Diary of a Mother's Mission

My son, Kevin Martin, disappered under mysterious circumstances in the wee hours of July 18, 2004. His partial remains were found on February 1, 2005 in the river. The Des Moines Police have not been helpful and this is my blog to tell what I have done as it's done.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


How could I have forgotten so many things about Kevin and our toy collecting but I did. Well, I didn't forget them. It was a bad day, I did make it to the library as planned but had some other things on my mind. Things that were not as important but hit me by surprise, a work situation, and so unfortunately grossly inserted themselves into my daily routine against my will. I was furious last Wednesday and I'm still angry today. Office political garbage; I'm not in the mood for that anymore. But that was last week.

How could I have ever forgotten that Kevin was the one who got me started on toy collecting! I think I might have written about the Christmas that Kevin wanted a Dragonzord from Power Rangers. It was the hot toy that year and so we couldn't find one anywhere. We even called F.A.O. Schwarz in New York City to no avail. A day after Christmas Brian, Kevin and I went to Toys R Us for some reason. Not that we needed a reason. It was something we did many times. There on the shelf was a Dragonzord, apparently returned at some point! I didn't have any money and so they held it for me while I rushed home to figure something out. I only had a couple of dollars on me and so decided to return an American Indian Barbie, the first in the series, so I could get the Zord for Kevin, which we did.

Fortunately, I didn't get into Barbie dolls, too expensive, but I did want that American Indian Barbie and so Brian and I set out to see if we could find another one at another store. We went all over. My first toy hunt trip! We were unsuccessful but a couple of weeks later, there at the Toys R Us, was the same doll. They apparently had gotten another shipment after Christmas to replenish their sparsely stocked shelves. That was the beginning.

Shortly after that and after a few trips to Comic book - Toy stores with the boys I became more interested. Kevin played with all his action figures. He would even buy a female character Like "Storm" from X-men or Princess Leia. Around the same time, or perhaps a little earlier, Star Trek figures were coming out with numbers on the bottom of one of the feet. That was the time I became aware of the collecting craze, I guess. The female figures were hard to come by since the manufacturers made very few, sometimes one per case. Most boys wouldn't buy the female figures to play with but Kevin did. He even had the original Storm figure but his dog, one of them, had chewed on it. With the collecting craze the female figure then became desirable because it was rare. I got mad because I couldn't find a couple of figures for Kevin and so entered the collecting rat-race. A rat-race it was and very cut throat at times but it was great fun. I belonged to a small group, thanks to Kevin, and we all helped each other out. Kevin loved his collectibles as I did. He wasn't into it for the investment and neither was I.

I don't know what it all meant to Kevin, if anything, but a normal part of growing up. I know a few toy collectors, and have met quite a few over the years. The few that I know well are artistic types, as Kevin was, and I am(an unpublished artist, that way no one can dispute it) Most of them thought about investment but had collections that were special to them and they wouldn't have sold. Three of them that I can think of right off the top of my head made custom figures as maybe Kevin would have too. So it was something more to them and Kevin and me. I've thought a lot about what it really means. Thanks to Kevin I even ended up having a booth at the flea market! There's no money in buying retail and selling but it was really neat. I can think of quite a few stores that sold secondary market toys which are no longer in existence, sad to say.

Kevin's and my relationship would have evolved away from toys as it already had begun to do so. We began to spend a lot more time on books and music and trips to Borders. As I said, I still bought him an "adult" collectible for special occasions. He didn't play with them any more but displayed them. Action figures would have had to make room for a more expensive statue as he was interested in plates and statues; work done by a favorite artist like Alex Ross. But toys are neat because of what they symbolize. They are super heroes and heroines as we would all want to be and good always overcomes evil without exception.

And I hope that ends up being true in Kevin's young life...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Kevin The Collector

Something light today. Not so light perhaps but very much Kevin. From coins to comics to action figures, Kevin collected them all. I don't know whether there was anything else he collected. Maybe a few other things here and there. He would have branched out and changed his likes as he had gotten older but I'm sure ,like many of us, he would have collected things. Well, then, too, music cds and movie dvds but music more so.

The issue came up lately as Brian and I were talking. We have his collectibles which we want to save. I guess one can't save everything but we hate to part with the things that meant a lot to Kevin. That's all we have now although the "memory" of Kevin and other things are probably more important. Keeping his memory alive and turning his loss into sometning good is ultimately the most important thing. Objects and things; I've talked about that before and still struggle with that issue myself.

