December 25th, 1959 - July 12th, 2004
"Your house has been trying to get a hold of you", says my (then future) mother-in-law, as Greg and I get back to his house after playing our weekly house league baseball game.
I walked into their kitchen and picked up the phone, as I was dialing my number, call waiting beeped and they were calling on the other line. I answered - wondering what on earth could be so important.
It was my (then) 13-year old sister, Kristin, on the other end.
Immediately I recognized that she had been crying. Her voice was wavering and came in broken whispers. I don't recall what she said to me, but I remember that she said she was going to give mom the phone.
I knew something was very wrong. I waited for her to pick up.
"Dad's been in a fatal accident..." she blurted out in between sobs.
My world stopped along with my breath. My knees grew very weak and I remember some sort of a scream escaped my lips, as her words burned themselves into my sub-conscious.
Numbly, I handed Greg the receiver as I couldn't comprehend another word she was saying.
Greg's family walked me to the dining room table where I fell into the chair and sobbed - Greg was given instructions to drive me home as soon as possible.
I remember him walking me outside....opening the passenger door of my Jeep and helping me in. Again, I can recall screaming and sobbing beyond my control.
The neighbours could likely hear, but I was already in another world. I could think of nothing else but my dad and how he could be gone...
The 20 minute drive back to my family's home (where I lived with my parents at the time) seemed to last an eternity. We finally pulled in, and cars lined our driveway and the street. The aunts and uncles had come....our support system had rallied. I arrived close to 9 pm - they had known since 6 pm but could not reach me at my baseball game.
Seeing my mom for the first time since learning my dad had been killed, was a moment that will forever haunt me. Even last night, 11 years later, I laid awake and the tears rolled down as I was transported back to that exact moment when I opened the door and saw her.
I saw my mom with half of her soul missing.
I saw my mom...my strength....drowning helplessly in her grief.
I hugged her so tightly on those back steps...we sobbed into each other's shoulders for quite some time.
Her body wretched with grief; crying, she said "I just want to see him again one day."
"You will mom... I promise you will."
My dad was 44 years old when he was killed in a trucking accident.
Only July 12th, 2004, around 1:00 pm in the afternoon, my dad was driving his truck along the 401 Westbound near Oxford County.
He had been trucking for 9 years....and not a single accident.
It was a perfectly sunny summer day.
He was travelling in the slow lane, when the compact car in front of him suddenly left the road and was driving on the shoulder (at 100km/hr). My dad could not maneuver his 27' truck to the center lane, as there were cars travelling right beside him and they would be at risk of being hit by his truck.
So he held his position.
As quickly as the car had left the highway, it veered back on, clipping the right side of my dad's truck bumper. The pitching and rolling began - my dad had a full load on his truck, and the weight of the load combined with the force of the collision, sent his truck into a sideways roll, which stopped only after about 200 feet.
The cab was resting upside down when witnesses rushed to the truck to see if he was okay. A dump truck driver (and volunteer firefighter) who was travelling on the opposite side of the highway had pulled over, and ran to help. He found my dad upside down, strapped into his seat, head against the ceiling.
He could not talk, but the good samaritan held his hand and told him help was on the way...if he could hear him, to squeeze his hand.
My dad squeezed.
Although he was clinging to life, my dad was pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital. With not a broken bone in his body, his brain just could not cope with the rapid swelling caused by the impact of accident.
My dad and I didn't always get along, perhaps because we were very similar. He was the strong and silent type - I was strong and not-so-silent, so we often butted heads. I was also 19 at the time he died, so I would imagine I wasn't always the easiest to live with!
This was not something that was supposed to happen in my life - was not supposed to rock our solid family of 5.
This was not supposed to be part of the plan....
But then again, perhaps it was.
I could fill a book with all the lessons that I've learned from his tragic passing, but who has time for that (certainly not me!); I can narrow it down to one basic thing - we are stronger than we think we are.
11 years later I still think of my dad almost every day. I talk about him often to Adelyn - who would have been his first grandchild. I want her to know what a strong person he was, and also how he was an amazing family man.
I want her to appreciate every ounce of himself that he put into the family cottage she now enjoys.
I want her to feel him like I do, when we are sitting and watching the still water of the lake that he loved so much.
I want her to appreciate the man that helped raise her mommy into the woman she is today.
I want her to know how much he would have loved her.
We are stronger than we think we are.
Looking at this picture, I see the two defining moments of my life. His death and her birth.
I suffered greatly after both, but for much different reasons.
I look at this picture and am reminded of the life lessons learned through some of the most difficult struggles I have ever faced. And this I know:
I am stronger than I think I am.
To my dad ~ always remembered and deeply missed.