Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day 2011

I never thought that I would, in my life time, be making a grave blanket for my son.  He helped me make the ones for my mom - picking out decorations, cutting the wire or tying it to the branch stems from the trimmings. If time permitted he drove with me to my mom's grave and kept me company.

Christmas Mourning

The presents are placed under the tree,
An empty spot where your gifts were to be
Christmas lights twinkle in the tree,
Carols play on the radio I sit in the dark, sullen and tearful
Pieces of the tree crafted in memorial to share
Our cat stops to brush up against my leg
Tears feel hot rolling down my cheek
Saint Nick finishes up his route
His list finished for boys and girls alike
Scrooge finds redemption before the morning sun
No ghosts have visited me this Christmas Eve
How I miss you!
Your laughter, your smile – All lost to be preserved in still frame
My son, my boy – you were my joy
One day we will have Christmas in Heaven together

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tim's Christmas Grave Blanket

Tim's Grave Blanket
Home Made from trimmings from our Christmas Tree; ornaments picked by his family.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Where Are You Christmas?


Christmas 2011 is nearly here.  The presents are wrapped and stowed away until Santa comes and lays them under the tree on Christmas Eve while the dance of sugar plum fairies commences in the dreams of my daughters.  The tree is up, decorated and lit – each ornament has an origin.  Some received on the advent of one of the kids first Christmas; others as gifts to each one of my kids found in the stockings that are hung on the mantel.

This year's celebratory preparations were forced more from the need to have a resemblance of normalcy.  The trimmings from the tree collected and set aside to bring a piece of Christmas as a grave blanket to Tim and my mother.  Miniature decorations selected because of color and sentiment.  Even selecting the tree and cutting it down was an effort that had a venom coursing through my blood and a curse with each breath and stroke of the saw as it bit into the trunk of the tree.  Still I had to do what was necessary for Tim’s sisters, his mother, and me.  The Christmas music playing on the radio doesn’t have the same connection to my soul as is did from Tim’s first Christmas.  I think of the last line of Greg Lake’s song “I Believe in Father Christmas.”

Hallelujah Noel be it Heaven or Hell,
The Christmas you get you deserve

I wonder if this is true.  This first Christmas without my son, is it something I or any bereaved parent deserves?  I wonder if the Ghost of Christmas Present were to visit me, with his torch and cornucopia of celebration and joy, would he ask me if I truly invited his brothers into my home.  I could answer “No, Spirit, I only allowed the previous fifteen brothers into my home – if only for a short visit.  I had to work against the children fettered to your robe Ignorance and Want.”

Angel wings of etched and cut glass, along with silhouette of an angel adorn the tree.  A star, fashioned with lights at home after finding the perfect shape and contour at a store is set atop.  Spider-Man ornaments dangle from various branches – gifts Tim received from his mother and me.  We could have not used them, but we did because it truly would not have been a Christmas tree without his presence.

I complained I wasn’t feeling anything from the trees we looked at in the tree farm.  We planned to visit one and move on to others we found in a directory of tree farms in search of a tree.  However the girls found two matching Christmas sleighs for decorations.  If it was by chance, guidance, or luck, we didn’t find a tree that satisfied what we wanted and we left.  With a list programmed into the GPS, we continued our quest and more or less stumbled on a tree farm we didn’t have in our list.

It was late afternoon, while walking through the tree farm, I said aloud, “I miss you!  I wish you were here to help find a tree.”  I thought of how Tim would quote movie lines from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  Unknown to me at the time, Gi was saying similar.  There was no choir of angels or divine light beaming down when we found the tree among the hundreds – only an amber and crimson sky as the sun began to descend, the cry of Canadian geese as a flock flew in a V formation overhead.  Despite the calendar and encroaching chill, it doesn’t seem like Christmas.

The only thing I am sure of is the reality that my son is not asleep in his room, and my love for him.  The one thing I know this holiday season is that each and every time I stepped into a store to get the girls their gifts, I couldn’t help but pick up an item and think Tim, if you were here you would love getting this.  If you were here we would be having Nerf sword fights in the aisle – acting more like Inspector Clouseau and Kato than Christmas shoppers.

As I begun typing, Faith Hill was singing “Where Are You Christmas?” and I was thinking exactly that as I listened.  However, I do remember...

 

 
 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Worldwide Candle Lighting December 11, 2012


A candle lit to remember you to the world
A flame that can not be extinguished in my heart
You are forever loved, my son
You will be forever fifteen
Even with Angels gathered around you
My heart is broken, my tears still flow
My love for you will never ebb, my resilience came from you

~Martin Connors

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Father-Son Chat July 26, 1995

So I sat on this stool, on July 26, 1995 sometime about 9:30 PM, holding this little human-being as he suckled on the nursing bottle. I told him how his mother and I met, how we came to living together, how much I loved her. I made promises to him that only a daddy can promise.  I told him how he came to be, and what happened some nine months or so before his birth.

Nick Delassandro owned a small diner and was huge part of the Ventnor City community. The whole beach community ate breakfast at his shop, deals by politicians were brokered at any one of booth tables, coffee poured by a waitress that won the multi-million dollar lottery and used the payout for her husband to have a much needed surgery and finally could breath without the weight of debt on her wages. Nick was family to my family. His son, Nick, Jr. was my brother’s best man.

The senior Nick videotaped everyone dancing to the Pointer Sister’s “We are Family” when he collapsed. My mom tapped me on the shoulder and told me to help Nick up, thinking that he slipped. Another friend of my brother’s, Glenn Magill, came over.

“He’s not breathing.” Glenn knelt at mid-chest.

“Starting CPR.” I looked around as other guests and family gathered around. “Someone call the ambulance. Everyone backup!” Another Ventnor kid knelt at Nick’s head and attempted to give rescue breaths. He was becoming upset and couldn’t continue. In Ventnor Middle School, we were taught CPR in the 7th Grade. Our Gym teacher, Mrs. Keys, had an uncanny resemblance to the Resusci Annie doll – including the blue sweat suit with white race stripes and white tennis shoes. Sometimes, I wonder if that is why I became an EMT before becoming a cop.

Glenn Magill and I began CPR and rescue breathing. I kept saying to Nick, Sr. between breaths and compressions “Stay with us, Nick. Don’t let the fucker win!”

A few moments later, I felt the soft patting on my shoulder from a responding medic. I stood as he put the Bag-Valve-Mask on Nick’s face, delivering oxygen from a tank with the squeeze of the football like bag. Another medic tore open Nick’s undershirt, placing leads to the portable defibrillator and monitor on Nick’s now exposed chest. I looked at the monitor, seeing the uneven pattern of ventricular tachycardia. “He’s in V-Tac.”

My mother told me to go outside with Gigi. She figured that if Nick was not to survive, it was pointless for me punish myself by witnessing the medic attempt to jolt Nick’s heart into a sinus rhythm. I stepped outside to find a Galloway Township cop backing the ambulance, with the hedges blocking the backdoors just so he could park his Crown Vic in the lot.