But I loved Kevin the collector. I've run into a few guys who kept things in the package, mint condition. Kevin wasn't like that. He played with them. They were an intergral part of his fantasy world while growing up. He had the artist imagination which helped in his play, and his active play with his toys, I'm sure, helped further develop his imagination. I use to call him my little material boy! He enjoyed all of his toys but took good care of them and saved each and every accessory.

Perhaps I mentioned before Kevin's blue plastic tub filled with his toys he had outgrown. For some reason he had told me about packing the things away. I was welcome to have the box or what I thought was a box. I bugged him unmercifully about the toys in the box he should mail to me. It wasn't until I arrived here in Des Moines and saw the big blue plastic weighty tub that I finally realized Kevin's reluctance to send it to me. Kevin wasn't real expressive on a lot of things so I had no idea the size and weight of the tub and contents. I felt so bad that I kept bugging him about it but am so glad I have toys from his early years as a budding toy collector.

We had talked about Kevin going to school. If things had been different perhaps Kevin would have gone to art school. Kevin liked and was familiar with the comic book artists but also expressed an interest in designing toys. There are one or two schools nation wide that offer a program in toy design. Kevin and I had talked about it although it was perhaps a remote, very remote, possibility but still an unfufilled possibility. Who's to know what Kevin the collector would have accomplished.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Disconnected Thoughts and Other Things

Lately it has been difficult to get to the library, it seems. Yesterday I finally did some painting around the Hou. Trim mostly but a second coat which was sorely needed to give a more finished look. Still so much more to do but half a house isn't as daunting a task as large square footers. There is an advantage to small. It's cheaper to cover and fill.

It's raining again today. Nothing compared to the rain received in other parts of the country recently or months ago but more than we had last Summer. Last Summer was optimum to search the river. It was incredibly low. Unfortunately I didn't act soon enough plus I didn't know enough either. And I trusted which I shouldn't have done. I'm sure this isn't as important as I make it out to be. Even if Kevin's skull was found, found with what looked like trauma, the police would pass it off as being damage that occurred in the water. They have their mind-set and their mind SET. Last year I cried when the river rose. I feel like crying today. I love the rain which makes everything fresh and green, and Des Moines needs it, but in this case each drop, each rain fall decreases the chance of finding anything, even diminishes any attempts at a search.

1505 Pleasant St. is officially 821 16th St. Well, I know nothing about officialdom, and / or how official it is but I guess it must be. Once again I missed the move itself but did see the house on the flat bed, then sitting next to the foundation and then resting on it's new foundation and home site. They brought in two more houses also, from 6th Ave. across from Mercy Hospital. They're right next to Kevin's house but there's "1505" sitting right smack next to 818 15th St., Kevin's home, right behind and next to the garage. That really tickles me! I love to walk by there on my walks.

1505 is gone from its usual spot. They're finally building the town house in the vacant plot next to 1505. The garages in back of 1505 are gone also. In front of 1503 there is a new sign advertising condominiums there, the same outfit who's building the townhouses on the corner. I had a terrible feeling inside. Life goes on, everything's changing. Sherman Hill is changing and I want it to stay the same. Keeping that sameness helps to preserve my memories of Kevin as we both lived in that area.

10 years later and it looks like they have the man who murdered Jon Benet Ramsey. So I guess there is still hope, except Kevin didn't have the kind of investigative quality that was given to the Ramsey case, ever.

Sunday I went to see "Pirates of the Caribbean". Kevin and I would have gone together to see that as well as the Superman movie. Earlier in the day I stopped at Barnes and Noble. I ran across a Sci-Fi book by C.S. Lewis, one of a trilogy, and I momentarily got so excited. I couldn't wait to tell Kevin and how could we have missed that! We had talked about C.S. Lewis a few time, Sci-Fi books a lot.

So, little bits and pieces that occur to me. Lately, not any major vibrant memories, just little things that strike me like the sconces. I can't remember the whole thing but I know it to be something related to Kevin. Something I shared with him. The house has been good but , yes, I am feeling very disconnected. I need to finish my house but I can't forget my goal no matter how disconnected and scattered I feel.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Christmas In July

Trite, I guess, but the phrase has been sticking in my mind. It popped into my mind weeks ago. Then days later I saw the phrase on a couple of marquises, of course, trying to inspire shoppers to visit their stores. I wondered where the expression came from, or when it first got started. I don't remember. I guess I associate it with Hallmark cards and their Christmas ornaments, which , many years ago, they started putting out in July. Commercialism, but I looked forward to it each year. I still collect Christmas ornaments and do have some Hallmark ones but decided a lot of them were too expensive unless, of course, you purchased them a day after Christmas. July is over but I'm still thinking about Christmas. I wish for that "Christmas in July", especially now, and so wonder why. Well, I know why, but have really taken time to think about the whole issue again, as I do every Holiday season in December, and hope for a little fuller clarity and understanding.

