Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2013
When Sara was four months old, your mother and I were invited to attend a Lanier Business Products “Pleasure Land” event in London which coincided with Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee celebrating her 25th anniversary as Queen.
We were both excited to be invited, and, we knew that taking an infant wasn’t the best of ideas for a new set of parents. We decided, and then worked out the itinerary, to fly with Sara from Anchorage all the way to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Sara would be watched by your grandparents, Aime and Isabelle Omichinski, at their Portage la Prairie, Manitoba home. I remember that Sara slept most of the way. After insuring that Sara had enough diapers and formula; since up to then, she was pretty dependent upon her mom for milk, we continued our journey to London. We spent a week there while enjoying the sights and when the events were finished, we worked our way back to Portage from London to Gander, Newfoundland; New York City, and somehow from there – we arrived safely at the Winnipeg airport. When we finally got to your grandparents house the one thing I clearly remember was that we gushed over seeing Sara again. But, Sara on the other-hand, was indifferent towards us and we learned that an infant quickly bonds with whomever feeds and changes their diapers. Your grandmother was a wonderful woman and I knew that asking your grandparents to care for Sara confirmed that was the best of all options.
When Ashley was four months old, your mother and I had such a unique opportunity offered to us. I couldn’t find anyone else from Anchorage that preceded us who’d been offered a job in paradise. We jumped at the opportunity and we established ourselves in Hawaii. We weren’t alone for long. Several friends from Anchorage followed our tracks and with the repeat visits from Canadians and Alaskans, we were never alone. It was the same folks from the company that invited your mom and me to London, who had arranged a job interview for me with one of the largest companies in Hawaii. That interview, and, the lowest salary offer I’ve ever received, led us to move from Anchorage, my home town of twenty five years and Sara and Ashley’s birthplace, to Honolulu, Hawaii. The offer was quickly finalized and I returned to Anchorage to list our house, sell the lake front lot and then fly back down to Honolulu to set-up a new business. While your mom stayed behind she took the task of packing things up and settling loose ends with family and friends. When finished, she packed your things and caught a red-eye from Anchorage to Honolulu with Ashley, cradled her in her mom’s arms while Sara toddled along by her side. That finalized it, we had left Alaska for good. I remember being excited and that I couldn’t sleep as you flew through the night. I kept thinking about starting a new life in Hawaii for all of us. I picked up three flower leis from the lei stands in front of the airport. The concept of flowers on a string hung around Sara’s neck didn’t go over to well, while Ashley, at four months, was indifferent, and I think the lei didn’t last long, either. We gathered your belongings from baggage claim and headed straight to the Ala Moana Hotel adjacent to the shopping center to begin a new life in a new home.
When Jayme was four months old, your mother and I were invited to attend a Wang “Achievers” event in Rome, Italy. We lived in Maunawili, on the windward side of Oahu, and Sara and Ashley attended Parent Participation Nursery School. That’s where we met your pre-school teacher, Debbie, who also became our “go-to-baby-sitter”. Jayme was also dependent upon your mother for milk and we thought long and hard about what to do with her while we would be gone for ten days and half way around the world. Jayme, we weren’t worried about Sara or Ashley as by then – they were pottie trained and could adequately feed themselves. We would be traveling with a large group from the Honolulu office and we didn’t want to hamper their travels or fun with a four month old. I had to come up with something quickly because my vice president insisted if we were going, we weren’t taking a four month old baby with us. So I had to take the idea to turn it into an event. I contacted our parish priest in Anchorage, Fr. Murphy, who gave me the name of the Santa Susannah American Catholic Church in Rome. With that, the plan to baptize Jayme in Rome was conceived, and, as it turned out, was the highlight for many of the Wang Achievers. Jayme, your mother and I were stopped by a high ranking vice president of the company who wanted to confirm that you were the baby being christened during his event. Our area vice president held the baptismal font while your aunt and uncle (Tom and Susan) were your god parents. The other vice president who said no to the idea was scolded following the baptism by his wife – who further insisted he needed to go to church more often. We traveled home through Athens, Greece, Bangkok, Thailand and spent a couple of extra days in Hong Kong and then arrived safely in Honolulu. We were the last to clear customs and Debbie was holding onto Sara and Ashley each time they could see you when the frosted glass doors opened from customs. They tried hard as they could to run into a controlled access area just to see you again.
