Monday, April 22, 2013

Unexpected Connection to Boston Marathon and Lost Friend

Do you ever do things that seemed last minute, not mentally given any attention until later you discovered it was meant to be?

Today I picked up the paper because of the initial front page concerning an MS patient. Common symptoms and treatments led me to want to see about this woman's struggle. And she was leaning on a cane.

(the meds can cause fall and balance problems. Rolling ankles. But I am working hard to strengthen those puppies. But thank goodness for help when you have walked a long ways, rolled an ankle in the grass, have to walk in bumpy grass for baseball games. Thanks to Ryan at Sports Authority that helped me find good ankle braces to wear as well.  And we can be thankful to Pinterest for the chair idea. Needs another coat and a nephew to sit in it and watch a cartoon.)

My pride has made it a little tough for me to 'lean on' a cane. But when I drop the pride, it makes my life easier. I don't always need it. But when my leg tires, it is a relief. When my balance is off, it makes me feel safe.

BAck to the newspaper....

Below the big picture was a smaller article about a man that I came to know through his mother. Who became one of those kindred spirits that Ann of those Gables talks about.... How could we not? She'd been an elementary teacher, loved to garden, and loved flowers. A woman after my own heart! We'd met when she was selling her home, I was looking to buy and ended up renting/ house sitting for a time while she settled into a new place. I read her son's book on the couch in the home, with all its furnishings still in place, while his mother vacationed in Alaska.

It took only a couple of days to read the book at night, in his mother's rocker beneath the lamp she used to do her needlework. It was the perfect light to read from in the dead of night as my toddler snoozed in the spare bedroom.

I thought I'd live in that home but another home closer to work became available.  I still visited Mrs. B. at her new town house in I.F. Our visits slowly petered out as my health declined and things got busier. The trips across town and dropping in to see K became few and far between! She gave me ideas and books to read. She listened to me complain about my own health and we worked together in her flower beds one last time.

Sadly, I'd let  three years go by with no contact. The years fly by it seems!  Just a couple weeks ago I commented to my own mother that I needed to get in touch with her. I had one of those feelings that I dismissed and promised myself I would in the near future.

Ms. Brinkman's son was the first person that "ran" the Boston Marathon in a wheelchair in 1980. He was a double amputee and "ran" the course in a specialized wheelchair. He set all sorts of records and broke times for certain races.

As a young man he moved pipe. His 6'7" frame was sure to make his dreams come true with basketball. Then one morning he pulled on his rubber boots to go move pipe on his father's potato farm for the last time.

Sitting in the kitchen of the Brinkman home, at the table that Curt had many meals, I learned where he slept in the summers with his brother, the route they took to the fields where they moved pipe, and the bravado he felt one summer morning to climb a tall pole where he was electrocuted by a 72k volt power line that arced.


Personally he felt it killed him but the fall to the ground, he believed, re-started his heart. Covered and stuck in the mud face down he was helped by his brother and others- eventually loaded into an old school paramedic station wagon and taken to the hospital. (Correct me if I'm wrong Brinkman's)
Months of hospital stays and rehab took place.

Lilacs were in bloom along the west side of the bricked Brinkman home as I heard this old tale from his mother.  Proudly she pulled his book

(Great hair for his time! )
 from the bookcase and let me read it. Both perspectives were interesting.

 It was her experience that lent to the real knowledge of the incident and his life afterward. Talking to someone in person does that. And someone close to him- a mom's perspective can truly be heart wrenching.
What I learned:

It was hell.

In SLC he underwent amputation and pain that was beyond description and about a mother's ability to endure watching her son writhe in pain.  If I recall correctly she described such pain and thrashing and all she could do was knit through it.

What else could a mother do for months in a hospital with no way to help him? She is my hero, too.

Curt sank into depression as friends came to visit and his situation sunk in further than it ever had. One evening he got into his wheel chair and headed west, over the Snake River bridge and kept "running'. Running from the despair and pain. He must have wanted to burn it all out of his system. A system that felt phantom pain, and nerve pain in the stumps of his legs that never went away.

The newspaper helped me realize he died in 2010.

Where was I?

