My First Blog Entry

October 28, 2010

I’ve been considering starting a blog for several months and I’m really not sure what took me so long to get here.  So, here goes…..

I want to start this journey with a little bio about my dad.  I think in order to understand who I am, it’s important to go back to where I came from.  My dad was amazing, he was a teacher and coach and a friend to everyone he met.  He loved, he laughed and he played hard.  I have so many memories of him throughout my early childhood and most of them bring a smile to my face and tears to my eyes (I’ll explain the tears later).

I grew up in a little town, Philippi, WV.  My dad lived there his whole life and grew up to be the Head Football Coach at the high school (he also coached the basketball team and refereed games).  I remember being in awe of him at times, watching him coach, and feeling so proud.  He took his job seriously and thrived on working with his team and helping them to get better at the sport every day.  He would often bring home the projector and invite the team to our house to watch film on either the team they would be playing the following week, or to critique their performance of the previous game.  I loved being there for that, it was cool!

A few months ago, when I watched “The Blind Side”, I cried during a lot of the movie.  I think a big part of my tearful reaction had to do with the flashbacks I kept having in my head.  You see, my mom and dad took in one of the football players for a time, due to his poor living conditions at home.  We welcomed him into our family and helped him succeed in school as he played football on my dad’s team.  I loved that time, and I loved the new member of our family.  He remained close to my heart and years later, when I went off to college, he was actually the assistant football coach there.  We had the chance to reconnect and I was thrilled that he’d be around if I needed him.  We’d spend hours in his little room, talking about my dad and remembering all the good times of the past.  I learned at a young age, that helping others is the best thing in the world.

I feel like I could write an entire book about my dad, how I hated his spittoon sitting next to his recliner, how he’d let me have sips of his beer while watching football on Sundays, about how safe I felt with him around, knowing that he would never let anything bad happen to me, how he let me grade tests for him at night and he never cared how many smiley faces I put on the good ones, and how much I loved his hugs.  But, not today.  Now, I will share the event that changed my life forever.

It was the summer of 1983, I was 12 years old and recovering from a broken ankle.  We traveled to New Jersey to visit my mom’s parents, my grandparents, during the summer.  We always looked forward to the trip and had lots of fun.  This particular trip ended in horrible tragedy.  We had a barbecue one day and invited over cousins and friends.  the party lasted into the evening and my dad decided to go running before it got too dark.  So, he suited up and was off.  He usually was gone no longer than an hour, but this evening he didn’t come back.  My cousins waited as long as they could for him to return, so they could say goodbye, but finally decided to call it a night.  So, they drove off in their minivan.  Five minutes later, they came back to the house and asked my mom to come with them.  Immediately, I sensed something was terribly wrong.  I asked to come along, and was given a stern, “No”, as they ran off.  Being the stubborn child I was, I limped down to the street and watched the van drive off and decided to follow.  At the end of my grandparents’ street I saw him, my daddy, lying by the side of the road, barely conscious, moaning our names as best he could, delirious.  There was so much blood.  My mom saw me and ordered me to return home, the scene too horrible for me to handle.  I wanted so badly to cross the road and go to him, to hug him, to tell him I loved him.  I was so afraid and so confused.  I chose to follow orders, and returned to the house and waited, and cried, and screamed, and prayed.

My cousin returned to the house to let us know that Mom had ridden to the hospital in the ambulance with my dad.  More waiting.  And then the phone rang, my heart stopped.  My grandmother answered the phone, spoke to my mom, and she started crying.  She hung up the phone and told my brother and me that Mom would be home very soon and would let us know what was going on.  About half an hour later, I heard my mom say the words, “I’m sorry, but your dad didn’t make it, he’s gone.”  I broke in two at that moment, and I can honestly say that the next week of my life I can’t recall.  I think the pain is just too much.

I found out that my dad had been hit by a drunk driver while running.  The idiot hit my dad with the front of his car, dad ended up on the hood, and then was thrown off the car by the side of the road.  (On a side note, he was found, arrested, tried, and convicted.  He spent a grand total of one year in prison).

Fast forward, to returning back home to Philippi, to talk of funerals and death.  I have brief memories of my friends coming over to comfort me, and of family and my mom and dad’s friends bringing over more food than we could eat in a year.  The entire town was in shock, but all I cared about was the fact that I would never see my daddy again.  Then came the viewing.  I was all dressed up in a sun dress, it was white, pink, blue, and yellow checkered pattern with spaghetti straps that tied over my shoulders (not sure why I remember that).  All I can recall of this time is stepping through the door where my father’s casket was at the end of a long red carpet.  I started to walk forward and then lost consciousness.  I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t handle seeing him lying there, gone to me forever.

I still miss him.  It’s been 27 years and there are times when I revisit that time in my life and the tears still fall.  I often wonder how my life would be different had he been apart of it for a longer period of time.  He is so much a part of my heart and my soul.