We were at my parents’ house today. As always, the conversation took many turns. It brought back memories.

When Luke was little and would get something new that he really liked, he would take it to bed. I found him in bed with new baseball spikes, ball gloves, even a bat. Also, his new school shoes, ball caps, toys, clothes, and a football.

Luke loved my brother, Uncle Guy, when he was a little boy, he used to hang on to Guy’s leg and Guy would have to drag him around as he walked. One year he put Uncle Guy on his Christmas list to Santa.

Every March we go to my home town of Chatham for pancakes and maple syrup, one of Luke’s favorite things. When the kids were little, my Aunt Martha was the cook. Luke used to come back into the kitchen with me to say hi. He thought the pancakes never tasted as good after she quit cooking them. When Luke was home after field med school, we went. I remember watching him eat the pancakes. He seemed so mature and I couldn’t believe my baby was grown up. I did not know that would be his last time eating Chatham pancakes.

I know we went to see my parents many times when Luke was kittle, but I cannot call forth any specific memories. This makes me sad. I feel as if a part of Luke’s life is slipping away from me. The memories are all I have.

I miss you,Luke.

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We are in Virginia visiting Sammie. It is so good to see her. I am so proud of her!

Last night we went to a restaurant for dinner. We got to reminiscing about our old home. Sammie has few memories of the house, but I remember it with nostalgia. Luke did not want to leave that house. (He was 5.) He said his sister was more fun in the old house.

We talked about the time Sammie squirted glue all over the new kitchen floor and her dad’s tools…. About the time Luke got into a can of paint and painted a design on the floor of Wes’s shop, then used the wall to clean off his hands….about the time Sammie scared her dad when he was up on the roof painting, making him almost fall off…. About living in the new house and the old house and building and trying to carry on a normal life all at once…. About the apple trees…. About the little house wes built for the kids to play in….

All that caused me to remember other things about that house. One time Luke wanted to go see his dad in the side yard. Instead of walking over to him, he decided to walk around the hedge. This took him extremely close to the very busy road that we lived on and he was only 3 or 4. I remember an extreme fear. Perhaps it is this instinct a mother has to protect her children that causes such fear and such intense pain if she is unable to keep a child safe.

The summer do 1988 was very dry. We went for what seems like months without rain. It was hot, too. We played outside a lot, but mostly tried to stay cool in front of the fan (We had no air conditioning.) reading books. I’ll never forget the day it finally rained. We had gone to get ice cream cones after playing at the park in Uniontown. It started raining on our way home. By the time we got there, it was pouring. The kids and I started laughing, running all over the yard, and putting toys in the garage so they wouldn’t get ruined. It was fun, and the rain felt good!

All this reminiscing made me dream about Luke last night. It has been a long time since I remember a dream about Luke. It was good. Sometimes when I dream about him, it almost feels like I got to spend time with him. The only problem is waking up. In my dream Luke was about 12 or so, he had plans to build a top for the ping pong table and surprise his dad. He was measuring and planning and talking about how happy Wes would be. He said this would make it the best spring ever. The details of this dream are already fading. That’s the other problem with dreams, they never stay in the memory long enough.

I miss my little family. I miss my little kids. Mostly, I miss Luke.

Please remember to visit my book’s website: http://www.noordinarybones.weebly.com

 

imageFlipping through the TV channels the other evening, we came upon “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” I felt the need to stop and watch for a few minutes. This was Luke’s show. Every time I see or hear someone mention the ninja turtles, I hear his sweet little boy voice singing:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Turtles in a hap shell
Turtle power!
This last line would be yelled, and yes, I know it’s supposed to be “Turtles in a half shell,” but he was only 4 and this is how he heard it.

We went as a family to see all three movies. Luke was so excited! I think their first movie was the first movie we took him to see. He was quiet through the entire thing because he was mesmerized. His only disappointment was that Michelangelo’s voice was a different actor.

He had many, many action figures of both good guys and bad guys, and each Christmas, this number would go up along with the latest accessories. We still have boxes of these in the basement.

At the time I not only knew all their names, I knew what color they wore and what weapon each used. I also knew the names of all the bad guys and the ancillary good guys. How could I not? This is what mothers do when their kids love something. Besides, he talked about them a lot!

Luke’s favorite was Michelangelo. I think this was because he identified with his smart alec nature.

Sammie used to get Luke to play Barbies with her by promising to play Ninja Turtles with him. Somehow, she always managed to get mad at him and not want to play anymore as soon as he got the guys out.

Luke’s bedroom is right above the living room, and when we first moved into our house, it had a wooden floor. He would play with his turtles and we would hear all the upstairs action as we attempted to watch TV or read. It wasn’t long before his room was carpeted.

Luke had t-shirts, pajamas, and birthday cakes with his heroes on them. His four year old birthday party had a ninja turtle theme. He and all the other kids thought this was great.

In 2011 we took four miniature ninja turtles to Luke’s grave for Christmas. I like to think this made him smile. Unfortunately, we had them still sitting on the dining room table when a workman came into our house fix our home security system. They disappeared. (And, yes, I see the irony.) Why? They had no real value to anyone but us.