Why didn't I get the memo? On one of my last visits with my dear friend, who was almost three times my age,  told me how hard his life was after the accident and many years under his belt from the time the disaster happened. even though he was an inspirational speaker, hardcore runner, won medals, he still suffered.

 Even though he'd found love again after a divorce from his college sweetheart. Even that marriage dissolved. His pain and disability constantly affected his life despite his ability to overcome and triumhp against the odds.

But he inspired many. And from the article I read in The Post Register he inspired a runner in the laterst Boston Marathon that ironically has left many with amputations. Are these events coincidences? As I read the article I became frantic they didn't use his mother as a source.

Is she still alive? All I can recall from the last talks with her were that Curt had taken some falls- broke his nose and other things. He put his hands and shoulders through a lot on that wheel chair and needed several operations. On top of it he was diabetic. sheesh.

Unexpected. His accident. My life intetwining briefly with his mother's and then picking up the paper that I haven't purchased ever. (I delivered those babies for awhile though)

The unexpected was likeJ's surprising day that he shared with me this evening.

Jaden said: "Today was work upon work.

"Not that I wasn't expecting it [work]. It was just a long day. And then I lost that molar. That hurt.Riding bikes with D. was hard. You wouldn't think so, but it is after awhile.  I'm beat."
 and he fell asleep with his molar stuck in a little pillow that belonged to his Uncle, The Torment.

Earlier I reiminded him about the Tooth Fairy he gave me a look. I should have let it go and saved the Fairy some bucks.

Life is full of the Unexpected. Sp just expect that.

J's day was full of hard work at a Scout Webelo Wow. Which should have been called:
BuT that would only cause poor attendence.

J. informed me that it was now serious business being a scout. The days of passing off simple things were over; now it was time for him to get down to business.

Wah! I thought the other stuff was hard to help him pass off.  And as I flipped through The Webelos book I found that it is intimidating. You should get one and look at what is expected of these kids- if they do it right. Whoa.

I pray that he learns some common sense, too. That when he's out moving pipe (yes, I have arranged it already with a farmer friend) he won't do anything, well,  stupid.

Because stupid hurts as we have both learned. And stupid can "strike" you at any time.

I heard a quote somewhere that said:
 "Bravado in the face of physical danger is foolhardy." Faust.
Boys like to impress others. And they are in situations at times that places them in physical danger.
So I have that mother feeling to help him the best I can. Which is make him a jam sandwich before he heads on his way to whereever. And teach him, of course. But it doesn't take away the empathy you can feel for them as they struggle through life.

Maybe it was meant to happen to Curt. So he could inspire. The irony is that this new National tragedy is leaving a lot of people amputee victims. My heart goes out. I met Curt casually at his mother's house one evening for a brief moment. So many questions I wanted to ask but they had been answered by his mother. I just gawked at how well he manuevered around the house; off the bar stool. Onto his chair. Out onto the patio where those mosquito candles burned and the sun had sunk enough to require a sweatshirt. He seemed normal. Wore jeans that were folded to extend the look of his legs.

He was handsome.
But I knew that his life was still a heck of a lot of pain.
Curt inspired the man in the article today. I'd like to learn more about this person and hope Curt's mom can help me.
I need to read his last book because I know that he felt a lot of depression after falls, dealing with diabetes and dealing with consistent loss.
Earlier this evening it was hard to watch him practice throwing a ball at the staircase and it wasn't just because he'd just showered and was working up a sweat.  And the thunk on the stairs, as he perfected his pitch,  was noisy;  he was carrying the weight of feeling it was him who lost the game for his team the other day.

He confided before sleep:

"I hit a kid in the leg, Mom." he said matter of fact as I tried to be positive.

"And I struck out when the bases were loaded and they were depending on me to do a homer."

Me: Well, it was windy and the kid seemed to turn right into the throw. (always have to add something to lessen the blow.)  And some of your foul balls were so great they almost hit our car parked across the street. They truly were high and cleared that dang fence so well that it almost kissed my windshield. No wonder that parking place was open.....

J: Mom, not a hint of wind was happening when I nailed that kid. But that ump would call my such and such throws, "ball". When they would drop perfectlly.

Me: I know! Those pitches were perfect! They are HS umps. Not pros. That's part of the game, too.

