Tag Archives: Ally

Noah’s Dad

Jeremy posted this on FaceBook yesterday (Fathers’ Day):

Fathers Day is a good time to reflect not just on the amazing dads who’ve been a part of my life, but on a guy who rose to an extraordinary challenge — loving and raising my nephew as if Noah was his own — and has been more supportive, open and friendly in the aftermath of Zach’s horrible tragedy than anyone in our extended family had a right to expect. Hope you enjoyed your day, Daddy Dave Richer. You’re an awesome dude and Noah and Myles are blessed to have you as a dad.

As a father, I couldn’t be prouder to have raised a son who can think this way.

I want to add my own story about Dave.

In the aftermath of the tragedy Saturday night in Baton Rouge, by Tuesday the whole family was gathered down there. Wednesday we discovered the existence of Noah, and by Wednesday night Ashley had established contact with Ally. Zach’s friends and colleagues at the school arranged to have a memorial there on the Friday afternoon. As someone with graphics experience, I was called on to help with the program. I was in a daze, though.

Sometime Friday – I think – Jeremy told me we were all getting on an airplane Saturday morning to fly to Michigan for another celebration. I had no cold weather gear; I hadn’t spoken to anyone on that side of the family since our divorce four years earlier. I didn’t want to go, but I couldn’t say no. They all loved Zach too.

So we flew to Detroit, where it was snowing. Everyone there was welcoming and sympathetic to me but I was still in shock. At the celebration on Sunday, I couldn’t speak. As soon as I could I went to a corner and sat mostly by myself. Eventually I noticed that people were starting to leave and I remembered something Sarah had said to me. She had said Ally was bringing Noah to the celebration with her husband Dave. They were driving up from Cincinnati in the snow!

Sarah was walking by so I called to her, ‘Didn’t you tell me Ally and Dave were coming up with Noah?’

She didn’t say anything. She just grabbed me and pulled me to go with her outside. It was still snowing and all I had on was a sweater! She pulled me anyway. Noah was outside playing in the snow. She introduced me to Ally. I don’t even remember what i said to her but I remember what I said to Dave, ‘You must be the step father.’

Dave shook his head. ‘No, I’m the Dad.’

work weekend

Well, we had it last weekend. The work weekend, where we picked up the slack for Zach. Quite a few people came: family members, LSU people, Greenville YMCA people. All in all there were over 25 people involved.

I took the red-eye out of SFO Thursday night, arriving in Atlanta around 7 in the morning having slept only a couple of hours at most. Sarah had come in the night before, so she was there. A group from Baton Rouge led by Micah and Julie came about noon. Ashley got home from work about 3:30 and by 4 we were on the road to South Carolina.

Despite promises being made, no one was at the camp when we arrived. The cabins were open and the lights worked but otherwise it was deserted. There was no cell service up on the mountain so reaching people was tough.

Jeremy persevered, though, and after about an hour he got through to someone who told us the director had a family emergency and had to leave. We got the info on where to sleep so we got settled before dark. Ally arrived about 9 with Noah, having done all the driving from Cincinnati. He came into the kids cabin just in time to interrupt Rosalie from getting to sleep. They were glad to see each other.

After that, Jeremy got a campfire started and more people I didn’t know started showing up in the darkness. Soon, stories of Zach were being told. I had the foresight of bringing my little hand held recorder and I let it run for a solid 45 minutes while stories were told around the campfire.I gave up around midnight. There were a few hardy souls still there.

The next morning after breakfast, everyone headed out to ‘Zeke’s Place’ to see what we were up against. Here’s what we found:

Before we started work, Jeremy got everyone in a circle and we all spoke briefly of our relationship to Zach. Ashley used her lovely phrase, ‘Brother-in-love,’ to refer to Zach. One of the Greenville people – I don’t remember who, but male – said they had a crush on Zach. That was after one of the women said the same thing, to knowing nods all around.

Then, to work. Noah jumped in and helped as much as he could.

We broke for lunch and returned to an afternoon of rain showers but the work continued steadily. We weren’t quite done when it was time to go to dinner, but some elves left quickly after dinner and went back to finish the roof before the light faded.

