03-17-14 – Exactly eight months ago… my how time has dragged, yet flown. Monday morning I hopped a plane and headed to Minnesota. I didn’t post about this in advance and the reason for my visit is why. I did reach out to a few folks and was able to get together with my first responders for dinner after my day long travels.
I had some issues finding a hotel nearby and one of first responders, Jamie, offered me a room. After two delayed flights and Enterprise car rental’s runaway, I was finally able to head towards Shafer about 4:15 pm. By this time I was already rather stiff and tired.
When I made it to Jamie’s she came outside to greet me. The smile on her face was priceless. It was like she really believed I was ok. It was a great smile and a wonderful hug. I suppose had it not been for the frigid Minnesota temperatures, we have stood there a while. When I entered she took me down to the room I would stay in. I set down my belongings and all the while we played catch up. She asked me several questions about my situation and she shared some information about my crash. We had only about an hour to freshen up before heading to the Shafer Saloon for dinner.
I went upstairs to meet her fiance Justin and lil Miss. McKinley. We yapped for quite a long time and then Jamie and I powdered the face and puffed the hair and off we went. The Shafer Saloon is a pizza and grill just in town, only a few miles down the road. When I walked in Ed Kubicki was front and center at the door and this time, the hugs squeezed the tears out of me. It was ever so surreal to his face again, in person, and not under distress. As if that didn’t kick me off, Ed took my hand and led me just a few feet where David Thorsten stood all 6’3″ to hug me. Oh, even more tears flowed. It was a wonderful reunion and I got the chance to meet a boat load of other responders that were on scene. WHOA… there were a LOT of people on scene and I learned that they were there for many many hours with accident scene management such as blocking traffic for the helicopter, keeping it blocked for the police recreation and investigation, and all the stuff in between.
I learned a great many new details that were hazy or forgotten. But the thing that I didn’t remember and the thing that impressed me considerably was that Ed’s 15 yo son Eddie was with him that day they received the call for my crash. Young Eddie was the one that held my head still and was with me just as long as all the big boys and girls. He saw more things that day than any 15 yo should see, yet he stood tall and became part of a life saving team. I knew this past weekend that David received an award from his efforts at my crash but I also learned that young Eddie and Jamie also received awards.
Mary and Jennifer were formerly part of the Wild Cougars MC; the lady biker club that came to visit me in the hospital. They came out to Shafer Saloon to see me as well as Ron from ABATE that also came to visit me in the hospital. There was a great deal of laughter, story sharing, hugging, and pictures. The night wore on to 9:00 pm and I was tired. As much as I wish I could’ve stayed and learned more about these wonderful people, I really had a long day and I have learned the hard way that pushing it, isn’t always worth it. I bid good-night and shared hugs once again. We made heartfelt commitments to get together again when I return, hopefully in July for a longer visit.
*Note: Young Eddie is now 16 and says he is going to go full force into becoming a paramedic. Wishing that young man a bright bright future.
Jamie and I sat in the driveway of her home just yapping away for quite a bit. We made our way inside and Jamie visited with me a while in the room where I was staying downstairs. I just had to get my leg off and being not shy and with a lady that already seen everything in the worst way, I just changed into my jammies. She checked out my leg and recalled that where the skin graft is, “yep, that’s where the bone was sticking out”. It was a strangely wonderful night. So many thoughts, it’s just hard to explain…
03-18-14 – I had to wake up at 7:30 am to prepare to attend the court hearing for Anthony, the young man who hit me. Yes, this was the reason for my visit. I had received notice just the week prior stating he was being charged with reckless operation of a vehicle. When I arrived at the victim’s advocate office the representative in charge of my case walked me to court and told me possible outcomes, how much she appreciated my statement, and how things would likely go. When we walked into the court room we sat in the back most row of seats. A young man turned to see us walk in and when we caught eyes it was as if I lost my air for a moment. Anthony approached me with a hard squeeze, he sat down next me, and we talked a bit about how each of us were doing.
The district attorney addressed the chargees and they all went to the hall for their paperwork before returning to begin court. I stayed seated and the victim’s advocate returned to tell me that Anthony was pleading guilty and she told me what the district attorney was proposing. I felt as if the sentence was enough of a hassle and pain that it would not be taken lightly. I felt as if the initial fine was low, but the state gets that so I didn’t really care that much. The chargees returned to the court room one by one and Anthony sat again next me in the back row. In the ditch, scared and alone I reached for this young man’s hand. On this day, scared and alone, he reached for mine. All in all, the sentence was achievable for this young man without making it so hard that he would give up on life or hate the world. Now I have to prepare a restitution statement and this is where I get to impose my wishes for what he has to pay me over the next year. His 90 days of jail time was stayed for one year probation and his community service will have to start soon.
