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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hold Everything Lightly #10 {The Third Lesson}

Dion, a twenty one year old man working for a newspaper in Alabama, had been at the Sheraton all night drinking. He got in his Camaro and drove down the Gordon Highway in Augusta, Georgia. The highway has four lanes divided by an expansive grass median. Freddie, forty two, a welder,  was working the night shift for the railroad,  had gotten off work at five am and was giving a buddy a ride home. Freddies's pick up truck was a vintage 1967 Chevy and he loved it dearly. It was old and beat up but it suited him just fine. He often helped folks out and giving a guy a ride home was not unusual. He was alone in the truck when Dion crossed three lanes of traffic, the grass median, and hit Freddie head on.

I was off work that early Friday morning and saw the TV news report about an accident on the Gordon Highway. I paid no attention to it until the phone rang. It was my Big Sis and she told me Freddie had been killed by a drunk driver.  She asked me to drive to our mother's house and tell her in person. I do not remember telling mother, nor much of that day. My daddy went to the emergency room and identified his broken body.  Daddy and I picked out new jeans and a jean shirt with buttons that snapped because that is what my brother wore nearly every day. Burying him in a suit would have been five kinds of wrong. Buying those clothes was one of the most difficult tasks I have ever been asked to do. That was the moment the enormity of our loss hit me. Freddie was beloved by many and the funeral home was packed with people for his service. 

Freddie was six feet two inches tall,  with blonde hair and blue eyes.
 When he was a teen and I a tween we were often mistaken for two girls, from behind, because he had gorgeous long hair. He was quiet and sweet. He walked away from confrontation. If a fight started at our house (and they often occurred), he walked out the door. He taught me how to drive a stick shift. I nearly stripped out his clutch but he was patient with me. He was seven years older than me but we were pals. At the time of his death he lived three houses down from mother and would do anything at all she needed. She was never the same after his loss. His one fault was he was a He Man with She Problems. He constantly picked the wrong women to date or marry. 
He was too sweet and they invariably took advantage of him.

He had a nineteen year old son and his life forever changed that day too.
 Because Freddie was going home from work my nephew inherited a lot of insurance money. A grief stricken nineteen year old can get into a heap of trouble with a lot of money and he did just that. Freddie's son looks so much like him, sometimes it hurts to look at him. My brother would kick his sons butt if he were with us now.

The funeral was just the beginning of the whole process because the state had to prosecute  Dion. Going to court with my parents was not for cowards. Daddy was popping nitroglycerin pills for chest pain. Mama was taking Valium. It was more than this registered nurse could take. I did not go to court  the second time Dion appeared. Turns out I was a coward after all. To my parents credit, they forgave Dion and he served only three years for vehicular homicide. My Big Sis was not so forgiving and he better hope never to meet her. Forgiveness freed my parents to move on.

I have a photo of Freddie with CC, when she was two in my kitchen where 
I see it every day and it makes me smile and ache for him. 
He loved her so much and I loved him all the more for loving my premature baby.
 Freddie's death was my third lesson in holding everything lightly.

"Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts, when God pries your fingers open."
---Corrie Ten Boom 1892-1983

To read other parts in this series click on the series title in Pages at the top of the page.

thank you for reading


  1. Oh Olive, what a tragic loss. You have had so many losses and so much grief in your lifetime. You clearly deserve smooth sailing ahead.

  2. There are so many lessons to be learned from this excerpt of your life, but I'm especially impressed with your parents ability to forgive. Powerful stuff. xo

  3. Olive -- what a terrible loss for everyone involved. Forgiveness is freeing but very hard to do -- bless your parents for finding the strengh to do so.


  4. My brother died when he was 44 of a massive heart attack. I was older, but still so hard to lose a sibling, and for a parent, the death of a child is just the worst thing life can throw at you. I know that it's hard for you, even after all these years. hugs and love, my dear

  5. Bless your heart Olive...this is just so sad...losing a sibling is just so not in the order we think things should go...My husband's younger sister died last fall very unexpectedly she was only 43.....I commend you for all the forgiving you have had to choose to do in your life..and that your life reflects what it looks like to walk in that forgiveness.....I really enjoy your stories even though they are hard to write....grace, grace.....
    love, Mona

  6. So sorry. So hard to loose someone so close and then have it be totally avoidable. It just breaks my heart when someone drinks and drives. That's why I don't drink. (((((HUGS)))))

  7. Dear Olive - this episode is heart breaking. I keep hoping for a bit of cheer in your life - I am sure it will come.
    It was a big thing for your parents to forgive, but a very hard thing to do. A terrible thing also for Freddie's young son, who does not seem to have coped.
    You really are an amazing survivor Olive, and my admiration goes out to you♥

  8. i am so very sorry for this loss, especially from a drunk driver.....your parents amaze and inspire me with their forgiveness. you are a talented writer. it seems to come so easy for you. it is a gift indeed.

