One Year One Month

My Dearest Lido,

You are one year and one month tomorrow. Our life has changed. Your Father died almost a month ago and I am just trying to make my way through it all. Feeling that I not only lost my love but I also lost my life. That somehow, I have to take the dreams that your Father and I had and piece them together without him because those dreams have included you the past year and those dreams must continue on. I don’t know how to piece the dreams that he and I had back together though. That is the hardest. I’ve always been a planner and a dreamer – having to shift those plans and dreams without having a key element is hard. I know I don’t have to do it all now…but I also feel like I don’t want to take my time because life is short and you are so young that I don’t want to waste 5 years ‘going through things’…Right now I’ll take it as it comes and allow myself time. It is hard to even go shopping right now. Even grocery shopping because all I see is that I don’t have your Father to come home and cook for, I don’t have him there to play with you anymore, I don’t have him there making you laugh.

I am taking you to a friends twice a week so that you have other kids to play with and I have time to get things done and be alone to cry. I miss him so much and I hate the fact that he won’t be here to watch you grow – see the little things in you that are so dear – see the big things in you – I hate it. It breaks my heart all over again.

I’m trying to write down all of the things that I want you to know about your father. I want you to know how much he loved you and how much he loved being a Dad. We would all be sitting together or he would even be in another room and he would say – “I just got one of those moments. Those moments where it is so cool that we have a son and we are a family and I’m going to be able to teach my kid to ride a bike someday”.  He would always come in and say things like that about how excited he was right now about things that he would be able to do with you in the future. He would say things like that about me – how he was looking forward to being able to grow old with someone and that immense feeling of love and passion was just the greatest thing someone could feel for another person. We always looked at each other and just said – ‘this is perfect’.

Your Dad would walk through the door and you would walk or crawl as fast as you could and hang on the pant leg of his flight suit until he picked you up. Then you would just take his patches off and try and put them on again and he would just stand there letting you do that for a long time – forever if he could – he just thought it was all so cool.  He took care of us. He knew that it was important to just come home, help make dinner, feed you and then just spend the rest of the time with you and me playing, laughing, watching you explore. He loved you so much. He even cut the umbilical cord when you were born and he was always so squeamish about things like that. The pride he had the day you were born – the pride he had of becoming a Dad – it warmed my heart until it burst.

He had no butt. You to my Son, have his lack of butt and that is okay. It was a cute butt. He wore his shoes out like no ones business and he never complained about not having enough money that month to get him a new pair…he just hoped it wouldn’t rain. We had been planning on getting him a new pair. We always shopped long and hard for shoes for him – he was picky about that mainly because he was picky about what he wore to fly. He never wanted too much tread but not enough was also a problem. They had to be just right for flying – feel comfortable on the pedals.

He never wore his flight suit out – even if I asked him to go to the grocery store on his way home…he would come home first and change and then go…often irritating me and then making me turn it into a game of  ‘can I get him to go to the grocery store with his flight suit’. I think I managed it once…He didn’t like the attention that he drew when wearing it outside the airport. That was your Dad. I also think he thought he didn’t look good in it…but man was he good looking in that brown “onesie” as we called it. He put that on and he just looked – well – he looked like a man who worked hard for his passion and found exactly what he wanted to do and something that he was very good at.

When he first started training…he never studied on the sofa. He was always at the dining room table or the desk. He always said that when in college – he would fall asleep within 2 minutes of starting to study. He wasn’t going to let himself do that. I don’t think he would have anyway because he was meticulous about studying. I think we had sticky flags everywhere. He was always buying more – his pages in his FAR-AIM book were flagged, notes were flagged, notecards were flagged. He was one organized pilot. He would even carry around a little notebook in his backpack and then in his flight suit to jot down ideas, information, to do…lists. A pilot has lists. It is funny because I never knew quite what he put in there until he died. I found a couple in his backpack and they gave me the one he had on him in his flight suit. He had notes about what he wanted to do on the flights that day with his students. What he wanted to remind them of, work with them on – and each list for each person had a note to tell them what they were doing good and what to reinforce to give them a pep up. I know he would let them have it if they needed it but I also know that he was supportive of each one. He thought it was great to be teaching others – he loved it and I know that if he could continue to teach – he probably would have. He did want to eventually become an EMS pilot. He said that he just wanted to help people. Teaching was his initial way of doing that.

He had morning duty with you…He would get up with you, make you breakfast and take you downstairs and he would sit and play video games while you played. More often than not he would sit you in his lap and explain to you what was going on and how cool it all was. He played Lego Star Wars with you on the wii. He loved video games and he loved gaming. When we moved to Portland – he packed all of his models away, all of his paint away and even put the x-box away for an entire year until he was done with his training. It never came out much after that. He worked very hard for us – for him.