December 5th, many years ago, my second child, Daniel Sean, died. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He was 3 months old approximately, born September 13th. I was working very part time at a local restaurant Saturday nights and Sunday. There was talk about us not having a Christmas party. I was in a state of shock and grieving but I blurted out one night that we had to have a Christmas party. I don't know why but it was so important. The owner heard me and I don't know why, he knew of my situation, but we did have a Christmas party. Someone told me it was because of what I had said that night. I went to it because I just had to go. Maybe because I just had to live, had to have hope, had to have joy once again after the loss of my child. All those things I associate with Christmas. We celibrate the birth of Christ. I guess I needed to be reborn out of a pit of grief and despair and to try to celibrate Christmas was an attempt to do so. To hold onto life and beauty and harmony. It has been an uphill fight to put these things back into my life.

July 18th Kevin died or that's what we're told or lead to believe but that was the last time he was seen. I need to try and celibrate Christmas again. The one thing that seems to symbolize, has come to symbolize, everything to me. Christmas always meant so much. Even after a child realizes Mommy and Daddy are Santa. As I got older I tried to make it special as I no longer saw it through the eyes of a child. In many ways it has gotten better, more spiritual, and then it became inexorably linked to the loss of my child and my survival. Now Christmas in July has become linked to the loss, the death, of Kevin. Once again I have to fight to hold on to all of those wonderful Christmas feelings. Years ago I didn't realize what I was doing. It was instinctive. Now I'm very aware. I want hope and peace and beauty and joy in my life. Especially joy. I'm tired of despair and depression and grieving and so I will celibrate two Christmases each year. Christmas in December and Christmas in July..

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Little Hou on the Central Plains

No, that isn"t a typo. Well I guess you don't call a mistake a "typo" anymore since I'm not really typing. So what am I doing? Key boarding? So does one say that they made a key boardo? For quite some time now I've made numerous jokes about my apartments. Most of the time they have been small boardering on efficiency or semi-efficiency size. My one apartment had a kitch, too small to be considered a kitchen. And then actually that same apartment had a combination livingroom- bathroom as I called it. That's the way it seemed to me.(like a porto-potty sitting in the middle of Time Square - no sense of privacy) Loads of experience (I have) living in rental properties that have been converted from a single family dwelling into a multi- apartment unit. So you can imagine... Des Moines has bunches of tiny little houses. I'm sure there were more than just two in Upstate New York but that's all I remember. I passed one on a regular basis and always kidded with my bus monitor that, "look, there's a house for me!" Well, I did find a tiny little house out here. No money down and since it was a fixerupper they give you forgiveable loan money to do the rehab work. They even pay ones closing cost! You have to occupy the house and live there for five years. Loans are forgiven! Actually I bought a garage with a detatched house. A two car garage that's probably bigger than the one bedroom (which can't really be considered a bedroom in Iowa since there isn't any closet) house. I can sit to one side in the living room and look North, South, East, and West without getting out of the chair.

So what does THIS have to do with Kevin? When you lose a loved one I guess ones whole frame of referrence changes. Kevin's loss has changed the way I define everything. It seems that my whole life has been qualified in terms of Kevin. Kevin's loss. Perhaps all of this is temporary or at least parts of it, the negative aspects, anyway. At times I start to get a little excited about the house but then I realize that Kevin will never get to share this new experience with me as Brian has. It doesn't somehow seem as important, as it was really more of a practical consideration. But, yes, I would have liked Kevin to be proud of me in the purchase of my new little hou. Half a house, but a fantastic garage which I could care less about. I couldn't get anything on Sherman Hill. Not much left in the way of fixeruppers left there. But this is close. Probably a half a mile and so Kevin would have had another place to hang out, to walk to, to crash, if he felt like getting away. It's pretty quiet for being so close to downtown. I'm sure he would have given me his opinion, his artistic opinion, on interior decorating, which I would have greatly appreciated. Actually , I can't remember why but we talked about lights and sconces and I mentioned how I really liked sconces. We were in a store for something or some reason. Just another little memory, or part of one, very vague and hazy, which has started to surface, as they do periodically.

So this past weekend I had to move in the "heatwave". Unbelievable. Kevin was lucky he wasn't here as 3 times before he had the moving detail. That was the downside, he missed that, lucky for him. The real downside for me is that he isn't here to enjoy my little hou on the Central Plains as he should be and as I wish more than anything in the world he would be, but isn't...