Two weeks ago today my husband and I slept through the alarm and woke up with 40 minutes until school started, we live about 15 minutes from the school.  Went into our son’s room and woke him up and told him we had to shake it, shake it, we were running late.

I no more than walked out of his room and our house phone rang, odd, not many people have our house line and it seldom rings.  I picked up our old fashioned, attached to the wall phone and my niece said, “Happy Birthday Sister Mary Francis!” she does this every year, that is my nickname for her.  

While Sister Mary was talking I noticed my cell phone light blinking, I had a FB messenger message, so I turned it on to see what it was…I couldn’t tell you what Sister Mary was saying after that, the message was from one of my best friends and said, Happy Birthday Sister, sorry your family had to lose Chad on your birthday, I love you!

What the hell!?  Those who know me know that I am the furthest from a morning person as one can get, I go to bed at 3 am and get up with my son at 6 for him to get ready for school, so I was far from functioning at that moment.

My sister got on the line and asked if I’d been on FB yet, no and I didn’t tell her about the message I’d just read.  She went on to say she’d seen the message from our cousin’s wife when she got off work a few hours earlier and that she’d already been on the phone with a cousin in Missouri.

I’m not a big birthday celebrating person, it’s a day, I’ve been 29 for year and don’t plan on that changing any time in the near future, usually when I’m asked how old I am I have to stop and subtract in my head…age is a number and I pay little attention to it.  

All day there were messages and texts similar to the first one I received just before 8 am.  


We knew there was a good chance of Chad’s passing.  He was 46 and had had a bad accident the previous Friday and had been in medically induced coma since.  We was awake and talking after the accident, but there was so much damage.  The ribs on the one side of his body were all broken/fractured and his one lung had been punctured.  He’d been wearing his seat belt.  He had to alcohol or drugs in his system, his phone hadn’t been used on two hours.  

His wife had gotten a hotel room near the hospital all the while he was there, Thursday night she was told to go and get some sleep, he was doing better.  Steph received a call 1:30 or so in the morning saying she needed to get there quick. That was it…it was his time, it was time to go see his mom who had died when he was just barely out of high school.

Steph said she started calling people and then decided to just put it on FB, she’d been keeping everyone in touch with how he’d been doing the entire time, he had tons and tons of friends.

My cousin was no saint, but he was one hell of a guy!  If anyone would have told me when I was 10 that he and I would eventually become friends 25 years down the road, I never would have believed it.  He was an ass when we were kids, at least he was to me.  

I am so thankful that I got to know my cousin in a way other than the obnoxious preppy kid.  He settled down and became a good husband and wonderful father, the family was always going and doing something.  

He worked for a local farmer and loved farming more than almost anything.  He had a strong love of where he came from. He was so proud to have been from Anthon, Iowa.

We shared political views, most of the time anyway and had one debate in which he actually got me to see his side, although I still disagreed somewhat with his point of view.  

His funeral was EPIC, and that’s the way he would have wanted it.  He was the ultimate 80’s kid, he even looked nice going out to the farm to work.  His hair was always just so, his clothes were as well.  He was a pretty boy!  Many people called him that as well, Pretty Boy.  It fit!

He grew up very Catholic but his family had been going to the Lutheran church for some time, mom was Catholic and dad is Lutheran.  He believed, but didn’t feel the need to be categorized.

His funeral was at the Petersen Event Center, what he called our community center, he and his wife had bartended there for dances, weddings and so on for a number of years.  The place was full!  There were people in the hall and backrooms for the place.  It was a celebration of life, not a funeral.  There was rock music he loved going way back to the Beatles.  Friends had made #teamchad tshirts and his children wanted to see people wear them for the funeral.  It was really neat!

I’ve lost classmates, a teacher, people around my age and sadly, I’ve become used to people leaving all too soon.  With that having been said, it’s a completely different story when it’s your cousin, your peer.  The first of our little group.  It’s almost been surreal.  

Most of the town had been there for his wife and children and are doing a number of things to help them get along.  I’m sure he is just tickled to see all the support for his family.  He’d be saying something along the lines of, “Hell yeah, that’s what I’m talking about, my family, my town, they all rock!”  That’s how he talked.

That boy let us know he was here!  He’ll be remembered for so many things he did for the community for many, many years to come!  He left his fingerprint on our lives and on our town!


#teamchad   #cousins     #family

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