The next morning, almost everyone reconvened at the site for a celebratory picture. I never heard who Zeke was but heretofore, it will be known as ‘Zach and Zeke’s Place.’

Before that, on Saturday, there was an important other celebration to have. It was Noah’s birthday! Ashley had made a cake and someone – I never found out who – went into Brevard for Dolly’s ice cream. Gifts were given and songs were sung; cake and ice cream was eaten.

YMCA Camp Greenville has a chapel called ‘Pretty Place’. It’s where Jeremy and Ashley had gotten married nearly ten years ago. I never felt that ‘pretty’ was the best word for the spot. It’s much better than pretty. Anyway, Jeremy had encouraged everyone to come out to Pretty Place for the sunrise Sunday. I had heard 6:45 but when I got there about that time, the sun was already up and many people were already there. After the rain the day before, Sunday had dawned clear and warm, but pockets of fog were in the valleys below.

After snapping a couple of pictures, I sat down next to Sarah and took in the fabulous view and thought of the wonderful people that were there with me, giving some extra for Zach. I completely broke down.

missing Zach

A bunch of things happened today that were not particularly significant by themselves, but, taken together, they got me to where I’m missing Zach more than usual.

There was a question about his finances and I couldn’t find anything. I guess I sent it all to Ally. But I looked through the bulging file from 2015 that has all the cards I got.

I dug out his iPad and found that an ‘administrator’ had deleted his Outlook account. That was his LSU email. Nothing significant has come through there for a long time but still . . . His Yahoo mail account has a few postings from services that I couldn’t (or didn’t bother to) cancel. Nothing from real people. Yahoo had thoughtfully notified us that several attempts have been made to log into that account using an email address from his early days at Xavier. From China, Russia, you get the picture. Time to shut that down, I guess.

Zach used an app called Evernote to make to do lists. Opening Evernote shows me his list from the last week of his life. I’m not ready to give that up. There’s also a recording app that has some interviews he did in that last week for his research. I think I downloaded them but right now I can’t remember where.

MLB At Bat. Oh yeah, there was a message in the Yahoo account about how they re-upped him for this year using the same credit card as before. I hope Ally has cancelled it. I took it off the iPad. ESPN Radio. Gone.

Jeremy called today and among other things he said he had some things he wished he could talk to Zach about. We all miss his wisdom, his empathy, his humor. I was a poor substitute.

It’s not an anniversary or anything special. It’s just an ordinary day and I’m missing Zach.

some good things

Politics and bad drivers seem to be often in my mind for possible blog posts but there is much that is good in my life.

What are some good things that have been in my life recently? I need to get my laundry done today and someone has been using the laundry room for the last 2+ hours. Well, writing another blog post is a good thing!

Seeing Sarah at the Symphony, playing in that great orchestra, is a good thing. She’s playing every, or nearly every, set through this month through the East Coast tour a month from now. After that, no one is saying.

I went to the dentist today for a teeth cleaning. I hadn’t been in 3 or 4 years so I guess that’s a good thing. She wants to do a deep cleaning, of course. I expected that, but she and the hygienist were very nice so I decided I would go ahead. The hygienist recommended a Water Pik instead of an electric toothbrush so I bought one afterward. Now I just have to use it!

The jazz band is playing two charts that have guitar solos and a couple others that have exposed parts so the results of my practicing – or not practicing – is evident every week. That’s good. I’m practicing more. I’ve gotten compliments on my playing from band members. That’s good.

Work has been good. Work is work so what I’m really saying is that I haven’t had too much of it. SoundBox is next week and indications are that last months’ chaos will not be repeated.That’s good. I am continually thankful that my colleagues are all people that I enjoy being around.

I did a really thorough house cleaning before Tom came over last week. That’s good. I’ve been keeping up with the dishes lately so there aren’t piles in the sink all the time.

After living through several droughts in California, I learned to appreciate the rain. We’ve had both rain and sunshine in the last couple of weeks. That’s all good. The deep green hills look great in the sunshine.