“They won’t be able to get the stretcher in with the doors block.” I said this to the cop pointing at the hedges and the back of the rig. “You have to move it up.”

“That’s not my job.” The cop walked with the Barney Fife stride, grabbing his Jim Brown garrison belt, and pulling his trousers up.

Not his job? It wasn’t his fucking job to move the rig in the first place.

I jumped in the driver seat, and looked to my left, as I grabbed the steering wheel, to find Barney Fife standing in an isosceles stance. His knuckles were white as he gripped the handle of his still holstered gun.

“Sir, get out of the ambulance, NOW!”

“Are you going to move the ambulance or am I? Because if my friend dies, I will make sure his family sues you and your department.”

I guess he figured he was wrong, or the thought of being the target of a wrongful death lawsuit must have entered his mind. He nodded and I got out of the rig to stand to the side. The cop moved the ambulance back to its original position and was immediately scolded by the fire chief for being in the ambulance and why it was positioned the way it was. Someone had told the chief about the cop moving the ambulance the first time.

My stomach was churning, and I felt the dry heaves of nervous nausea rip apart my lungs. I walked to the back of the building and vomited, feeling pain as I took in each breath and spewed. Gigi rubbed my back and helped me stand. I went back into the building, only to be confronted by my father yelling about how right the cop was and how I was almost arrested. I held my ground. The cop was wrong…Period. After this it was followed by a dozen or so “Fuck Me? Fuck you!” and other exchanges of the explicative nature.

I walked away and heard him say “Don’t come home either, you ungrateful shit.”

I had never backed away from a fight, but by this time I was 29, and learned from martial arts and experience sometimes it is better to be thought an asshole and walk away than bring myself to the lower level and have it proven. In the end, I moved in with Gigi, became a daddy, got married, and with Glenn Magill gave Nick, Sr. eight more years to see a few more grandchildren born. I saw Glenn again at Nick’s funeral at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Margate. We were thanked for the additional years by Nick’s family, but I felt uncomfortable receiving any praise. There was no need. Even when Glenn and I were handed plaques for heroism by the Galloway Township PBA, there was no need. I didn't want the plaque; I did as was expected of me. It wasn’t until I buried my own mother, and carried her from church to hearse, from hearse to grave, that I understood their pain that October night, 1994. Nicky, Jr. helped me and my brothers carry her.

Once in awhile, when I drive down, I stop where Nick’s shop was on Portland Avenue, just off of Ventnor Avenue, behind the old Gulf Station. I remember when I was a kid, being paid a dollar or a hamburger to take out the trash. I remember how Nick would play the oldies and reminded me of Vic Tayback from “Alice.” Maybe it was because he was a decent man, a good dad, and kind heart who just happened to own a greasy-spoon like Mel Sharples.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Snug as a Six-Foot Tall Bug in a Rug


There are memories of my children that are stored, put to the back of my mind…not forgotten; just simply tuck away like a winter comforter that when the chill of missing or grief comes to clawing its way in like a harsh North wind keeps me warm and snug.  Perhaps one memory isn’t so different.  It’s a memory of seeing my son take on responsibility and earn the trust that was bestowed on him.

Last December, Gi and I went to a Christmas dinner that we purchased tickets to attend.  We questioned who would watch the kids and decided since Tim was now fifteen years old he was old enough to watch is younger sisters.  Tim promised not to disappear into his boy-cave – his bedroom and enter the world of PS3.  He was given a set of instructions, such as bedtime, when to answer the phone, not to answer the door unless it was the Pizza-Man, and above all not fight with his then one month shy of five years old sister and two-year old sister.  I told him it would be a losing battle – they’re girls.

During the dinner both his mother and I checked on him periodically.  “Yes, I’m fine.”  He would grumble.  “Yes, the girls are okay.”

Then the phone calls started to come from Tim. “They’re not listening.”  He would grumble.  “When are you coming home?” I could hear the frustration in his voice.

“Did you put on something they would like to watch?”  I suggested different ideas.  “Did you just curl up into a ball and let them beat you down?”

“Ha ha Daddy.”  Tim growled.  “No, I tried Nick Junior.  I tried the Disney Channel…they wont listen to me.  Alaina keeps saying ‘You’re not my father.’”

“Okay, Monk,” I said.  “We’ll be home within an hour.  Okay?”

“Yeah, I suppose.” He said as he hung up the phone.

As close to that hour deadline as humanly possible, Gi and I came home.  I opened the front door, the living room showed no signs of destruction – at least not readily visible.  I looked behind the vestibule door and saw the kitchen broom.

“Why is that here?”  I asked Tim as I was noticing white flaky stuff on the carpet.  “What is this?” 

Tim looked embarrassed.  “Well…I had to kill a bug.”

I looked up to the ceiling.  There was a hole in the ceiling about the diameter of a quarter surrounded by several circular and crescent shaped dents.  What was he doing mapping the phases of the moon?  “Why is there a hole the ceiling?”

“I told you I had to kill a bug.”

I looked at the hole.  I looked at the white plaster flakes on the carpet.  I looked back at the hole.  “Kill a bug with what?”

“The broom.”  Tim went over to the vestibule door, picked up the broom, and held it up with one hand and pointed with the other.  “I mistakenly used the wrong end.”

“How big was this bug?  Should I call the police and tell them to be on the look out for a giant bug?”  I looked at the hole.  I went to the front door and opened it, looking up and down the street.  “Did you get it?  I mean I hate to go back out and the bug comes back for revenge.”

“I’m sorry.  Do you have to bust my balls?”  Tim was getting upset.

“Yes, I do.”  I laughed.  “I’m your father and I have to know these things in order to protect you.  I don’t want a giant bug coming back and eating any of my children.”

“I said I was sorry.  Geez.”

“Tim, I’m just teasing you.”  I grabbed him by his ear as was our custom.  As Tim got older he didn’t like to be hugged by me.  I guess someone teased him about giving his dad a hug.  Funny though he still gave me a kiss good-bye when I would drop him off at school.  “I wouldn’t have noticed it if you vacuumed the floor.  I could have blamed your mother.”

The next day the girls told me about how their brother had killed a big bug that tormented them from the ceiling.  Tim described it as a thousand-legged; the girls described as something large and ferocious.  I thought of the giant bugs from Starship Troopers.  If you had seen the movie Neil Patrick Harris is in it and lives entirely by a different set of Bro-Code rules.

But from that night after Tim was a hero to his sisters.  I know they miss him.  This is one of those memories I pull out and wrap myself up in and smile.  I’m tearing up on the outside, but I am chuckling on the inside with a smile of pride that I could trust my son.

Monday, November 28, 2011

American Pie


There has always been music played in our home and our car.  If we went on road trips, wither it be to visit family or just to explore the roads and byways music was pumping out of the car stereo – FM radio, CD, or tape in the case of our old Camry.  One song that Tim loved was American Pie by Don McLean.  The song is the story of McLean’s reaction to Buddy Holly’s death in an airplane crash and a history of how rock and roll music changed.

