Childhood-is there anything I would change? That opens so many doors. Of course as a parent and grandparents, there are many philosophies, ideas, decisions that we all wish we could change. Since it is late and I am tired I will stay with one thing that I wish I could change about my childhood and one thing I wish I could change about being a mother.
I was an only child. I hated it. It was often lonely, I never really felt good about myself or happy. It wasn’t for lack of love, perhaps, I had more than I could handle. I lived next door to my grandparents, and my aunt and uncle. They had not children. We even had a “party line” telephone. You have to be pretty old to remember when two people shared one :line” and even though they had separate phone numbers, if one “person was on the phone, not only could you hear their conversation, you could not make a call of your own. Imagine being a teen sharing a phone with six adult who could listen in or pick up the phone at anytime. I have always referred to my childhood as “Life under the microscope.”
The natural wish for an only child ho hated it is to ant a big family of her own. Through many trials and difficulties, I did have a big family-4 boys and 2 girls. There are so many things that a parent wishes they had done differently when the numerous decisions of being a parent have to be made. NO! becomes an echo, of sorts. Each child is different. One approach to a problem make work well for one child and not at all for another. I always felt it was important for my teens to learn to say “No’ on their own. I would tell them, they we welcome to say, “I can’t do that, mom would kill me if she found out.”, but one day. mom or dad may not be there and they would have to have the courage to say “no” on their own. I think I did a good job with this philosophy on the big decisions, but one winter, when my 5th child,a son told me he didn’t want to play baseball on the school team, I was elated. I had been having thoughts and dreams about something happening to him elated to baseball. The thoughts and feeling really didn’t make sense. I never liked baseball, and thought that maybe it was just that I was glad I wouldn’t have to put up with the practices and games in bad weather, the schedule conflicts and such.
My son, nearly 15, did not play in spring or summer. My heart was so relieved. I actually believed God was helping me avoid some crisis when he decided not to play. Then one day right after school started, we were getting ready to leave when his friends and a father who was going to coach “fall ball” zoomed up our driveway and begged my son to go to their last practice. Out of boredom, he decide to go, it was just one game. he still liked to play, just not on an organized team.
I reluctantly said it was alright, but when he came home, he slammed down the new hat and jersey and said, Mom, I don’t want to play” and they just threw the uniform at me and said “See ya at the game.”
“Call the and tell them you aren’t playing>’ I said, reminding him that he had promised not to play.
” I can’t”. He said, his he turned to the floor, “They said they wouldn’t have enough players without me and I can’t disappoint my friends.”
I wanted so bad to tell him, “Then I will say NO for you” But I didn’t. I remembered my vow to make them learn to ay “no” on their own. I actually felt like God was telling me that I had to let him learn this lesson, he was 15, a sophomore in high school.
“It is only a few weeks I said, a tear running down my cheek. The feeling of worry kept coming back about something bad happening to him that involved baseball. I had prayed and prayed about it. i felt God had promised to keep him safe and me strong, that God had jobs for us to do, and he was with us.
On the night of October 4, 2006, my husband, younger son , my 15-year-old and his best friend prepared to go to his second game in three days. I had to hurry home from volunteering to coach a play at my younger sons school and we were running late. I quickly opened the door when i got home , and my son was standing there with his quiet sly smile. “Oh, you scared me!” I said.
We grabbed something to eat at a fast food place and hurried to the game. Twice, I almost took his picture and didn’t because this as in the day of film and I as about on my last shot. I came so close to taking his picture when he made a great double and stole third. The next player struck out. He told a friend in the dugout that h didn’t feel good, but he went on to right field, expecting not to have to do much and it was the last inning.
Before they started playing again, I heard a mom say, “Is something wrong with Andrew?” and looked out to see him holding his head. He started running to me, and I started running to him. Right as i got to him, he grabbed his chest, then threw his hands out as if to break a fall.
He landed hard on the ground, I will never forget the slow-motion scene of him falling in the dirt, hitting his nose and forehead as dust rose around him. I was screaming, ” Call 911! Call 911! A parent called out that they would as everyone crowded around my son.
He was unconscious, unresponsive. No one knew what to do, There was a fire station within sight of the park, and we were all looking for the fire truck to take a left and rush down the parking lot. They didn’t. I honestly feel the man who called 911 panicked and hung up before telling the operator that the child wasn’t hurt playing and that the fire dept. was right above us. It was 10-12 minutes before an ambulance came. A man ran us, said he was a nurse, but did nothing.
“He isn’t breathing well”. The nurse said, and I was crying “Well, can;t you do something? All he did was turn his head upward a bit. At this time,we had been taught not to do CPR if the patient was breathing-it is what i was taught, and perhaps he was as well. Finally, an ambulance came. His blood gases were very bad, as rode to the hospital in the ambulance, i could see the ambulance attendance using a defibrillator on him. I coudn’t believe it his heart had stopped.
A chaplain met us at the hospital door. My husband and the whole team we already there-before the ambulance. For an hour, we were consoled, given hope, then told his condition was very bad. When the chaplain told us to bring the family to a side room, we knew what we would hear.
“You mean he’s dead?” I sobbed, shaking,nauseous. I don’t even remember the doctors words, just some “we tried so hard” statement and the chaplain asking us if we wanted to go see him, warning us to be quiet that there were other patients in the emergency room.
The rest is a story of shock, grief and the purest of hell a mother can face. My handsome healthy 15-year-old was dead and we had no idea why. He n no sign of sickness. We later found out he had contracted “viral myocarditis” and the last play, the great hit, stealing third base. I guess his heart got out of rhythm then, because he had told several friends h didn’t feel well.
This has been a long story to tell the reader the thing I wish most i could change about being a parent. It is saying “NO”, for your child, when they don’t do it themselves. If i had, my son would likely be here, if the ambulance we could see had come, if we had already left that day his friends pulled up, wanting him to come to their “last” practice.
There will be people who are angry at me for writing this, they may make up excuses fir God, or say other ridiculous, irrelevant things. All mothers who have lost a child have heard them. My only point here is to answer the question asked by the prompt-“If you could change ONE thing…” and my answer is this, “I would not be afraid to say “NO” if that is what my heart was telling me I should do.
Please read my other blogs on Parent Heart Watch and on loosing my son.