So, next time you see or hear about the Ninja Turtles, think of a little boy who loved them that grew to be a greater hero than any of them.

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First of all, I would like to thank Chief Oliver for posting my web site to the Brimfield Police Facebook page. I would also like to thank all the people who followed the link, read my blog, and maybe ordered a copy of “No Ordinary Bones.”

So, today I could clean out the refrigerator, dust, do laundry, weed, or draw pictures for another book about Luke. Page 4 of the new book is basically done. This book features Luke and a friend fishing. What should I name the friend, Mike, Nate, Jeff, or JJ?

Luke never went fishing as a boy. Neither his dad nor I are fishers. In high school, he started fishing with friends and learned to love it. (In the book he will be younger.) I was always curious, however, as to why he never brought a fish home to eat. Hopefully, this next book will answer that question.

Other book ideas I have are: baseball, Christmas, using dad’s tools.

If there is anyone out there who has some ideas on how to promote “No Ordinary Bones,” I would appreciate hearing them.

 

Remember to visit http://www.noordinarybones.weebly.com

We had a gold star mother get together today. It wouldn’t be right to call it a meeting. Even though we all joined the American Gold Star Mothers, we don’t actually have a meeting, we just talk.  We support each other. We understand each other in ways no one else can. We are good for each other.  

Today there were only three of us at this “meeting.” We met at a restaurant, ate, and talked. We talked about our sons, our brave, funny, wonderful sons. We talked about ourselves, about how we cope, how we survive, how we laugh, and how we cry. 

When people say your son is in a better place now, I say, “Why now? It’s too soon.” When people say “I understand how you feel,” I say, “No you don’t. No you don’t.” When people say, “Thank you for your son’s service,” I say, “It wasn’t me. If it had been up to me, he would still be alive.”  When people say, “There was a reason he died, we can’t understand God’s plan,” I say, “There can’t possibly be a plan that would make the world better with Luke not in it.” 

It is often said that time heals all wounds.  Whoever said that or repeats that, has never lost a child.  The wound gets no better.  It gets no less painful. You just learn to continue your life around the hole, because you have no choice. You are not the same person you were before, but you learn all over again how to breathe, how to talk about other things, how to think about other things, and, yes, how to laugh. (Although laughing often makes you feel guilty.) You have a new normal.

Life and time are measured with a new yardstick. Things happened either before or after Luke was killed. And, make no mistake, he was killed. We did not lose him, we always knew (still do) where he was. He did not pass away, he was ripped from this life violently.  

I still miss Luke. I miss him more than ever. I miss his laugh, the sound of his voice, his grin, his smell, his sense of humor, his intelligence, his sense of what is right, his horrible singing voice, his hug, his irritability in the morning, and even his slobbishness. Sometimes when the phone rings, I still expect to hear his voice. 

Please check the web site I created to remember my Luke.

http://www.noordinarybones.weebly.com

 

Luke was in corps school at Great Lakes, Illinois. His dad, Wes, and I went to visit when he had a couple days leave. We decided to drive to Milwaukee because none of us had ever been there.  We really liked the city, although Wes was having a hard time driving because the stop lights were at the sides of the road rather than in the center of the intersection.  Luke yelled to him to stop more than once. Luke and I found this quite amusing, but I think Wes was getting frustrated with himself.  

After spending a little time in the city, one of us, probably Luke, pointed out the fact that we were relatively close to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Now, there is one thing you have to understand about Luke, Sammie, and their father; they are, above all else, Packer fans. (I have become a fan, too, out of self defense.)  Well, upon realizing this, it was a short jump to piling back into the car and heading the rest of the way to the “homeland.” 

The ride to Green Bay was quiet, long, and boring. Luke was sleeping.  

Once there, we, of course, visited Lambeau Field and the gift store. Luke had his picture taken by Curley Lambeau and Wes had his picture taken by Vince Lombardi.  We all had pictures taken by Bart Star. In his picture, Luke is pointing to the future and the better quarterback, Brett Favre.  (This was an ongoing argument between Wes and Luke.) 

Of course Luke wanted to eat at Brett Favre’s Steak House.  This was an experience.  They actually brought out the cuts of raw meat for you to choose.  This made me NOT want a steak, so I ordered a salad.  Wes, who already wasn’t feeling well, waited for us outside. Luke, having a stomach of iron, ordered and ate a steak.

The way back to Great Lakes was not quiet, long, or boring. Luke was awake and in rare form. He regaled us with stories about boot camp, corps school,and childhood. I can’t remember a time when I laughed so hard or so much. Luke had an amazing sense of humor!  One of my greatest regrets is that we did not record the entire ride.  

One of the childhood stories he shared was about finding a skeleton in the woods when he was small. The bones were hard to pull out of the ground, and he told himself that yanking them out would give him nightmares, but he really wanted them. This is the story I used to create “No Ordinary Bones.”

“No Ordinary Bones” is a picture book about Luke and his dog J’amy finding bones in the woods, digging them up and worrying about nightmares. I really enjoyed writing this story and creating the pictures to go with it. All proceeds from the sales of the book go to the Luke Emch Memorial Fund and the Semper Fi Fund for Wounded Marines.

Please visit my web site http://www.noordinarybones.weebly.com

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