Since Anthony plead guilty, the district attorney had to present a factual case. In short, he asked Anthony many questions regarding his actions, decision to pass, and such like that. He asked him if he agreed that his decision was the wrong one and so on. I learned during this process that a detailed scene recreation took place. One piece of information determined that the car was passing that semi at a speed of between 70-80 mph. My stomach instantly cringed; how the hell did I survive that? I know that I was doing 55-60 when I saw the semi and approached the curve. I typically slow a little in a blind curve so maybe I was doing 50-55 by the time of impact. So really, how??? HOW???
I was able to make a statement to the court regarding that day and what I wanted out of this process. It was a little hard to get through the statement although I just had to read what I previously wrote. It worked itself out and Anthony was sentenced as indicated. The judge said he was impressed with my statement and thanked me. He addressed Anthony and asked him if he realized how fortunate he was and Anthony said yes. The judge commended Anthony for his actions on the day of the crash but still gave him a stern lip about making the wrong decision.
Anthony completed some paperwork and I asked him if he had time to visit a bit. He had the day off due to court so we went to a local place for lunch. I got to hear about his job and restarting school. I learned about his Mom’s riding and his sister’s cool endeavors over seas working with endangered horses. Anthony got to learn a lot about what I went through and what I still go through. I shared a few stories of my son and I as well as stories about being on the road and my future adventures. Following lunch I told him I wanted to go to the crash site and would he guide me there. We went there and Anthony snapped this picture for me. At first we passed the site because we were talking and all the curves look the same. Once we flipped back around and went the way I was traveling that day, we saw that left curve 1 was not it (too many trees – not a pull-in for the cattle field); but curve 2 had just one tree, a pull-in for the cattle field, and that fence… that fence where the cows stood staring at us the whole time.
Anthony and I had many different conversations; some serious and some not at all serious. In so many ways, I can see this young man like I see my son. I know that we all make mistakes, some more harmful than others. I know as a mother that if my son had caused this issue for somebody else, I would standby him, do what I could, but I would not allow my son to get away with any kind of crap. I believe in good punishment if it is suitable, but I also believe in love, education, and forgiveness. Anthony did not wake up that morning and say, “Hey, I’m gonna go hit a biker.” We had a pleasant afternoon and though it may have been hard for Anthony on some points, I think this young man has a lot of potential but he still has a way to go in making the decisions that will elevate his life to the next level. We bid our farewells and Anthony held me tight again. He told me thank you for coming to court and that he looks forward to seeing me again in July. His eyes we red and wet when he faced me again. This young man has created a hell of a mess and it has affected him deeply, as it should. I will pray for young Anthony and I hope his dreams of traveling Alaska and climbing in the Rockies will come true; all good things with hard work and self-discipline…
I took a few minutes on the way back to Jamie’s to stop at Eichen’s a buffalo farm with a market/restaurant and next door an antique shop. I wanted to try to get right next to the this buffalo statue but with the high snow mounds now mostly ice, I was not able to get over the hill so instead I got my rear wet and sat on the mound with my self timer. Inside the market I got some soup to share with Jamie and Justin for dinner and I got an elk and a buffalo meat stick. Oh yum…
I came back to Jamie’s to do some work and figure out a plan for the night. She, Justin and I were in the garage and on the way in I caught my fake foot on the step and fell forward. I tried to brace myself by putting my right arm out (bad move). I slammed down on my hand jolting the shoulder out of its socket. Jamie and her husband inspected me. We couldn’t quite figure out how to get it back in place. I have only had to do this laying down. I started to scoot backwards on my butt to get my feet and legs out of the cold garage and to shut the door. In so doing, Justin’s hand against the back of my shoulder and my scooting somehow popped it back into place. It felt sore but was immediate relief of pain. I knew that it was going to bark, so they gave me ice for it and I took a BC powder. All was fine but I was sore and I could feel the shoulder and elbow warming up from the inflammation. Jamie had to go to school and I went downstairs to write this. I sat with the ice on my shoulder and mildly giggled that I had to fall and get hurt here – here of all places – funny but NOT!
Needless to say, I did not make it out to see people this evening and I can tell that the next week or so is going to be achy and sore. I suppose I have gotten around for a long time and doing quite a few activities without face planting, so I suppose the inevitable had to hit me sooner or later. It’ll be ok soon. For now I think it is time for rest as I have another long day of travel back to Georgia. I look very forward to being able to spend more time here in July and seeing ALL these folks again. Just one more home away from home and more brothers and sisters to add to my large loving family.