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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The worn out shoes

Buzzing in the background of my humble kitchen, I heard my TV set murmuring the nightly news. As I finished drying my last dish and put it away into the light oak cupboard, I felt transfixed, glued to the sound of the storyline. I could not even see the tv set from the kitchen to the livingroom but there was something so familiar to this story and for some reason my spirit was telling me not to look up. I moved my gaze only for a moment. I looked down to the floor. I felt so afraid, so vulnerable. What was happening? My heart started pounding and I felt my throat close as dizziness set in. I was not sure what my intuition was trying to tell me, but I had come to rely on my God given instincts which I have learned through experience, to trust. Chills crawled from my head down to my toes and I started flooding with visions. So many memories flashed before me, memories too hard to deal with that I had sworn I would never pull up again. They came and went fast and furious. I felt like someone had let all the air out of me. My legs gave way under me, I felt as if they were spaghetti noodles and I fell to the kitchen floor. Still hearing the news in the background on the 1991 Hazeltine Golf Course Golf Open, I realized why I felt this way. I sobbed for what seemed forever.

As Duran Duran played in the sun tan booth I laid in, a news flash was broadcast over the radio. Five minutes into my tan, that feeling came over me. The kind of feeling I have come to know and listen to.

It was June 13th, 1991. I had been with my new husband for one year now. I met him right after I graduated college from University of Wisconsin Stout in Menomonie Wisconsin. Billy and I had just broken up after many of years of dating. It was one of the hardest times in my life. Billy and I had talked many times of life together as man and wife. Well, those dreams never came to fruition. We just drifted apart and took different roads. Bill and I met and started our courtship young. We were in the seventh grade. He was the good looking shy boy that sat in front of me in math class. I loved to kick his chair so he would notice me. He did not say much. I was bound and determined to get him to notice me. He was so nice and patient. He never got mad at the obnoxious girl who kicked his chair for a reaction.

One day as we sat in math class, I looked at Billy and said " Billy, I want you, so I will break up with Troy." I was a complete extrovert and a very typical middle school student except for the fact that my big head assumed he would like me too. He actually asked if I had ever been in a french fry challenge before. First of all, I almost fainted that he said more than two words to me. This was a victory, I said to myself. I told him I had never been in a challenge over french fries before but I loved the idea of it. I loved french fries and knew I could eat an entire boat of them no problemo. He wanted to meet me that weekend on Friday night at the local burger joint called the Soda Fountain. I was so excited I could not wait to tell my twin sister Linda. Linda knew I had been vying for Billy's attention. She would not believe it.

The Soda Fountain was a popular hang out in the day. It was close in proximity to our home and many of the students that went to grandview middle school. I was very good at acting strong and confident, but here I was, having to actually follow through and go on the date. I had waited and dreamdt about this moment for so long. We did not call it a date though as that would be way too embarrasing. I had butterflies in my stomach thinking about how the night would play itself out. Would he like me? Perhaps once he got to know me, he would think I was really boring or worse yet, just would not be interested. Oh well, it was worth the wait and the butterflies.

Friday night came and went and I can say was a great success. Billy was such a gentle, loving soul and we talked like crazy at the Soda Fountain as we ate our fries. " I told you Billy I said, I told you I would eat all my fries." He seemed genuinely surprised that a girl could finish an entire basket of fries. We both giggled as we left the fountain. I was suprised we had so much in common. On the outside it seemed Billy and I were so different. I mean, he was so shy and I was kind of hyper and outgoing to put it nicely. I did not know then, he was to turn out to be the love of my life.

Well, I must say that was pretty much that. Billy and I were inseparable. We spent most of our time together. He and I were eachothers first love. We wrote eachother what we called, "love poems" almost daily, since we were in a class learning how to type. I still read those letters now . I recently read them to my daughter who is twelve years old and she cried and said she wishes she could have met him. It is hard to believe that was 19 years ago.

