Photo Courtesy of Scott Kirk Photography

Friday, January 30, 2015

Grandpa and Andrew

     Thursday, January 29, 2015 started very early.  We had a lot of laughs--when Dad was nervous he was a "one liner" machine.  We also laughed at our navigational challenges of being in a big hospital. And oh the stories we can tell you about elevator rides. How could a day start with such hope, end in utter broken heartedness?
     Our father was 80 years old.  He worked hard all of his life and his body was worn out, especially his heart.  We had no idea it was as weak as it was.  How could the heart of our father be weak?  The doctor had great faith that this surgery, if successful, would give him a few more years to be with us.  After the surgery, we learned Dad had done wonderfully, but the doctor also shared that it was a miracle he did that well because his body was so fragile.  Dr. Vish gave us frank words when we asked a prognosis.  "Minute by minute; day by day" was what he gave as his answer. We decided to go back to our hotel, since he wouldn't be awake for a while.  Sara, Greg, Bill, and I would visit one more time, but he wasn't awake.  He didn't know we were there.
     Our dear nephew, Jason, and his beautiful family spent time with Mother as we went to dinner.  We all were starting to relax and we were hopeful.  But then we got the phone call.  It was Dad.  It was bad.  Sara and Greg arrived at the hospital first, then we arrived with Mother.  However, it was too late. Our father's heart no longer beat. He never regained consciousness. I took Mom in for one more moment with him, but we realized he was gone.  All that was left was the vessel that held my father's soul.  We returned to Dayton.
     When we picked up Mother and Dad Wednesday for the trip to Spokane, Dad wanted to tell us something important.  He told us how he knew he had quit breathing during the night, but he felt someone place his CPAP mask back on his face so he could breathe again.  He believed it was heavenly intervention.  I believe an angel named Andrew was watching over his beloved grandfather.
     Andrew and Grandpa (and Grandma) had secrets they kept from me.  Many mornings my parents would receive an 8:05 AM phone call asking for a ride, because he was running late or he forgot something.  I never knew about these phone calls until after Andrew's death.  Those two boys...
     Dr. Vish told us that Dad had rallied a few times as they were trying to stabilize him, but finally, he just gave up.  I believe his angel was with him and told him it was okay to stop fighting.  It was okay to let go.
     We are heartbroken today, but we rejoice that our father is no longer in pain.  He can breath again.  He can walk without using a cane.  Maybe even his toenails are beautiful.  One thing I know for father was greeted last night by my beloved son and they now are living in the light of our beloved Savior.
     Andrew...take good care of Grandpa.  I'll see you both again someday.

Today, I am proud to be~
John's Daughter and Andrew's Mom


Saturday, February 9, 2013


Happy Birthday, Bubby.  Today you would have turned 19.  Oh how we've missed you these past two and a half years.  As I've thought of birthdays past this week, I've also wondered what you would be doing today.  Would you be going to school?  Would you be serving our country and be stationed somewhere in the USA or overseas?  Would your hair be really short or would you grow it out?  How much taller did you grow--did you reach your goal--be taller than Clint? Are you still wearing basketball shorts all the time?

Today we are going to say good-bye to Mr. Hodgson.  Remember your PowerPoint on deer that you made for his class?  Remember how you even got some of Dad's sheds so you could record a "rattle" for the presentation?  You really enjoyed working on that project.  Deer seemed to be the topic of many research projects you did for school.

Today will be a really sad day...saying good-bye to a really great man and remembering the fact that we should be celebrating your birthday.  But we will celebrate too.  This morning in the gym we will celebrate Mr. Hodgson and all the good he did in this world.  We will return to the gym tonight to celebrate the girls basketball team and their success this season.  You would be proud of the girls and Mr. Strong.  They have worked hard this season--we will celebrate them--win or lose.

Above all we will celebrate the young man you were and celebrate the fact we had you for sixteen years.

As always...I am proud to say that I am...

