Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Time


Time is a very interesting phenomenon. It can at one moment seem like it's flying by and at the very next feel like it's creeping along inch by inch. It's confusing and sometimes scary and just a little overwhelming. 

It has been two years today, June 11, since my cute dad left this world to be an angel in another. Sometimes I still can't wrap my brain around what happened or that this is real. It's an internal struggle between "Wow it's already been two years" and "Uggh, it's just been two long years." 

June used to be the time of summer beginning, lazy days, dance recitals and sunshine. Now the period between June 1 -- the day my dad had his open-heart surgery, and also the day 32 years earlier that my sweet mom lost her dad at the age of 20 -- through Father's Day, carries a whole other, much darker tone. People who love me, I know in attempt to make me feel better, always say this time of year will eventually get easier. But I don't actually believe that, I think it will just evolve and be different, from a raw open, burning, stinging pain to a more scarred over, dull but constant throbbing pain. I truly believe that's the only way it can be. There is no sense to be made in losing someone way before their time, and for losing a father when you still feel like such a kid yourself -- I was only 27 and my baby brother was just 24. And my mom was just retiring so they could enjoy their golden years together, gardening, traveling, reading and just being. To say that it will get easier somehow implies that we will get over this, when in reality all we can do is move forward the best we can.  

Lately, I've been so angry that he's not here anymore. And I've been waiting for him to send me a sign, something to let me know that all this health crap I'm going through will get worked out. That all the bumps in the road will soon stop. That he understands, because he's the only one that could really get it from my perspective. I know he's with me but grrr, I want him here physically. I truly believe it's ok for me to have these feelings, he wouldn't want me to feel any other way, and I know he'd be proud of all of us for how hard we are fighting for the things we deserve. I ache for all the things he hasn't and won't experience with us here in this world, but more for what we don't get to share with him. I just miss him so, so terribly and the hole in my heart is gaping. I know we'll be together again someday, but right now that just isn't enough.

My dad was the most special person. He was of another time, another world, and even though I hate it and selfishly wish things weren't the way they are, I know it was his time to go. He had fought so long and hard with a body that just wouldn't cooperate and a higher power needed him. 

To honor this most inspiring guy, I wanted to share with all of you a few things. The first is a video from the final line up he gave to his police department the day he retired. It captures his essence so perfectly, the twinkle in his eye, the light in his voice. The second is the picture montage my hubby so lovingly and tirelessly put together for my dad's memorial service. And the third is a beautiful, true story, one of hope and the kind that makes you believe in so many things and reminds me that we may not see them but we get signs everyday from my dad, some big and some small. Please read all the way to the bottom for "The Helmet" story.

For my mom and my brother, I love you so much. I miss our little foursome. I wish we were all together today, but I know that no matter how many miles or even heaven are between us our bond can't be broken. My sweet hubby, I'll forever be greatful that you and my dad shared such a special relationship, he loved you more than you know. You have been there with me through everything, and I know you are grieving today too.

To all my friends who so lovingly put their arms around me in so many different ways, thank you, it means the world to me. And to anyone that knew my dad, please continue to "Talk Bob." It keeps him here with us and ensures he wont' be forgotten. 

* Our last family picture together, December 2006. (Just before I got really sick.)*

The Helmet

The helmet was a sign, unknowingly, set in motion a long time ago.

After a couple years of soul searching, in March of 2007, my brother John decided law enforcement was the career for him. He was hired by the Sacramento Police Department and immediately began the police academy training program.  John and my dad, Bob, were extremely close  -- the yin to each other’s yang. And after nearly 30 years of dedicated service with the Alameda Police Department, Bob was enjoying his well-earned retirement and could not be more proud and honored that his son had chosen this career in the “family business”.

* John and my dad at the Police Academy Training day, May 2007.*

John was slated to graduate from the police academy six months later, in August 2007. Friends and family happily anticipated the ceremony, representing the passing of one decorated badge to the next hard earned generation to wear with pride. Sadly and totally unexpectedly, my dad passed away that June from complications following open-heart surgery. Remarkably, John, being his father’s son, missed only one day of the academy following our dad’s death.  Although overwhelmed from the loss of our father, he continued on knowing that dad would want him to do what he set out to accomplish by putting one foot in front of the other. 