Why am I telling you this?
I may have been reminded that I need to be hit by a two by four between the eyes to see what is in front of me.
Sunday night, while sobbing my eyes out while on a flight that was within forty five minutes from arriving in Honolulu was one of those events.
I realized just how much I love each of you and that how lucky I am that Sara, Ashley and Jayme are my daughters. Yet, I may have let you down and let each in your own way, slip away from me.
And, that it’s me that has to do something about it.
In the Seattle airport while in the waiting area, I noticed a young couple with their three children. The mother looked like anyone of you. Tall, blonde and beautiful. And, I again briefly noticed the mother as she carried her four month old infant past me down the planes aisle while her husband and two young sons followed behind. They settled into their seats, and, of course, I never gave them another thought.
About forty five minutes from Honolulu, an Alaska Air flight attendant, who appeared from the curtains separating us from first class, was in a controlled sprint as she headed four rows behind our seats. Another flight attendant from the rear of the plan was now fully engaged while the first class attendant ran back to her bulk head, crabbed the handset, and, through the planes intercom, requested anyone with medical experience to assist with a medical emergency.
The activity increased with an oxygen tank being dispatched to the row of seats behind us, and, we sat, staring straight ahead while the passengers to our front where up in their seats for a better look. When I saw the oxygen I immediately figured a senior citizen was having a heart attack and everything would be fine soon. Maybe they were out of synch with their medication and just needed the oxygen to regulate things.
The flight attendee stationed in the rear section of the plan was on what sounded like a walkie talkie type device as we could hear her saying “over” at the end of her statements. Then it became clearer to those of us within listening range. She was on the wire with some form of inflight medical assistance, and she was asking for advice and while giving an accurate status report and brief history and physical.
It wasn’t a senior after all, but, a four month old baby boy. The message was choppy and sounded as if the baby boy slipped to sleep and as a mother would and does, when she checked on him, found that he wasn’t breathing. No pulse and no heartbeat. We knew that volunteers were administering CPR and we couldn’t get the nerve to turn and see what was happening. I thought of asking everyone around us to just pray or something and stop staring. But, the lady next to me had to use the lavatory so I got out of my seat and while in the aisle turned, finally, to catch a look. There was nothing to see as there were three adults flat on the aisle floor over something I still couldn’t see as they were giving CPR to what turned out to be the baby’s mouth and where applying repetitive pulses to the chest.
It was when I got back into my seat that somehow the in the row of seats directly behind me the mother collapsed into her husband’s arms. They were pressed up against my seat back and as their sobbing pulsed through my seat I then realized how much I loved my own Sara, Ashley and Jayme.
For the next forty minutes the CPR didn’t stop and you could feel the pilot was putting pressure to speed the plane along; we hit the runway hot and we taxied faster than I’ve experienced straight to our jet way without delay. Our flight was met by a young emergency technician who professionally approached the area and quickly helped two of the volunteers off the plane when we saw for the first time a beautiful four month old baby boy. I think everyone knew as they rush with him off the plane as they continued to pulse his chest trying to revive him that there was no miracle tonight. And, the plane full of passengers remained deafly silent. I think someone thought a round of applause was appropriate but only after one clap, that too was silent.
Again, why am I telling you this? Was Sunday night my two by four between the eyes? And, was Sunday night, while sobbing my eyes out while on a flight that was arriving in Honolulu one of those events?
I realized just how much I love each of you and that how lucky I am that Sara, Ashley and Jayme are my daughters. Yet, I know that I have let you down, each in your own way, and, Ashely, you have slipped the farthest away from me.
And, it’s me that has to do something about it because last night, I was finally made vulnerable.
I love you three – and am happy with the way you have turned out and that when you were just four months old, how blessed I was that your lives was allowed to continue for your mom and me.
I’m not sure what is next, and, all I can say is that Sunday night has changed my life.
I hope that in some way it will change our lives, too.
I Love you