Brothers and Fathers
Power of Prayer –
For those of you that don’t know, I wasn’t supposed to be here. I was a whoops baby, born 10 years after my brother Jefferson and 13 years after my oldest brother Jo-Jo.
Following JB –
For my entire life I followed my brothers every footstep, I was on the Irmo bench in the basketball state championship game in 1990, I was on the sidelines of Irmo football games and even on the college sidelines for Iowa Hawkeye games. He taught me how to fish, hunt, and play every sport possible. He was my brother, my dad, my coach, my mentor, my everything.
Appendix Cancer –
Over 5 years ago he was diagnosed with rare Appendix cancer. There is no cure for this type of cancer but there is a chance to live 5-15 years depending on your care and current health. After removing half his intestines and chemo treatments he was cancer free for almost a year but in 2017 the cancer came back.
Baby Boy –
Kayce and I found out we were going to have a boy May of 2017. It was no hesitation we were going to name him Jefferson Brody Bates after my brother and call him Brody. The images of a lil blond haired boy following my brother like a shadow was repeated by Brody. For 2 years he did almost everything with me. As he got older he began to follow me like a shadow. He made me hold him when I cut the grass, ran the back pack blower, eat my dinner or did anything.
He wouldn’t leave my side unless he was asleep.
Spend time together –
After the cancer came back Jefferson wanted to get a boat to spend as much time with his family as possible since his days are getting numbered, so I followed him again and said let’s get the boat together so we can all spend time together.
Getting the Boat –
Jefferson’s son Carew also had a baseball tournament in Charleston the 2nd weekend in Juneso it allowed for Jefferson, his 2 sons and me and Brody to break in the new boat that Friday in Charleston. After 4-5 hours on the water we brought it back to my house in Mt Pleasant to park it, unload it, and wash it off.
The Scene –
Jefferson had backed the boat into my drive way, we unhooked the trailer and he then pulled his truck up to the edge of my drive way and parked until he was ready to leave. My wife Kayce and daughter Porter came out to join and see the boat as they had not been on it yet. My neighbor Trey and Heather also joined all of us to check out the new boat.
Guest Parking and dirt –
We have a 40×8 ft gravel guest parking area at the front of our yard and a dirt area next to that where Brody could dig rocks and dirt with his excavators and dump trucks. He has spent 100’s of hours digging with his toys in those rocks and dirt.
Brody’s Spot –
As we unpacked and cleaned the boat, I noticed Brody had taken his toy back-ho and sat down at the edge of the road, right in front of Jefferson’s truck which was parked at the end of our driveway facing out to leave. At the time I thought this was odd bc he’s never sat in the road with his backhoe or excavators bc there are no rocks or dirt for him to dig. I went over and grabbed his hand and walked him and his toy backhoe out of the street and back towards the boat and our house. I then went to take the trolling motor off the boat and my brother and his 2 sons began to get in his truck to head to their baseball game in North Charleston, at some point during that time Brody had walked back and sat in the exact same spot in the road in front of Jefferson’s truck. As Jefferson pulled out he did not see Brody in front of his truck.
We all heard a noise that sounded like a toy getting run over and then my wife screamed. I looked back and saw Brody lying on his back and I ran to pick him up. My brother got out of his car and collapsed to the ground screaming nooooo!.
Stay calm –
Kayce began screaming uncontrollably and jumped out of the boat, I told her to grab her purse and keys as we don’t have time to wait for an ambulance. I then told my neighbors Trey and Heather to call 9-1-1 and to keep our daughter Porter until we could get Brody to the Emergency room.
Drive Fast –
My wife drove her car while I held Brody in my arms, I could feel his blood still pumping so I knew his heart was still alive. Once we got him to the ER they said his heart is still working they are going to try and stabilize him enough to transport him to MUSC’s trauma center. At some point they were unable to stabilize him and he passed.
Hold Him –
The ER nurses kept us out of Brody’s room as they were trying to stabilize him but after he passed they asked us if we would like to see him one last time. Kayce went in one last time to hold and kiss him but I told them no. He came into this world in my arms and he left this world in my arms.
Fight w/ God – “There’s a bigger picture”
The fight begins –
I began to fight God as hard as I could, my body moved in and out of shock, in and out of tears, in and out of screams, in and out of different rooms at the hospital, punching and head-butting walls and furniture.
There’s a bigger picture –
As me and God were exchanging heavy weight punches I began to hear the words in my mind, “There’s a bigger Picture” We eventually left the hospital and went to my wife’s parents house who lived near by. I began to drink beer and bourbon as fast as I could to numb the pain and ignore that voice telling me “There’s a bigger picture, trust God’s timing”.
