Monday, May 30, 2011

Good Grief, Its Memorial Day (Part 2)

This last week EC and Keena each had dance recitals.  I will never go to another recital that I do not think of Jodi’s youngest brother Jordan.  In 2009 I decided to change a patch of lawn into concrete to extend our driveway.  Jodi’s brother convinced me to try it myself.  He was working as an estimator for a local construction company at the time and said he would help us do it.

When it came to helping other people, Jordan was one of the best I’ve ever seen.  Whenever I took on a project that was overly ambitious, it was Jordan who came and bailed me out with the knowledge he had and I lacked. We did some redecorating a few years before Jordan died.  I wanted to put bead board around the bottom of the room.  Jordan offered to help, and said we should do window seals and crown molding as well.  He then came over and let me help him do it.  He was an amazing craftsman, and his attention to detail was second to none.

Jordan loved and respected all that he came in contact with.  He was always happy and treated his nieces and nephews like a favorite uncle should. I can still hear the way he said EC’s name as well as Keena’s.  He was always happy and laughed at everything.
My mourning process in losing Jordan has been an interesting one.  I feel guilty sometimes for how hard it has been for me. I am not the wife, the mother, the sisters, the children of Jordan, I am just the brother-in-law, yet I miss seeing him, talking to him, asking advice from him more than I would have imagined.  The first months after the crash, I would call his cell phone just to hear his voicemail message.  I still have his number in my phone to this day. 

Today as we were at the cemetery, I thought how proud Jordan is of his wife and his children. His kids love him so much, and he remains an everyday fixture in their lives. As his 4 year old let his balloon go to heaven, he chased it as it rose into the sky and yelled, “I love you daddy!”.  His kids sang the Lonestar song, I’m Already There just like they sang last Memorial Day.

We took his kids in our car as we left the cemetery.  It was a cold and windy day today, so I had sat in the van with Little Angel while Jodi’s family went through the second year of our new Memorial Day traditions.  I asked the kids if they could sing the Lonestar song for me as I did not hear it while sitting with Little Angel.  They said they needed the music, but the 4 year old then said, “I can sing you a song I made up for him”.  I told him I would love to hear it.  Hear are the lyrics he produced as we drove as best as I can remember.
I wish you didn’t have to die Daddy 
You are always in my heart wherever I go                                                   
I know you help me all the time even when I am not at home
You are always in my heart
I wish you didn’t have go away
I love you Daddy
You’re my daddy and I miss you
I know you always help me even though you are in Heaven
You are always in my heart
Jordan, your children are making you proud.  Little man 4 year old is quite a man of the house.  They are helping your sweetheart every day, and you are, as your son sang it, always in their hearts.

Jordan is the youngest of 6 kids.  He has 4 sisters.  It is a well known fact in the family that his older sisters often dressed him up when he was little.  There are pictures of him in tutus and other ballet attire. It is not for this reason that the dance recital made me think of him.  As we were replacing the grass with concrete one day, it was time for me and Jodi to take the girls to their dance recital.  Jordan stopped working, grabbed his kids, and came to support his nieces.  This dance recital ended up being about two hours long.  Except for the 10 minutes my daughter was on the stage, the other 110 minutes had me wanting to jump off the balcony.  Jordan never complained.  He made my daughters feel how important they were to him.  I am grateful for that.

The last time I saw Jordan was on a Saturday afternoon in late July.  We all decided to go swimming at the American Fork swimming pool.  I had an homework assignment that was due the next week, and felt I had to leave as soon as possible to get to work on it.  Jodi had taken some cake as it had been EC’s birthday earlier that week.  Everyone else was staying to have dessert, but that assignment for me was pressing.  I remember as I was walking away, Jordan yelled, “Chris, good to see you and thanks for coming”.  I waved back and got in my car to go home not knowing that I should have been cherishing the remaining opportunities I would have to talk with Jodi’s brother.  I would never see him again.

Jordan, I want you to know that I am grateful you are my brother in law.  As you know, you married an amazing woman who loves you so much.  You two had the perfect love story.  Your children love you and are very proud of you.  They know because of the blessings of the temple, they will be with you again as a family.  It is not just an understanding that you are in Heaven and that they will be in Heaven too, it is a knowledge that because of being married in God’s temple, you will be together in Heaven as a family unit with you as their father.  What a blessing that is.

We miss you Jordan!  You are always in our hearts!


Jordan’s Handy work
jordanwork3 jordanwork jordanwork2
DSCF0755 DSCF0757
DSCF4219 DSCF6088
DSCF7444 DSCF7509
DSCF7511 IMG_0158
IMG_1178 IMG_1185
IMG_2577 DSCF7661
Memorial Day 2010
 DSCF8706 DSCF8707

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Good Grief, It’s Memorial Day (Part 1)

Tonight I was at a neighbor’s house.  She is an amazing school teacher who is getting close to retirement.  She is also a widow.  We were discussing some matters of her lawn and the deck that the neighborhood is in the process of re-staining. As I got ready to leave, she was kind enough to share a little of her story with me. She was 27 when her husband was killed as they were in a car accident returning home from a family vacation. They had 3 young daughters, the youngest being 9 months old. I know that people say their heart aches, or that stories like that break their heart, but that was not the case.  I felt how much she loves and misses her husband all these years later.  That love, is not heartbreaking.

As I crossed the street to my house, I thought of another family I know who has experienced similar tragedy.


I took the picture above of Jodi’s brother and his young family.  We had just wrapped up a weekend family reunion at a cabin at Bear Lake.  As we were packing up the cars, Shelley asked me to snap this picture.  Little did I know, that it would be one of their only complete family pictures.