J: I know. But I just feel I let my team down.

Me: Welcome to athletics, Son. It's part of the game. You gotta shake off the negativity, play through it, as if it didn't happen and SEE yourself doing something amazing. Oh, it happens in life as well by the way. The game is life.

I told him a bit about Curt Brinkman and what he did with his trials. We talked about the boys that caused the bombings and they were captured, etc. He was relieved. But was curious about why they wanted  to kill.Me, too.

That one is a hard one to get into, especially right before bed. But that is when he asks the tough, long answer questions that I don't have answers for and wonder about myself. Part of his plan to put off going to sleep, maybe? I dunno.

However, our talking it out calmed him down. Or he was warn to the bone and slipped into his
 coma state of sleeping. After holding onto him for a good while, I left him breathing heavily, sound asleep.

Oh, Son. What lays ahead for you? I know that it will be  hard. It has been for me. It's harder for a parent to watch. Just like Curt's mom. You could see the pain etched in her face but I also could see the strength and peace surrounding her like a wall of armour. I pray for this armour to encompass me so that I can pull my son through his trials. Whether it's being there knitting, or writting. Or simply an example he can look to when it gets bumpy.

Thank you to all those who Wowed the Webelos today. There was a Native American Indian from the Nez Pearce tribe who talked to the boys through a translator and made J. enammered even more than he already is, with the Indian culture and history. I can't wait to read The White Indian Boy 
that my mom and dad read to me while on long family trips. My love of the wilderness and the Native Ameriicans was born with that book. And The Book of Mormon. But I didn't put two and two together for a couple more years.

If you read this book, which may be renamed: Among the Shoshone- realize it is a bit graffic in some instances. 10 years of age is fine, I think for a kid to hear about the history. Heck, I was younger and standing up in our red Monte Carlo, leaning over the front seat to hear the story better.

That was before the seat belt laws were enforced.....

Wear your seatbelts!

Keep track of your friends! (I'm a hypocrite here, but don't let years pass with out keeping contact. Especially if they are older. They may pass in the time you have wasted.

Tomorrow I will find out if my dear friend is still alive, living in the newer home she moved to, and the day I will apoligize for not calling at least once a year. Oh, please be aware and alive, K.

And I will be visitng Shelley, Idaho's cemetary to take Curt something. A plastic flower most likely.

** The phone number listed in the phone book is a number that has been disconnected. Tracking down my friend is going to take more effort than I thought. I was so sad to hear the automated voice and ring tone telling me the disappointing news. I pray she has a cell phone and bagged a lan line.\\

Hope she is easier to find than J's scout shirt this last few weeks...


  1. Amanda, sorry it tooke me so long to read your blog I really enjoyed reading it. I will get a letter off real soon, It seams I live in another country being in CA and can't go visit my dear friends, in Idaho I have been spending at least three days a week going to have my blood checked, my daughter takes me to San Diego, takes an hour to get there and back and we are there at least two to three hours. I need your Phone number, and email.


  2. Amanda, sorry I took so long to get around to read your blog I enjoyed reading it. I will do better. I would like your phone number and email.


  3. Amanada, I have been trying to leave a comment maybe I have done things right this time, I have enjoyed reading your blog. Living her in CA is different than Idaho, but I guess I will have to get used to it. As you know I did not have a choice Ellen was the one who could help me. The Doc. in IF also was able to refer me to a specialist at UCSD for cancer. Ellen can get off work and do some of it here at her home, We have to drive down to San Diego at first every day one hour there and one back, some days it takes most of the day and other maybe one to two Now it is mostly one time a week, I am doing a lot better hope it keep going this way.
    Jade is really gowning up.
    I want you to know I have thought about you a lot, I should of called you.
    I have gone on many tours so glad I have for now I will not be able to. my last was October, and then in November I stared to get more tired. By December it got worst and a week or so before Christmas I was in the Hospital in San Diego, there for three weeks. I am so great- ful for all the prayer I have received .
    I need your email and phone Number
    Love you
    Karma B

  4. Karma, I finally read the comments left for me to "moderate"! : )
    You said you needed my email address and other contact information. I will send you another letter, okay? Just so I don't publish all that info online!


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