Saturday “Why” and God’s Timing –
I woke up Saturday morning crying and fighting with God again. All day I mentally fought God with every possible “WHY” question you can imagine. Through out Saturday’s tears and mental battles w God I still continued to hear that voice, “There’s a bigger Picture, trust God’s timing”.
Sunday’s are the best days
JB’s Speech –
Sunday morning my brother Jefferson came over to my in-laws house and asked for both families to gather in the dining room so that he could share some words. Fighting through tears he said he stayed up till 4:00 am fighting with God over this but woke up this morning at Peace with God. Then he said we are both strong families with great parents and we all love each other. Some families would let a tragedy split them up and blame others but through our strength and love we will make it through this and be even stronger. God has a bigger picture for our families and I love all of you all to the bottom of my heart.
1st Goddisms –
I went outside with Jefferson and he told me that he wanted to tell me something important. He drove a 2017 GMC truck so he had front and back sensors that would beep when his vehicle was close to objects in the front and rear. Jefferson’s 2 sons each told their mother on Saturday that the front sensor alarm never beeped.
2nd Goddism –
I then told him that the spot were Brody was sitting he had sat and played with his tractors and that I had pulled him away before he went back a 2nd time to the exact same spot. It was like putting a ball marker on the green of a 300 yard Par 3 and hitting the marker twice. We hugged and cried as he and his family left to go to their last baseball game and head back home to Columbia.
3rd Goddism w Neighbors –
The neighborsthat live across the street from Kayce’s parent’s house are close friends of ours and have 2 young boys that always play with our kids.
Sunday Sharing –
Mikelynn came over to my in-laws house on Sunday for lunch and pulled me aside and told me that she has something she wanted to share with me but it might sound crazy and she didn’t want to freak me out. I said, don’t worry I’ve been to Hell and back you can’t freak me out.
Mikelynn’s Mother –
Mikelynn was pregnant with their first child when her mother died in her sleep and has never seen her grandchildren. Since her death Mikelynn has regularly had dreams of her mother. The dreams started with just seeing her, then hearing her and then eventually they have even talked to each other. She had not dreamed of her in a couple months but her mom came to her dreams last night. She told her mom to look for a cute little boy that had recently died, her mom said “oh you mean this lil blonde boy, he’s playing with me right now and he’s got the cutest little smile”. We both began crying and hugging and as my eyes dried up I began to see with crystal clarity “the bigger picture, God’s timing is Perfect”!
Celebration of Life
Atomic Bomb –
Imagine an atomic bomb hitting your entire family and friends but only one child dies. At First, we didn’t even know if we were going to have a service for Brody, then maybe a small private service but eventually we had the strength to decide on a simple celebration of life at Alhambra Hall. Alhambra is a grass park that is in our neighborhood that looks out into the Charleston Harbor. My wife and I did not want a traditional funeral as we wanted to keep it short and sweet like Brody’s life on earth.
Celebration Plan “Share Brody’s Story” –
Lib Simmons from our church was going to lead the service and we would have 2 friends speak. Lib’s opening part said “Brody was baptized a year ago and now his baptism is now complete”. My wife’s bf and my 3 best friends from Clemson. When I woke up Tuesday morning of the service, I immediately heard the words “Share Brody’s Story”. Those words kept coming to my mind and I kept telling God “No”, it’s too painful I can’t do it.
Voting for Brody –
The vote was quickly 1 for yes – God, and 1 for no me. That morning I asked 4 other people including Kayce and my mother if I should get up and speak bc I didn’t know if I could hold it together emotionally and I didn’t want to scare people. I’m not sure of each person’s vote but when I was sitting on the front row of the service the count was 3 to 3. Jefferson was sitting on the 2nd row and I leaned over my right shoulder and asked him “Do you think it would be too emotional and crazy to share the big 3 Goddisms of Brody’s story? ” He looked me dead in the eyes and gave me a fist pump and said “Hell yeah it’s powerful they need to hear it!!!” I immediately got up and told Lib to let me speak after the friends finish their speeches.
Brody’s Story 1st time
Help others –
I shared the big 3 Goddisms, 1 – Truck Sensor, The Spot where Brody sat and the neighbors dream. We wanted Brody’s story to be shared in hopes it would help other friends, family and anybody in need of help that are struggling with the “Why God” questions and “God’s bigger picture”.
Goddism Number 4
Drop in after the service w Trey –
We had a drop in Kayce’s aunt and uncles house after the service for friends and family to come visit. At the drop in, our neighbors Trey and Heather pulled me aside and said they needed to share something with me that they were afraid to share until they heard my speech at the service.
