The past few days I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my past. Yesterday I wrote about a friend of mine. Thank you all for your kind words and offers of support. As usual though, no one posted anything here. I'm starting to think no one reads this blog. Anyhow, I am not going to step on my soap box. A few of you have expressed how I keep things inside me. I am a tough read. I am a secretive person. Well allow me to tell you a little about my past.
My mom and dad married young and before I was 2, they divorced. I never knew my dad. The only relationship I had was the monthly child support check mailed in. My mom remarried when I was 6. He was a local police officer. My sister came less then a year later. We moved about 6 or 7 times between the age of 6 and 13. When I was 12 we had one of the worst winters on record where I am from. The month of January, I spent most of the month home since schools were closed. On Jan 20, we had the coldest night in history. 24 below. That January I truly bonded with my step dad. The previous years we never really spent a lot of time together. We went to football games, or fishing, but 3 or 4 hours together every once and awhile just wasn't cutting it. He was always supportive when I played sports. Always making sure he was there when he was on duty. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't a bad guy. We just never had time together. A couple of nights later, while outside playing with the kids in the neighborhood, I was blindsided by a snowball thrown by my dad. A brief snowball fight was ended when I threw one and nailed him in the nuts. After we laughed and wrestled a little, we made our way home. He told me he would be home tomorrow and we could continue our snowball fight. "I will even make pancakes in the morning." One of the last things he ever said to me.
The next morning, my mom took my sister and I to our grandparents house because dad got a call in the middle of the night to go to work. Waking up to voices downstairs, I looked outside and saw more police cars with their lights on then I could have imagined the whole city had. Walking downstairs, the sight of so many police officers in uniform, guns at their sides and tears in their eyes. My mom sitting on the sofa, tears streaming down her cheeks, a man comforting her. "I knew something had happened with him when he didn't call." Those words are forever burned into my memory. I ran back upstairs and hid under the covers. I didn't know what was going on. My sister climbed into bed with me and tried our best to listen to what was being said downstairs. We both fell back asleep, only to be awaken by my grandfather opening the bedroom door. His large stature looking above me, he sat down on the edge of the bed. He put his hand on my shoulder, gently shook me and through the lump in his throat, he whispered...."Frank is dead." I started crying. The man who was my father figure was gone.
The next several days were extremely difficult on me. Watching my mom cry. Looking at my sister who really didn't understand what was going on. At 5, she didn't have a father anymore. I remember the visitation. I remember the funeral. I remember seeing the flag draped coffin. I remember the scores of people who attended the graveside. The news reported that was the longest funeral procession that they had ever seen. I remember sitting next to my mom. Her arm hooked with mine. I was being a gentleman. I had not cried since being told of his death. I was the pillar that mom leaned on. I was strong. I was stoic. After the flag was folded and handed to my mom, that is when I broke. I don't remember anything after that until going back to school a few days later. One of my classmates, her name is Carrie, came to me, hugged me and told me I looked handsome on TV. I was on TV? One of my teachers came to me with tears in her eyes, hugged me and told me she was sorry for my loss. I broke down again. I was tired of crying. After some time alone, I finally made up my mind I would never cry in front of anyone again. I decided it was best to keep my feelings to myself. That night, I asked mom if we were on TV. She handed me a video tape and said this is from the news. I put it in and after a few seconds, the news reporter was on, the story told and then video footage of the funeral. The cars. The officers. The mayor. The sheriff. Mom, granddaddy, my uncles. My sister. My mom and me, sitting next to her. The stone faced, strong, upright young man I turned into over night. Then there I was, on my knees, hugging the coffin.
Fast forward in my life to Jan 13, 2004. Sitting at work, the time was 1:42 in the afternoon. My cell phone rings and the number was from back home. The only person who called was mom. It was not her number. I answered it. The voice on the other end told me how he had found my mom, unconscious in her apartment. The ambulance was there. The EMT's attending to her. The voice said it wasn't good. "I am on my way." I made 3 phone calls. One to my sister, telling her to get to the hospital. The second to my fiance. And the third to my boss telling him I had an emergency. Normally the drive home was 2 and half hours. I made it in 2. At 3:20 am January 14, I was awaken by the nurse telling me mom was not getting better. I went into her room, looked at all the machines. The monitors. The blood transfusions. Her bloated body due to the internal bleeding. The doctor tells me there isn't much else they can do. Mom and I had had the conversation many times about how neither of us wanted a machine to keep us alive. for 12 hours, I went against her wishes. I didn't want her to die. I finally looked at the doctor and said, "She doesn't want this. Unplug her from the machines." I stepped out of the room while they did their work and in 10 minutes, I was sitting next to my mom. Holding her hand. Stroking her hair. Talking to her. Telling her it was time to go. Time to be with Frank. Tell Frank hi for me. Tell granddaddy I miss him. I held her hand and at 4:20am, she took her last breath. Her heart stopped beating. She was gone. I cried for the first time in front of a stranger since I was 12.
Now you know more about the inside of me. Now you know why I choose to be dark and hard to read. Now, you know.
I will inflict the pain, but I will kiss away the tears.