Well, like I mentioned earlier, it was 1991 and I got the in the tanning booth. My husband and I were at our year anniversary and going to the bahamas. I needed to tan a bit before we got there since I was as white as a ghost and needed a base tan. "Oh God, I know this feeling." I felt as if I was going to die. My soul felt my highschool sweetheart say goodbye. I threw open my tanning booth, got dressed and literally ran out the salon door. I can't to this day tell you what the salon owners thought of me. I did not care what they thought. As I headed toward my home, my heart pounded. I was so dizzy I did not think I should be in a car. My breathing was so heavy. What is happening to me, I asked myself. "God, please please don't let it be what my heart feels". I felt as if Billy came to say good bye to me and I did not understand this at all. It did not make any sense logically so I just kept praying that my mind was playing tricks on me.

I got to my home on Ford Road in Minnetonka, Minnesota. I opened up the garage and pulled the car in swiftly. I ran inside to my kitchen and heard the phone ringing. Again, my heart was racing and I was praying that my soul had heard it all wrong. I answered the phone knowing what I would hear. " Laura, Hi, this is Judy from high school, have you heard yet?" Have I heard what I said as I panted loudly over the phone not wanting to listen. "Laura, Billy died today at the US Open golf tournament at Hazeltine golf course. He was struck by lightening and died." There was a long pause... I can only tell you that my heart sank, I dropped the phone and fell to the floor.

Here it is 12 years later and as I write this, I am crying. I cannot tell you how many times I have started to write this and publish it, but couldn't bear feeling all that pain again. I am now a single mom with two fantastic kids. I think and talk to Billy close to every day. I know he was my soul mate. Billy and I could tell eachother anything and everything and we were so compatible. Each time in my life when I am bearing a big burden, Billy comes to my dreams. I either see him in a vision or dream talking to me. Carl Jung calls these Big Dreams. He was a swiss psychologist and wrote many essays on how we walk on the other side with our loved ones in our Big Dreams.

In my grief I had learned that a family friend of ours helped work on Billy at the hospital. She was a nurse and was there the moment the ambulance rushed him into the hospital. She will never forget seeing him just three years earlier with me. Billy died wearing his favorite pair of shoes. They were his Minnetonka Moccasins and I remember him wearing them when we were together. These shoes were made of leather and they can last forever. I always admired the fact that Billy didn't follow the crowd or worry about what other people thought of him. Looking back, He was very mature and old in soul, so why not wear holey shoes to a golf tournament. Little did Billy know that his choice of shoes that dreadful day in Chaska, Minnesota, would be the reason he was the only person at the golf course that would die from lightening. Billy was wearing his worn out shoes...

I remember two months after Billy died. I was crying relentlessly and crying out to God to let him and I talk and spend time together. That night I got such a gift and I know it was real. Bill and I were walking on a beach with white sand. It was so lovely where we were. I told Bill that I could not believe we were together because he had died. He told me we really were together and that it would feel like seconds to him when we were back together. He told me at the end of this big dream, that in his time it would seem like a moment and I would see him in the physical millenium. I told my dad of this dream and found out that the millenium was after the 90's. He was right, of course I would die in the millenium. I knew Billy and I had been together. It helped my grief to know he was so happy.

The channel nine news rang out the story as it did each and every year since his death. It is June 13th and the anniversary of a Spring Park resident named Billy Fadell who died at the 1991 US Golf Open at Hazeltine Golf Course. It is because of this man that we now have lightening strike prevention rods in the ground to help prevent deaths on the golf course. As I heard this story again I felt sick like I did every year. This was my Billy. I still love him so. He is not a news story, he was the love of my life. The man I loved so much. I heard the end of the news story. The man with the worn out shoes. The hole in the leather shoe had taken this Spring Park mans life since the lightening had nothing to bounce off of. The Spring Park resident died due to the worn out shoes he had on his feet. The lightening went through him, leaving this man with no chance of survival.......


  1. Laura, what a touching write-up of your feelings for Billy and all he meant to you! I'll be thinking of you next week as the anniversary is visited again. I never knew they had determined the reason he died and the others hadn't... didn't realize it was because of his shoes. He was truly a unique and genuine person. And I believe he is right, the time until you will be together is just a blink in the time of your souls.

    Thank you for this moving post!

  2. janet, thanks so much for the feedback. It feels like it was yesterday.