The police academy consists of six months of intensive physical and mental training. Not one day is considered easy; focus and dedication are paramount to a recruit’s success. One week before the graduation ceremony, the recruits prepared for riot control training.  John’s particular academy class contained recruits from four different police departments and each respective department was responsible for supplying proper riot control gear. One of those departments sponsoring recruits was Grass Valley PD.  At the start of training, the Grass Valley recruit casually approached John with an interesting twist of fate, and said, “Look, the person who had this helmet before me was named Cranford too. Isn’t that weird?” 

Intrigued, they inspected the helmet together and on the inside, on a dried out, yellow, faded piece of brittle masking tape in Bob’s unmistakable handwriting, was the short six letter yet astonishing name “Cranford”! Upon further inspection, the Grass Valley PD seal was removed from the front to reveal the original department’s mark – Alameda Police Department!  In an amazing sequence of events, the Alameda Police Department had donated the helmets to the fledgling Grass Valley PD 10 year’s prior.  Coincidence?  We think not, more like divine intervention! Everyone at the academy was amazed, and John was stunned. A sergeant from Grass Valley PD later told my mom, Robin, that he asked his two recruits to just pick any helmet from a shelf containing many, and this young man reached up and by chance, or guided fate, grabbed this one on this day.  Incredible!

Finally the graduation ceremony came, a bittersweet day indeed. We were so proud of John – of how much he’d accomplished and persevered through -- and so sad that his dad wasn’t there in this moment that should have been theirs to share. 

* My dad the day he graduated from the Police Academy.*

* My mom and John on graduation day.*

During the ceremony, a number of recruits earn awards for accomplishments above and beyond the rest. One special award is not based on exam scores or exceeding physical goals, but is reserved for the one recruit that brings more to the class than a benchmark, more than an example of excellence. This award recognizes the drive, motivation and beacon of strength this recruit brings to all around them to succeed in accomplishing goals in the face of any obstacle. The award is for the “Most Inspirational” recruit. My mom and I were crying like little babies as they described this truly amazing recruit, we just knew what was coming, and then John’s name was called out to the hundreds seated in the auditorium.  

Overwhelmed and tearful, John was presented with not just the award, but also the very same helmet that bore his father’s name, all shined up as if it were new, enclosed in a beautiful case with the faded piece of masking tape Lt. Bob Cranford had applied so many years ago. The helmet was accompanied by a plaque, which read, “John Cranford, Most Inspirational Recruit, 07BR-1. In Memory of Lt. Robert E. Cranford, Jr. Let the Tradition Live On.” As the amazing story was retold to all in attendance there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

 

At a time when so much happiness and pride was mixed with unimaginable loss and sadness, could there have been a more poignant and obvious sign from my dad? A way to reach out to his son, on the first day of his new life, to express his pride and say, “I’m with you son and I always will be”? We think not.




4 comments:

The Quick's said...

Hi Allison - I am one of Jamie H's friends and she told me about your story. Man you have been thru so much in so little time. I actually remember you from high school you were a senior in dance production when I was a freshman I believe. I wanted to let you know that I have chrons...I feel your pain girl. I LOVE that you are so open about the disease and so willing to share everything! If you ever need anything let me know! Hang in there and I wish you all the best.

Aim said...

What a touching entry and wonderful tribute... better go find tissue now before I drown my poor keyboard! Love you to pieces!

todd storch said...

(((((((((Al)))))))))

landonsmama said...

Allison,

I'm sitting here reading your blog with tears streaming down my face thinking about my sweet mommy. Every word you said about your dad, is exactly how I feel about my mom. And then to read the "helmet" story is just amazing. What are the odds of that?!
Just wanted to share my thoughts.
Much love,
Christy Wheeler