Heroes and Bad Guys

At what age do you have this conversation?   No, I’m not talking about the birds and the bees, but the ones where you talk about bad guys.   How do you explain it to a precocious four year old so that he understands, that he empathizes, but that he’s not terrified of every person who is lurking around the corner?  How much is too much to tell?

Davey has always understood the level of respect that goes with a uniform.   When he was two, he saluted and shook the hands of two Army privates as we all waited to board a flight in Baltimore.   He thanked them for their service and was excited to have met two heroes.   My cousin and her husband are both retired Navy Corpsmen.   When Davey met them he was just as excited to know that he has family who are heroes, like Captain America.   He sees heroes on t.v. and we read about them in books, but in those stories, the heroes don’t die.   They may get hurt, but they always come home.  How do you rationalize the difference between the make believe heroes and the real ones who are literally sacrificing their lives to protect ours?   It’s hard, but you find a way.

God's power
It rained hard most of the afternoon and we worried if the rain would hold off so we would light our luminaries. God shined down upon us.

Friday afternoon, we lost one of our finest in Greenville, SC.   A police officer was looking to ask questions of a 17 year old self admitted gang member.   When he and his partner found the gang member, he ran from them.   Both officers took off on foot to pursue the young man.   Without speculation as to what happened or how it happened, Officer Allen Jacobs lost his life when he was shot multiple times by the juvenile.   He was gunned down without ever unholstering his gun.

Luminaries 1
Setting up the luminaries.

We didn’t discuss Friday’s events with Davey.  He caught the occasional tidbit of news here and there, but for the most part stayed oblivious until today.   Today, our neighborhood decided to find a way to join together in solidarity, love, and support.  What we came to learn is that the parents of the officer who lost his life, live in our neighborhood.   While we don’t know them personally, this put more of a reality and close to home factor in it for us.   When you know the family of someone who is senselessly killed, it hurts more, you don’t just sympathize, but you feel as if you can almost have a sense of empathy with the family.  So, tonight at sunset, the neighborhood place luminaries along sidewalks, driveways and walkways.

Luminaries 3
Setting up the luminaries.

We decided that with the impending luminaries of love, we should perhaps discuss what happened with Davey.   We told him about a police officer who died, how his mom and dad are our neighbors, and how he was a hero.   Davey’s questions mostly loomed around these…”Did a bad guy get him?”  Yes, a bad guy got him.  “Does my daddy need to go get the bad guy?”  No, the bad guy killed himself.  “You mean he took the gun and pointed it at himself?”  And Davey said this with a little bit of concern, his lower lip trembling slightly.   At this point, I wondered if perhaps I had gone too far, but decided to plow through.  Yes, Davey, he pointed the gun at himself.  “At least the bad guy is gone now,” was the response he had.

Luminaries 2
Setting up the luminaries.

Later, at the start of sunset, we made a family affair of lining our walkway with paper bags, full of rocks, and votive candles.   Both boys helped, but whenever a police officer would drive by, they both stopped and stood in the front yard to wave.

Luminaries 4
Setting up the luminaries.

It’s a horribly senseless tragedy.   My heart breaks every day.  I’ve found myself shedding tears daily as I’ve tried to put myself into the shoes of his widow, who is pregnant with their third child.   I feel inundated with waves of nausea as I “see” her lying down at night, after she’s tucked her two boys into bed, kissing their foreheads and reminding them of how much they were their daddy’s world.   I feel my heart breaking when she lies in the dark  caressing her daughter, still in the womb, as she tries to find ways to stay strong and tell her unborn daughter of how wonderful of a man her daddy was.   Tears stream down my face when I “see” her waking the next morning, from a fitful night of sleep, as she prays that she was just in the midst of a terrible dream and that the love of her life, her best friend, and soul mate, is really just coming home from work.   He did indeed come home, just not to his temporary one here.   Officer Jacobs went home to his Father, and while we all know he is in a better place and this was God’s will, we still hurt for those who lost him and for those of us who didn’t know him other than as a police officer and army veteran.