  9. Thank you for sharing that little bit of your life Olive. I'm looking round for words to ease your pain but they're not big enough so I'm just reaching out my arms to your family in a silent hug.

  10. Olive this was such a bittersweet portion of your life story. Freddie sounds like he was such a good brother and son, one who was taken, tragically to soon. Your parents forgiveness of the young man who took his life was necessary, I believe, for them to move on. It's a hard thing to do, but sometimes one of the best things one can do for ones self. Wonderful post. Ann

  11. I have been trying to decide if I should comment or not. You see, I lost both my parents because two teenage boys stayed home from school and spent the day drinking then got behind the wheel of a car and hit my parents. I won't go into all the injuries but they were massive. My dad died about a few months later of the injuries and my mom lived with massive brain injuries until she died a few years after that. To say I understand your feelings is a huge understatement. I am so very,very sorry for your loss. It is something you never really get over, you just learn to live with it. I admire your parents and you for forgiveness. It doesn't help to hold on to anger. I have to say, Olive, you are one absolutely fabulous woman!!! XO

  12. Makes me weepy. I am so glad your parents were able to forgive and move on. Sudden, unexpected deaths at a young age are among the hardest to understand.

  13. I don't sense any bitterness, anger, or resentment in your writing. I know it's because of the power of the Holy Spirit within you, and what an example you are to everyone whose life you touch.
    Mary Alice

  14. It's hard to see someone so kind taken so suddenly. I know it was difficult for your parents to forgive, but sometimes it's necessary to bring closure. Thanks for sharing such a difficult chapter in your life.

  15. Tears sliding down my face.
    What a terrible, horrible waste
    of a kind, gentle and giving life.
    I can't imagine what a blow that
    was to your family. I have a
    brother who is two years younger
    than I am and was also crazy
    for my kids when they were born.
    {He still is!} Now he has his
    own babies and I am crazy about
    them. It is a bond that will never
    die, even when one of us leaves
    this earth.

    Again, thank you for telling
    the stories of extraordinary
    ordinary, lovely people.


  16. Olive - What a tragic loss. As I read this story tears are rolling down my face. I have lived through the actions of a drunk driver. I was in a car hit by a drunk driver when I was 12. I had to have another surgery last year (I was 48 at the time) due to this accident. The effects of drunk driving go on for years and years. I am so sorry you and your family had to face this.

  17. Olive,
    A tragedy indeed. For your brother, your family, your nephew. So sorry.

  18. A powerful tribute, and a reminder to share who you really are, the true story of your life. It's so easy to make it all look perfect in blogland, but we learn and grow and transcend when we're honest about our lives. You are truly inspiring!

  19. What a tragedy... on many levels. What a sober reminder to always be thankful for our loved one and, you are right, don't hold anything too tightly. God wants to hold them in the palm of His safe hand... even in tragedies.

  20. OH, this must have been so shocking and sad, and watching the aftermath as well. It must be hard telling the story and revisiting all the emotions. You bring us in with your words...

  21. Olive, Sorry about the loss of your brother. Nothing about it was fair. Your brother's death and another young man in jail. It's sad for all involved. xo, Susie

  22. Olive,
    What a tragic part of your life. I can not imagine the grief you and your family faced. Just know that you and your family have an angel watching over you..
    big hug...Cindy

  23. What a senseless ending to your brother's life. I'm so happy that your parents were able to forgive. It must have been so extremely hard to do and something I'm not sure I would be able to do. I'm so sorry that your daughter get to keep him in her life longer.

  24. I can hear your pain and understand it. God bless you, friend.

  25. This breaks my heart. What a tragic end to a life. So sorry for your family to endure this. Happy your parents were able to move on. God lives in their hearts. Prayers for all of you. xo marlis

  26. What a heart wrenching memory Olive. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  27. Wow. What a terrible loss to your family and to you who was close to him. Forgiveness means everything.


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