September 5, 2019

When You're On A Trip & You Get That Phone Call You Don't Want To Get

Usually I look forward to Labor Day weekend. Andy typically gets a three day weekend and we try to go do something fun. This year he took an extra day off that meant a four day weekend-- lucky us!

We drove to Washington Friday night and arrived at my sister's house in the wee hours of the morning. Bubba stayed awake the entire car ride. By the time we had our stuff unloaded and everyone in bed it was about 2:00 am. It was warm in the room we slept in and Bubba cried most of the night, it was pretty miserable.

Rocking his binky.

Wide awake for our late night pit stop.


Naturally we had a slow start to our day. Sadie and I took the boys and we walked to the local farmer's market-- it's one of my favorite ones.

In the afternoon we walked to the Puyallup Fairgrounds, it was the first weekend the fair was open. I love going to the Puyallup Fair! I have a lot of really good memories of the fair, the earliest memories stem back to about age 5.

We entered the fairgrounds and headed towards the dairy barn to look at the animals. We weren't there very long when Andy felt his phone vibrate, he pulled his phone out and was covered in messages from his brother and cousin. We knew instantly that something was wrong. (10 days before this we both had a sinking feeling that something terrible was going to happen or had happened, this was that terrible something).

Andy immediately called his brother. Shaun said, "There was an accident with Grandpa, Dad and the tractor and Grandpa's dead." Andy asked how his father was but Shaun didn't know, he said he was with the paramedics. And the phone call ended.

Andy instantly started to bawl. One of the fair employees asked if we needed a private room, Andy waved her off. He said he became a new creature for all the fair goers to see.

Thankfully my brother and his girlfriend were there and so was my sister and her fiance-- they took our boys and got them some ice cream so Andy could make another call.

We talked for a moment and decided to call one of the neighbors (Dale) to see if he knew what was going on. Dale answered the phone, Andy identified himself and he asked Dale if he had heard the news. Dale said, "Here talk to your Dad." Dale was with Andy's father at that exact moment.

The phone was passed and Andy's Dad told him what happened, this is the story:

Background: Grandpa loves to farm. He turned 80 just a few days before. Usually everyday he shows up at my in-laws house and asks what needs done that day and then he goes to work. This particular day was no exception.

There was some plowing that needed done, so Grandpa went to work plowing-- plowing was his favorite. The tractor was giving him some issues so he and my father-in-law decided to start up another tractor. This other tractor is quite large. It has duallie wheels in the front and the back and often has to be jump started.

(If you don't want to know the details, skip this section)

Grandpa and my father-in-law got to work jumping the tractor. They gave it some ether and it didn't start. They gave it another shot of ether and it started right up and was running full throttle. My father-in-law went to get into the cab to decrease the throttle and the tractor put itself into gear-- nobody knows how this happened. My father-in-law was thrown from the tractor, he remembers being straddled over one of the tires as it was rolling forward and coming to on the ground. The tractor had run Grandpa over and my father-in-law was paralyzed and wasn't able to get up and into the cab to prevent the tractor from rolling over Grandpa a second time.

Grandpa wasn't killed instantly. My father-in-law held him as he took his last breath. He felt his spirit leave his body from toe to head.

We later learned that my father-in-law was also run over. His pelvis is broken in two different places. He is lucky to be alive. 

(Resume here)

My father-in-law lost his best friend. He feels so guilty that he wasn't able to save Grandpa.

Andy said to his dad, "Dad it wasn't your fault. Grandpa wants you to know that. As soon as I heard he was gone, I felt his presence and he is okay."

That experience with his Grandpa brought a lot of peace and comfort to Andy.

I felt so bad for my husband. We tried to collect ourselves and make the most of our day at the fair. We enjoyed watching Bubba get his face painted and riding rides with him and his almost cousin, Adrian. 

Bubba & Adrian. I remember riding this same ride when I was in Kindergarten.

Andy & Bear.

That night the tears for me started flowing freely. They flowed freely for a few different reasons. The first being I loved Grandpa and now he was gone. I loved him and he showed me love in the way that I feel loved-- he was one of the few in the family who knew how to really show that he cared. The second was that I knew I needed to attend his funeral, but that also meant being in the same room as one of those people who has been emotional and verbally abusive to me for the past 10+ years and the thought of that alone terrified me. I hadn't seen this individual in the flesh in over 5 years and preferred to keep it that way. I suffer from PTSD because of them and was quite literally afraid for my life because of things they said they would do to me.


The next day we went to church. Andy shared his testimony, I know it was hard for him to do given everything that just happened. After the meeting several angels were put in our path. Andy and I were both given Priesthood blessings. Mine was administered by the Stake President-- it was the most beautiful blessing I have ever received. Afterwards the Stake President grabbed my hand in his and just talked with me-- it brought me a lot of comfort.

Sunday afternoon I went on a short hike with my mom and Bubba. I feel close to God when I am in the mountains. Andy slept with Bear in the car. I carried Bubba all the way up Pinnacle Peak (a.k.a. Mount Peak) on my back-- that was the first time I have carried him in the pack on my back and it wasn't easy.

It was really good to get some fresh air, to move my body and to try and clear my head. Sadly, I didn't take a single picture.

I was starving by the time we reached the car. We stopped to grab some food at an old drive up diner, I felt really bad about buying food on the Sabbath (we don't typically eat our or buy anything on Sunday). The sweet waitress brought the food out to the car and said it was on the house-- a tender mercy and I started to bawl again.

That evening my parents called, they had been out to visit Andy's family. They drove three hours each way to see how everyone was doing and to see if I would actually be safe attend the funeral. They told me I needed to be there and that just brought on even more tears.


Monday we took it easy. We went to Ruston Way as a family to go for a walk-- this is one of my favorite places ever to walk. We looked at the old fire boat, we looked for crabs and made cairns. I enjoyed watching Andy stack rocks that Joel didn't think could be stacked. It was good to get out and get some fresh air. Listening to the waves lapping against the shore is calming to my soul.

That night we bought our plane tickets to attend the funeral in Utah, or so we thought. We would later learn that for some reason the transaction was never completed.


The next day we drove home. And upon learning that we didn't have plane tickets scrambled to re-book our flights. We ended up flying on another airline because the prices had jumped so much overnight. We also learned that if you call the airlines directly, they can offer you a bereavement discount on your flight.

I spy a cute little Bear.

One of the things we talked about quite a bit on the way home and even at the fairgrounds, was that we both felt like Grandpa now knows what we have been through in regards to the emotional and verbal abuse and that he is not disappointed with us.


Andy went to work Wednesday and I spent the day cleaning the laundry and running errands and trying to get our bags unpacked and repacked so we could leave the next morning.