Luminaries 5
Setting up the luminaries.

Heroes don’t always win and heroes don’t always live, but God’s will be done.

 

Rest in peace, Officer Jacobs.   Your brothers and sister will

Officer Jacobs
Officer Allen Jacobs EOW 3/18/16

take over from here.

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Stories From Davey

I watched from my perch above, having just opened the window. The fresh, warm air pushed in like water bursting forth from a dam. I felt it smother me before a breeze of the wind flushed the heat from my face. I laid hidden from my entertainers, they unaware of what they were, and me, their unseen audience.

The sun danced between the branches and the little buds of leaves starting to form. Shadows began forming and almost gesticulating on the grass below. I watched as the occasional breeze blew a stray leaf into a frenzy of somersaults, while the others were forced into their gymnastics by my husband’s and son’s rakes.

They, more specifically my husband, were taking advantage of the beautiful, Spring-like day to attack are neglected yard. What few trees we have are bare to the bone and have been for months now after shedding their foliage. As usual, we put off yard work as long as possible. We’re not afraid of the work, the character or strength it builds, or the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a long day’s work. No, we’d just rather be outside doing other things.

As Davey has grown older, he’s idolized his daddy more and more. To quote the words of King Louie from the Jungle Book, Davey likes to say about his daddy, “I want talk like you, walk like you, be like you.” There are a lot worse things in life than a young boy worshipping his father. So, to see Davey “working” hard alongside his daddy really just swells my heart.

I, unfortunately, was banished inside over the weekend, suffering the consequences of a stomach bug that seems to be floating around. My husband took over parenting responsibilities solo and managed to maintain the house as well, but decided to go a step further and rake the leaves. This is where my entertainment began.

I stood above, at our bathroom window, watching and listening as Davey talked to his daddy. I watched my husband continue to rake, not skipping a beat regardless of what Davey told him. I stifled a chuckle, but still smiled happily when Davey dropped his rake and patting his chest said, “Daddy, this is my Captain America shirt.” My husband responded with, “that’s right, buddy.” Then the conversation continued much to my amusement.

“Mommy, bought this shirt for me at Wal-Mart,” Davey said.

“It’s a good shirt, buddy,” my husbanded replied while attacking the pile of leaves.

“I wore it to the Y and mommy came in and said, ‘what’s going up, Captain America?'” Davey replied.

“Are you sure mommy didn’t say, ‘what’s up’ or ‘what’s going on’?” my husband asked.

“Mmmm. She said, ‘what’s going up, Captain America’, because I was wearing a Captain America shirt. Isn’t it a great shirt, daddy?” Davey asked.

“Captain America is a great shirt,” my husband said as he viciously shook out the folds of a lawn bag, before stuffing them down into the garbage can. I tried to imagine being down on the ground with them, to see the look in my husband’s eyes as Davey became the reincarnate of a Chatty Cathy doll with a broken string.

Davey continued on, as my husband raked. With each heave of the rake, Davey had something new to say. Was my husband truly listening to him or was he just going through the motions? Was he rolling his eyes? Was he silently chuckling? Or was he doing just as I was doing and becoming amazed at the thoughts that were rolling forth from our son’s mouth.

Once upon a time, my husband and I used to work our yard in peace and quiet. We focused on our task at hand and girded ourselves for what needed to be done. Our work went along much quicker then, especially seeing as how every five seconds we didn’t hear, “Daddy, turn your eyes around and look at me while I’m talking.”

Some days, I cringe at the thought of what could possibly come out of my child’s mouth. What sort of story is he going to regale us with today? Will it be true or something fictional and of the own inner workings of his brain. Some days, I watch him as he tells us stories. I’m convinced I can see the wheels and cogs spinning in his brain as his heart pumps out the love that fills the stories. I wonder how long it takes for him to come up with what he wants to say. What sort of effort goes into them? But for the most part, I love my daily stories from Davey, everything from dragons who fight, planes who speaks, and penguins who karate chop their way into the storybook of our lives. We even hear stories of Jesus, Noah, and Moses. It’s never a dull moment and I’m thankful for them every day.

