As Father’s Day rapidly approaches, I plan on sharing some things I have pent-up inside me. A series of blogs shall ensue…
I think every single person has envisioned getting “that call.” Not that we all sit around and wish for devastating news to come via telephone, but we’ve all thought about what that would be like, when it would be, what the circumstances would be, who it would be.
That reality came to me on August 2, 2014. We had just sat down to dinner at Mazzio’s Pizza and my brother, Trey, called. Thinking to myself, “I’ll call him back after dinner,” I chose to “ignore” his call. Within 10 seconds, my other brother’s phone rings. We INSTANTLY made eye contact as he said, “It’s Trey.” Now, it would have been different if we all actually talked on the phone regularly, but we don’t. We keep up with each other via group text messaging so that we can all make fun of my dad for being “old” or for him to send us pictures that he has super-imposed our faces onto, which he finds hilarious, by the way. So, for him to call me and then immediately call my brother was concerning. I watched his face as a knot built in the pit of my stomach. When you see the muscles relax in someone’s face and the look of pure shock comes over them, that feeling you’ve thought of your entire life, but always hoped would never come, hits you like a ton of bricks. SOMETHING is wrong.
What happened over the next hour or so is as clear-cut in my mind as the moments following the birth of any four of my children. The details of the flood of emotions that consumed me will forever be burned into my memory.
Trey told Garrett that our dad was rushed to the hospital and he was on his way there now. He told him that he had “passed out” and that “they had shocked him over 15 times.” He didn’t know exactly what was happening, but that “Mom” (his mother, our stepmother) was with Dad and so he would call us back when he got to her at the hospital.
We packed up our untouched food and drove home as fast as possible. For Garrett, it was much easier to pack a bag and jump in his truck to head to Texas within a 15 minute time frame. For me, it was quite overwhelming. My husband was out of the state on a business trip. I was 5 months pregnant and had three kids at home with practices and tryouts and camps that week. We also had company visiting from Tennessee. Picking up and rushing to Texas was not going to be easy… Or was it? There was never a moment’s hesitation. My family pulled together and had me covered in all areas within minutes. My angel sister, who really isn’t my sister at all, but the mother of my niece, insisted I go and that she would handle the rest. The rest = A LOT for someone who isn’t used to our lifestyle, not to mention she had her own two children with her! I will forever be in her debt.
As I’m frantically rushing around, my phone rings. My stepmother’s name shows on the screen. I step outside to answer, only to hear silence accompanied by her cries. My heart sank. It felt like the world stopped. The clouds stopped moving. The trees stopped rustling. Everything froze. I froze. My lungs tightened and my stomach cramped. A chill came over me as she uttered the words that I prayed would never come.
“He’s… he’s… … … … he’s dead, Lindsay.”
She said that in mid-conversation, he simply rested his head on his hand, as if he were laughing at something funny that had been said. She said that after a minute, he slightly slumped. She said that as they lay him on the floor, she started CPR. She said it was the best, most careful, most thorough CPR she had ever done in all of her years of nursing. She said she knew he was gone, but she did it anyway. She said that she did it from the moment he went down until the paramedics took over. She said they shocked him right there on the cement over ten times. She said she knew… She said he never showed a single sign of distress or pain. She said he was simply there one minute and gone the next. And that was it… My dad never regained consciousness. He died right there at the bar in his best friend’s new home, with his dear friend and his wife by his side. His Crown and Coke still sat on the bar.
Garrett and I drove all night to get to Kermit. We cried and laughed, but mostly, we were silent. We were in shock. It was the middle of the night when we arrived. I climbed into my dad’s bed and laid there still, silent, and sobbing.
I’ve only always known him as Tim Carter, The Invincible. Now here I am, laying in his bed, looking around his room at his straw hat and his work boots, his gun in the corner, his faded jean shirt laying across his dresser, and I just cannot believe this is happening. I’m so thankful in my broken heart that I made the trip to Kermit with my family to see him over the 4th of July… I just wish I could have known it’d be the last time. I love you so much, Dad. May you rest in peace.
My dad’s funeral was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever been a part of. I can tell you that Tim Carter, my humble dad, would have never guessed that so many people considered him a friend. He was well-known and well-respected in that tiny town, and it showed. I was so proud to call him my dad. I was so proud that he had impacted that many lives. From the line of welding trucks, to the motorcycles, to the crisp, brown welding shirts, to the standing room only, to the faces, and the tears, and the utter shock in the air… it was beautiful. I gripped my brother’s hand as the doors opened and even now as I type, I weep because I can still feel the pride that came over me as I walked down the aisle towards the casket at the front of the church… the same aisle my dad walked me down to meet my groom only fourteen years before. When we started to enter the room, my brother hung his head, but quickly held it high. He told me later that he felt a strong sense of pride and could hear my dad telling him, “Hold your head up, boy.”
The church service went pretty smooth, aside from the preacher flubbing some of my words from a very special letter I had written to my dad, to be read aloud. What stays with me the most though, is when the keys filled the room and Bad Company started playing. I truly felt my heart breaking in that moment. I sat there gritting my teeth, clenching my fist, staring at him laying in front of me and still… could. not. believe. this was real. Sometimes I still can’t.
It has been less than a year, but I still get an indescribable feeling throughout my very being when I hear it. It’s like I can feel my dad’s presence when that songs plays.
I play it often.