John had one younger brother who had grown to adulthood. His mom had given birth to a girl they name Michelle but she only lived a few hours. This was related to the Rh factor. I'm not sure what exactly the deal was but I'm thinking either his mom or the baby was Rh negative. Which would have caused the mother's body to attack the baby as it would with a disease.
John's brother, Tom, died in a car accident on November 17, 2000. A witness told police that they saw Tom's red Honda Civic roll through the stop sign doing about ten miles an hour. It was the Friday before Thanksgiving Day and I remember it like it was yesterday. John had to work that day and we only had one vehicle at the time. I rode with him to work and then drove back home. I got the call from his dad, Neil, at about 8:30 a.m. He said, "Tom's been in a car accident, they aren't telling his girlfriend anything but it sounds bad. I'm not using the girlfriends' name because the woman was in the process of moving out at the time and she chose to sue the family for half the estate! They weren't together that long! Anyway, I immediately paged John and when he called back I relayed the message from his dad. John asked me for the number to Harborview, one of the major trauma centers in Seattle. I gave him the number and then we hung up. I called my best friend, Stacy and woke her up. I said, "Tom's been in a car accident and they aren't telling us anything but it sounds bad." She was in shock. She didn't say much. I got another call and had to let her go. It was John on the other line. He asked me for the number to Valley Medical Center, a hospital in Renton that also has a helicopter landing pad. I gave him that number and let him go. I was on the phone nonstop that morning. John called back two more times; the first was to get the number for the Washington State Patrol and the second was to get the number for the King County Sheriff's Department. I called my sister, Kelli, some time that morning. She was also in disbelief. Kelli had never met Tom but she felt for me and John.
Neil finally called back about 11:00 a.m. and said, "Yep, Tom was killed in a car accident at about 5:30 this morning." I was in shock. I said, "Uh, okay. Do you you want me to go get John?" He said, "Yes, would you please?" I paged John right away. He called back right away. I said, "I need to come and pick you up" He asked me why and I said, "I don't want to tell you over the phone. Just let me come get you." He said, "Just tell me, I'm filling in for Crew Chief and I can't leave." Therefore, I had no choice but to break the news to him over the phone. He said, "I'll call you right back." In the meantime I called Stacy back and told her that Tom had been killed in a car accident that morning. Then the other line started beeping and I had to go again. She later told me she hung up the phone going, wait a minute. Did she just say what I think she said? It was John on the other line. He said, "Okay, come get me." He had found someone to fill in for him. I drove up to North Seattle where he worked and then he drove us back home. He wanted to collect his thoughts before heading down to his brother's home. Tom has a son named Adam, who was 14 years old when his father died. Tom had custody of Adam. On our way home John had told me that he had called the State Patrol first and they didn't have anything and when he called the King County Sheriff they had said they'd have to get back to him. And they had called back right after he'd talked to me last. We later found out that he had run a stop sign while crossing a street with a speed limit of 50 mph and was struck on the driver's side by a hay truck. The truck was on it's way to Yakima to pick up a load of hay. I know the truck driver took it very hard too and it was not his fault! And nobody in Tom's family ever blamed him. They later met with him to let him know that too!
Tom worked for a large construction company as a Sheet Metal Foreman. He was well liked. As news of his death spread throughout the job sites they were shut down one by one. By the time we got to Tom's house all of his coworkers, his parents and some of Adam's mom's relatives were there. Adam was not there when we got there. His mom had gone to pick him up from school. She could not bring herself to tell him so she had Neil do it. I can understand what she meant. Telling John his only brother was dead was the hardest thing I have ever had to to. Even writing about it here is causing me to tear up.
Tom was buried on November 22, 2000, the day before Thanksgiving Day. We all took it extremely hard. There were so many people at the funeral two thirds of the people were standing outside. I wrote a poem that was read at the graveside. It reads as follows:
I talked to God today
I asked him why have you taken him
The one we all love so much
And will always miss
He answered me by saying
I needed him here with me
Such a warm, wonderful, and caring man
I have welcomed him into my arms
And I will take care of him
Until you are able to join him here
Keep him in your heart until then
And remember that he is watching over you
And he knows what is going on in your lives
Remember that he is safe and happy here with me
Go on with your lives
And he will see you and welcome you here
When it is time
It brought me to tears when it was read at the graveside and it did again when I wrote it above. I wrote it from the heart and every word of it is what I believe. I had grown to love Tom as if he were my own brother. I knew him for almost a decade, but it felt like forever to me. I fell in love with John, but I grew to love the whole family as if they were my own.
I finished about 30 counted cross stitch kits between the time Tom died and Christmas. It kept my mind off of Tom and I had some cool things to give people for Christmas.
On May 19, 2001 my maternal grandfather, Vernon, died in his home in Montana. He had been battling pneumonia for a while. According to what I have been told, he was having a lot of trouble breathing. My grandparents had been living in a mobile home on my aunt and uncle's property since my grandmother had a stroke that left her wheelchair bound about 15 years ago. My grandfather didn't want to become a burden on my aunt so he asked my grandmother's permission then he went out to the back porch and shot himself to death. He was buried with Military honors on May 26, 2001. He was a WWI vet. Kari and Justin were still living in Kansas at the time. They were able to get help from the Red Cross to help them pay for gas to drive to Montana. They drove straight through and it took them twenty-four hours to get to the town in Montana. John's parents were in the process of moving to another small town in Montana. John's dad and a friend were taking some of their stuff over so I was able to ride over with them. Kari was five months pregnant with her son.
Kari and Justin's son, Kincaid, was born four months later in September 2001. She had gone off her medications with her doctor's help to carry him. There isn't enough research to know the effects of the medications on a fetus. So, Kari decided to go off them during her pregnancy. You should never stop any medication without consulting your doctor first. She had problems, but I was proud of her. I had told her to call me if she got depressed and she did. Justin and Kari lived in Kansas until Justin went to Korea in November 2001. Kari and her son moved back here and she moved in with her in-law's.
I had been fighting to keep my kidney since I had the transplant. Because the kidney had rolled onto its artery and cut off the blood supply it wasted everything it was supposed to keep. This caused me to become dehydrated and when this happens it damages your kidneys. If you have a transplanted kidney it can be worse and when it's already damaged, it's much worse. I had two good years and two really crummy years. I had spent the majority of the last two years I had that kidney in the hospital being treated for dehydration and low electrolytes.
I returned to dialysis on September 6, 2002. I went to a kidney center in Auburn, Washington at first but eventually transferred to the one I had been at before. I was sure glad to go back to where I know the staff.
My maternal grandmother Alice, died on October 18, 2002. I believe she died of a broken heart. When my grandfather committed suicide they had been married for 70 years! She was buried next to my grandfather. Kari was living near me so she went with me. I had to do dialysis before we left on Friday so I drove over to Kari's and picked her up. We did not take her son with us because Kari did not want to have him cooped up in the car for the eight hour drive to my mom's home town in Montana. We got to the small town about 1 a.m. We rang the bell but nobody answered so he had to drive to Missoula about 60 miles to get a room. That worked out okay though. We got to spend some time with John's parents who lived near Missoula and we were near the funeral parlor. We met John's parents, Neil and Etheleen, for breakfast and they went to the funeral service with us. We left on Sunday because I had to be back in time for dialysis on Monday.
Justin came back from Korea and a few weeks later he and Kari moved to Colorado. That was where Justin was stationed next. They were hoping he would be able to stay nearby, but that did not happen.