'Are you sure it's her? You're absolutely sure? She never drives alone, never.
Dad finally suggested she see a doctor to get help sleeping. Mrs. It's all going to be OK.
'You've arrested him, right? What's his name?' Anger began to wedge its way between Dad's words. Mom wanted grass and Dad wanted Mom to be happy. Her friends suggested 'more aggressive' treatment for the depression, having no idea that her dependence on the pills was becoming the greater concern. 'My mother, my mother.
I wanted to cry when Mom told me she'd bickered with Grandma on the phone that Tuesday. Even if Mom had inadvertently hurt Grandma's famously sensitive feelings, which also often happened, the call still came. I'm so sorry to make this call, to have upset your wife.'
'But there will be an arrest? There will be charges?'
'Tend to your family, sir, and we'll speak again soon. But they respected freedom and grieved for the slain innocent.
Mom's voice trembled.
'We'll leave today,' Dad said to the officer.
Mom would watch from her spot, reading a book or knitting or just sitting with her eyes closed and a glass of lemonade in her Computerized Socks Knitting Machine
Not everyone in our Fort Worth, Texas, suburb had grass, but we did. It was thick, dark green grass that made your legs itchy if you sat in it too long.
And it always worked. The doctor's kept writing prescriptions and Dad kept filling them until Mom could have slept through Desert Storm.
'A fatal car accident, sir.
I looked at my Swatch.
I captured them strolling slowly away, holding hands. Free from distractions.'
Dad picked up the phone and was introduced to Nikki Van De Car, an officer with the El Paso police department.
Dad opened the sliding glass door off the deck and stepped into the house. Shhh.
We were home and cutting the grass again before any of us had time to process the accident and consider life without Grandma, without the Christmas fudge, the hugs that smelled like vitamins, the phone calls to share her silly knock knock jokes. Free from expectations.'
I admired Kellie's spirit.
'Your choice. Foot traffic increased each year during the days leading up to the anniversary, and the mood was reverent, respectful, resolute. There was no one else. Fleek and the driver of the second car both died at the scene. They knew no one who'd died, knew no one who'd survived, knew absolutely no one in any way connected with the tragedy. She asked questions I didn't know the answers to.'
'You mean an illegal?'
'The investigation is ongoing, sir. A few seconds later, she dropped her book and her hand went to her mouth. Mary Henry was still recovering at the hospital, but her three children came to honor Grandma.
I sat on the side of Mom's bed, just as she had sat on mine almost every night when I was a child. Every few minutes Mom looked up and gasped for air and tried to ask Dad a question. It reminded me of the time Dad stopped an off duty firefighter in a Dallas Sabarro's and insisted on paying for his lunch.
I walked around and chatted with a few tourists.'
Dad also asked her to see a counselor who could help her learn to live with her new set of emotions. I wondered how many more victims had been found in attics or in submerged cars. Then I set the cell phone back on the kitchen counter and walked out the door.
Of course Grandpa had been dead for years, and like Dad and me, Mom was an only child. Even during the driest of droughts, Mom had her grass.
She stood abruptly. Three cars. Was my father among them?
How is Bernard holding up?
I showered, shaved, threw on my favorite pair of jeans and a New Jersey Nets sweatshirt, ate a bowl of Corn Pops, and grabbed my cell phone and camera.
It wasn't easy. Two miles from her home, sir. 'The sooner we get you sleeping well, back in a routine, and comfortable, the sooner you can get back to school. You know where I am,' Grandma answered. Again, my condolences. It was 9:17 AM. A few friends from church and the seniors' center also came.
'We'll speak further when you arrive.'
'El Paso. Free from the man who wanted me to unplug my life and travel to his city in mourning. 'They are a small piece of her.
The scream that followed was so loud we could have heard it over a thousand mowers. I asked to shoot one last picture of them from behind.
Dad and I helped Mom into bed. She's stable at Thomason Hospital.
Fortunately for all of us, Dad liked cutting the grass almost as much as Mom enjoyed watching it grow from her reading chair on the top of the three tiered deck on the back of the house. Grass that looked like it had been stolen from Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. It appears they'd been to breakfast about a block from the crash.
