Goodbye, Officer Phoenix

Comfort food; that’s what I need at this moment.

It comes after I watched hundred’s of law enforcement escort a fallen Bureau of Indian Affairs officer to her final resting place. To see the line of every kind of police , sheriff, state, federal and tribal vehicle — with it’s blue and red lights flashing, in this sad procession is heart wrenching.

It’s made even more wrenching when the back story is known. Officer Denise Phoenix died on Valentine’s Day jus’ months after she being exposed to chemical fumes emitted from a meth-lab she and her fellow officers busted up in Montana.

This is not the worst of it.

Eight years ago, Officer Phoenix lost her two children, Justin and Shasta Surace to a driver who suffered a medical event of some sort while driving. Also killed in the crash were her brother Ronald Phoenix and the driver of the errant car, Lafayette Lee.

I was one of the first people to come upon the scene and attempt to offer aid.

Since that time she fought and eventually won a battle to have a barrier erected dividing the north and south bound roadway on which three of her family members perished. The skid marks on the barrier are proof that lives are being saved since its installation.

She passed that spot this morning — one final time along the Pyramid Highway, en route to Nixon, Nevada. There are three crosses erected in the spot where her children and brother died.

She also passed by the barrier that she was so instrumental in having put up to save lives.

Currently, a request is before Nevada’s U.S. Senator Harry Reid to have that section of the Pyramid Highway between Sparks Boulevard and Highland Drive to the north and Golden View Drive to the south named in her honor. It would be fitting for this courageous officer who did so much for this community and lost so much at the same time.

Yes, I need some comfort food to nourish the sadness I feel for Officer Phoenix’s family. Then perhaps a good cry as well.

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Water Melon Lessons

Tommy and Adam visited Grandpa every year when it was time to gather the hay. The summer was no exception. Except that they got in an awful lot of trouble that summer. They had lots of help from each other.

Adam talked Tommy into doing the darnedest thing. He talked him into sneaking into Mr. Breedon’s watermelon patch…in broad daylight! Adam offered Tommy a bit of his wisdom “Nobody would ever think we’d be crazy enough to steal water melons in the middle of the day.” Tommy took the bait, hook, line and sinker.

They crept and sneaked and belly crawled their way into the patch. They found the biggest, sweetest watermelon they had ever laid their eyes on. It was so big that, it took both of them to pick it up. Then they started to sneak out.

Click! Click!

Adam took off at a dead run. He left Tommy standing there, balancing that big old eye-popping watermelon in his arms. Tommy was hanging onto it for dear life.

Bang! Bang!

Later that evening, after Grandpa cleaned the rock salt out of Tommy’s hide and tanned Adams, they sat down to dessert and a quiet conversation. “Well, boys, guess you learned a thing or two today.” Grandpa said. It was a statement more than a question.

“Yes, sir,” they responded together. Neither boy could find the courage to look Grandpa in the eye, because each knew that they had done a bad thing. Stealing was wrong.

Grandpa cleared his throat and said, “Never under estimate the number of nobody’s in the world, boys. Nobody can suddenly become somebody especially if you’re making off with his prize melon. Understand?”

The boys replied, “Yes. Sir”

“Also, don’t ever expect your brother to bail you out of trouble that you got yourself into. He could end up leaving you holding that melon. Correct?” Grandpa continued.

“Yes, Grandpa,” they said in one voice.

Grandpa chuckled out loud and then concluded, “Finally, Tommy, you should have ducked when you heard the ‘click-click’ while stealing that melon. Now, pass your Grandpa another piece, Tommy would you?”