(Continuation of the post: The Phone Call)
From there I went upstairs to my friend who had awoken to this insanity happening in our house, and told her, “My daddy’s dead,” “My daddy’s dead,” as if I had morphed back into a 7 year old child. I felt scared, abandoned, and my natural instinct was to run and sit in a fetal position, whimpering. She was half awake and not sure whether she was dreaming or not.
To this day I feel bad she was there, but I am also grateful. I needed a friend and her being there at this time, I believe, is what has always been the glue that has kept us in touch and friends to this day. It is one thing to hear your friend’s dad died, days after the fact, and send your condolences. It is another to have been present when the family got the call that their father/husband had been killed, unexpectedly, in a car crash. She saw the immediate reactions, and experienced the pain right along with us.
My friend was someone I had not known long, about 6 months, yet I had become very close to her in a short time. We met when she was 15 and I was 14. We bonded over the boys we liked, who happened to be best friends; our somewhat rebellious natures; and our new experimental diversion, smoking pot. As some teenage girls do, we made our lives out to be very dramatic, and until this event, I had felt inferior to her in this regard. She had grown up with an alcoholic father, and abuse in her household. She was enduring the strenuous emotions precipitated by the separation and divorce of her parents as well as, the reality that her mother was moving on and dating the man who had been her dad’s best friend. My life seemed pretty basic and average compared to hers. My parents were married, and they had given me a stable childhood and solid, loving, supportive foundation up until this point. In a matter of minutes, the competition for a more depressing life seemed to be leaning in my favor, all of a sudden.
A lot of that day and the ones proceeding it are a blur to me. I know there were many phone calls coming in and going out. People kept arriving as the day went on. The hardest to wait for was my sister. She and my father were always extremely close. She was the daughter that emulated his personality and complied with his wishes most of the time. When she started dating and my father disapproved of a boy’s behavior and requested she dump him, she did. She was like him in so many ways; and this woman, newly married, was driving 45 minutes north to get to us, 6 months pregnant with her first child. I remember running out to her as they pulled in our long driveway; she was sobbing and needed help walking when she got out of the car. My mother embraced her and we all walked together back to the house.
My sister married her husband in October of the previous year and became pregnant about 3 months later. She had recently been living in Chicago with her husband, and they had just moved back to the city we grew up in. It was a much smaller city than Chicago and they wanted to be closer to family once the baby arrived. We were relieved they were as close to us as they were the day my father was killed.
That day my father was driving back from delivering a load of bulk plastic tubing rolls to Minnesota. Unknowingly, his trip back would end his life. There was no return load for this delivery so the white cab truck was empty on his way home. A wind damaging storm blew through Wisconsin that day. Unfortunately, my dad was driving down a highway that was known to many in the state of WI and its local residents as, “Bloody 29.”
“WIS 29 has long been known as “Bloody 29″ because of the prevalence of grisly fatal traffic crashes along significant portions of the highway. In 1988, a study was commissioned to examine upgrading the highway to a 4-lane divided highway. The changes would be made along 203 miles (327 km) of road from I-94, 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Elk Mound, to US 41 in Howard (suburban Green Bay). The final segment of the highway, connecting the east side of Chippewa Falls with the segment running north of Eau Claire, was opened to traffic on August 16, 2005. Of the total length, about 65 miles (105 km) of the highway meets Interstate standards. Most of the expansion was able to be completed with only minor additions to the already-existing easements, and as a result, the expanded roadway almost exactly matches the highway’s original course. While traffic crashes have declined significantly, numerous memorials to those who lost their lives on the road still dot the route.”
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin_Highway_29; Mar 21, 2016)
Fortunately for our fragile hearts this was the same day, July 17, 1996, “The infamous TWA 800 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, New York,” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TWA_Flight_800, March 21, 2016), and left our tragedy out of the limelight. I eventually viewed pictures that had been taken of my father’s truck at the crash sight. My brother had acquired them somehow and had left them laying in his room. I came across them one day while I was using his dresser mirror. If that image had been played over and over on the news, I don’t think our souls could have beared it. It looked like it had been crushed in a car compacter at a junk yard sight. The only relief is the death happened instantly, with no possibility of survival. Head on collision with a tanker truck.