I told Tim how in late 1971 and through 1972, my childhood friends and I would sing the song while we played on the street.  I told him how Buddy Holly might still be living if he hadn’t lost a coin toss to Waylon Jennings deciding who would fly in the ill-fated plane and who would ride in the tour bus.  As Tim got older he picked on the symbology used in the song – not just the Catholic catechisms, how the soda shops and malt shops in the 1950’s actually did exist and juke boxes were a conduit to the forbidden music – that was innocent by today’s standards.  But the song also told of the musicians changed the course of rock history following Buddy Holly’s death.  He became interested in the Big Bopper and Richie Valens who died along with Holly that cold February night.

Buddy Holly was the first rock and roll musician to use violins in his music.  His music influenced John Lennon who named his band the Beatles in homage to the Crickets – Holly’s band.  Buddy Holly’s wife had a miscarriage shortly after Buddy Holly’s death.  There was a revamp and growth in Folk music with Bob Dylan at the helm in the early 1960’s.  There was a nationwide sadness and disillusionment in the United States following John F. Kennedy’s assassination until the Beatles landed, and through the same medium that won Kennedy the presidency in 1960 overtook and revamped rock and roll. 

I pointed out events that McLean alluded to in his song – Bob Dylan using an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival and being booed off stage, The Byrds song “8 Miles High”,  the Summer of Love in 1967, Woodstock, the Rolling Stones hiring Hell’s Angels as security for the Altamont where a concert goer was stabbed to death.  How Mick Jagger is said to be both the Devil and Jack Flash when parts of lyrics are referenced in the song.  The girl that sang the blues was Janice Joplin.

Don McLean was recently interviewed and confessed that American Pie was written in our hometown of Philadelphia and first preformed at Temple University.  When we were asked for a list of Tim’s favorite songs to be used in a montage video for his viewing, American Pie was at the top of the list.  On May 17, 2011, my music died; the course of what I had enjoyed with my son had been taken from us.  Maybe one day I’ll go back to the sacred store and his sisters will take an interest in some of the music their brother loved and shared with me.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I Believe in Father Christmas


In 1996, Gi and I were facing our first Christmas in our home.  We had just moved in a few months before.  As Christmas Day was counting down on our calendar we opted to put our house budget to making sure Tim would have presents to open and not worry about a Christmas tree unless we could find one that was inexpensive.  I wasn’t on the Police Department yet, and I felt inadequate to give Gi and Tim a Christmas tree.  I thought maybe a small ceramic tree would suffice, but Gi wanted a real tree for Tim and stood her ground on what she wanted.

We both grew up with live trees decorating our homes; she wanted Tim to have nothing less.  It was a few days before Christmas and we were finishing our present shopping, food shopping, paying bills, and looked at the trees that were being sold on street corners and in the parking lots of the shopping centers.  Our collection of ornaments were made up of decorations we had given each other, received from family, and what was given to Timmy for his first Christmas.

We walked home, Tim in his stroller snuggled up in blankets and a warm coat and hat.  I opened the door and on the living room floor was an eight foot Christmas tree.  Gi followed in with Timmy in her arms.

“How did this get here?” She said as she put Timmy down.

“I don’t know.”  I rolled the tree over to look it over.  “No one breaks into a house and leaves something.” 

Timmy looked at the tree and tried to help me roll it over again.

Within a half hour the tree was up in a stand, as we hung ornaments on the branches.

We wondered who gave us the tree.  Gi called her sister and brother who lived nearby; no one knew anything about the tree.

It was Christmas Eve, Joe – Gi's sister Meg’s fiancĂ© came over to the house.  He looked at the tree.  He gave a satisfying look at the Tannenbaum.  “It’s amazing what you get for Christmas. No house should be without a Christmas tree.”

Joe had bought the tree and used a spare key we had given him to bring it in.  Joe died almost two years later in a tree accident.  I think about that first tree every Christmas.  I think of Joe’s gift, as I am now.

I believe in Father Christmas.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Horse


Soon after I went back to work, a co-worker told me that I need to get back on my horse.  What horse would that be? 
What is the color of this horse? 
What breed is this horse? 
Do I look like a cowboy or a cavalryman?
Is it because I am grieving my son still and will be for some time still yet to come that I am suddenly a purveyor of equine sensibility? 
Is this horse a Clydesdale - large, majestic, and strong?
Is this a pale horse that Death rode upon and Hell followed after the fourth seal is opened?
Is this a horse of a different color, much like the one that transported Dorothy to see the Wizard when she entered the Emerald City?

Could this horse be powerful and fast as a Mustang, where I can ride off quickly, to be far and away from the pain?
Why not a bronco, a horse that needs to be broken else throws his rider?
Could this be a horse that is caparisoned, being escorted behind a caisson carrying a coffin, without a rider and boots backwards in the stirrups?

Honestly, it is from a misperception that I am to suddenly be past the grief, anguish, and pain from the death of my child; that this horse I am to be on is the answer to all my questions.  That like any rider from horse stories, the visual of getting back on the horse and try again.  I have gotten back on my horse several times.  This horse has thrown me, broken me rather than I break him. 

What is forgotten is that I, as the grieving parent, never asked for anything.  I was told numerous times “If you need anything call me.”  I appreciated the offer from friends, family, the students of Archbishop Ryan and other Archdiocesan high schools, the community, and the others that have supported me emotionally and spiritually since Tim was killed.  All I really, and honestly, desired was to know the aforementioned people did not abandon me.  They didn’t.  If anything the support from this extended family and modern children’s crusade grew.  The cheers and good wishes have hardened me to face the next day and be able to see the sun or remember that despite storm clouds the sun is still there.

So for the meanwhile, I plod along…leading this horse by the reigns stopping every so often to watch the wheels go round and round.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Arlo, Pierre, and Thanksgiving Day


I just arrived home after visiting my son, Tim. Last year, on Thanksgiving 2010, my son and I went on a quest to hunt down a turkey baster for the preparation of the Thanksgiving bird. It started at 10 o’clock in the morning. We headed off in the family car and it was soon into thirty minutes of our sojourn, I realized that I was missing Pierre Robert’s traditional playing of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant Massacre; Tim’s mother had a habit of flipping around the preset stations when commercials were playing too long. I quickly turned to WMMR’s preset home on button #1 and felt disheartened as Arlo was finishing up.

However the gloom soon vanished when Pierre announced that he would be playing Alice’s Restaurant again within an hour and half or so...taking into account the eighteen minute and some odd seconds of song/tale. Tim asked me why it was a big deal and I explained that I have my own personal traditions.

I told Tim how Arlo was arrested for littering with a half-ton of garbage that was packed into a red VW micro-bus. Tim thought it was funny when I told him how the police pulled out all sorts of CSI equipment and the twenty-seven 8x10 color glossy photographs with the circles and arrows, along with a paragraph on the back to explain each one.  Tim became very interested in the story behind the song, which is the story in the song.

