When I looked the date up for 1963 I sat with my mouth open in shock...it is 50 years to the day...that we got off a plane in California and our world came to an abrupt stop.
When we got to the airport, we were surrounded by airport personnel and they told my mom to come with them and that the rest of us would go with them. Now I was only 13, had never flown in my life and had my little brothers and sister with me. I was uncomfortable with Mom and the baby going away and being left with strangers, but kept up a brave front for the little kids.
The little kids were excited about Daddy coming to pick us up and were having fun getting a tour of the airport. The time was going so slow for me, I was getting nervous because Mom was not there....I had a bad feeling. The airport people were being kind and trying to keep us busy, because unbeknownst to me, Mom was being surrounded by news media.
My memories this year have been all sensory...I can see the events, smell them and feel the terror that was building up.
Rose was getting tired and wanted Mommy, and the boys were starting to ask for Daddy. I remember the President's office and them showing us the planes on his desk, and the pictures of the famous people on the walls. I remember asking the people "Where is my Mommy?" The people were so uncomfortable and kept trying to change the questions.
I remember the President coming in with this hulking big man...This man came up to me and asked if he could shake my hand and I said yes...I was so overwhelmed by who he was...It was Hoss...Dan Blocker, a kind and gentle man, who had been told of our tragedy. The one that I did not know of. He spent some time with us and the boys and then came and bent down and told me what a "brave big girl" I was, and how I was such a help to my mommy. I thanked him and then he gave me a hug....He was so large that he engulfed me in his arms. When he let go he had tears in his eyes. Why I wondered?
A little later my Mommy came in, holding Bobby..she had been crying...I asked her why and she said she would tell me later.
A friend of my Daddy's has come to the airport and said she would take us to her home. We were so excited, we were going to Daddy any minute. Little did we know how that would not happen, ever again.
My Mother never told me about the death, the lady who brought us to her house, took me for a walk and told me. So not only was I in a strange place, with a stranger, I was being told my hero was dead...How could that be? We just talked with him last night, and were going out to lunch for my 13th birthday? This could not be happening. Life would not be this horrible. God would not do this to me.
Mom came back to the house, she had been at the funeral home setting up Daddy's funeral. She took a look at me and knew something had happened. Mom took us all into a room and told us that Daddy was gone, he had died and we would never see him again. My heart broke into a billion pieces, and I knew my life was over...
The events that followed were so full of angst and terror. Life kept getting worse from then on. I went from a 13 year old to an adult with so many responsibilities. I never had the joy of being a teenager. I never got to go to dances, date or take a senior trip. I had wanted to be a nurse, but my mother was afraid that I would get killed because of the riots. I was accepted to an art school in New York, but she was afraid to let me go.
My life has been full of so much tragedy and horror, that I am amazed that I would be blessed enough to find someone to love me. My blessing is my husband Al...for 30 years he has been my hero, my love, my champion and my gift from God. We have suffered together at times through some horrible things, but together we are amazing. I only was able to have my husband because of coming back to Michigan after Daddy died.
So all these flash-backs are probably a reminder that I was able to put those billions of pieces my heart broke into together...I am lucky....
Daddy I will love you forever......