Farewell, Captain!

There are so many heroes in this world. When I was growing up, my heroes ranged from my parents to Sandra Day O’Connor (as I became older). Then it was my brother as he fought leukemia. When I was always asked about my heroes, I can’t ever recall turning to fictitious characters, but I also can’t recall ever having a celebrity, be it athlete or actor, as my hero.

When my dad was growing up, heroes were the men and women who fought during World War II or the Joe DiMaggios and Hank Aarons of the world. Heroes were people who were strong and brave, people who fought for others, and people who did their job with a higher standard in mind. My husband and I have tried to instill the same beliefs in our sons where heroes are concerned. We ask that they not look to Thor or Captain America or Justin Bieber or anyone unreal or superficial. Heroes are few and far between these days, but there is still one left even if he is no longer a participant in his sport. That hero is Derek Jeter.

Derek Jeter is more than just a baseball player. Sure, his stats speak volumes. A .310 batting average. A .377 on base percentage. 3465 hits. 260 homeruns. 1311 RBIs. Clearly, this man was a hero to many on the baseball field, but it’s off the field that I’m excited about.

Derek Jeter played the sport with integrity. He is admired by many and respected by all. It’s very rare to hear about Derek Jeter outside of baseball, at least personally. In a day when so many young celebrities allow their newfound fame to tear them down, Derek Jeter practiced the lost arts of humility and grace. He created his Turn 2 Foundation to help youth steer clear of drug and alcohol use and to reward those with exemplary academic standards. He understands the value of community service.

My husband is a native New Yorker and for him there is no other team than the New York Yankees. He grew up a Yankee fan and can remember the stories of Babe Ruth and Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio. In his youth, my husband admired the likes of Bernie Williams, a mentor and teammate of Derek Jeter’s, so it was easy to transition to Derek Jeter as his all time favorite baseball player. Now, we have two young boys of our own and while I grew up an Atlanta Braves fan, I’ve come to have a certain level of love for the Yankees and Derek Jeter. I’m content to have my boys sporting their Derek Jeter jerseys. I’m happy my son has a “hero” like Derek Jeter to look up to. Davey’s even attempted to learn how to announce Derek Jeter’s name like Bob Sheppard.

It was sad in our house to watch Derek Jeter’s last All Star game, his last game in Yankee stadium, and his last game EVER at Fenway Park. We had lumps in our throats when we watched the Gatorade commercials. Our chests swelled with pride as we watched opposing teams tip their hats in respect to the 2nd ever Pride of the Yankees.

Davey watched one of Derek Jeter’s last games on television and at one point, he stood to hold 2 fingers in the air…a gesture of support and admiration for the one and only #2 of the New York Yankees. My husband is sad that we never took the opportunity to take Davey to NY this past summer to see Derek Jeter play. It worries him that there will never be another hero like Derek Jeter. For now, we’ve had Yankeeography: The Captain’s Collection, on replay in our house. Davey’s learned more than most other children about Derek Jeter.

So, from the Doser household we’d like to say:
“Thank you, Captain, for holding your head high, for playing the game with integrity, for maintaining a humble persona, for your charitable works, and for helping to shape the lives of so many. You will be missed.”

First season in the new stadium.  Our chance to see Derek Jeter in action
First season in the new stadium. Our chance to see Derek Jeter in action

The Story of Birth

This year, much like last year, when Davey awoke on his birthday, my husband and I put him into our bed. This year his 2nd birthday fell on Saturday, so we cuddled up in bed and relaxed. We asked him questions like, “Who has a birthday today?” and “How old are you?” He answered both with excitement and energy, although I’m really not sure if he understood what the day was.