Tim with his positive outlook on things said “Well Daddy, its going to repeat. So if we hurry we can listen to it on the way home.”

Before the song, courtesy of Pierre, was repeated we finished our quest and procured a turkey baster at the department store that was so very happy to see a customer that was not camping out front awaiting the Black Friday alarm.

We drove home listening to Alice’s  Restaurant, with Tim laughing and giggling...sometimes repeating a funny line like “father rapers, ” or how the fellow Group W bench mates moved away from Arlo when he said he was arrested for littering, and moved back when he added unruly behavior.

Today, Thanksgiving 2011, I was driving home from Tim’s grave when I heard Pierre announce the vinyl cut of Alice’s Restaurant. It jarred the memory in full detail as I parked in a lot and listened; the pain of missing my beloved son was eased just a bit for the day.

I am thankful this Thanksgiving for having been blessed with a son such as Tim, as I am equally blessed with his sisters who are too young to understand. So I thank Pierre for giving me this memory. Although Tim had heard Alice’s Restaurant many times over his short life, it was the first time he listened and understood the humor and his own personal message.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Little Drummer Boy


Christmas, a time of Yule and Noel, a brief moment in childhood believing in a man delivering presents while you’re nestled in your bed; where in retrospect seems like a long history of memories.  As a parent, it was for me to make my son, and later his sisters as well, happy and keep alive an age-old myth.  It is a time of wondering what Who-pudding consists of, or how to cook a who-beast; an attempt to explain to a little girl a hundred years ago that there is a Santa Claus because he lives in all of us during this time of thanks and giving.  It is also a time for telling of a ghost story and conclude Scrooge’s redeemer was not himself but Marley who is fettered to the bonds of avarice.

Despite how I see the world’s seedy and dark underbelly that does not rest even on Christmas; it is from a song that I would find some solace – some humility.  Knowing that despite my own childhood, there is redemption in the innocence of how my son saw Christmas.  He saw the humor as he listened to stories of pranks I played on my siblings at Christmas, and worse when I shared sentimental moments of my own childhood – friends and family now gone; toys broken and now possibly buried in some landfill.  I shared with him the Christmas specials that aired each season of my youth, and how I played Charlie Brown in 8th Grade when our school drama club preformed A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Of course other holiday movies would come and go.  My mother would play National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  We got our own copy to add to the Christmas movie collection.  Tim’s favorite part was when Eddie (played by Randy Quad) was with Griswold as they were about to try a new cooking spray on round sled.

“They had to replace my metal plate with a plastic one.  Every time Catherine would rev up the microwave, I’d piss my pants and forget who I was for about half an hour.”


Christmas also comes from a brief parable told in the form of song as a little drummer boy who has nothing to give a new born king but a few rum pa-rum pum pum’s on his drum, giving only of himself as Mary nods her approval, the ox and lamb kept time; the baby smiles at him all along acknowledging such a simple and unique gift.  The holiday animation from Rakin/Bass first aired on television when I was four years old.  I remember as I sat in front of my family’s color television with combination stereo and record player horrified at the thought of being orphaned and losing a pet.  Greer Garson’s grandmotherly voice narrated the tale soothing the horror to a happy ending.  The special never became as popular as Frosty the Snowman.

The boy, Aaron is orphaned after marauders killed his parents and burned his home to the ground; a hatred of all mankind takes root and grows in the boy.  Aaron is soon conscripted to play his drum for two bumbling and conniving troupe performers seeking fortune and fame by using Aaron’s ability to play his drum, that as if by magic, enchants his small parade of animals, a donkey, a camel, and lamb, to dance and perform.  It is later in the story, while seeking patronage from the three kings, Aaron learns the kings are following a star that would lead to a new born king in Bethlehem.

Soon after the Magi, along with Aaron and his animals, arrive in Bethlehem, the lamb is gravely injured after being hit by a chariot.  Aaron desperate to save his lamb goes to the kings.  He is told that the lamb is beyond their knowledge of care and will soon die, but if he goes to the newborn king the lamb may be saved.  Aaron heeds the advice, goes to pay homage at the Nativity where the infant Jesus lies with shepherds standing guard.  With his pride humbled and his anger dissipated from the sight of the innocent baby, Aaron plays his drum.  The first Christmas miracle is revealed as the lamb regains his health – perhaps as a thank you from the infant Prince of Peace.

It’s from that song, this parable, that Tim found also humor – in me!  The song was originally known as Carol of the Drum, written in 1941 by Katherine K. Davis, based on a Czech song.  In 1958, The Little Drummer Boy became a famous and favorite Christmas song when the Harry Simone Chorale recorded it.  It was recorded many times after; David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s cover is amongst my favorites.

Whenever the song would play on the radio during the Christmas season, and it would never matter which cover or version, I would turn up the volume and sing along.  It is my favorite Christmas song since I was little – because of the television special.  I would get choked up – misty eyed.  Tim would lean forward from the backseat to see if a tear was forming and giggle.  Here is his dad, who is supposed to be a bastion of strength and confidence, getting teary over a song.  But thank God, it was an annual thing…for about six weeks.  If Tim happened to be seated in the front of the car and heard the song as he pushed the pre-set buttons or scanned through the radio stations, he would tune in and pump up the volume.  He would then grin and giggle.

“I’m daddy,” he would say.  “This song makes me cry.”  Tim would then laugh and ask when the tears would start.

“Shut up.”  I would glance over at him.  It was said with a combination choke and giggle.  “It’s not good to make fun of your father’s vulnerabilities at Christmas time.” 

It was worse after I bought the DVD of the Christmas show.  Tim would rewind the scene over and over.  

“Boo-hoo-hoo.  I’m daddy and I cry over the little cartoon lamb that got run over.”  He would put a finger to his cheek and trace a path of an imaginary tear, or mime a crying baby rubbing his eyes.

Now its six months after my son was taken from me.  This morning, I got in my car and started to drive to work.  Gi had used the car the night before and tuned the radio to B101.  I don’t know if it was a sign, Timmy teasing me, or what not; a cover by Restless Heart of The Little Drummer Boy had just started.  I turned up the volume but did not sing along.  On my way to work, I just simply cried listening to the song with a few brief chuckles as I remembered how my son would tease me over a song.  After the song, I just cried some more.  I wonder now if his sisters will pick up the mantle of sentimental teasing.  I held off writing until it was a little later because I didn’t want the girls to see me cry.  I wouldn’t have been able to finish because they would want to comfort me, not understanding that I am enveloping my thoughts with good memories despite the loneliness I feel without my son.

Little Drummer Boy
Katherine K. Davis
Come they told me
Pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see,
Pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring
Pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King
Pa rum pum pum pum
Rum pum pum pum
Rum pum pum pum
So to honor Him
Pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.

Little Baby
Pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too,
Pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring
Pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit to give our King
Pa rum pum pum pum
Rum pum pum pum
Rum pum pum pum
Shall I play for you!
Pa rum pum pum
On my drum.