~Andrew's Mom

Sunday, June 10, 2012


     Bill and I have recently completed one very difficult week.  First we celebrated with the Dayton High School Class of 2012 as they graduated on Saturday, June 2.  Then we attended the baccalaureate service for the Waitsburg Class of 2012 on Thursday, June 7--the second anniversary of Andrew's death.  Then Friday, June 8th we said good-bye to the WHS Class of 2012.  We did all of that without our Andrew.
     Andrew began his education in Waitsburg with Zach, Chris, Jeff, Ronnie, Justin, Jessica, and Kayla.  He stayed with these kids until the end of second grade.
     Then I took a year off and Andrew began third grade at Dayton Elementary School.  It was a tough year--so many groups are already formed by this grade--but Andrew continued on with these kids until the day he died.
     So this past seven days we celebrated the lives of young men and women who were an important part of our son's lives.  They will go on to study important things, marry their best friends, become parents of wonderful little people.  And our son will be forever sixteen years old.
     The important milestones that have a specific date have all been survived--First day of Senior Year...Senior Night....Graduation.  Now is really the hardest part.  We will never see our son graduate from college or separate from the military.  We will never dance at his wedding or hold the son or daughter of our son.  (Big sigh).
     However, we will continue to celebrate the lives of those who were an important part of his.  We will see college gradutions.  We will attend weddings.  We will give gifts to the sons and daughters of Andrew's friends.
     We will never get over Andrew's death.  However, we do get through the little events in life that make up our lives.  So congratulations to the Class of 2012.  To those who passed through his life--Cheyenne, Tanner, Lindsay, Jacob--and to those who were a part of his life at the end---Colleen, Jacob, Garett, Colton, Hayden, Carter, Joey, Kroft, Alex, Abby, Molly, Anita, April, Caitlyn, Chase, Paisley, Brandon, Justin, Adam, Blake, Nicole, Keisha, Gabe, Leighla, Ashley, Derek, Austin, Timmy, Danica, Shelby, Samura, and Darci.
     It's been a joy watching you grow into young men and young women.  We are excited to see all the places you go.

~Andrew's Mom and Dad

Thursday, February 9, 2012


      I realized the other day that I hadn't posted anything since August.  Pondering why, I realized the answer is pretty simple--the words haven't come to me.  Why?  During this second year without Andrew, my sorrow--I realize--cannot be put into words.  How can one describe the feeling of loss I experience on a daily basis?  There are no words...

There are no words...
  • to explain the constant sadness that greets me every morning when I see "Andrew's Room...Do Not Enter"  on his door;
  • to describe the guilt (I know I'm not suppose to, but I still do) I feel about my role in all of this;
  • to communicate the bittersweet feelings of pride I feel when I see his friends having success during their last year of high school;
  • to share after I visited his grave.
There are no words...

There are no words...
  • to say thank you to friends and family who have been so supportive;
  • to express our gratitude for everyone's love and prayers;
  • to explain how much the giving in Andrew's name means to our family;
  • to give when one tells me how much they miss Andrew too.
However, there are words...
  • Thank you for loving our son as much as we love him;
  • Blessings to all who lift us up in supportive thoughts and prayers;
  • Thank you...
~Andrew's Mom

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


       There are many signs that the experts say one can see in a child who is suicidal.  Giving things away.  No plans.  Final preparations.  Notes.  Threats.  I can say I truly saw none of this in Andrew.  He was sad, but he had a lot of plans for the summer and for his junior year.  He was excited about football--he would get to play a new position.  He was looking forward to summer basketball camps.  We had even talked about his Senior Project.  He wanted to spruce up the football bleachers.  We had even talked with the superintendent about working on the bleachers.  It would be a big project, so we felt we needed a year to get everything and everyone ready for this big project.
       Spring ahead a year.  Our family is still dealing with the shock that our youngest took his life.  We try not to focus on the "what ifs."  That would drive us all crazy, because we all think about what we could have done to prevent this.  But this is our new reality and so we deal with our grief daily.  One way Bill and I have dealt with the loneliness we feel in our lives is to do projects.  We have done a lot of projects around our home this past is better to be busy than to deal with the quiet in our home.  The main thing that Bill and I wanted to complete this summer was to fulfill Andrew's Senior Project.  It was very logical for us to do something at the football field, because we knew how much he loved being on any football field.  For us, Bulldog Stadium was the place where the community shared with us in our grief in those early days.  However, the original plan didn't work out, so we went to Plan B--give the boys' locker room a face lift and paint the back of the bleachers at the field. 
      So on the weekend of Bud and Marilyn's 50th anniversary Amanda, Clint, Ashley, Aunt Vicki, Bill, and I worked on making the locker room full of Bulldog pride.  It was a great way for our family to do something in honor of Andrew for his friends.  We taught Andrew, just as we had been taught by our parents, that service to others is important.  So in service of Andrew we gave two places where he was happiest--the gym and the football field--a new look.  In service of Andrew we gave back to our community as a thanks for the love and support they have given us during this past year.


