May is also a month of tragedy. Both grandfathers passed away in May, before I was two years old. I don't remember either of them. I experienced my first panic attack in May twenty years ago and continue to deal with them.
Worst of all, my oldest daughter was made a widow at the age of twenty-one seven years ago. TJ was taken from her in a car accident. He was a passenger. His seat belt failed to keep him from hitting his forehead on the dash. He lingered for two days before Amanda had to make the decision to let him go. There was no brain activity for two days before she had to make that horrible decision.
I'd like to share a few memories of my son-in-law, if I may.
TJ was a character. He was Phillipino/Chinese and had some odd ideas about how the world should work. For example: he thought it was alright to "taste-test" fruit in the grocery store. We used to laugh about him selecting an apple in Albertson's while Amanda and I were shopping with him for the first time. He polished it on his shirt and chomped into it. Amanda starred at him in disbelief, not sure what to say.
"TJ," I said, "you can't do that."
"Why not?" was his reply. "I have to make sure they're good."
That brought him a roll of the eyes from his wife and myself. I chose another apple and put it in the shopping cart so I could pay for it at checkout. I had some trouble explaining to the checker that I only wanted to pay for it, but not take it with me. He couldn't understand that I was paying for the one my new son-in-law had eaten.
TJ had never had a birthday party. An only child, he was raised by his father. His mother lived in a different state. Neither had given him a birthday party. I was privileged to provide him with one on his twentieth. It was small, only family and a couple of his friends. But he was thrilled.
TJ was Phillipino, as I mentioned before. Their culture has a lot of fish in their diet. Amanda is half-Italian, from her father. Amanda does not like fish. Shortly after their wedding, they went to her father-in-law's home for dinner. Lying on newspapers on the dining-room table was a large fish, approximately two feet long, head still intact. Amanda smirked. The conversation when something like this:
Amanda: "What is that?" (Horrified look.)
TJ: "That's dinner." (Wide grin.)
Amanda: "EEWWW!" (Wrinkled nose.)
TJ: (Brows drawn down.) "In my family, that is a blessing."
Amanda: (Brows raised.) "In my family, that means someone is gonna DIE!" (Think Luca Bratsi in "The Godfather".)
|TJ's second Christmas and Halle's first.|
For once, I had the money to do it right. Everyone got everything on their Wish List. We had breakfast together, all the kids in their pajamas. We opened gifts and enjoyed being together. Beside fulfilling their wish lists, I got each of them (my son, both daughters and TJ) a bucket of Legos, a Barrel of Monkeys, Video Games, candy and fruit (a family tradition). We even had the train around the Christmas Tree. That evening, we partook of a prime rib dinner together. The whole day was perfect.
May always begins on a bad note with the memory of his loss. We are happy that he was saved and baptized. Amanda finds comfort knowing TJ is in heaven waiting for her. They faced some challenges in their young marriage, but I feel they had a love that will last forever.
The memories of TJ are sweet. The memorial: I visit his grave occasionally and I always take him an apple. The miracle is that, even though she didn't know him, Halle is just like him in so many ways. She is truly her father's daughter.
Thank you for letting me share.