Mary nodded
Pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time
Pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him
Pa rum pum pum
I played my best for Him
Pa rum pum pum pum
Rum pum pum pum
Rum pum pum pum
Then He smiled at me
Pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Learning to Stalk Santa

Every Christmas, multitudes of parents flock to the malls to stand in line waiting to have their children photographed with Santa.  There was no difference with my family when it came to Timmy.  I had graduated from the Police Academy in June, 1998 when Timmy was just shy of his third birthday.  Since Timmy was born friends had told his mother and me to bring Timmy to the Neshaminy Mall because the Santa there was the best.  The only problem was that at the time we didn’t have a car, and settled for photographs with either my dad playing Santa for a Police party or someone at a Christmas Bazaar.  It didn’t matter; it was the magic of Christmas.

I hated Christmas before Timmy was born.  I mean I made the Grinch look like a saint.  But the first Christmas, feeling like a character from O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, I tried to buy whatever I could for my son’s first Noel.  I bought a few baby toys, including Winnie the Pooh.  My father of course bought up just about anything my wife and I picked and considered.  Some of the things were too much money; others were on our “not safe” list.

I was still working as EMT and dispatcher at a private ambulance company, and with what I had left after groceries, bills, bus pass, and mortgage, I went to Toys R Us or Kay Bee Toys and bought the marked down toys.  Still each year was photographed with the first available Santa. 

Finally after I graduated the Police Academy, I bought a used Camry.  We drove to the Neshaminy Mall for the guy advertised as the real deal.  Timmy yelled with excitement as we passed the billboards on I-95, saying excitedly “Santa!  Santa!” When we arrived, Santa had just left for a lunch break and were handed a reservation request.  We filled it out and handed a square red diode laden pager.  So what do we do now?  We decided to go for Timmy’s favorite food – Pizza!  Down the hall from the Santa Chair is Pizza Villa.  It’s a nice place to get a slice, a whole pie, or even a buffet meal of Italian food.

We opted to sit in a booth and had a pizza ordered.  While we were waiting, Tim stood on the seat of the booth, and with an opened mouth, excitedly pointed at a guy wearing red pants with suspenders, black boots, and a Christmas themed thermal shirt.  He had the white beard, blue eyes, and a laugh that could belong to no other than Kris Kringle.  Timmy sprang up and off the booth seat and proceeded to interrupt Santa who was attempting to enjoy a hoagie.  He got to a few feet of Santa and froze.  He inspected the man. 

“Hello there.”  Santa said.

Timmy just gave a slight wave.  Finally he found the courage to speak, “I’m Timmy.”

“Oh you are?  Are you on my good list or my bad list?”

“I’m on the good list.  I’m a good boy.”

I walked up to retrieve Timmy so Santa could eat.  “Daddy aren’t I a good boy?”

“Yes Monk.  You are a very good boy.”

Timmy waved good-bye to Santa with a “See you when you get back from lunch.”

I now saw why this Santa was considered the best.  He was Santa in spirit. 

Every year since, we would stalk Santa at the Pizza Villa.  Tim would continue to sit with Santa until Alaina was old enough to be with Santa alone when he was eleven. That was the last time Tim had his picture taken.  It broke my heart when he said that there is no Santa.  “I just liked going to the mall with you and mommy to get it done.  I’ll still do it if it makes you feel better.”

Last Christmas season, Tim passed the game of Stalking Santa on to his sisters.  I burst with laughter as my girls did the same as their brother had done ten years before.  Last week, Santa was at the mall.  The girls ran over to him and hugged him.  Alaina promised she would return to get her picture taken.  Oh how much I miss him.  How much more is there to find some joy this first major holiday season without Tim?  I guess it’s the small random things.


Friday, November 11, 2011

May 17, 2011 Feeling Adrift

The sunlight seemed brighter as I walked out of the Emergency Room.  The nurse walked beside me, partly holding me up, partly holding me back from doing anything stupid.  I pulled out my cell phone and called home.  I knew Gi would be possibly still at the hair salon with the girls – Alaina was graduating Pre-K the next day and we wanted her to have her hair cut and styled.  I crossed the parking lot and sat on the curb.  It was the first time noticing Tim’s blood on my hands, my clothes, and even feeling it dry on my face.  The answering machine at home picked up.

“Where are you?  I’m at hospital; call me back!”  I cried into the phone.

I called other relatives and friends.  I called my aunt – my Uncle Vince’s window, Maryanne.  Uncle Vince was killed two months before in a motor cycle accident.  I didn’t want to drag her into this – I felt selfish to ask her to be with me, but I had no one that was close by.  My sister Katie was en route from the Egg Harbor Township.

“Is there anyone that you would like me to try to call?” the nurse asked.

I shook my head.  I didn’t have anyone else really.  I haven’t spoken to my father since before my mother died.  It’s not worth getting into, but in short his letter of disownment was enough.  I just never thought that he would carry what ever he felt towards me and my brother and sister to his grandchildren.

“I have to get back to my son.”  I said as I got up.  I was coughing and sputtering, feeling anger, disbelief, shock, and nausea all at once.  My son was dead.  No one had any answers beyond the obvious and what I was already informed.  The nurse grabbed me by my arm and clung to me.  Partly holding me up, partly attempting to give me comfort.  I felt like a macabre suitor on a bizarre hellish date.

As I entered the room where Tim still lay, another nurse came in and whispered in the nurse’s ear.  She nodded and tapped her thigh in a manner showing she was uncomfortable.

“Mr. Connors, we are going to need to move your son.  I’m sorry.  I was told that the room we’ll be moving him to is more private.”

I acknowledged her, nodding my head.  I followed as the nurse was joined by another and rolled Tim to another room.  The window on the door was occluded with mini-blinds.  I didn’t know what reality was any longer.  I felt the nightmare beginning.  I felt that God had abandoned me.  I lost all connection with what was my world.  I felt alone.  I was adrift...the anchor of my soul was severed from me.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Regrets and Treats

Halloween was a special holiday for Tim.  It was his chance to become his favorite television or comic book superhero, such as the Red Power Ranger or Spider-Man.  When he was a baby, it was the costumes that were cute and funny – a puppy-dog, Barney the Purple Dinosaur, or a cowboy.  As he got a bit older, the costumes became a little more elaborate – a vampire, the Grim Reaper, a werewolf, or the character from Slaughterhouse.

In 2009, as he was beginning to tickle his muse of designing his own comic-book hero he based his costume on what the character would wear – red fleece shirt, blue cargo-pants, and military boots.  The character was from a future time or alternate reality, who was a teen and the leader of a combat group that battled zombies who were controlled by demons.  Tim loved Halloween.  He loved the myth and origins of the holiday – from its druid beginnings to the Great Pumpkin disappointing Linus and Sally as they waited for him to appear as they took fortitude in the pumpkin patch.
The week before we took off to one of the local farms in Bucks County to hunt down our perfect pumpkin that would transformed into the Jack O’Lantern – mutilated if I wielded the carving knife to give its face the triangle eyes and jagged toothy smile.  Candles, strobe lights, or glow sticks would be inserted to give the definitive glow.  Tim would pull us along running to the Haunted Barn, the Alien Hunt, or the Corn Maze.  One year, his sister Alaina’s first year, he brought along a friend from school.  The two boys run off to go for a quick ride in the Monster Truck – a converted hearse with a 4x4 engine and transmission and four foot high tires.  Soon Tim discovered the paint ball gun, shooting ghosts and ghoulies cutout targets with orange and yellow paint.

