6 Days before Kaden’s graduation, my oldest son suffered an immense heart attack and died . . .
A day doesn’t go by, I don’t think of him. With his birthday approaching, it fills my heart with sadness.
Chad David Musgrove arrived on November 16th, 1971, with a set of lungs that let the entire hospital know he had arrived. He was 10 1/2 pounds and 23 1/2 inches long. It shocked my doctor that he was so big! He never wore newborn anything. His clothing size started at 6 months. His aunt Sharon made him newborn size flannel diapers and I couldn’t even get them around his little rear!
Chad was always hungry, his feedings didn’t satisfy him for more than an hour! An older friend of mine suggested we add a little rice cereal to his bottle, just to give his formula a bit of thickness. We weren’t sure if he could handle it or not — but guess what! He did! I figured out that all we had to do was “feed” him and change his diaper, to keep him happy.
Even as a youngster, Chad had a softness about him. He was compassionate, kind, and always was looking out for his brother and sister. He was my “WHY” guy! I will bet the other moms out there know what this means. For those of you that don’t, I would say something to Chad and he would always respond with “Why?” I would answer that “Why”, and he would ask it again! About the 4th or 5th why that came out of his mouth I would just say “BECAUSE I TOLD YOU SO!”
Chad always challenged me. On the one hand, we would stand toe to toe. He didn’t want to give in and I absolutely needed to stand my ground, yet we could laugh and joke and move on. As he got older, he would ask me, “how did you put up with me?” Even now I have to chuckle at that memory ~ with a son of his own, he now understood where I was coming from!
From high school on, he held many jobs. He was big on fairness and honesty. He served 4 years in the Navy, he married and has a very handsome son, Kaden. Even though he divorced, he was a constant in Kaden’s life.
His life was an open book, but when he took something on, he did it full steam ahead. He joined a non-profit, “Orphans Africa” and even traveled to Tanzania, seeing firsthand the Nursery, Primary and Secondary School this non-profit helps. He was overcome with emotion seeing how far the dollar goes to help these children with building schools and furthering their education.
Chad hit a low in life & took a serious look into his own health. He had gained more weight, and he knew that he needed to take control, lose the weight and challenge himself. On his dad’s side of the family, the Musgrove men have serious hereditary heart issues.
2013 ~ Chad’s own words: “Triathlon changed (and saved) my life. My goal is to Qualify for Kona. How many years will it take? I am hopeful that through documenting my journey from a fat, middle-aged, and mildly depressed couch potato to an Ironman athlete, I may inspire others to change their lives.”
As I sit here to share with you a bit of Chad’s journey, I am overcome with emotion. His light was a driving force that helped us throughout difficult and joyous times.
August 19th, 2012, Chad entered the Spartan Race ~ Ironman Lake Tahoe Triathlon ~ The first event is the swimming portion ~ it is a 2.4 mile swim. I knew he would do well here. He was a powerful swimmer, had earned many gold times on the swim team in his teen years. He beat his own swimming time by 10 minutes!
The next leg of the Ironman Triathlon ~ biking ~ 112 miles ~ Kaden and I were here the entire day, we weren’t sure how we could find him in the mix ~ but here he is coming in from the 112 mile bike ride. He was all smiles and felt good that he had completed this portion of the event.
On to the 3rd & final leg of The Ironman Triathlon, the 26.2-mile run. He knew this was the part that would be the most difficult. Half way through the running he twisted his ankle ~ he told me that many times he wanted to quit ~ but he remembered my story of riding my bike from Seattle to Portland.
“It was a 2 day ride ~ 100 miles each day. We started in Seattle and ended in Portland. I knew I would make it the 1st 100 miles, I was riding between 60 and 80 miles at the time in my training. I really wasn’t sure about the 2nd 100 miles. I had suffered sunstroke, dehydration and worn out at the end of that 1st 100 miles. I told him how instead of quitting on Sunday morning, I decided to just go one stop at a time. I didn’t look at having to ride 100 miles further, I just looked at riding to the next rest station ~ and because of that I made it.”
Chad’s Friends ~ he had made along the way, all finished ahead of him. They came back and ran and walked next to him, encouraging him, helping him, and giving him the support he needed to finish the race.
I will never forget standing there at the finish line with Kaden and seeing Chad coming in from afar. I knew he was struggling, but I knew he had my stubbornness in him and he wouldn’t quit. The tears were flowing freely as he entered the last part of the race. He limped his way to me, in a lot of pain, hugged me and told me I was his inspiration to keep going. I will never, ever forget that moment.
When we go through life, we have to deal with growing up, maturing, heartache, and a sense of figuring out who we are, what we stand for, what our purpose is, what we want to achieve. Once again, Chad hit another bend in the road. He had been in a relationship that left him totally traumatized.
Chad’s journey of self discovery — he sold all his belongings, and took off driving. He would tell me that driving soothed him, he could think clearly, he loved the open spaces, and meeting new people. He decided to change his first name, and really figure out who Chad was.
Hannah, my granddaughter, was graduating on June 8th, 2019 in Portland. Kaden, my grandson, was graduating on June 16th, 2019 in Tacoma. All the family was up in the Portland, Gig Harbor area for both of their graduations. Sunday, June 9th, we held a graduation party for Hannah ~ we were all together, loads of fun, teasing, hugs and seeing friends. That evening, Kaden’s mom got a call from Washington ~ she handed me the phone and said something has happened.
The coroner was on the line. He asked me questions and finally let me know that Chad had passed away. On the evening of June 7th, 2019, he had a massive heart attack. I was in total shock. We were all concerned that we hadn’t heard from Chad, and we knew he was in Washington, but this?
I explained to Amy what the coroner had said. She had to let Kaden know, and some company hadn’t left yet. Chad’s dad and wife had already left, and I knew that I had to go tell them.
The hardest part for me was facing Kaden. He was so distraught and just sobbing. I sat down on the floor next to him and told him I was there. I explained to him what I knew about his dad. I also explained to him that even though his dad would not be there physically to see him walk down the aisle and get his diploma, that he would be there spiritually. He had a permanent place in his heart where his dad would always be. Chad loved Kaden with all his heart ~ and that love would stay with Kaden for the rest of his life.
Chad’s two sisters, Bradie and Brittany, along with Kaden and Rob, released his ashes at Chad’s favorite hiking spot. May you Rest In Peace Chad. I miss you with all my heart. I will never hear “What’s Up Dog!” a favorite phrase you loved to tease me with. You will always be “My Favorite Oldest Son!”