I bought plane tickets for the work weekend in South Carolina last week. Not only will I get to see Jeremy’s family but also Micah and Julie will be there from Baton Rouge. I had already bought a ticket to meet Jeremy in Georgia to help move his family out west. There’s one more ticket I bought that I can’t talk about because it’s a surprise. I gave JJ all the dates so there won’t be any work conflicts. The other summer trip is the one to Germany with Mary Beth. We haven’t bought tickets yet but it will happen in August. These are all good things.

I went to a funeral Saturday. That wasn’t so good but I saw two people there from my high school days that I didn’t expect to see. That was awesome. John and Gary, I hope you read this!

Ally posted a video on Facebook of Noah from 2011 that I watched about 4 times. Then there was a current one of Noah and Myles together. Both precious for different reasons. I am really looking forward to seeing Noah at the work weekend. I already have a birthday present for him!

Rose continues to be my rock and my best friend. I often think about the unexpected paths our lives took to bring us together, then apart, then together again. Maybe someday I will find the strength to write the story of Rose and Chris. It’s not what you think and we don’t know the ending yet.

Every day I spend with Mom and Dad is precious. Last week I had two. On one, Dad asked me to cut down a dead pyracantha and I almost had a heart attack sawing it up with his little hand saw. After we got home from the funeral, I had at the stump with my sawzall. That took about 20 minutes instead of the 30 seconds I thought it would be. Dead wood is harder than live, don’t you know? He’s always happiest outdoors with growing things.

miscellany

Buzzing around some previous entries I find some loose ends. One has to do with the work weekend in May. Ally and Noah are coming to join us in North Carolina! That means I won’t be driving to Cincinnati which simplifies things. I’m still waiting to hear from others attending whether it’s better for me to fly to Charlotte or Atlanta.

In other travel news, I am now planning to attend the 100th birthday of my cousin Leni Hangauer in Germany in August. Mary Beth and I will be going together. Besides the party, which includes seeing all the German relatives, the only thing I really want to do is visit the grave of Franz. We are planning on two weeks so there will be more.

Noah

The Laura Nyro song ‘And When I Die’ came up on my rotation the other day. Her version is so poignant because she died before her time. (I thought she was younger, but she was almost 50 when she died in 1997.)

For some reason I thought of Ally and Noah when I heard it. I was driving and my first thought was to send it to her but later I thought it might be more appropriate here. Noah’s last name will never appear in this forum so all I will say is that he is Zach’s natural child, Ally is the mother – a remarkable woman – and he now has the last name of his Dad, Ally’s husband and a remarkable man. Zach cooperated with Noah’s adoption by them in 2014.

Zach had not told anyone in his family of Noah’s existence for reasons that I can only speculate on. His discovery by us is a story for another time. As you might imagine, it was quite a shock coming only a few days after the shock of Zach’s death. It was only due to Ally’s quiet determination for Noah to know his blood relatives that I was able to finally come to accept the fact – as quite a few people said to me -that we have a little part of Zach still on this earth.

Which brings me to the lyric that hit me between the eyes: ‘And when I die, And when I’m dead and gone, There’ll be one child born, And a world to carry on, carry on.’

I met Noah at a celebration a week after Zach died but I was so wrecked I wasn’t very coherent. After some weeks passed, I was able to write him a letter (on paper, and put in the mail!) and we have developed a relationship that way. Someday I will meet him in person again.

Here’s the whole lyric, copied from Laura Nyro’s web site http://www.lauranyro.com/

I’m not scared of dyin’
And I don’t really care
If it’s peace you find in dyin’
Well then let the time be near
Just bundle up my coffin
‘Cause its cold way down there
And when I die
And when I’m gone
There’ll be one child born
And a world to carry on

My troubles are many
They’re deep as a well
I swear there ain’t no heaven
And I pray there ain’t no hell
But I’ll never know by livin’
Only my dyin’ will tell
And when I die
And when I’m gone
There’ll be one child born
And a world to carry on

Give me my freedom
For as long as I be
All I ask of livin’
Is to have no chains on me
All I ask of livin’
Is to have no chains on me
And all I ask of dyin’
Is to go naturally
And when I die
And when I’m gone
There’ll be one child born
And a world to carry on