And then the phone would ring. The mower was too loud for either of us to hear the phone ring, but at some point we both noticed Mom talking on the cordless phone from her chair.
Then Mom dropped the phone and fell to her knees. 'Where do we go?'
'The remains will be held at Thomason. They each shook my hand and walked on. Wright)
(Originally published at GoArticles and reprinted with permission of the author, Jason F.
(Excerpt from Recovering Charles and reprinted with the permission of the author, Jason F. It was also a unique setting to capture human goodness on film.
I was washing the car in the driveway one Saturday in June of 1990 as Dad made a careful, final pass around some landscaping stones.'
Dad returned outside and looked down at Mom.
I just wanted my mother back.
On previous trips I'd met some of the most fascinating people at the site that changed America forever. She'd accused Grandma of trying to guilt her into planning an extended visit to El Paso that summer.
I watched a father take a photo of his daughter with a police officer on the viewing platform.
She was practically dead when she slept and only slightly more alert when she was awake. Dad pulled the mower from his custom built shed every Saturday morning before the sun rose to its peak and the air became so hot it could melt the blades of grass together.
The television wanted to be on, and I wanted to hear how things had progressed overnight in New Orleans and the surrounding area.
While others snapped away without regard for the historic setting, I always asked permission, never intruded when it was obvious someone needed privacy, and always felt guilty no matter how friendly or grateful the subject was. The woman's head resting on her husband's shoulder, her hand tucked in her coat pocket. Mom would pick it up and disappear somewhere in the house.
When therapy didn't work, they tried antidepressants.
Mom didn't sleep well after the trip.'
The officer gave Dad her contact information, repeated her condolences, and hung up. He just wanted to save her.
Grandma was dead.'
Later Dad left us alone while he made the travel arrangements. Every single Saturday. The phone would ring, but neither Dad nor I would dare to answer it. They wrote their names on my notepad so I could spell them correctly later when I tagged the photo. He kissed her forehead and repeated, 'I'm here, it's OK, I'm here. Both of Grandma's sisters lived in Michigan and neither one was healthy enough to travel.
The trip to bury Grandma next to Grandpa passed in a blur.'
'Early this morning. Our department's condolences.
Every Saturday, Grandma Fleek would call at 10:00 AM to check in. 'I have every letter she ever sent me,' Kellie told me. We'll need you to formally identify''
'Of course. It was their 'make good' time.
Mom cried on and off all afternoon.
I asked if I could take their photo; they posed with somber eyes and mouths. She carried in her purse one of the many letters Liz had written to her over the years. I once met a young woman named Kellie whose childhood friend, Liz, had been killed that September morning. Her neighbor, we believe. The funeral was a short and simple one.
Dad and I raced to her side. When the pills didn't work, they tried new pills.I awoke and withstood the temptation. The kids miss you, honey. Appears to be a DUI.
Even four years after the attacks of September 11th, Ground Zero was still a powerful place to sit and absorb the ambiance. Survivors, neighbors, mothers and fathers of the fallen. So when he designed our home, Dad included a top of the line sprinkler system. What brought them to New York? Where were they on 9/11? What did they think of Mayor Bloomberg's plans for the memorial?
I watched people process the giant hole in the ground for the first time.
'Maybe we won't come at all this year,' Mom had snapped.'
'There was a passenger, sir. Meanwhile the school told Dad she could take as much time as she needed. Wright). I sat by her on the floor of the deck, stroking her hair and letting my own tears fall and merge in rivers down both cheeks.
Those were the last words they spoke to one another.
On this day I met a husband and wife from India who had made Ground Zero their top priority during their first ever visit to the States. He sometimes mowed it like a baseball diamond, creating elaborate patterns that made Mom smile. She asked questions no teenager should ever have to know the answers to. The calls were so important to both Mom and Grandma that Mom wouldn't leave the house on Saturdays for errands until the call came and ended. Dad didn't care how it happened. She had nightmares and struggled with a toxic blend of depression at being orphaned and anger at the man who'd killed her mother with his truck and a dozen beers. Witnesses say the third driver, a Mexican citizen, lost control while intoxicated and ran a red light downtown. Even if Mom had spoken to Grandma four times during the week, which often happened, Grandma still called on Saturday morning.
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