In Loving Memory

  • Remembering my beloved child, Austin, who passed away at the early age of 14. He lived more in those 14 short years than most and is an inspiration to us all.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Springtime brings so many memories of Austin, from our last year with him to the very beginning.

I think of baseball and the array of equipment that would meet me at the front door, in the back of my truck and across his bed. Looking back, I'm not quite sure how I fit his schedule into mine but we did it. It seemed I was always hauling a baseball bag, or RCs for a fundraiser, or making a second trip to Owensboro for new cleats and another glove.

I miss watching him practice and play and how he improved each season. I miss rooting for my sweet boy as he caught a fielder or hit a home run. I even miss fussing at him for the tenth time to pick up his bat, or ball, or glove that I stepped over coming into the house each afternoon.

As the vibrant grass peeks out of the ground with every sunbeam, I am reminded of Austin and his side job of mowing. I don't know that I'll ever hear the hum of a lawnmower again or smell the scent of freshly cut grass without thinking of him. He was so proud to have his regular customers and steady source of spending money.

When I think back to the early years and Springtime, I am reminded of my cute little man all dressed up for Easter. His dark eyes and satin black hair always looked so good next to the pastel colors of the holiday. I would often dress him in soft baby blue and yellow suits or short outfits, which would all end up with candy or dirt on them by the end of the weekend.

I can still picture him as a baby, sitting waist high in the tall stalks of bright green grass, finding a hidden egg and attempting to put it in his mouth. It was a real egg, hard boiled, but he didn't understand at that early age why there was a shell still attached!

Austin was never a fan of the majority of Easter candy so the bunny always brought him a movie. Toward the teenage years, he began to prefer white chocolate or regular, just like I did at his age.

Even up to his last Easter with us, he enjoyed coloring eggs. I would normally take the Friday before Easter off from work and by the time the boys got home, eggs would be cool and ready for decorating. We had some good times around the butcher block in the kitchen, dipping and dunking to create different designs.

What reminds me most of Austin this time of year though are the sunny faces of daffodils. Austin loved picking those flowers for me every year and I can't see them popping up in the fields without thinking about him. My mom has been a sweetheart, making sure I have had fresh ones for the house the past two weekends. Each time I pass by them, I smile, remembering his sweet face bringing them to me. From tiny hands, holding mostly the bud because he didn't quite know how to pick - to beautiful bouqets, at an age when I was sure he'd grown out wanting to.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

mirror image

Sometimes I catch myself staring at Noah because I see so much of Austin in him. It seems like every day he grows and his looks change more and more into his big brother's. Not only is his face and build changing to resemble Austin but his mannerisms too.

I'll see Noah from behind and his broadening shoulders will remind me of him. Or he'll walk down the deck and way he swings his arms or turns his head will make me think of Austin. Sometimes Noah's laugh will take me back to a moment with Austin. And of all the things he matches in his big brother, Noah's heart is certainly a mirror image.

Noah will say things way beyond his years, much like Austin did. He has such compassion for others and a sweetness that makes me proud to be his Mom. Just as his big brother did, Noah teaches me more most days that I do him.

I try to not compare him to Austin and I never verbalize how he reminds me of him, afraid it will sadden Noah or make him feel like I somehow don't love him just as much. If he grows up to shadow his big brother, he couldn't pick a better role model to follow.

I cannot imagine the loss Noah feels in not having Austin around. I know it is constant with Tim and me and I wonder how many times a day he is reminded of him too. There are obvious times I see the pain in his face but most of the time I am unsure how he remembers his brother. Noah was only eight years old when Austin passed and I worry that as he grows older his memories of Austin will fade. When he is grown, will he remember the details of his brother and the times they shared?

As much as this blog is healing for me and it introduces strangers to the amazing person Austin was, Noah is a big reason I continue to write. I write so that someday he'll have this collection of memories ensuring the spirit of his big brother is never lost.

family game night

We took Noah to the Family Game Night yesterday at his school. And of course as it is with any activity we do as a family, I am reminded of Austin and how much he is missed.

Game night isn't anything new to our family. We've played board games with the boys since they were little. I enjoyed teaching them the games that I grew up with like Candy land, Chutes and Ladders, and Hi-Ho Cherry-o. As they grew older, we enjoyed Sorry, Uno, and Clue. It was fun to watch the change in Austin as he grew, from only being happy if he won as a toddler to letting his little brother win as a teenager.

Austin's favorite board game was Chess, something I never quite mastered. He would pick on me that he knew something I didn't and even though he tried many times to teach me, I never made a very good opponent. Austin's favorite card game was Rook. He was disappointed that Noah wasn't quite old enough to play it though because he'd have to wait until we had company or were visiting his Mamaw B's house to play. It was nothing for us to waste a lazy Saturday playing Rook with the family, surrounded by yummy snacks and laughter.

We enjoy playing games so much that a few years ago we created "Family Game Day" and would rent out a local facility to spend the day playing various games and of course, eating lots of good food. It was a great way to spend a cold winter day. I have few pictures of Austin on our last family game day with him because he had the camera most of the time. Looking back, it was like he was trying to record snapshot moments to remember each of us.

In the summer, yard games were always present whenever our family gathered. Austin's loved playing horse shoes, washers, basketball, etc. His favorite was corn hole and he and his Dad made quite a team. He never did learn how to play badminton though, one of my favorite summer games. Being such a big boy, he tended to swat the racket and embed the birdie into his net with each swing.

With there being four of us, playing games was an easy fit, as we always had an even number of teams. The boys would verse Tim and me or they would partner up with mom or dad. It is hard now playing all those games we loved because his absence is visible in anything we do.

One of the things I miss the most when we gather to play games now is Austin's smile and laughter. He enjoyed just spending time together and you could see it in the twinkling of his eyes. It really didn't matter what we played, he just loved being together and enjoyed the company of family and friends.

If something funny happens at the table now, I still glance over to his empty chair, wishing he were there to share in the moment. I miss his laughter in the room and his sweet smile.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Austin's Legacy

We're still in the planning phase for Austin's scholarship foundation. I have so many ideas and plans and wish that everything were already complete. Sadly, I don't think we'll get it together for this graduating year. And on reflection, it may be something to roll out in 2012, which would have been the year Austin graduated high school.

What we know we want to do is to start a foundation that will award at least one scholarship annually. We've wavered between offering one or two, knowing for sure that one will based primarily on volunteerism. The other option is to do an athletic scholarship, since Austin was such a fan of sports. Both will be heavy on volunteer hours and that youth making a difference in our community. After all, that is what Austin was all about.

The first thing I need to secure of course, is money. We're tossing around ideas for a memorial baseball tournament, as that was Austin's favorite sport. I've tried since January to apply for the Pepsi Refresh project, which awards $5000 and up for various ideas. The site is so bogged down with applications though and they have a maximum entry of 1000 so I've been unsuccessful so far. I'm just putting this in God's hands and know that they starting money will come, if it is meant to be.

We'll also need to form a board of directors, who will help oversee this grant. And I know there are lots of legal issues to address, once the foundation is formed. ...which is why I said from the beginning, this is the part I wish was complete! There is just so much I want to do, to carry on Austin's memory and most importantly, his legacy. I can feel him smiling down on me though and that gives me motivation to push forward!
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