When the boys go to get their gear for the first practice of the year they will see a "new" look in the locker room.  There's something for the girls too.  When they go to practice at the field, they will see a little more crimson and gold.  It is a time they will remember their friend Groomer and one way for him to be with them during this last year of high school. 
       One night, when we were painting the back of the bleachers, a friend was at the field watching the soccer camp.  He made a comment that sums up why we wanted to do this project... our kids deserve this.  That is why Andrew wanted to make the bleachers look better.  He was proud to be a Bulldog and he wanted to have the place he loved so much mirror his pride.  So in service of Andrew...we begin the journey of a senior year without him.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


       It's less than a month away before school begins.  I'm proctoring HSPE (high school proficiency exams) retakes this week, so I am officially beginning to get ready for school.  The remnants of last school year sit in boxes, ready to be examined one more time before I put them in their place for the year.
      At home, one can see remnants of visitors from a long, wonderful weekend.  Yesterday, I put lawn chairs away from our Friday night party.  There are leftover cookies from Bud and Marilyn's 50th Anniversary party on the counter.  Today, perhaps, I will put away all of the toys that found their way out of storage totes.  I love having toys around the doesn't seem so kidless when there are toys in the backroom.
       However, there are things in one bedroom in my home that I just can't seem to put in their rightful places.  If I hang Andrew's t-shirt quilt over his bed or put his golf ball collection or his shadow box of special memories from his bulletin board in the places I have reserved for them, perhaps things will become too real for me to handle.  I think I survive everyday, because in the back of my mind I keep a small hope that all of this is just a dream and I will wake up and need to buy him school supplies and clothes for his senior year of high school.
       These last pieces of Andrew that haven't found a permanent home yet are just one more step I need to take in the healing process.  This has been a summer of healing.  Bill and I have done a lot of projects since June--some that needed to be finished, some just to keep us busy.  Football will begin in two weeks.  It should be a joyous time in our home.  Instead, it is kind of sad.  Another activity where we had planned to be in the middle of; however, our Bulldog is just a memory so we stand on the outside looking in.  The first of many hard things for us to experience this year. 
       As I type this I see small remnants of crimson paint that stain my fingers...remnants of a project the kids, Bill, and I finished over the weekend.  It is appropriate that I have that stain, because it is a lot like the stain of sadness that has colored my world during this past year.  This stain, much like my sadness, will fade as this new school year begins.  It has been a summer of healing, of taking remnants from a past full of love and hope, and creating a life without Andrew in the middle of it. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011


       I just put a load of laundry into the dryer and I noticed the four pencil stubs and the last coins I ever retrieved from Andrew's jeans. They adorn the top of our dryer and I keep them there because...I'm not sure why.  I guess that is where I put them originally and I guess that is where they will stay.
       Since Andrew was in the third grade, he had this habit of using his pencils down to a small, little stub.  This drove me nuts!  There are literally fifty or more pencils in our house, but he always seemed to have nothing in his backpack or in his pocket that resembled a full, complete writing utensil known as a pencil.  There is also one that I took out of his shorts after his last golf outting the day before he died.  Everytime I do laundry, these little momentos bring a smile to my heart or a tear to my eye...never know which emotion.
       In a way this summer is much more difficult than last summer.  I honestly think I must of been in shock all of last year.  This year is full of learning to deal with my reality of a very quiet house with the empty bedroom of my son.  My days are filled with little things--laundry, cleaning, reading, watching movies, fixing dinner for Bill, etc.  I like it this way.  This way I don't have to think much.  When Bill gets home we usually spend the evening together, that is unless he has a little project he is working on.  I am beginning to think he doesn't like sitting still, because he notices the quiet too.
       Please don't start planning things for me to do.  I can't do them. I won't do them. I don't seem to have the desire to be too social.  I don't have the need to travel or go shopping.  I do enough, just enough to keep most people from trying to find things for me to do.      
       July has always been my time of rejuvenation (translation...doing nothing to do with school).  It's just that I always had another person in the house during the day to keep me company.  When Andrew was little we did a lot of things together during the summer.  Where I went, he went.  Where he went, I usually took him.  We did Summer Rec. together.  When he learned to golf, I was his caddy.  We went to the movies.  I took him to camp and then picked him up.  Now, I spend my days alone.
       Again, I repeat, I am not looking for things to do.  However, seeing those stubby little pencils just brought me back to another time in my life--a time when I had more than enough to do.  One thing that I have been doing is reading and during that quiet time, I swear I hear someone at the back door.  Not actually at the door, but on the landing of the stairs to the basement.  When someone stands there, a distinctive noise is made.  I swear I hear it often during the day, yet when I check no one is there.  In my heart I want it to be Andrew...making the decision to go out the door and then return at the end of the school day or after practice or after anything.  I just want him to return.  However, in my brain I know he isn't coming home.
       So I am learning to live in my new reality with my memories. I am also working on making new memories. Hendrix comes Tuesday for a day with grandma.  We go to lunch.  We work on her school stuff. We go to the Children's Series movie at the Liberty Theater.  On other days I have coffee with friends.  Bill and I do things on the weekends.  We go to breakfast.  We take a drive. We work on yet another project.  We go to the cemetary and water flowers.  However, I am also learning to live in a quiet house, where I am blessed to have made many memories and where new ones are constantly being made and will continue to be made.