If it was a year my schedule was day-work, or even luckier to be off from work, I would stay home and give out the candy to the trick-or-treaters.  Tim would go off with his mother to return with a king’s ransom in chocolate, taffies, coin, and potato chips or pretzels.  It was special even more if the holiday was on a weekend or if he was off from school the next day – he and I would watch Bela Lugosi as Dracula, laugh and giggle with Peter Boyle singing Putting on the Ritz, and howl as David Naughton changed from an American hitchhiker in England to a flesh tearing werewolf who is haunted by his best friend.

My only regret is the times Tim wanted to go on a haunted hayride or walk through a haunted prison tour or asylum.  Sometimes, work and school schedules or economics interfered.  I watched his face become sullen with disappointment, but then brighten with his own simple plans to collect candy and dress up.  I hated disappointing him.  I know he wanted to have the adventure of going to the Eastern Penitentiary to hunt down a ghost.

This first Halloween without Tim is difficult for me.  I think of him, wondering and imaging what he would be doing this year.  Who would he dress as to emulate or impersonate?  How far would he walk to collect treats; would he go with his mother and sisters, or go off by himself?  Instead I will be bringing treats to set them at his headstone that was just recently laid and tell him how his sisters will be dressing as little witches, how we went pumpkin hunting, and walking through the Haunted Barn without him – all the time missing him being with in the physical world.  This may be a minor holiday as compared to Christmas; but none the less it’s a holiday that was burned into my memory.  It is a holiday that my son looked forward to and planned for over a space of time.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Rabbit Hole


It’s called the Rabbit Hole, this sudden loss of a child and the grief that comes along with it.   Much like Lewis Carroll’s Alice chasing after the White Rabbit and plummeting down to the antechambers that open to the madness of Wonderland; each day is met by the disillusion of reality.  There was no bottle with a note attached reading “Drink Me.”  There was no morsel of cake or scone with a note reading “Eat Me.”  I know.  I woke each morning expecting the nightmare to have been just that – a nightmare.
I prayed each night before I drifted off to sleep and dream of my Tim that I would wake up and find him running down the stairs, dragging his fingertips against the wall evident from the ever-blackening trail of five or four lines.  I half expected to open his bedroom door to find Tim sitting on his bed, computer on his lap as he surfed the internet.  There were days I sat in the backyard as my daughters splashed and played in the pool.  I would look up at his bedroom window, hoping and praying I would hear his laughter.  Each time led to disappointment.  Each time reminded me that reality had been altered.  The thread that held the fabric of my soul’s skein was pulled out and my universe had fallen apart like cheap counterfeit clothing.
Happenstance to what I was now experiencing, Tim had read both of the Alice novels during Spring Break this freshman year.  He was anticipating a new game coming out involving an Alice now grown into womanhood.  He and his sisters watched Disney’s cartoon and movie directed by Tim Burton and starred Johnny Depp.  I had told him that Alice in Wonderland was John Lennon’s favorite book – Tim liked the useless plethora of trivia I possessed.  Once or twice I played Jefferson Airplane’s song with Grace Slick’s contralto voice and her lyrics from the group’s 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow.
Go ask Alice, when she’s two foot small.

I just recently had Tim’s bedroom door replaced for reasons of another story.  However, Tim had written a quote from Alice in Wonderland as the Cat is directing Alice to the Tea Party.

“'But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat. “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
 
Tim’s vandalism of the door is minor to the thought that it comes to me as a message that can be conveyed to grieving parents.  I surely don’t want to be in this “club,” or “go among the mad people.”  But I must because I have arrived in Wonderland and as Alice answered to the Caterpillar as to whom she was…

Alice replied shyly, “I-I hardly know sir, just at the present – at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, I think I have changed several times since then.”

I have changed several times since I woke up on May 17, 2011.  Still I have to ask,  “What did the Dormouse say?”

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Lion Cub (Timothy's Song)


He came to my world with a lion cub's roar
His gentle soul, I am bound to his trust
Protecting him from mistakes and tragedies of my past
an unspoken oath given in the presence of angels

I watch him grow, as I grow older
Magical days are the joy of his life
His words have saved my soul from the evil
as he held my face drying tears for lost brothers in the fires

The common bond of a father and son,
one which no one can break, and defy God to take him from my heart.
he will remain my gentle lion cub, my son, my soul,
even to the day I return to dust

 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tears in the Dark, Little Sisters, and a Broken Promise

To write about my Tim as if he were a paragon, I do not wish to convey those are my thoughts.  He was a simple, everyday teenager who came into the world kicking and screaming as most children do when born.  Still he was my son.  I overlook many imperfections as most fathers do when it comes to their children.  He had his moods, his quarks, his fallacies; but despite all these characteristics that make him human – he was of course my son.  As any father and son, we had our arguments, disagreements, disputes, and each set in our ways and beliefs.  No matter what came of those troubles, Tim knew he was loved.

In early October, 2009, Tim was one month into his 8th grade year.  He turned 14 during the summer.  His mother and I were separated; Tim decided to stay with me.  He didn’t want to leave me alone and most of all didn’t want to leave his home.  I tried everything to keep him happy and feeling “normal” with the whirlwind and turmoil of my marital status.  When I picked up his sisters to visit, Tim would help me care for them.  He took care of me after his mother left; it was an experience that matured him beyond his years and changed his outlook on love and trust.

He was due to have his braces removed in a short time after having them applied the previous year just before he was to start the 7th grade and at a new school.  After the braces he hardly smiled.  That August, 2008, I took Tim for an Orthodontist consult and by luck – good or bad – there were a few cancellations.  The orthodontist is named Dr. Klatte. 

Tim teased that it sounded like Klaatu, the name of the alien visitor from the 1951 classic The Day the Earth Stood Still.  The orthodontist was more than happy to use those openings to install the mounts and wire.  Tim was not happy about it.
 
“Great, now Jack has something new to tease me about.”  Tim said as his once playful grin changed to a grimace of despair.

“Do you mean that little girly boy; the one that looks like Damien from the Omen?”  I asked feeling guilty for my son’s dismay.  Tim was sensitive about how others thought of him.  He was sensitive about his outward projection of himself.

“Yeah.  Him.”

I looked at Tim.  I knew how he felt.  I never had braces, but when I was a kid I faced bullies and teasing.  I was teased about my mom’s divorce, living in a blended family, having pimples – all the things that as adults we don’t think of until we run into a nemesis at a high school reunion.  The only thing I could do was no different from most parents facing a dilemma of their child’s happiness and self-esteem.  I consoled Tim and gave him a different outlook on the situation.