Friday Night of the Accident –
Friday night of the Accident. They had kept our daughter, Porter with them while Kayce and I took Brody to the ER. When the police came to our house Trey stayed there to help them and his wife Heather and her mother took Porter on a golf cart ride. They eventually went to a restaurant Coastal Crust that you can order pizza and drinks and has an outdoor play area for kids. Our daughter Porter is shy around adults until she warms up to them and will pet dogs but rarely plays with dogs. As they were standing in line to order there was a couple in front of them that had a little dog. Porter began playing with the dog and talking to the couple which she never does. After a few mins of playing with the dog she looked up to the couple and asked them what their dog’s name was….They said his name is Brody, Heather immediately began crying and had to walk away. God’s timing didn’t allow Porter be at the ER when her lil brother died but His timing allowed for Porter to play with a dog named Brody when her brother was going to heaven.
God’s Tug Boat Timing
Back to Tuesday Service –
The plan for Brody’s celebration of life was that after everybody spoke, the church lady was going to end the service with the benediction, then play a song while our family left to go back to the house for the drop in.
As soon as she ended the benediction with Amen there was a moment of silence, at that exact moment a tug boat in the harbor blew his horn twice…toooot toooot.
Horn Scare –
The timing of those 2 tug boat horn blows was unbelievably perfect that many of our friends and family shared afterwards that they were shaking and emotionally rocked.
Who and How? –
People kept asking who was on the Tug Boat and how did they know when to blow the horn?
1983 Bates re-union in Murriels Inlet –
My dad had a cousin the same age as him named Bud Bates. Bud and his wife Christine were older like my parents and but had decided not to have children.
Following Bud Bates –
Like Brody was my blonde haired shadow, I was also a blonde headed 2 year old that day in Murriels inlet and followed my dad’s cousin Bud around all day. After lunch like most 2 year olds do, my batteries ran down and I just happened to fall asleep in his wife’s arms.
Bud and Christine Leaving –
Bud and Christine left that day and changed their minds and decided to have children, their first child was a lil boy named Tucker Bates, the tug boat captain who blew the horn Tuesday at Brody’s service.
Tucker Text –
Tucker had texted me after he found out about Brody that he had been praying for us, I told him we were having a service Tuesday morning at Alhambra Hall and drop in afterwards if he could make either of them.
1 week on 1 week off –
Tug boat captains work 1 week on and 1 week off, he was scheduled to get off the boat that Tuesday and he would try to make it. I told him, if he can’t make it no worries and if he was near by to give Brody a shot out with the tug boat. Well he did!!!
Tuesday night on Sullivan’s Island
Tucker side of the story–
Later that Tuesday evening a friend of ours threw a party for all of our friends and family at his house on Sullivan’s Island. I texted Tucker the Tug Boat captain to come out to Sullivan’s because I had a crazy story for him.
We can’t see each other –
He shared with us that he was using his binoculars to try and see if Brody’s service was still going on that morning. He couldn’t see any of us gathering on that side of Alhambra hall and thought he had missed his timing. We were the only 2 humans that knew about it and I told him I was looking for a tug boat and couldn’t see him either. He decided to just blow the horn twice in hopes that we heard it, I told him his timing was absolutely perfect and it was another one of the many Goddisms coming out of this tragic story.
Jim Bost Memorial Fishing –
At the party Tuesday night a friend of ours Preston Merriman shared another Goddism story that had occurred after the accident. His dad, brothers and 2 best friends have competed in the Jim Bost Memorial Off Shore Fishing Tournament in Edisto every year for the past 20 years. The Merriman brothers have been the butt of most jokes for the tournament bc they have never won the tournament and never even won money and just use it as an excuse to drink beer.
3:00 Am Fishing Alarm –
When they got up at 3:00 Saturday morning they had a ton of texts and missed calls and eventually heard the news about Brody. Preston and his wife decided to come back to Charleston to see us and miss the fishing tournament. It would be his first time ever missing the tournament, as he left he asked his brothers to go win the tournament for Brody.
Forrest Gump Fishing –
Prestongot texts from his brothers Saturday afternoon saying they were catching some big fish and a lot of them. He said It was like the movie Forrest Gump when Lt. Dan was fighting w God on the top of the shrimp boat, the fish were jumping in the boat all day. For the first time ever, they won the whole entire tournament and won the Calcutta pools for largest sail fish, dolphin and wahoo! God was definitely fishing and winking that day.
Wild Dunes Cranes and Excavators
The Wednesday to Sunday following Brody’s Celebration Service we stayed at a friend’s condo at Wild Dunes begin the healing process. Brody loved tractors, dumptrucks, skidsteers, backhoe’s, excavators and cranes. As he got older he could identify all of them and sometimes even before I did and he would say “excabator”, “baby excabator” , “backhoe” “Crane” and other machines.