August 9, 2009

I will never forget that day.  I had just recently taken a new job where I work.  My manager had scheduled a training for me to come up to speed on what I would be doing.  The training was conducted over the internet and phone.  We had just started back after lunch when Jodi called me.  She told me that her dad and brothers had decided to take a rare father/sons vacation together.  Rare, because these three men worked harder than anyone I know.  Her older brother Jed, was a pilot and had decided to fly the 3 of them to the Oregon Coast to go fishing. 

Jodi and I were unaware of the planned trip, so it came as a shock when Jodi said, “They never made it to their hotel, and we haven’t heard from them since they left”.  I was immediately sick to my stomach.  Jodi comforted me saying that they would be ok.  She was handling it really well and told me I should stay at work until we knew more.

I returned to training, but was not paying attention.  A short time after Jodi called, I went to my boss, also a close friend of mine, and told him the situation.  I had to be home with Jodi.  The next hours were excruciating.  Jodi had gone and picked up Shelley’s two oldest kids so that she could deal with the stress without having to care for her kids.  It was agonizing as we kept them active and happy as we waited word.  Around 9 that night, Jodi got the call from her sister.  Police officers had come to her mom and Shelley to notify them that 2 husbands and 2 sons would not be coming home.  I was numb.  I did my best to comfort Jodi as we cried in our home office so that the kids would not see us.  Shelley wanted to be the one to tell her kids, but it was late enough it would need to be the next morning. 

The next few days after that are still a blur.  I remember taking the kids to Shelley’s and watching her tell them that Daddy had gone to live with Heavenly Father.  I love Shelley.  She is one of my heroes!  She is so brave.  I remember lots of people coming to her house and lots of food being brought for the family.  None of us had much of an appetite.  I remember media starting to call Shelley’s house.  We decided that I could manage that for the family.  I remember talking to KSL, Deseret News, and KUTV.

The following weeks and months were challenging for the family. The funeral(s) were hard, yet helpful at the same time for me. The church was packed.  I want to say there were around 1000 people that attended the service in our hometown in Idaho.  The service and love that we felt from friends, family, and even complete strangers was amazing. 

Memorial Day

I was raised in a home that commemorated every Memorial Day at the cemetary. My parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents would go out and clean and tend to the gravesites of the many ancestors that rest in Rupert. Both of my grandparents are from families that were established there.  I have two sets of great grandparents buried in Rupert, a set of grandparents, several great aunts and uncles, and an uncle, Lonnie Ray, who died within a few hours after he was born.  All of them are buried in the same area, so memorial day growing up for me was almost like an extended family reunion.

Sometimes my friends would give me a hard time as their Memorial Day traditions differed quite a bit from mine.  They would go camping, boating, or fishing.  I was ok with that, cause I always liked the traditions we had.  Memorial Day is even more significant to me now.  In the Paul Cemetary, just a few miles south west of the Rupert Cemetary, Jodi now has 2 grandparents, her dad, two brothers, and our son now buried close to each other.  All of them have passed since 2005.

Memorial Day is a time to celebrate and remember those who have gone before us.  This is the 1st of a 3 part post.  I wanted to give you some context about the 3 angels I will be introducing to you over the next two posts as I remember them and share some of my experiences with you.  I have briefly mentioned these three angels before, wondering if and when I would share the whole story from my perspective.  After talking to my neighbor about her husband she lost over 30 years ago, I feel it is time for me to share some of what I remember of Ron, Jed, and Jordan.  Hopefully it will encourage some to remember their loved ones that now watch over them.

Pictures From the Funeral

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Apologize in Advance….

So before I post what you all are wanting to see, pictures, let me list some excuses…
  • 4 days of training in Phoenix for my work
  • 3 Cranial Bands Helmets for Little Angel
  • 7 trips to Fit Well in Salt Lake to try and get try and get the helmets to FIT WELL (GRRRRRRRRR)
  • 1 looong letter to Altius Insurance asking them to reconsider denying payment for Little Angel’s helmet
  • 7 four hour classes each Wednesday Night
  • 4 intense quizzes, 5 research papers (6-7 pages each), and 4 group projects
  • 1 AA meeting
  • 1 paper on the AA meeting
  • 1 nine year old turning ten
  • 1 American Idol Microphone for said 10 year old’s birthday party
  • 1 birthday party for said 10 year old
  • 1 trip to Idaho and a look at Austin’s newly laid headstone
I am sure there are more.  Needless to say, it has been a busy couple of months.  Things with our little Angel are going great.  She is such a cutie.  She has recently learned to wave and as usual is almost always all smiles.  We have been able to take her out where ever we go since the end of April.  She loves the new world she is experiencing and especially loves being outside.
She has had her helmet in one form or another since the end of March, but the time did not officially start until the first part of May.  To say this helmet experience has been a nightmare would be an understatement.  Our insurance denied the claim to pay for it, stating that it was not functionally necessary.  Jodi put together a multiple page (8-10 pages) letter full of studies and other information that we sent to them in our appeal letter.  They have denied that as well so we are appealing the appeal, but are doubtful it will do anything.  Some have suggested we get a hold of a news station so that they can raise awareness of our insurance’s decision.  We have not decided to do that yet, but are leaning against it.  I never even thought about the added cost that kids with special needs and unique situations cost before I had to deal with it.  I must say, it is worth every penny.
I wish the nightmare would only include the insurance.  The helmet company can’t seem to get it to work right on Little Angel.  She had sores on her head for most of April as they went through 3 different helmets trying to make it work.  They just have not fit right, and are constantly in her eyes.  Finally on Friday, Jodi called them she had had it.  She wanted our money back.  They told her to give them one more chance.  They were willing to pay for our gas, and had us talk to a different technician.  The changes seem to be better, but the jury is still out as to if this helmet is fitting right.  It seemed in her eyes again today so we will see (no pun intended).
Now let me go find some pictures…