And this year, much like last year, I started with a tradition I hope to keep, one that Davey seems to enjoy hearing (at least he sat quietly, listened, and even threw in his own two cents) and that is the story of his birth. I’d like to share that with all of you.

Davey’s scheduled due date was September 25th, a Sunday. I’d been written out of work on the previous Thursday due to discomfort, so at that point it was just a waiting game. Sunday rolled around, and no Davey. Monday rolled around, and no Davey. Same story with Tuesday. Davey was pretty adamant about keeping put. I wasn’t dilated, my cervix was closed tight, and this kid was just eager to keep me uncomfortable.

Wednesday morning rolled around and I had a scheduled 8:30 doctor’s appointment. We were going to find out what we needed to do in regards to inducing labor, basically how long past my due date the doctor was going to let me go and what we needed to do to be prepared for said induction. I was pretty bummed that morning because I wasn’t dilated and I thought I was going to get the same old bad news of “you’re not there yet.” Regardless, I told my husband to bring the luggage I’d packed. It didn’t hurt to be prepared.

We followed our normal doctor’s schedule of an early morning appointment, followed by coffee and bagels at Starbucks. At least that was to be our normal routine. When I arrived at the doctor, I was told that my cervix was still closed and that I wasn’t dilated. He did; however, want to get an ultrasound to see how big Davey was. My ultrasound showed Davey was breached and that I had very little amniotic fluid left so they did not want me to have a vaginal birth. It was determined that I would need an emergency C-section, so Davey was to be born that day.

Of course, I couldn’t eat anything since I was to have major surgery, which didn’t go over too well for me. So, we called our parents, stopped by my husband’s office so that he could reschedule a last minute meeting, and headed to the hospital.

I wasn’t nervous, nor was I anxious. I think I was elated. I couldn’t believe the day had finally arrived. I wasn’t scared, but I was excited, although I didn’t have the typical excitement butterflies. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor for a couple of hours in a room that would not be my permanent location. Had my husband and I known this, then perhaps we wouldn’t have brought EVERYTHING into the hospital with us at that time. It was quite entertaining to see him and my dad (my mother was away on business and couldn’t make it back) lug around all the bags and pillows and other “necessities” we’d brought.

The next room prepped me before surgery. My husband was given blue scrubs (exciting for him) and I went through a prepping process for surgery that made me feel like I was to become the female version of Captain America. After a few minutes, and completely giving up my overwhelming sense to have some level of modesty, the doctor began performing the surgery.

I didn’t feel anything, of course, except for the occasional tug and pull. At one point, I asked the nurse when exactly the doctor was going to cut into me and at that point I heard this ear piercing wail. Davey had made his appearance into the world at 4:06 pm.

Words cannot begin to describe the feelings I had. It was almost surreal seeing my baby, MY baby! I couldn’t believe I’d done this. Not only had I conquered my fears of being pregnant, but I’d managed to carry a baby to full term, and deliver one as well and right in front of me was this screaming mass that I thought was the greatest thing in this world. At that moment, nothing else existed in the world. At that moment, my world was complete. At that moment, I cried more tears of happiness than I ever thought possible.

He wasn’t immediately placed into my arms since the doctor had to close me back up again. My husband was able to bring Davey to me and I cradled his head with one hand and kissed my baby. What a wonderful gift I’d been given. A few minutes later, I was back to the small “staging” room. I looked at my dad who was holding his grandson, his first grandchild and a lump formed in my throat. Within a few minutes, Davey was in my arms and I was being wheeled into what would be my home away from home for the next three days.

I was a mother! I couldn’t believe it! Some mornings, I awake and still can’t believe I’m a mother, especially on the days of Davey’s birthday. What a wonderful birth it was, what a wonderful day and every day since.

Kissing my baby for the first time.
Kissing my baby for the first time.
Our new family.
Our new family.
me and my dad.
me and my dad.
David Brian Doser
David Brian Doser