Brody Riding in my Car –
Riding in my car he could only see upwards out of his window bc my car seat sat lower than my wife’s. Would yell out “Excabator” and “Crane” for the really big Excavators and cranes.
13 Years Playing golf –
I’ve played golf at Wild dunes at least 1 or more times every year for the past 13 years I’ve lived in Charleston and I have never seen an excavator nor crane. When we pulled into Wild Dunes that day the very first thing we see is a gigantic excavator and massive crane, I began to cry and chuckle at God winking at us again.
Never say Never
After the accident Kayce said she would never be able to go inside our house and never go into Brody’s room. I was able to go in a couple times after the accident to grab stuff but never staying long enough for my emotions to catch me.The 2nd Monday, a lil over a week after the accident she and her sister in-law went back to our house and went inside. Kayce even went into Brody’s room and allowed herself to cry and feel some closure. She went twice again by herself the next day.
Closure for me too –
That Wednesday I decided to go by myself for some closure as well. That morning I was driving around asking God to give me another sign, I was struggling and needed HIS reassurance. Since we had 2 kids, Kayce would bathe Porter and I bathed and rockedBrody to sleep. Around 10:30 am I went into the house and straight to his rocking chair in his room and just rocked. I don’t know how long I rocked and cried but eventually the tears stopped. I got up and said out loud “I love you buddy” and walked out the house.
Dada Moon! –
Both my kids learned to find the moon at night but for some reason Brody could find it before he could even talk, I’m guessing around 6 or 7 months. It went from pointing to the moon, to pointing and saying “moon” to eventually “Dada moon” and pointing.
Finding the Moon –
He often would find it in the daylight even before me. Our House faces the southeast direction and there are trees coving the Eastern and southern skies from our yard so the best position to see the moon in the daylight is when it’s in the western sky. As I locked the door and walked back to my car I happened to look to the western sky and what do you know, there was the big ole moon winking at me. I teared up and chuckled at another Godwink.
Sons and Daughters of God
Mike Gasparato –
He was my teammate at DFHS who was a HS All American, SC All State, SC Shrine Bowl member and went on to play at Penn State for 4 years.
Cancer January of 2018 –
January 2018 he had his testicular cancer tumor removed and all of his scans showed he was cancer free in February of 2018. 2 months later he was back to full strength, running, lifting and flipping tractor tires.
August X-rays and PET Scans –
In little over 5 months his lungs went from perfectly healthy and clean to a tumor filled chest. It looked as if a paint ball gun had peppered his lungs with cancer tumors.
Yearly Battle –
Over the next year he would battle up and down with the cancer tumors.
White Blood Cell Count –
The week of Brody’s accident he was at Lexington Medical. His white blood cell counts were too low for them to let him out to go home. He found out about Brody Saturday morning. Over the next 2 days his white blood cell count sky rocketed and by Monday he was miraculously cleared by the hospital to leave and come down to Brody’s service that Tuesday.
Back Porch Sitting –
At the drop-in for family and friends he was able to come visit and sat on the back porch for a couple hours. He said he read about the earthly mission of God’s sons and daughters in the Urantia Book. It explains that we have 2 missions that God wants us to experience on Earth and if we don’t, our souls will experience them in Heaven.
Missions on Earth –
The 1st is to have a sexual, emotional, and physical relationship and the 2nd is to experience being a parent. He looked me in the eyes and said he’s not trying to comfort me and said….Brody might be my chosen child to parent in the next realm. It shocked me at that moment, I paused for a few seconds and then said I hope not any time soon but if there is one guy that I would love for Brody to have as a parent and teach him Football it would be you!
2 Fridays –
2 weeks later on a Friday just like Brody, Michael’s physical body died. That day my physical body and mind was mourning the loss of my best friend at the same time my spiritual soul was excited knowing that Michael and Brody were together again.
Counseling and Healing –
Kayce, Porter and I have all began counseling and are healing every day. We continue to go to counseling monthly as the healing process will take years. Once of the many silver linings is that Porter was 5 years old and not emotionally mature enough to feel the pain. She misses her little brother but doesn’t feel the emotional pain that we do.
2019 Down and 2020 UP –
My brother Jefferson lost his battle with Cancer October 21, 2019 but on the week of Christmas 2019 we found out that my vasectomy reversal in July had worked and Kayce is pregnant with a new baby boy due in August 2020!
Continual Goddisms and Godwinks –
We continue to see Goddisms and Godwinks throughout our healing process. I wanted to share with you all these major ones as they have impacted our family and friends. Hopefully you can share this story to help others and keep an eye out for some good Goddisms and Godwinks!!!!