An Indelible Inscription……….#261 The 2000’s

Mr. & Mrs. – Sandra & Jeremy Birzer

A precipitous  surprise, Dad’s Princess, Gary’s daughter Sandra disclosing that she and Jeremy Birzer would soon be joined in  matrimony.   Gary was unaware of the seriousness of Sandra and Jeremy’s relationship, the lack of communication between father in California and daughter in Kansas  was always exigent, something to be improved on.   Jeremy,  a family amicus and Sandi’s brother Robert’s best friend through his proclaiming years of junior and senior high in Anthony Kansas.   Although living in Harper,  Jeremy was deemed special, the Willson’s on many occasions stopping in Harper so he could accompanying them on ventures to Wichita.    On one occasion Gary inviting the youth to join Robert and Sandra, introducing the three to the Wichita Symphony Orchestra at the Century II Concert Hall.  Gary was uninsured of their impression  but perceptive the orchestrated classical music was a ruminative experience for the youths.  On other occasions, finding Jeremy and Robert accompanying him to Wichita  making a juncture to stop at a certain specialty skateboard shop,  the two boys able to satisfy their selective aspirations to garnish their skateboard enthusiasm.

Jeremy Birzer

Jeremy Birzer

Sandra and Dad in front of the White House

Sandra and Dad in front of an illustrated White House

The elder Willson having acquainted Jeremy’s parents Joe and Marilyn Birzer,  finding them a very congeal couple and appreciative of his advocacy for the boy’s interest.    It wasn’t surprising the family found out after the fact,  Jeremy and Sandra abstaining from a formal announcement of the wedding,  the two affirming a small private service.  Jamie Johnson,  Sandra’s Cousin standing with her and Jeremy’s sister Corrine standing with her brother, the service conducted by the Rev. Jack Pilgrim on Sunday August 5, 2001,  the couple pronounced husband and wife.

Colony Park - a home away from home

Colony Park – a home away from home

Gary acknowledging Colony Park Nursing & Rehabilitation Center Gary’s was an integral part of his life 24/7,  the environmental service & maintenance supervisor having to respond when called upon at all hours.   Gary found the least burdening element of his job was the scheduling of his 13 employees work days,  the challenging aspect was finding replacements when they would call in,  especially if given less than eight hours notice to fulfill their shift.   The most difficult position on short notice was in laundry, the morning person’s shift beginning at 5:00 a.m.,  Gary not appreciative of  receiving a late evening call,  the morning person saying that they would be unable to work.   He found from experience that calling a laundry employee at 10:00 p.m. and asking them to come in at 5:00 a.m. on their day off wasn’t too successful, the early morning would  find him in laundry at 5:00 a.m.   Donning the required gown and gloves,  sorting the diapers,  soiled linen and towels and personal clothing in individual barrel containers was first on the agenda.   Once accomplished he loaded the two 60 lb.capacity Unimac Washer Extractor, taking 50 minutes to complete their operation cycle.   Transferring the washed items to the three commercial dryers for completion, the folding process would  begin, transferred to a delivery cart..  The clean linen distributed to each of the four  hallways closet,  a non stop continuous cycle all this  done by a singular laundry person.  Gary was fortunate on these early morning call dates,  being the supervisor his 5:00 a.m. laundry duty most generally lasting till 8:00, the custodial and housekeeping staff arriving, volunteering to  help in laundry until he could convince someone to come in or the afternoon person arrived, but there were many times he had to pull the full shift.

The calls from the night shift nursing staff were frequent,  a suspicious person in the parking lot,  a smoke alarm going off  which almost always was a malfunction.    The alarm system would trigger ADT and the fire department, it was ADT’s responsibility to call the facility to determine if it was a real alarm event and to notify the fire department.  The problem being the night shift staff adhering to protocol, the procedure of inspection and the closing of all room doors and with the continuous sound of the alarm blaring most often neglecting to answer the phone,  the unanswered phone preventing ADT from notifying the Fire Department and halting their response to a false alarm.  Gary’s home phone would ring being listed as the contact person and was never ceased to be amazed at the ADT person in Phoenix Arizona calling and asking if this was a real alarm event at Colony Park.  Even if everything went according to protocol he still had respond,  no matter how many inservices he had given the charge nurses could never retain how to reset the alarm panel.

