Dinosaurs, Nuts and Humus

Posted: August 7, 2010 in Motivation
Tags: , , ,

I admit that when my wife Dawn pulled away from the curb after dropping me off at the airport on Wednesday I felt as alone as I had ever felt in my life.  

I would soon be on a flight to Houston, another to Charleston, a quick stop at baggage claim, a rental car counter and then on to my best friend Keith’s house.  The 1,300 mile trip seemed to take forever, but as I look back on details from the journey I cannot recall a single one. 

I could not tell you what gates I flew out of, what I had for lunch, or if I spoke to another person outside of my interactions with shop clerks and counter personnel. 

My memory crystallizes however as I bound up the front porch steps of the Luckie residence rushing in to see my friend and his boys.  As the first of many hugs took place, words were spoken, tears were shed and the first tentative steps forward were taken. 

I had brought the boys a few items from Austin and was looking forward to my “Hello” hugs and kisses. 

Little did I know that it would be the boys who would be giving me the greatest gift of all on Saturday. 

All week long the house was filled with family and friends.  From 9 a.m. until well past 2:00 a.m. each day we grieved, mourned, told stories, laughed, cried, ate, laughed and cried some more. 

As I woke up on Thursday morning to leave the house before sunup for a quick 5-mile run I had one of those moments where for just a second you forget where you are.  I’m sure you know the sensation when you wake up in a strange bed or a hotel and for just an instant you try to blink the fogginess away and gain your bearings. 

For me it only took a moment as I looked at the Dinosaur sheets I was wrapped up in to remember I was in Garris’ bed. 

There was something comforting about being surrounded by books, toys and dinosaurs.  As I got dressed for my run and stretched on the floor of the room I realized the feeling that was comforting me was “love”. 

This was the room where Garris had been read to, tucked in and loved on by his mother and father since he was born.  It was across the hall from his brother Fuller’s room where he in turn had been treated to the same love and affection since he came home from the hospital. 

Now that same love was comforting me, and I needed it.  I was hurting. 

My run which seemed very unremarkable at the time in hindsight was great therapy.  As I returned to the house and snuck quietly into Keith’s bedroom to make my way to the shower – all I saw was a tangle of arms and legs.  Keith, Garris, Fuller all tucked in under the covers with the light spilling onto them from the window above the bed. 

I couldn’t help but smile to myself and my heart which had been pumping so strongly just moments before was now filling with a feeling of great pride and admiration.  That was my boy Keith there doing what he does best.  Being a Dad. 

Now let me tell you this about Keith.  He is remarkable at everything he has passion for.  A wonderful musician, artist, photographer, computer programmer, husband, father, brother, son and friend.  He is “all-time” at each of those callings that he has had in life.  But when it comes to being a Dad – there is nobody like him. 

Nobody. 

Thursday morning as chores were being divvied up – It was determined that my services were best needed to do the ironing.  

Now this is something that didn’t quite make my list of 43 things about Joe, but I am pretty damn good with an iron. 

After knocking out the boys shorts and shirts for the visitation hours later that day, I moved on to their trousers and shirts for Monica’s service on Friday.  Keith’s shirts for both events, likewise for my dress shirts, a dress or two – even Keith’s brother Mark got into the act bringing me his shirt and tie to touch up for Friday. 

No matter, I was there to do whatever needed doing – and if ironing was it – so be it. 

Time was ticking away and I needed to shave quickly before we made our way to the funeral home.  As I opened the bathroom door, Keith’s youngest boy Fuller was on the potty with his army men on the stool in front of him.  As I apologized for intruding, Fuller looked at me under those Red curls of his and asked, “whatcha doin’?” 

I told him I needed to shave and he asked if he could watch.  I thought well, if it’s o.k. with him, it’s o.k. with me.  He told me the story of each of his little men and I told him about shaving. 

We both finished at the same time and as I was packing up my razor and lotion Fuller said to me. 

“My poop’s yellow”. 

“Yes it is Fuller.  It sure is yellow”, I replied. 

“It must be those nuts I ate yesterday”, he said. 

“Didn’t you have some humus yesterday as well?, I asked. 

“That’s right I did.” Fuller said.  

“Nuts and humus” his little boy voice sang out. 

I did a fair share of laughing at old stories and new ones at various moments throughout the week – but my heartiest laugh came compliments of Mr. Fuller.  That is a story that I can’t wait to tell him years from now when he is a grown man and doesn’t belive me when I tell him he and his brother were the two sweetest young boys I have ever known. 

You just can’t make stuff like that up. 

Keith, Garris and Fuller

Thursday afternoon went by in a blink of an eye and before I knew it we were at the funeral home for visiting hours.  After some private time for close friends and family the viewing was open to the public and quite literally the line formed through the entire funeral home, out the door, through the parking lot and down the block. 

Two hours of hugs, condolences and I’m sorry’s were shared. 

Once again, I marveled at the way Keith and the boys conducted themselves.  How strong and brave they were at such a difficult time and how much I wanted to make their hurt go away. 

