Written by James’ Mom
November 3, 2008 – a day of remembrance and celebration of the life of James L. Vandewater, IV. One year ago, James’ life was cut tragically short due to injuries sustained in an automobile crash. To honor his memory, we released 24 colored balloons on the grounds of Veteran’s Park nearby his memorial tree and the memorial tree of his childhood friend, David A. Hunt. Twelve people attended the tribute. James’ 12th grade high school gym teacher and a group of Steinert girls were jogging through the park at the time of the release and stopped to join in the remembrance. Following the release we headed off to James’ final resting place where we shared memories, pictures, music, and tears. Ruby Tuesdays was the place selected for dinner. This was the place that James and I had met for our final get together (he died nine days later). Ironically, Wil and I were seated at the very same table that James and I sat that night – perhaps this was a sign? Following dinner we ordered a large chocolate chip cookie and had "Remembering Jim" written on. The final tribute to James was the sharing of stories with other bereaved parents at my monthly Compassionate Friends meeting. James did not have much of a sweet tooth but those at the meeting enjoyed sharing the cookie and remembering Jim.
On November 4th I received a call from a local florist that was trying to deliver a Peace Lily to the house on the 3rd. I decided to pick it up as they could only deliver the plant during certain restrictive hours which wouldn’t work with my schedule. As I waited at the counter for the florist to retrieve the plant a figurine on the counter caught my eye -a silly green frog barbecuing sporting a chef hat and apron. His apron said, "Kiss the Cook." It reminded me of James so I purchased it. Perhaps this was another sign? The florist said to me that she didn’t have a box for the frog. I said no problem it is for me. She asked if I was the cook. I said no and I shared James’ story. The frog found a home on my desk at work near a picture of James and Derrick (from Nick’s on Broadway).
On November 5th I received the greatest gift from Amanda. A stuffed teddy bear with Jim’s voice on – "Don’t be Frumpy – I love you." No words could ever adequately express what the gift means to me! Thank you Amanda and Annette!
May James’ memory continue to live on in the hearts of those blessed to have known him.