Friday, July 3, 2009

4th of July, and Happy Birthday, Jake !

Growing up, the 4th of July was always my favorite holiday, beating out Christmas and Thanksgiving... hands down.
There was just something special about summertime, warm weather, good food, the company of relatives... and to top it off, setting off our own fireworks while we waited for the "big" display that the town always had.
I just loved everything about it.

But in 1981, the 4th of July came to have a new - and even more special - meaning to me.

It was the day that my gorgeous little firecracker... my Jacob Christopher came into my life.
The day my son Jake was born.

Now, he was due to be born in mid-June, but he always was a stubborn little guy and he waited until the 3rd of July to even decide to come into the world.
And by then, I was more than ready to have him present himself, let me tell you!

It was a hard labor, and I was more than ready for him to come out, but my husband at the time (the infamous "he who shall remain nameless") thought it would be cool if we had a 4th of July baby, so he kept telling me to hang on... it's only another 7 hours until midnight.
Hang on... only another 4 hours.
Hang on... hang on....
I wanted that baby out, and I wanted it out NOW, but he wasn't born until 14 minutes past midnight.
Because Jake always did things in his own time.
But it was always worth the wait.

I had my very own little firecracker and life was good. Jake was a good baby and a sweet child, and I couldn't have asked for more.
Except for maybe more time with him.

I have great memories to look back on, and there are times that I feel that Jake and God gave me those good memories, to help ease the pain of what was to come.

Like the time when Jake was about 7 and he came running downstairs, naked as a jaybird, right after his bath.... only to skid to a total stop, when he saw that Pastor Gary and one of the church ladies were visiting...
Now, I raised my kids right, and I raised them with manners, so what did Jake do?

He covered his privates with both hands, then stuck his one hand out to shake Pastor Gary's hand, saying "it's nice to see you sir", while keeping his doodle covered with the other.
Then he high-tailed it back upstairs, making sure to keep his doodle covered... but his shiny little bottom was still in full view of everyone.

Thanksgiving 1990, my dear penpal from New Jersey - Elise - had come for a visit, and she and my daughter and I were in the house having a good old time, putting on a fashion show, videoing it, and just acting silly, you know?
Jake was outside, keeping himself occupied climbing the old Oak tree at the top of the driveway.
Well, I guess he climbed up there, took off his belt to sort of tie himself to a big old branch, not even realizing that there were red ants in that tree.

The ants started biting, Jake couldn't get the belt undone, so he had to shimmy out of his pants and climb down the tree, starkers.
The first we knew of it was when he burst into the house naked from the waist down, screaming:

"Ants were biting me and I yelled and yelled for you, and you never came! You're nothing but a bunch of GIRLS, and I HATE you! LOOK AT MY PENIS! The ants bit my penis, and if it falls off, it will be YOUR fault, you stupid girls!!! I'm gonna tell my teacher on you!

Of course, we were just rolling on the floor with laughter at the thought of him going to school and telling the teacher, and the more we laughed, the madder he got...
So his parting shot as he stomped upstairs was:

"I hope the ants bite YOU on your stupid penis's, so YOU know what it feels like, and then I'll laugh at you! I hope ALL your penis's fall off!!!

When Jake was little, he always thought that everyone celebrated the 4th of July in his honor, so when he would go with his dad and sister and brother to "man" the Fireworks booth for the CHP ( California Highway Patrol) he would invite everyone to his birthday party.
As he got older, he would would hint and beg for people to donate some kind of firework for his party, so that he could celebrate in "style". That was his actual word...

"Gee, wouldn't it be nice if I had one of those packs of sparklers (roman candles, Chinese Wheels etc) for my birthday? I could really celebrate my birthday in style..."

And you know, coming from a small town like that, there were always folks who would buy extras, just so Jake could have one!

Like I said, I raised my kids right, and I was prouder ... am still prouder - of all of them, than any mother has a right to expect.

Jake loved nothing more than going to the post office with me, and if he saw someone with their arms full of packages, he loved to run to open the door for them.
Old ladies were escorted to their cars, while Jake carried their extra packages for them... and if they attempted to pay him for his efforts, he always said
"No thank you mam... I'm just using my manners, and I don't need the money."