He knew how to love. He knew that this was the best gift he could give me and the most important one for our family. He would get discouraged at times because he felt he was not providing for us, for me. I always told him that he was providing more for us and for you by staying on this path, working hard, loving us than any paycheck could ever bring to our family. I want you to always remember that. In the end – our marriage was perfect because we balanced each other and we didn’t care how much money we had in the bank but we certainly cared about showing each other we cared, we loved, we had passion. We had our fights, we had our disagreements, we had our times when we did want more money in the bank but each time, we were there for each other – listened to what each other had to say – your Father was better at it than me most of the time – but we worked through it all because we just loved each other.

Your Dad knew movies, music, chess. A song would come on and he would always ask me what band it was…I’d tell him to fuck off. He would laugh and put the pressure on. I never got one right.

He was terrible with directions. In KC he was fine if it didn’t involve downtown or the Plaza or Westport. If you got out to the burbs he was fine…In Portland…well, there were many times he would be driving the opposite direction of our house and I would keep my mouth shut to see how long it would take for him to figure it out. Once he did, he would keep his eyes on the road, make a u-turn and tell me to fuck off as I sat laughing at him. I was always afraid he would end up in California when he flew because he was so bad with directions on the ground. As with any pilot – there were times where he would admit to not knowing exactly where he was but would figure it out – but he was good in the air. He at least knew which way was north…

I’m so sorry that you will not know him like I did, like his friends did, like his family did, like his fellow pilots did. I have received letters to be given to you when you are older telling you about your Dad, how he was a good friend, a caring friend, supportive, loving, gave it to you like it was with nothing but compassion and understanding, a good stick. I’m so glad that people are doing this for you – for me. I miss him so much. I’m so sorry. It hurts so much. I love him so much. There is such a void, a piece is missing from me. If I would look at me, I would only see a small part of me. Even though I was the more outgoing person, the more go, go, go person – he was the cocoon that surrounded me and kept me whole. He softened me, knew me better than I knew myself at times. I was always amazed at this. I never had to explain my feelings – just tell him what I felt and he could read me like an open book. That part of me is missing now and it feels like I can’t breath – I’m not whole. I’m only a fraction of what we were together.

I hope that you find someone that wraps their whole being around you. One that you become intertwined with while at the same time keeping yourself. I hope you find a love like this – no one should have anything less.

I love you so much my darling child. We will be whole together and you will grow and dream and love. I will be there to support you, to love you, to nurture you and we will find our way. Never take this situation and use it as a crutch in life – we all must live our life and fulfill our dreams and become the best people that we can. This is how your Father will live on. Be thankful that he touched people’s lives, that he loved me passionately, that he loved you deeply. Not everyone gets this. Be thankful that even though you may not remember him, that other people will and that they will share that with you. Be thankful that your Dad wanted to see you grow into your own person, have your own dreams.

I will hold on to this and so should you.

I love you very much and I will try my best to teach you to ride a bike, play video games, skateboard, be a geek and be okay with that. I will teach you who your Dad was and how he lives through us. I will teach you his compassion, his laugh, his smile. I will teach you to grow into yourself. To be yourself.

Always your Mom,

In this life and the next.

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One Comment on “One Year One Month”

  1. Erin Vaughn Says:

    I’ve thought and thought about what to say about Doug that would sum him up, the “him” that he was when I knew him. When I read what your mom, his wife, says about him, I can tell he never changed much…and that is a very good thing! Here’s one thing your dad did that tells what kind of guy he was. I had classes w/ Doug thruout high school together, maybe junior high too. I knew him in junior high, just can’t recall where or how we met. Anyway, our senior year of high school we had english together right after lunch. I, without fail, would fall asleep in class. Your dad, also without fail, would try and wake me up. He sat in front of me and woul tap my desk, kick my foot, whatever he could try to get me to wake up. He wasn’t trying to be annoying, he was trying to get me to not be such a slack-ass at school. Which he knew I was based on the amount of time I spent grounded due to my grades. So, after 5-10 minutes of trying to wake me up each class period, he’d let me nap. But at the end of each class, I’d look down at my notebook and he would have written our assignment on it or he’d offer to let me copy his notes. Despite my best efforts to barely get by, he wanted me to succeed. Your dad was funny. Sarcastically, wickedly funny. He also gave a shit. About his friends, about life. I can still see him wearing khaki shorts or pants, a Jesus Built My Hotrod tshirt, and a flannel over that. With boots, hiking boots, I think. He was a kind soul. I’m so sorry for the loss your mother is having to endure right not and for always and I’m equally satisfied to know that although I don’t know her, it’s clear how right your parents were for each other and how hard she’ll work to insure that you know your dad thru her and his family and friends.

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