Not A Traditional Recovery Story

Written by my daughter, Caitlin

This is not a traditional recovery story because my dad did not recover- he died on his motorcycle that day. This is the recovery story of how my father saved three lives when he passed away and how my pregnant mom became a single mother to a six-year-old boy and a three-year old girl and how she raised all three children on her own to be successful adults. Even though my dad was not able to walk away from his accident, my mom was able to recover from that tragedy that blew our lives apart and help hundreds of women along the way.

October 22, 2004 – my dad was on his motorcycle reporting to the fire station for work. However, there was traffic on his usual route, so he decided to take the back roads – a route he had never taken before that day. He had the right of way and was driving at 45 miles per hour, but there were trees blocking the view. A box truck was stopped at a stop sign and did not see him coming around the corner, so he thought it was safe to make the turn. My father would have died on impact if it was not for his helmet. He slid underneath the truck, hit his head on the exhaust pipe, and proceeded to come out the other side. He was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital where he passed a few hours later. All of this occurred while my family was sleeping. Later that morning, my mother was driving me to preschool and one of my dad’s coworkers called her to tell her that my father was in the hospital, and he was not doing well. Despite the efforts of the nurses and doctors, my father had too much blood in his brain which ultimately led to his death. Fortunately, his heart still worked perfectly so after he passed away, his heart valves were donated to an older man, a middle-aged woman, and a young boy – their lives were saved that day and they all fully recovered from their transplants.

After my father passed away and my younger brother was born, my mom started to write a blog called, “Widow Plus Three” where she documented our journey through the life of being raised by a widowed parent. Through her blog, she was able to carry on my father’s memory as if he did recover, by writing about us and how she sees him in each of us. Her blog reached tens of thousands of men and women worldwide and she helped show them God’s grace, unconditional love, and that it is okay to question His plan. My father has been gone for almost 18 years and she continues to post about our lives because the recovery journey is never fully complete.

Over the next five years, my mom would create the only Georgia chapter of Modern Widows Club. Modern Widows Club is a monthly meeting where widows could gather to be around other women on the same heartbreak and recovery journey, so they know they are not alone. Through the club, my mom found her passion for helping others through grief and loss. In 2013, she became a licensed professional counselor and specialized in grief and trauma. She saw clients two days a week and worked in the school system the other days. In the schools, she was a school counselor and worked for an organization known as Sources of Strength where she would train students and teachers how to recognize suicidal triggers, thoughts, and how to reach out for help. Over the years, she has helped administrators, students, teachers, and families recover from deaths and suicides across two different school districts. 

My mom is now remarried, and they have been together for over ten years. In 2018, my stepfather adopted my younger brother and I making him our legal dad on our birth certificates. Through the adoption, we have three new siblings, a brother-in-law, a niece, a nephew, and a whole new side of family that treats us as their own. My older brother is now 24 years old and drives a UPS truck full-time. I am 21 years old, and I am a full-time student at the University of Georgia, and my younger brother is 17 years old and is taking dual enrollment classes at Kennesaw State University in the fall. My brothers and I did not get the chance to grow up with a father and experience the happiness on Fathers’ Day, but my mom’s heart healed, and we now have a man to call “Dad” who is our entire world.

My birth-dad may not have recovered from his motorcycle accident, but his tragedy directly saved three lives and allowed my mom to save a hundred more lives through her recovery journey. Recovering from a motorcycle accident is not always about the person directly involved because not only one person is affected by the incident. When that man pulled out in front of my dad – our lives were shattered and sent in a completely different direction. I would not wish this journey on anyone, but through our strong faith, my family has been able to recover and feel the love we missed out on for all those years.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tammie Smith
    Jun 16, 2022 @ 11:52:25

    Caitlin, your words are absolutely beautiful and a testament to GODs Grace, Love and Mercy. I worked with your mom a long time ago and knew your dad through her, he was such a great guy and loved all of you very much! Sometime life puts us on an unexpected road so that we can help others with a compassion that we would only know by going through something life altering. Thank you for sharing your story, I know your words will be great comfort for others.

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. Christine McCartney
    Jun 16, 2022 @ 13:01:24

    Caitlyn that was beautiful! Mary I’m crying! What a tragedy but look at what you have accomplished! I’m so proud and happy to be able to call you my friend!

    I would like to be able to refer clients to you if you see them privately! I love and trust you and my niche as you know is grief and as a counselor I think we can work together. Not everyone I speak to is ready for a coach to move forward and May need to talk about the tragedy first and grieve. My number is … if we want to get together and chat!

    Liked by 1 person

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