Thursday, October 23, 2014

Life instead of death...

Today, marks two months exactly since the day Brian died.  For two months I have mourned his death in every way imaginable almost every minute of every day.  Today I want to remember his life.  I want to think about something good.  I want to remember him and not the tragedy, the injustice, the horror, the disbelief or the loss.  Those things are still here but so are the memories of who he was in life.  I don't want my memories of him to always be about his death.  There was forty-one years of his life too.  So today - I will think about and laugh about and write about his life.
Brian was my youngest child of three.  He was goofy and fun as a child and always kept us laughing. He had a great sense of humor and was a great source of amusement most of the time.  He was a funny child and grew into an even funnier adult. 
He ran track in high school and was one of the star runners but as an adult he was not big into sports.  For a while though he got interested and loved the NASCAR races -- just long enough to get my husband hooked.  Thank you for that! Apparently, also passing his love of cars to Paxton as well.  Talladega was Brian's favorite track.  His driver was Tony Stewart.  He liked his attitude.  For Donald’s birthday this year he bought him tickets and took him to the Talladega race.  He had never done anything like that before.   It was a good day and such a sweet and thoughtful thing to do.
He looked very young for his age.  He was 41 years old and still looked pretty much like he did in high school.  At 35, he would easily pass for 20.  He got great genes from somewhere and he just never seemed to age.  And because of that he had the illusion that he would never look old and he was definitely not a fan.  It was kind of his claim to fame that someone was always thinking he was still a kid.  He had his oldest child while he was very young and at the school when he would go to check him out or meet a teacher he had to show I.D. to prove he was really his dad.  They looked more like brothers than father and son.  He still got carded when he went into a club and could not even buy a pack of cigarettes for my elderly aunt without showing I.D.  He told the 19 year old girl behind the counter as she asked for his I.D.  "I have got a son your age!" 

He loved his work and he was very good at it.  He was always amused at the truck owners that would come in and see him working on their $150,000.00 truck and ask “Who is that kid you’ve got working on my truck?!  I’m paying you for an experienced mechanic and do not want some kid messing around under my truck!”  He would sometime have to show them his driver’s license to prove his age or all of his certifications to prove his many years of experience. 

His biggest claim to fame were his practical jokes and he would go to great lengths and plan for months for his next big joke and he could get very creative.  No rubber snakes for him.  He pulled out all the stops.

At work, he has glued his bosses desk drawer shut or took the wheels off of his desk chair to watch him shove himself backwards and hit the floor.  He once pulled a co-workers stereo out of his car, rolled his window down and sprinkled broken glass beside the door - the co-worker hit the roof thinking someone had broken out his car window and stolen his new very expensive stereo!  Brian and all of the other guys were literally rolling in the floor laughing.

April Fools’ Day was his favorite day of the year and he could pull off some doozies.  Most all of our funny family stories centered around one of his infamous practical jokes or the resulting paybacks for one of his practical jokes.  One year he took sidewalk chalk and wrote on my daughter’s roof in letters four feet high – SEE ROCK CITY  --April Fool’s Day 2002.  It was huge - you could have seen it from space!  All of her neighbors were stopping their cars to look at it and laugh and take pictures.  Another year at 7:00 am my daughter’s neighbors were calling all upset that she was moving!  She said, “I’m not moving?  I don’t know what you are talking about.”  They said, “Then what is the For Sale sign doing in your yard?”  He had borrowed (…stolen) a Real Estate sign and put her house up for sale in the middle of the night!  He has taken a weed eater and cut enormous “Crop Circles” in our back pasture leaving my neighbors mouths gaping with wonder.  But probably his most infamous practical joke was when I came in from work to a supposedly empty house and found what appeared from my hallway to be a man leisurely reading the newspaper on my toilet!  It totally scared the stuff out of me!  Once you got right in front of it you could see that it had no head and was just his jeans stuffed with newspaper and a pair of his tennis shoes with a newspaper stretched from one wall to the other and taped but from my hall – it looked exactly like a man sitting on my toilet!  Another time I came home one April Fool’s day to my living room and dining room completely reversed!  All of my living room furniture had been set up completely in my dining room - rug included and my dining room furniture set up in the living room.  I took his house key after that. 

Until the last few years he and I had always been very close.  Anytime he was upset about anything or things were not going well in his life –we talked.  He, like me, had insomnia and he was a one on one kind of person.  As long as there was anyone else around he was never serious so most of our talks were in the middle of the night.  Before he and Kara married he was divorced for twelve years.  He spent a lot of nights at my house talking.  I knew his inner thoughts, his dreams and his fears because we talked - a lot sometimes all night long until daylight.  I knew what he believed in and why.  I knew how he felt about God, raising children, his hopes, his dreams, what he felt about marriage, his love for the bible and his fascination with the prophecies.  More than either of my other two children – we talked. 

He loved dogs but did not always have a great deal of patience with them.  On the other hand he had all the patience in the world with his kids.  He was a very loving and dedicated dad and his kids could do no wrong.  They played together and did everything together.  After his wife left and took his kids he almost lost his mind.  He only had his children four days a month and he made up his mind early on that those four days belonged to them.  He had 26 other days to work, clean the house, go out with friends or do laundry but on those four days - they played. 

He took them to movies or he rented movies and popped popcorn and they watched them together as a family.  He took them to the park, swimming, hiking, to the laser show, to Six Flags, to the lake, on picnics, to the beach, to the Tennessee Aquarium.  They rode bikes, they built things together, they played games.  He learned to skateboard, he had tea-parties and he even played with Barbie dolls.  I called him one Saturday afternoon and asked what he was doing he said, "Something I never thought I'd be doing - I am trying to button these ridiculously tiny buttons on a Barbie doll dress! I just hope and pray none of the drivers at work ever hear about this I will never live this down!" 

I recall an exchange he laughed and told me about when he was trying to learn how to put pigtails in his daughters hair.  One day he had fixed one pigtail only to have the ponytail holder slide right back out as he gathered up hair for the second one - In his frustration at the baby-fine hair that eluded him, he told his daughter, "I think I might need to wet it a little bit first." in her
frustration she answered him with, "I think you might need a girl!" 

He made sure they always still had their same rooms as they had before the divorce because he wanted them to have that security, stability and continuity in their life.  He learned cook so that they had regular meals.  He did laundry.  He redecorated their rooms for them when they asked.  He was both mom and dad to them for twelve years.  And he wasn't a bad mom but he was a really great dad.

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