“Tim, the doctor said the braces would be on for only just over fourteen months.  So this is what you can say to Jack: ‘These will be off within a year; you’re going to be a faggot for the rest of your life.’”

Tim laughed.  We drove to seek out a chocolate shake and something that would brighten his day. 

So now October, a year later.  Tim was helping his sister, Alaina, out of her car seat.  Alaina can be tenacious especially for the age of three.  She refused Tim’s assistance.  Each time he tried to unbuckle the straps to the car seat she would hit his hands.  When he finally did she began screaming.  Tim tried very hard to pick her up from the car seat but Alaina continued to wrestle and fidget, flaying her arms and kicking her legs.  I had told Tim several times before that he didn’t know his own strength.  As he was picking his sister up he was actually hurting her.  I know he didn’t mean to hurt her – it wasn’t as if he was a giant oaf like Lenny in Of Mice and Men – but he had the developing muscles of a man, but with the mindset of a boy.  He was gentle by nature.

I have to admit I was having a bad day.  Alaina and Tim fought all day.  Tim would try to help me care for his sister; Alaina wouldn’t allow him to do anything.  I saw the way Tim was holding his sister.  Her screams were so high pitch, the type of shriek that goes down your spine and bounces around your skull.  I told Tim to put his sister down.

“You’re hurting her.  Just put her down.  I’ve told you before about how strong you are.”

“I’m not; she’s just being a pain in the ass.”

“Put her down!”  I yelled at him.  I don’t know why but I suddenly hit him in the face.  I had never hit him in his life.  The most I had ever used to employ any form of corporal punishment was a two-finger tap and a slight clip to the back of his head – but never to cause pain, leave a mark, or draw blood.  I looked down at my hand and saw blood.  Tim stood holding his hands over his mouth.  I wiped the blood from my hand onto my pant leg.  

“Daddy, I’m bleeding.”  I looked at Tim.  A slight trickle of blood smeared off from his lip.  I pulled his lip back.  I saw the wire from his top braces not in line with the rest of the set-up; the mount over his eye-tooth became dislodged where it was cemented.

“Oh Monk, I am so sorry.”

“It’s okay, Daddy.”

“No its not.  Come on lets clean you up and I’ll have to call the Orthodontist to get this fixed.”

That night as Tim slept; I sat on my sofa in the darkness of the living room.  I cried for hurting him.  I was ashamed because it was among the promises I had made him when he was born.  I hated myself that night because I broke not only skin but a promise. 

Klaatu barada nikto

Tim's Red Balloon



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

TIMOTHY OWEN CONNORS Obituary

TIMOTHY OWEN CONNORS Obituary: View TIMOTHY CONNORS's Obituary by Philadelphia Inquirer & Philadelphia Daily News

TIMOTHY OWEN CONNORS | Visit Guest Book

CONNORS

TIMOTHY OWEN, Born on July 26, 1995 died tragically on May 17, 2011. Beloved son of Georgette Connors (nee Graham) and Martin Connors III. Loving brother of Alaina, Charlotte and Dillon. Also surviving are his dear grand-parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and countless friends. Timmy, a graduate of Our Lady of Port Richmond and a freshman at Archbishop Ryan H.S. had a passion for designing his own comic books and writing stories. He will be remembered for his endless love of family and friends and all things Spiderman. All are invited to share in Timmy's Life Celebration Friday eve. from 6-9 P.M. from JOHN F. GIVNISH OF ACADEMY RD., 10975 Academy Rd., Phila. and Saturday from 8:30 - 10:30 A.M. at Nativity B.V.M. Belgrade St. and Allegheny Ave. followed by his Funeral Mass 11:00 A.M. Interment Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the Timothy Connors Memorial Scholarship Fund at Archbishop Ryan H. S. To share you fondest memories of Timmy visit
www.lifecelebration.com
1-877-GIVNISH

Published in Philadelphia Inquirer & Philadelphia Daily News on May 19, 2011

View the Memorial Website

Writing Tim's Name in the Stars


Just before Tim’s sixth birthday, it was decided to repaint his room.  Gi had seen ideas on shows such as This Old House and the like and thought of doing an outer space theme.  She searched out swatches of paint to find the perfect night sky shade of blue and with a new sewing machine she made curtains with a planet theme.  For days she scraped, spackled holes, and sanded the wall smooth.  Then came the painting of two or three coats; the whole time of the project was a few days to allow the paint to dry and repaint – not mentioning Tim wanting to come in and play with his toys or watch his television.

I found glow-in-dark stars with adhesive backs.  Some of the packages came with planets, comets, and galaxies.  So for a few days, I printed out the maps of the night sky and planned how to arrange the star stickers in positions of the constellations.  I had to decide on the time so that it was somewhat accurate.  I was anal about it.  I didn’t just want random stars thrown on the wall, I wanted something so Tim could look and become familiar and learn.

When the paint was dry and the curtains hung, I set about sticking the stars to the walls.  I decided on midnight Greenwich Mean-time.  I figured it was zero hour for the world on so many different clocks.  It took two days to painstakingly arrange them, from the major constellations that can be recognized with a glance to the ones that needed a squinting of the eyes and discerning the celestial horizon – Orion, Cygnus, Draconis, and so on.
As I finished I noticed I had extra stars and a few extra comets.  Above Tim’s bedroom closet I had a small void where I had planned to place the moon; instead I spelled out Tim’s name.  “Timmy” was formed of the final stars.  I wondered if God took such pleasure when the Universe was formed.

“How do you like that Monk?”

“Why did you do that Daddy?” Tim asked looking at his name.

“So your name is written in the stars.”

“Why?”

“Because I love you and you mean that much to me.  If I could move the real stars, I would write your name so everyone could see.”

We let the lights stay on a bit longer that night, and when we turned them off the room gave the feeling that you were floating above the earth and looking out into space.  Tim loved it.  I felt dizzy and would feel dizzy each time I went into his room when the lights were out or poked my head in when I came home and checked on his slumber.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Tim's Baby Journal November 30, 2008 to August 11, 2001

Monday, November 30,  1998


Rookie Cops Deliver Baby In Cruiser

(Philadelphia)--Two rookie police officers with less than a year on the force got the surprise of their young careers Sunday morning when they delivered a baby girl in the back seat of their cruiser.

Geraldine Brooks of southwest Philadelphia gave birth to a premature baby girl at about 9:30 a.m., next to police officer Martin Connors who used her boyfriend's coat to catch the baby.

"Our instructor at the police academy told us there might come a time when we'd have to deliver a baby. At the time, a few of us chuckled,''

Connors said. "I always thought it wouldn't happen to me."

Frederick Salters held his girlfriend's hands while she gave birth to their first child. "It's something I'll always remember,'' said Salters, 37.

"It was over quick. ... I don't know what I would have done without the officers.''

Salters, a father of two others, said this was the first birth he had witnessed.