Late that night, or early Friday morning to be more accurate I climbed back into my world of Dinosaurs for comfort. 

Friday was reserved for funeral services at Grace Episcopal Church.  The last time I had been through the doors at Grace was 9 years prior, in a tuxedo to stand up for Keith and Monica at their wedding. 

That day facing the congregation of family and friends the church was bright and felt enormous. 

On Friday now looking forward from  the fifth pew on the left aisle the church seemed much, much smaller.  

Built in 1846, I am quite certain that the church remains just as it was in 2001.  It was me who had changed.  The walls of the building were closing in on me and I was fighting to keep it together.  As Keith and the boys made their way to the front of the church I simply could not hold my feelings in check any longer. 

As tears made seeing difficult, I looked at Keith holding on to his boys and again felt nothing but great pride.  Once again my friend was setting the example for me.  What it meant to be a man.  A Father.  An example for his children. 

He was showing me the way, teaching me what I needed to do and what I needed to strive to be each and every day for our daughter Landry when she arrives in just four weeks. 

The ceremony was beautiful.  There were great tributes given, prayers were recited, hymns were sung and more tears were shed.  As we left the reception and made our way back to Keith’s house a late afternoon “Charleston” thunderstorm hit. 

For those of you who have never experienced a summer coastal thunderstorm, it will be hard for me to truly do it justice.  Rain so big and hard you can hardly see the road 10 feet in front of you.  Puddles forming, quick flooding – an absolute drenching occurred.  It seemed very appropriate given the way we had all been holding in our emotions throughout the week. 

After changing into comfortable, dry clothes it was another long late night of stories, laughs and a few tears.  I got the opportunity to visit with my friend Jay and we promised each other that never again would we fall out of touch the way we had over the last few years. 

At 3:20 a.m. Keith and I stood alone in his kitchen and had a talk that I will remember forever.  

No questions were answered or revelations of the events of the last week were gleaned – as that is simply impossible.  But I was able to tell him once again just how much I loved him and how proud I was of the incredible job that he and Monica had done in raising the boys. 

I told him that he had provided me with such an amazing gift.  He set the example for me of who I hope to be.  I hope one day that someone I love and care about, someone who I would do anything for, under any circumstance will after spending time with my daughter Landry tell me that they were proud of me.  That I got it exactly right.  

That I had become the most amazing Father they had ever known. 

As those words coming from Keith Luckie would mean the world to me. 

Keith and Monica Luckie

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Comments
  1. Jodi Higgins says:

    I absolutely love the conversation you had in the bathroom with Fuller. Kids tell it like it is. They don’t ever feel the need to filter and I love it! After reading this, once again I must tell you that you need to write a book. You are so eloquent with your words and I always feel like I’m there in the moment experiencing everything at the same time as you. What a great friend you are. Continued prayers for the Luckie family as well as you and yours Joe. Now I’m off for my Sunday long run where the Luckie’s, you and yours, and Dom’s family we remain on my mind for the next hour plus.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jodi – Thank you so much for the visit and for the message. Your support this week has been so wonderful and welcomed. I can’t thank you enough. There are some tough days ahead for a lot of the people in my life that mean the most.

      It is so great to have friends to lean on. Thank you so very, very much. Best to you – J

  2. Jen (jennrunns) says:

    So very touching. Thank you for sharing.

  3. melissa says:

    Joe, thank you so much for be there for my brother Keith this week! What a funny story with Fuller, he is a character! Melissa

    • joerunfordom says:

      Melissa – Thank you so much for your message. From the first time I met Keith your family has always treated me as if I was an “honorary Luckie”. It was so touching to see everyone pull together for your brother and the boys. I was honored to be there for him.

      Take good care and if anything ever needs doing – please don’t hesitate to ask. Only a phone call and plane ride away from the Carolinas. Best to you from Austin, Joe

  4. onelittlejill says:

    Is it wrong that I enjoyed this story? It rings true to my heart. I identify with much of it…I was there at the home when my best friends mom died after a long fought cancer battle. I don’t remember many details but I remember love.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jill – thank you so much for the visit and the message. I think it is indicative that you have to somehow search for the good when things seem the toughest. I’m still sorting through all kinds of emotions – many of which are really difficult – but in the end, love, friendship, family are what helps in times like these.

      Thank you for all of your support and kindness this week – best to you from Austin, Joe

  5. Welcome back to Austin Joe! What a great story! Fuller will be happy (if not also a little embarrassed) to have you carry that memory for him of this week. It’s in these hardest times that our true character shows and I think being able to both cry and laugh is an important quality.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi AJ – thanks so much for the message. I really appreciate all of your great support this week, (all the time truly) – you are the greatest.

      It’s funny how laughter and sadness which are things that are virtually impossible to “fake” come so easily when you are with people you love and care about. We’re all still hurting pretty badly right now – but I am so proud of my friend Keith and his boys. They are so fortunate to have each other.

      Take good care AJ and congrats again on your PhD – amazing!

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