The last time I spoke to Jake on the phone, he told me that he had met the girl of his dreams, and he was going to marry her.
He kept saying that "She's a living doll, Mom, and you're going to love her."
It was Cheyenne this... and Cheyenne that... and it was clear that he loved this girl... and it did my heart good.

Jake was good and kind and funny and warm-hearted... and he would stick at something, never giving up, until he had accomplished it.
And he always had a heart of gold.

His final act on this earth, was to jump into the ocean and try and save his girlfriends brother.
Only this time, Jake didn't accomplish what he set out to do... and we lost both him and Mason that day. Cheyenne barely survived herself, because she had jumped in as well.

I lost my beautiful, sweet, youngest son on October 10th, 1999... and my world has never been the same since.

Now, on the 4th of July - Jake's Birthday - I always set off an entire box of sparklers, in his memory... and for the time it takes for them to fizz and sparkle and burn away, I get to live in another time and place.
If only for a while.

Happy Birthday Jake.

Your Mama misses you more than you know.


Katidids said...

Oh Kate there is no way to express whats in my heart and mind, but you've heard it all before so I'll keep my mouth shut. Thank you for the HONOR of celebrating with us. God Bless You!
Happy Birthday Jake, you have the best view of us all and can really celebrate in "style"

Fruitcake Sandy said...

Thank you for sharing your memories with us ... for a very short time, I, too, was laughing with you ... I could see Jake's indignity of being bitten by ants ... and exclaiming he hoped all you stupid girls lost your penis as well!!! For a moment, I was sharing in your memories of a precious little boy, growing up to be a caring, honest, loving young man. What a blessing your son ... my heart aches for you, Kate. We are not supposed to bury our children ... it's not suppose to happen that way. Happy Birthday Jake! I send hugs to you, Kate, you have your own special guardian angel watching over you. I will never look at fireworks again without thinking of your son.

joolzmac said...

What beautiful memories you have of your dear boy. Take it easy today, won't you? *blubbering*


Jan Mader said...

I don't know what to say, Honey. You suffered the greatest loss a mother could ever face and yet your humor still shines through and graces the rest of us.

God gave you great gifts, among them your son. Somehow, I know he lives on in you.

Happy Birthday Jake...

Sherri said...

I read this story to my kids, they all said that if Jake was anything like Uncle Josh he must of been pretty cool.

Robynn's Ravings said...

Oh Katie.

I couldn't help laughing at the way you were telling the story about Jake but I was grieving because I never knew the details of his death but I knew you lost him. I honestly don't know how you go on having lost a son AND a daughter.

You are living every mother's worst nightmare and yet you go on with grace and dignity and laughter. You make their lives a celebration and they should be and are. How blessed you were to have them. How blessed they were (and we) are, to have you. Happy Birthday, Jake. I love you, Katie. (tears...tears....tears)

Becky said...

What beautiful memories you have of Jake! I had to laugh at his antics yet weep for you too! You raised him up right and you're a womderful Mother. Happy Birthday, Jake! Love you Katie!!

Nancy M. said...

Your story made me laugh and cry. He sounded like a wonderful kid and a great man! The 4th is my best friend's daughter's birthday also. When we celebrate I will be thinking of Jake now. We'll buy some fireworks for him and set them off. You have such wonderful memories!

Kurichan said...

Happy Birthday, Jake! It's always great how you can express it all in writing, K. The sadness is tempered with laughter--you are one great gal and I will be thinking of you today.

Hugs, K

Neas Nuttiness said...

Oh my dearest Katie - I knew how Jake died, but I didn't know that he had such a special birthday.

Close your eyes and feel my arms around you strength and sharing in your pain.

It's still the 3rd here, and today is my son, Seth's, birthday. I almost lost him this past August. My heart aches, just thinking about the moment when I got the phone call, telling me that he was in intensive care. That pain is soooo deep. I can not even begin to imagine yours!

If I could take away your suffering - I would do so in a heart beat, but I can' instead, my dear sweet Tatie, I send my love.

And Jake...Happy Happy Birthday! Smile down on your mama and whisper "ants" in her ear. She needs a laugh today.

