Norwich, Connecticut is representing in No Stomach For Cancer’s first annual Walk for Stomach Cancer Awareness.
Linda Chesnutt and family will be walking in memory of her son Chris on November 3, and for all those who are battling, or who have lost their battle to stomach cancer. Linda shared the story of her son’s life with us.Remembering My Son With Love
It is the anniversary of my son Christopher’s death. Instead of telling you how he died, I’d rather tell you how exuberantly he lived.
Two days after I came home from the hospital with Chris, I was convinced that God had surely made a mistake, and I was the wrong mother for this child. He had colic, and cried from 10 am until 10 pm. The entire day was spent walking the floor and passing him from myself to his father to his grandmother to his uncle. As a baby, he rarely napped, and the only way I could get him to nap, was to put him in the carseat and drive. I visited every girlfriend in every borough of NY. By the age of 5, Chris could give you perfect directions to La Guardia Airport.
When he was 4 months old, I decided to visit one of my co-workers on Staten Island the Friday before the 4th of July in the pouring rain. There we were, in the left lane on the Belt Parkway by Kennedy Airport when the master cylinder went. In the blinding rain, with no brakes, I put on directionals, and slowly started moving to the right. Amazingly, I successfully navigated and exited at Howard Beach, you know, the neighborhood John Gotti called home. I found one of those old fashioned gas stations, the ones that have mechanics, but no longer exist today. The owner looked like one of the hoods from Goodfellas. I politely asked him if he could fix my car. He laughed at me with a cigar butt hanging from his mouth and said, “lady, are you freakin kiddin me…on the Friday before the 4th of July?” I was desperate and started to sweat. I grabbed the guy by his shirt and said, “Mister, do you see that sleeping baby in the car seat?” “He won’t be sleeping for long, and once that baby wakes up, you are going to wish you never laid eyes on either one of us”. I often think he fixed my car because of the maniacal look on my face, or perhaps he thought Chris was Satan’s spawn. We never did make it to Staten Island, but when we got home, I opened a bottle of Pinot Grigio.
At age 4, Chris almost set the house on fire. He found a lighter that didn’t work, or so we all thought, took some paper, put it in the sink of his Little Tykes Work bench, and the rest is history. He came and told me that “someone broke into the house and set it on fire”. The melting plastic of the toy bench had ignited the rug. In a stupor, I ran for my huge sauce pot, filled it with water and doused the rug fire first, then dragged the workbench out the door, refilled the pot and put that out, and opened all the windows in the middle of February. I called his father to come home ASAP if he ever wanted to see his son alive again. His Dad took him to the Kings Park Fire Department to talk to the chief. I’m pretty sure the chief and the events of the day, convinced Chris to become a fireman.
Chris loved cars, trucks and anything that had wheels, and I don’t mean Matchbox or Hot Wheels either. His Dad and Uncle were supposed to be watching him play on the driveway. I was upstairs, and just happened to look out the window when I saw Chris sitting in the Driver’s seat of the Trans Am. His Dad and Uncle were standing behind the car at the end of the driveway talking, and not paying attention to him. As I opened the window to scream, Chris shifted the car out of park into neutral, and the car rolled down the driveway in slow motion and was about to crush his father and uncle between the Trans Am and my brother’s car at the end of the driveway. I don’t think I ever saw my brother or husband ever move that fast again. I shared a pitcher of frozen Margaritas with my husband and brother that night.
One fall day when Chris was 6, I asked him to help me rake leaves. He told me with a serious look on his face, that he didn’t think that was a good idea because if God wanted leaves to be picked up, He would have put handles on them.
While we were waiting on the cattle call line for Southwest Airlines at Midway in Chicago, Chris yelled out, hey Ma, look at the Amish! We all turn around to look as 3 men, dressed all in black, with hats and spit curls by their sideburns walk by. It took a few minutes for Jim and I to stop laughing and explain to Chris they weren’t Amish.
In Chris’ senior year of high school in Pittsburgh, he drove to school one winter morning after an overnight snow. He called to tell me that he had a little accident in the school parking lot, that no one got hurt, the car needed to be towed, and his friend would drive him home. No other car was involved, yet there was $6000 worth of damage to his brand new car. He claimed the car slid sideways into the curb which caused the front right wheel to collapse, which broke the axle, tie rods etc. He asked me to call the insurance company to ask them to sue his high school for not plowing the parking lot promptly! I couldn’t stop laughing for 15 minutes. After I recovered, I asked him if he was doing wheelies in the school’s parking lot. No Mom, of course not, was his reply. I explained to him that the insurance company would not sue the high school under subrogation because it would be like suing the Pope, and it would be his fault for not driving more
carefully in bad conditions. So after twenty minutes of arguing and explaining, I called State Farm and had him pick up the extension so he could listen in. The agent of course reiterated verbatim what I just told him. This time, I mixed a dirty Martini.
Today is the anniversary of my son Christopher’s death. I miss him, and so many things about him… his smile, that hearty laugh, his witty sense of humor, his kind and compassionate heart, his big bear hugs, those beautiful baby blue eyes, even his debate full logic, and most of all, whenever I said I love you, he would always reply, Mom, I love you more. In the end, it was Chris and I alone, just like we began 23 years before. I was there when he took his first breath, and I was there when he took his last, and then I realized, God never makes mistakes. I was always the perfect mother for Chris, just as he was always the perfect son for me.
Thank you for sharing your son’s story, Linda. Today and every day we celebrate you both.