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.