They Grow Up So Fast Part 2

On April 21st Kevin and Dustin turned 25 and 28 years old. I am amazed at how the time flies. For those who don’t know Kevin and Dustin, they are my nephews. My sister Judy was murdered on March 20th 1989 and Kevin and Dustin were only 4 and 7 years old.

At my sisters death the boys moved in with my mom and dad and I soon moved back home as well. I eventually bought a house of my own and the boys stayed with me most of the time. Kevin and Dustin are like my first two children and they are still my children in my heart.

I was only 15 when Kevin was born and I was his babysitter during the first couple of summers. I wanted to make the extra money but I also wanted to be close to him. I remember I bought a child seat to go on the back of my bicycle and I would ride Kevin through the neighborhood. Most of the time he was asleep before I could ever get out of the driveway.

When Dustin came along, 3 years later to the very day that Kevin was born, I was 18 years old. I would have to say that I did stupid things when I was growing up but there were a lot of things that I didn’t do because I wanted to be a good example for Kevin and Dustin.

We have been through a lot together as a family the past 28 years; it is still hard to believe that they are that old. We lost my sister, their mother in March of 1989 and my grandmother Collins in June of that same year. That was a very hard year for all of us.

The next 20 years were filled with lots of fun times like camping with the church that we were a part of, the boys always went to church with me. We had several great friends that also had kids their age and we would go camping every chance we got. I was the youth leader at our church and a lot of the reason was that I wanted to be with them. We were close and we are still close today.

Kevin had a really bad car wreck in November 2001, he had a severe head trauma, a broken pelvis, broken leg and his left foot was in really bad shape. Mike had just come to live with me in October of that year and he and I stayed almost around the clock in the ICU Waiting room at Baptist Hospital. Kevin was unconscious for several days and they continued to use the term if Kevin lives, they didn’t want to give us any false hope. I remember that I would go every time there were visiting hours and I would just hold Kevin’s hand and tell him that I loved him. I will never forget that morning when dad called to tell me that a State Trooper had just come to the door and he got the message that Kevin was in really bad shape. I just put my clothes on and got to the hospital as fast as I could. I wasn’t ready at all for what I was about to see. Kevin of course didn’t look like himself, he was swollen and wires were everywhere. Again, they didn’t give us very much hope.

It was a really hard time because that was at a time when we were between church homes. I had felt that God was calling me to be in a church closer to home and we had left where I was serving as Youth Pastor on very god terms and we were visiting different churches so it was like we really didn’t have a pastor of our own. However, there were lots of friends and several pastors’ that came to visit. Ron Fredricks in Galax was really great and I will never forget how he came that first day and prayed and told Kevin that he was going to be OK.

It was a few days later and I went into the ICU at 5am. At that point there had been no response from Kevin at all. I took his hand as usual and told him that I loved him and I felt him squeeze my hand. There was a nurse working with his chart and she said, did he just squeeze your hand? I said, well I think so but I don’t know if it was just a nerve response. The nurse instructed me to ask Kevin to squeeze my hand, I did and I had to pry his hand off of mine because I had my class ring on and he squeezed so hard that the ring was cutting into my hand. She said ask him to do something specific. The first thing I thought of was that in our house when things were good I would give a thumbs up so I asked Kevin to move his left thumb and he game me a thumbs up. I have told many people that I am not charismatic but I almost went through the roof of that hospital that morning. The nurse got the doctors and they went to work and I started calling all the family members to let them know there had been a break through. It was several days but Kevin eventually got to come home and he is doing great today. He still has some concerns with all the metal that is in his foot and leg and he has pain from the injuries but he is alive and well, it really was a miracle.

There are so many stories to tell, great memories and hard memories that we would all rather be able to forget but all families have those memories. I believe with all of my heart that we are who we are because of the things we are allowed to go through. Situations can either make us bitter or better and we have chosen to be better.

Dustin now has 2 boys who are like grandson’s to me and a third one due to be born in late May. Dustin is running with me, that is something that I prayed for years he would do. As a matter of fact he is much faster now than I am but he is 18 years younger than I am. Dustin is married to Yolanda and she is like a daughter.

God is so good to me and I truly feel that I am the most wealthy man in the world. I have an awesome family and we are all close and do lots of things together and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

We are celebrating with a cookout this evening. Happy Birthday Kevin and Dustin, I love you with all of my heart.


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