The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers

The Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001 was like most mornings for Gary,  a wake up shower and shave at 6:15 a.m.,  a cup of coffee and a piece of toast,  then the phone rang.   Gary’s wife Fran having spent the night at Columbia to start a dog sitting presence as his mother and sister were about to venture on a vacation later that day.   Gary’s mother on the phone,  exclaiming “they’re bombing New York City,  turn on the TV”.   Gary reassuring his mother that in all probability that was not so,  but would turn on his television.   The television projecting an unreal scene of devastation,  something unimaginable,  two planes having targeted the preeminent twin towers of the World Trade Center,  both upper stories of the two towers in flames.   Gary somewhat awe-struck making a phone call to the nursing facility,  giving notice that he would late for work and would not be available for the 9:00 o’clock department head meeting.

The aftermath of the Twin Towers

The aftermath of the Twin Towers

Seated before the television  watching in consternation the events unfolding before his eyes,  absorbing what had happened.   The first hijacked plane,  American Airlines flight 11 departing from Logan International in Boston to Los Angles having struck the north tower at 8:46 a.m. east coast time.   American Airlines Flight 175 from Logan International,  its destination also Los Angeles  plummeting into the south tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m..  Another shocking announcement,  American Airlines flight 77 from Washington Dulles Airport to Los Angles having  targeted and crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m..

Gary finding the televised live events unbelievable, watching the destruction of  the 110 storied monolithic buildings,  the World Trade Center,    its contents of  human life disappearing  before his eyes as the south tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m.   Then came word that a fourth plane had been hijacked,  flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco,  the plane coming down in Somerset County Pennsylvania,  the passengers apparently attempting to regain control from the hijackers.   At 10.28 a.m. the final affliction, the north tower of the World Trade Center falling to earth with the contents of the remaining  trapped inhabitants.  Viewing these live events were not without consequence,  Gary’s inward response was one solicitude,  the realization that a new era of terrorism having prevailed,  the once impervious America which he grew up in was now vulnerable to those who espoused enmity.   The events unfolding that morning coming to a conclusion,  Gary recognizing his workplace duties remained,  proceeded as most Americans,  to fulfilled their workplace obligations,  nevertheless the events of September 11, 2001 would remain an indelible inscription forever.

Mom and Tom Fleming

Mom and Tom Fleming

The May 11, 2002 phone call was not totally unexpected,  but the passing of someone special always has a meaningful impact,  especially when the someone is special to one’s mother.  Tom Fleming was special, a salt of the earth a man of perfection in every respect, Gary’s mother and Tom a unique couple that complimented each other, Tom having accomplished all of his life’s goals and Gary’s mother challenging him to new ones.   It was later that Tom developed a serious diabetic related illness which was a beckoning for Gary’s mother to take up residence in Manteca caring for her friend.  Gary and Fran no strangers having earlier visited Tom and mom in Manteca,  the couple and canine Sammi invited to spend the night, Tom generously taking them out to one if not the most premier supper clubs in Manteca.   With Tom’s passing a farewell service was held on May 16, Tom’s family and many friends assembling at the United Lutheran Church in Manteca.   Gary and Fran joining his Mother and sister Nancy  for Tom’s remembrance service, declining to subscribe to the 55 mile journey to Tom’s final resting at San Joaquin National Cemetery in Gustine,  Tom like Gary’s father having serviced in the Army during WWII .   Gary when seated at the service,  listened intently to the many eulogy accolades describing Thomas Fleming and when all was said he noted a most fitting descriptive word that was inadvertently overlooked, one that was right to the point in its depiction and that should have been shared,  “unselfish”.

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