late night, he was on a platform awaiting another train’s arrival. The platform was basically empty. Suddenly, two drunken sailors appeared and approached my dad. And proceeded to beat the living crap out of him.
As he told the story (being a macho former college football lineman) he tried to defend himself as best he could. Have you ever been in a physical confrontation? Against multiple assailants? It can’t be easy, given just one can be problematic. And these two guys were fit Navy guys.
Ultimately, he found himself down on his hands-and-knees, covering his face and eyes with his hands, and his ribs with his arms, while being kicked by two men. At least one had brought him into that position by kicking him in the crotch.
And there he was, awaiting death. And appealing to God to give him the strength to survive.
Suddenly, there was a break in the pain and nausea, and he lunged sideways, tackling one of his assailants. After banging his head on the platform (I assume multiple times), he faced the second sailor. He threw him off the platform and down onto an empty track.
Then he somehow made his way to a railroad room where he could lock himself away. There was no such thing as instant communication and backup in those days.
After returning to work, he found out two sailors had reported having been assaulted on the platform. One with a concussion, the other a broken back! No one connected my father to the injuries. Or at least tried to make the connection.
A couple years later, I was born.
Fast-forward about 20 years after that, my Dad was officiating a Pop Warner football game. And one of those events that seems to be more common these days occurred. Some kiddie-footballer’s dad took offense to a call and began physically attacking the officials! And a melee ensued. Fans and officials fighting all over the field! A buddy of my father’s, another official, was being choked by one of the irate fan fathers.
And, here comes my Dad, 20+ years after the sailor fight. He was able to pull the attacker off his friend, and then was blindsided by a second idiot, having his eyeglasses broken for the effort. He was obviously much older and overweight. The end result was three crowd members were arrested, fortunately, no officials. And no serious injuries.
My dad’s friend presented him with a trophy, a football in a kicking tee with a plaque reading COURAGE.
He certainly had that. And he left us way too young.
He died six years before Molly was born. He would have revelled in her.
I no longer have my Dad, nor my daughter. I still have the trophy, somewhere.
The lovely Tamara had a recent post regarding personal vehicles, with political stickers there-a-fixed. The consensus among correct-thinking-folks is to maintain a low profile. No longer is a pro-gun, gun rights or even a libertarian rear plaque or bumper sticker deemed appropriate.
At the very least it’s considered non-tacticool. Don’t want to alert potential auto-burglars of the Glock possibly stuffed under the seat in our absence! (One of the Bob’s had one stolen outside a coffee shop in broad daylight!)
In my callow youth, I owned a number of nondescript cars, mostly with libertarian bumper stickers attached. Never had a problem. One did read ‘Question Authority‘. Never had a problem during traffic stops for not current registration.
But, as the 90s appeared, and political clouds foretold of personal liberties being trashed (the Clinton Assault Weapon Ban, for example), I opted to be less visible. Not concerned with the bad guys (criminals) as much as the bad guys (government). And I attached fewer stickers.
After the accident, I acquired my dream vehicle – a 1989 Isuzu Trooper. Molly and I had been looking at them, as the ‘gee, perhaps one day’ car to take us to the desert to shoot. She never got to see her, but she paid for her.
She was christened Molly’s Trolley with a dash placard. And once my time payment Life Membership to the NRA was paid off, I affixed an appropriate sticker on the driver’s wing window. Remember those – wing windows?
But no other defilement was allowed. Low profile, in a silver 4×4 with a cammie spare tire cover. Yeah right. And many trips were made to the desert, and to friends in New River. And other places.
My youthful dreams of joking magnetic door signs reading ‘ANFO Distributing‘ never happened. And I never even considered the ubiquitous gun show sale bumper sticker, ‘Vote From The Rooftops‘.
I did see (once, during the Nixon years) a sticker on another car reading, ‘Where is Lee Harvey Oswald When You Need Him?‘
I don’t think that would fly, today. No one remembers who he was.
h/t Siddhartha, Tam