Monday, April 23, 2007

A Special Day to Remember...April 23rd

There are some days that are bittersweet, and
there is just no getting around it. Today
was one of those days for me.

This is a story about my only son. It is both
sad and heartwarming at the same time.

David was born on a sunny Sunday morning on April 23rd at 10:08 o'clock. He was my second child -- my first and only son.

He was a very easy baby....rarely waking crying
in the night, always happy and sweet tempered.

His first word was his sister's name - "Laura."

As he grew older, he loved Little League,
flying rockets, Journey, MTV, school, church,
and scouting, not necessarily in that order.
And he loved nature, gardening, animals, camping
and he especially loved riding his bike. His best friends
were VJ and Greg, and he was also sweet on a little girl named April.

In the 6th grade, he was in the gifted program, and
he ran for and was elected Student Council president
as well as president of his class. Extraordinarily
personable for his years, he would be the first in a room
of adults to stand up, hold out his hand, and introduce himself.
It was clear he would become a leader, if he was not already
one judging by what his peers thought. I don't know where he got
that quality from, I'm not like that..I'm shy and reclusive.

David will forever be 11 years old. He was hit by a car on his way to school on the second day after Christmas break ended. He had met up with his pals, so anxious to give them their Christmas presents...the three boys straddling his bike in the road, not paying attention to the traffic. Then a driver blinded by the sun hit David and Greg. I'll never fully understand how or why it happened. It put a great big hole in my heart that will never fully mend.

So this weekend...I made plans to go away. I took an art seminar with a friend who is a very talented artist/teacher, Marjorie Harris.
The angels. We were given a choice whether to paint the design of an angel, or in it's place, paint a portrait of a loved one on a doorcrown. As much as I wanted to paint David, being the procrastinator that I am, I did not gather together the right type of pictures of him to be able to paint his portrait in time for the seminar. It would have meant going down into the basement and looking for "the box" of David's momentoes -- all those precious few photos of him from long ago. Upstairs, I found a few blurry photos in a drawer. At the last minute I took them with me to my seminar.

After class began, Marjorie took a long look at the photos I brought. She encouraged me, helped me, told me I could do it..I could paint David. By the end of the weekend I had a fairly recognizable resemblance going. By no means was it perfect, but I could see his personality shine through in the painting.

So on the eve of David's birthday, I had given myself a gift..this painting of him.

But the story continues to today.

I work for a small municipality, where there is a large park and a huge Kid's Castle. Every year there is a fundraiser to pay for maintenence of this giant playground structure. This year, an artist has been hired to paint just 4 "knights and/or princesses" to guard the entrance to the maze inside the castle.

Today on David's birthday, I was told by a friend at work that it had been decided that my son David along with a 10 year old grandchild of another co-worker who died suddenly of Long QT syndrome,
Jonathan Wenhold , would be honored by having their likenesses painted as Knights to guard the Kid's Castle maze. This donation was generously given by Dawn Byers of the Byers family, the successful owners and creators of Byers Choice dolls sold round the world. Dawn works on the fundraising committee for Kid's Castle.
The local artist who will paint the children is Joyce Aldrich,who does beautiful work. What an unexpected blessing to happen on this special, bittersweet day.

I'd like to think David knows something about this extraordinary gift -- honoring two very special children -- on what turned out to be a very special birthday after all. I'm sure my little angel would be pleased


Mary said...

Dorothy, I had to grab a kleenex. This is so moving. Your son is an angel and I'm sure he is beaming right now.

Love art. Lovely post.

Dorothy said...

Thank you dear Mary. This post wouldn't have been possible for me to create if it hadn't been for all your sweet help.

LauraHinNJ said...

What a wonderful way to pay tribute to your son's memory. He won't only be your guardian angel, but will watch over other little ones as they play.

I can imagine it must have been really difficult to paint that portrait; your son sounds like a tremendous boy. I'm sorry for your losing him so tragically.

I lost two brothers as children and my mother had two of those boxes you talk about. I don't know that she ever looked in them, I think it was always too painful. I have them now; childhood trinkets and Mother's day cards, and little boy curls tucked into tiny velvet boxes.

I don't mean to go on - I'm sorry!

Your painting - wow - David looks like an angel!

Dorothy said...

Laura, I wasn't going to post about David, but with the amazing set of coincidences that happened, I had to do it.
I'm so sorry about your brothers...I can't imagine losing two children. Please give your mom a hug for me and I'm sending you one too.

beth said...

Dorothy - I am so sorry for your loss. And I am so grateful that you shared your story here...I hope that you take great courage and no small amount of joy from this development, that this tribute to David will allow the gift of his life to continue to bless you and others.

KGMom said...

Dorothy, I followed a link from your comment on Mary's View--and came upon this blog about April 23, your son David and your terrible loss.
The painting is lovely--guardian angel. And how fitting that your township park has selected David to be a guardian over children playing.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Dear Dorothy,

Phoebe turns 11 this summer. She's on the brink of everything. David is so beautiful and sweet. Your post made me stop and have a good cry for awhile.
I'm glad you're here, writing it out.
Isak Dinesen said, "All sorrows can be borne, if you put them into a story."
I find that blogging helps me, though my internal struggles are as nothing to yours. I hope you are heartened by the love you're receiving--it's real,if invisible.