Connors, 34, and his partner, 22-year-old officer Joseph Dalessio -- who have a combined 11 months on the force -- were getting coffee at a 7-Eleven in southwest Philadelphia when Salters asked them to rush his pregnant girlfriend to the hospital.

Ms. Brooks, who also has two other children, had arranged to meet her midwife at a hospital about 30 minutes away. But, after riding two blocks down the street, she realized that she wouldn't make it. The officers then pulled over and shuttled Ms. Brooks into the back seat of their car.

"I think they were as nervous as I was when I told them what was going on, Salters said.

The officers had called for an ambulance, but the baby dropped into Connors' outstretched hands within minutes.

"It was her third child. She knew the baby's head was in the birth canal. ... She talked us through it, telling us what was going on all the time," said Connors, who worked as an emergency medical technician before joining the force in June. "I was actually praying the paramedics would get there in time,'' he said.

Connors wrapped the baby with Salters' work coat.

"Well, it's something to remember it by,'' Salters said, describing the coat as no longer wearable.

At the police academy, cadets undergo extensive medical training -- including first aid, CPR and how to assist in a birth. Still, such surprise births are rare, according the officers' supervisor, Lt. Joseph Dilacqua.

"I've been with the force 23 years, I've heard about something like this once or twice,'' he said. "You hear about this in a lot of other cities and other police departments, but you never think it will happen to you.''

Although the baby, who had not been named yet Sunday afternoon, was two weeks premature, Salters said it still seemed to be the best time to give birth: the day before his girlfriend's birthday. She turns 27 on Monday.

"She's very happy,'' he said.

(C) Associated Press.

Trust me, monk; I was shitting my pants when all this happened.  Your grandmother called from Las Vegas saying she had seen me on CNN.  Your other grandmother called your mother saying that my partner and I were on the Today Show on NBC.  There's talk that we're getting commendations ... but it's not something to let go to your head.  I tried telling my partner that but ... you can only tell someone so much.  I admit I had a large head about it and all, but I had to calm down ... no sense pissing off a fellow co-worker.

4/22/99

I haven’t written in this journal of yours for a few months. I wasn’t that I had nothing to say or forgot to write down the things that have been occurring; it’s that I have been busy.  It’s like what John Lennon sang “ Life is what you have while you’re busy making other plans”.  I hope one day you’ll understand.

My friend Dawn lost her son the other day.  He died.  She is going through what I fear the most, and that is losing you.

You’re getting quite big now, and quite smart.  I am impressed with you everyday.  You’re mother wants you enrolled in Pre-K, I really don’t want you to go, but I think that’s because I want you to stay a baby ... my monkey boy.  I love you.

7-18-99

Last week you were bitten by a dog down the street.  I was at work chasing bad guys and such, when this happened.  Actually, Elby (my partner) and I were backing up another officer on a car stop.  This 13 year old kid took his mother’s car and drove like a nut.  Elby and I saw this red Ford Probe, driving backwards from 67th Street onto Paschall Avenue, then the other officer following behind.  After we got through, I turned to Elby and told him I wasn’t feeling so good and to we should go back to headquarters.  When we got back, I was told that Grand pop was on the phone.  I had to call him back and found out mommy had you at the hospital.

When I got to the hospital I called for a police officer to take the report, and then took you to St. Christopher’s ER for treatment...which also included Rabies shots.  Timmy, my heart was broken I thought you were hurt more then you were.  You were hurt enough.  You had 2 bites on your chest, a bad scratch on your right arm, and another bite on your leg.  I feel like I let you down by not being there to protect you.

8/11/99

Yesterday, in Los Angeles, a gunman went into a pre-school at a Jewish community center and shot five people.  Of the five that were shot, three were children, young boys about your age.  The other two were a 16 year old girl and older woman.  The police still do not know why he did what he did; one can only wonder.  On days like this you can almost feel when something will happen.
It was my dream to become a cop, ever since I was about your age.  The earliest memories of my father are those of him in his police uniform.  If you decide to follow in my footsteps, I will support your choice; as long as you are a good person.  Just please stay away from drugs, please, you have too much to live for then to become a bane of society.

1/1/2000

Here we are at the dawn of a new millennium.  Nineteen years ago, I was 16 years old, John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman.  Today, at 3 a.m. London time, George Harrison was stabbed, by a burglar.  It makes me think of that time, when I cried thinking of a man I never met, but who influenced me to write and want something more for my life.  The doctors say George Harrison is stable.  The burglar, a 33 year old man from Liverpool ( Harrison’s home town), is in the hospital with injuries of his own.  It’s reported on ABC World News, that Harrison caught the man in his reclusive estate 30 or so miles outside of London.  It’s hard when your heroes die.  But you can never lose the faith.

2/5/00

The other day on the 3rd, I along with other police officers from the 12th District and the rest of the department received awards from the FOP for services.  I was very proud of the honor to meet the mayor (even though I don’t care for his politics), Deputy Commissioner Mitchell, Judge Seamus McCafferty, and FOP president Rich Costello.  The reason I was there was for delivering the baby in November, 1998.  It took awhile but it was well worth it.  Of course they got me and Dalessio confused (again).  As Sgt. Bowman said to me, “You’re joined at the hip now.”

I got a letter from Commissioner Timoney last month for professionalism.  No biggie. Yeah, right.  I framed it.  I just wish you were there at the FOP dinner, but I took your mother instead.  Just kidding.  You would have been bored with people commenting about how much you look like a mini-me.

Right now at this moment you’re trying to push my buttons by not eating ... I think I’ll send you to bed.

2/11/00

Well Monk, talk about surprises!  Last week your mother was complaining of cramping and bleeding...I’ll explain this all to you when you’re older.  But anyway, your mother is going to have another baby.  The week before you were walking up to mommy and saying, “You got a baby in your tummy.”  You have the witch in you for sure.  You’re wish for a baby girl...you’re funny.

2-21-00

There won’t be a baby.  It turned out your mother had an ectopic pregnancy, also called a tubular pregnancy.  She needed emergency surgery the other night.  You spent the night with Kelly and then Meg; finally Grand pop took you for the weekend.  I had to take vacation time to be around to either take care of mommy or clean up the house.  Mommy was sad because she wanted another baby, but it was that or risk mommy’s health unnecessarily.

 
08-11-01

It’s been awhile since I had written to your journal.  I can’t say why it took so long to write a simple paragraph or two about your life.

You started school last September and were in the kindergarten for about 2 weeks.  The powers that be at Nativity felt it would be best for you to be put into pre-K.  So for the next 9 months your mother and I had some arguments with the ninny nuns that felt you were too free spirited.

We signed you up for Soccer.  You seemed to enjoy that sport quite a bit.

You love Clifford the Big Red Dog.  You drew a great picture of him in school.

For Halloween you went out trick or treating as the Red Power Ranger Lightspeed.  Your mother and I ran all over to get you the costume and ray gun.

 
I got on the bike squad and of course you had to try on my equipment.
We took you to the beach and for the second or third time on the sand and surf you began to like it.