Bz said...

"Now, on the 4th of July - Jake's Birthday - I always set off an entire box of sparklers, in his memory... and for the time it takes for them to fizz and sparkle and burn away, I get to live in another time and place.
If only for a while."
I cannot begin to imagine... I just cannot BEGIN to imagine the feeling of loss. You touch SO many by just being who you are. I only know that SO many things in Life are kismet... and you touching people the way you do is just that.
Thank you more than words can say.

Country Whispers said...

My heart goes out to you on this holiday. A special occassion for you but such a sad one. I will be thinking of you.
Hang on to your memories of the good times and feel comfort from them.
Happy Birthday Jake!

Faithful said...

My heart hurts and my soul aches for you as there just can't be anything in life as painful as losing one of your children. I just attended the funeral of a friend's 17 year old son today and the heartache in his mother's cry was too much to take. I feel honored that you would share part of Jake's life with us on his special day. You show such a courageous character in your example..Jake would be proud of his mamma. Happy Birthday Jake.

rubiesrnotpurple said...

Happy birthday Jake.

I love you Katie.

Homestay Mama said...

Katie, precious lady. First you had me chuckling and then you had me crying with a big lump stuck in my throat! July 4th will never be the same for me anymore. When I see fireworks now, I will always think of your beloved son--and you.

I know this was not an easy post to write, Katie, so thank you for trusting us with such tender and personal memories. Just makes us love and admire you all the more!

Happy Birthday, Jake!

Hugs, Katie dear.

Narelle Nettelbeck said...

Hugs to you Katie.
Love you muchly

jennypilgrim said...

Thank you so much for sharing Jake with me today. You will be in my thoughts and prayers today as you remember Jake on his birthday. You relax and enjoy your memories today. You truly have wonderful memories of Jake!


Irene said...

Happy 4th July..
I hope you have a nice weekend

Terry said...

Howdy Katie Dear
If I can see thru these tears of love and gratitude to you and for you I will try to write what I came by for.
I want to wish you a happy fourth of July and now that I know it's a double celebration I want to say happy Birthday Jake
your still quite a guy in your birthday suit :)
and your birthday is awesome Thanks for sharing it with us via your moms loving memories.
God Bless you Katie dear.
Have a wonderful peaceful weekend.
Happy Trails

Robynn's Ravings said...

Dear Katie - Just checkin' on you today and hoping you are okay. Very heavy day on your yesterday. You gave a lot out. I imagine you're doing a little reeling today.

Love to you.....

Michaela Dunn Leeper said...

Oh sweetie, I am crying with you. I don't know what to say. He went on doing what he knew best, and that was caring for others. Be proud if him, and thank you & bless you for sharing him with us in this post!

((HUGS Momma))

Pam said...

From now on whenever I watch fireworks, I'll think of Jake.

Anonymous said...

What a powerful story. You are truly an inspiration about how to deal with the unimaginable, and as many other people said, your humor shines through the tears.

My son was born 12 minutes before Thanksgiving 15 years ago. I was sure I was going to have a 7 lb. 5 oz. turkey, but he decided to come a few minutes before the holiday that year.

My daughter arrived Dec. 29th 19 years ago. So our holiday seasons always incorporate very happy birthdays.

You are lucky to have such funny memories of your son and to be able to celebrate him in such a spectacular way. He sounds like he truly was a firecracker and a true friend and hero. I will always think of him on the 4th of July.

bringing up boys said...

(typing through my tears, can't see my keyboard) That was beautiful. I don't know how it feels to lose a child, but I can understand the love. You are amazing!

Anita said...

You are such a strong sweet lady.
Thank you for sharing memories of Jake with us.Happy Birthday sweet angel Jake.

Reddirt Woman said...

Kate I am so late in reading about your "little firecracker". I was away from the computer visiting my baby brother and a mess of his family in Ft. Worth.

My oldest sister died when she was 23, of a brain hemorrhage, leaving 3 little ones and a husband, besides her sibs and our mom and dad. I don't know your pain, but I know from my parents pain. You aren't supposed to outlive your children.

Hugs and love...



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