Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ba-bone, bone, bone, bone!

Whenever my husband answered his cell phone with, "Ba-bone, bone, bone, bone!", I smiled and knew exactly who it was on the other end.  Craig Hampton, nickname "Hambone", evolved down to, "Bone", and then eventually, extra syllables were added for effect.  The above photo was taken at my parents house at Christmas '92.  Craig used to come up to Spokane from Simi Valley every Christmas.  He would drive his blue Toyota pickup truck up through Utah to visit relatives, and then to Spokane to hang out and to ski Schweitzer.  Craig was a lovable guy....he had visited my parents home each time he came to visit, and my parents thought so much of him that they made these t-shirts for their dogs.  "Bone" and then "G-pa"....because, that year, Chris was the elder statesman on the Bronco's soccer team and the guys called him Grandpa and because Craig was "Bone".
Ahhh, here they are.  Stiles, Cochran, Hampton and Madsen who shared a house on College Ave with a pool table in the garage, cheap beer stocked in the fridge, and lots of late nights playing poker, street hockey, whiffle ball or whatever games they could dream up.  These were some great times.
Here's Craig and Chris on a hiking and camping trip to Yosemite.  We packed up there in August, and spent a freezing sleepless night, then awakened to a badger scraping at the sides of our tent....but the views were incredible, the jokes non-stop, and my sides hurt from laughing so much at the antics of these two.  Lucky me, I got to tag along with these two on many adventures.  Craig was a loyal friend and so much fun to be around.
Fast forward from the '90's to 2005.  I remember this timing distinctly because Lisa's health was deteriorating, and so was Craig's first marriage.  He called upon Chris in the middle of the night on several occasions, and it was at this time when he was really starting to have noticeable side effects from benign tumors in his back that had plagued him with back pain for quite some time.  Initially, we all wrote it off to the endless hours of driving that Craig put in as a salesman for a company based in Seattle.  But eventually, when his left leg started to go numb, well, it started to seem a little more serious.  In April of 2006, Craig joined us for Team Lisa.  He had a distinct limp by this time, and was definitely experiencing more issues with his back.
Within the next couple of years, so much happened for Craig.  He got remarried, moved to Seattle for a year, and then moved back in summer of 2009.  By that July, Craig could no longer walk on his own, and had to be in a wheelchair.  The tumors in his spine were no longer benign.  He had been diagnosed with peripheral nerve sheath sarcoma, a devastating cancer that had taken his legs away, and was beginning to take away feeling in his hands/arms too.
This is Madsen, Hampton, Broughton and Stiles at Craig's house in the fall of 2009.  The cancer had progressed and left Craig's face a bit paralyzed, and he was dealing with double vision.  The amazing part of the whole deal was that Craig never had self pity.  He was just dealing with things day to day, and could not wait for his friends to visit and take him gambling.  The guys in this picture......well, these are some of the greatest people on Earth.  Danny Madsen, on the left.....he and Craig are lifelong friends (more like brothers), and when Craig was sick, Dan flew up from the Bay Area on so many weekends that I lost count, just to be with his pal and help him pass the time.  And Bruce Broughton, well, how can you explain a guy who came with his kids and wife Colleen at least nine weekends in a row from Redmond, WA as things got really tough, so that they could be with Craig.  And that other guy on the right?  I have so much respect for his loyalty, his heart, and his ability to make people laugh.  Despite very tough conditions, Chris still knew how to care for Craig, and to make him laugh.
As all of us did what we could to help out Craig and his family, I wrestled with what I felt was unspoken for a time.  No one was saying that Craig was getting worse, fast.  Unfortunately, when you've seen this kind of thing before, the picture is a little clearer.  And so, without asking anyone's permission, I went through the list of Bronco soccer alum who played with Craig, and I sent out an e-mail explaining how sick I felt Craig was, and that I thought it would be great if everyone could gather in Spokane to rally around him.  Here's what happened next:
Yes, that's former national team and SCU coach, Steve Sampson, along with Broughton, Madsen, Hampton, M. Rast, C. Rast, Rueda, Gallo, Yamamoto and Robertson....the first of about 20 guys who flew in from all over the country to be with Craig.

Craig's 38th Birthday was December 17, 2009.  I'm not sure what the nurses on 7 South at Sacred Heart were thinking when 20 men, all of whom considered Craig their friend, showed up to see him.  Craig's spirits were so lifted by the outpouring of love, support, and friendshp.  It was very tough on all of us.  Entering Craig's room, you had to be able to put on a smile when he knew just who everyone was and brought up a special memory or time spent with each of these guys.  Upon exiting the room, the tears just flowed.  Here was a former national team level soccer player, a destroyer on the soccer field, who was weakened by a disease that was taking feeling from his body and causing visible pain and suffering.  I've never felt so proud to be part of a group of friends, a group of men, who clearly understand the power of friendship.  The love displayed here was incredible to witness.
Here are two people that I just have the most respect for.  The unconditional love and devotion they showed to their son Craig was amazing, and heart wrenching, to witness.  Sandy Hampton was at her son's side almost 24 hours a day.  She tended to his bed sores, massaged his hands, and arms, and legs.  She made sure he had lotion on his hands and face.  She made milkshakes for him daily, and she tirelessly cared for her son in a way that I'm not sure most people could endure.
Craig's journey ended a year ago today, on January 29, 2010.  Chris and I had been with him at Hospice House around 10 p.m. the evening before.  Craig allowed the two of us to stand on each side of him.  We each held one of his hands, and pressed in close, holding him and telling him how proud we were to be his friend.  We kissed him on the forehead and told him it was time for us to go.   Craig had told his Dad that evening that it was "time to go".  Four hours later, Craig passed away.
This is the group of men who shared a National Championship in 1989.  This is also the group of men who came to be with Craig when he needed them most.  I have so much love and respect for them all.
These are the Madsen's, Franny, Ryan and Dan.  The eulogy that Dan gave at Craig's funeral was, well, it was what you would come to expect knowing the friendship that Craig and Dan shared.  Not a dry eye left in the room.  It turns out love, loyalty and friendship are very special things.
And these are the Broughton's, Shane, Bruce, Colleen, Jill and Ben, who shared our home with us on at least 20 weekends from October 2009 through January 2010.  Selflessly, they drove for hours from Redmond to be here to help support Craig and his family, as well as us.  Colleen took most of these pictures, she loaded up on snacks and red wine from Trader Joe's when she came, and she negotiated relationships better than any of us could.  Love, love, love these people for teaching us what people should do when a friend is dying.  Incredible people.
This last picture I add not to be sensational, or to add in some kind of shock factor.  We've learned in the last couple of years that life also brings death.  You cannot live afraid to face it, and it takes courage to embrace it and still come out of it with your head held high.  Craig was not afraid.  He soaked up the blessings of his life, and all of those blessings were there for him at the end.  His sisters read to him from the Bible, his sweet parents cared for him tirelessly, his wife Kristina was his love, he told his daughters, Maddy and Sam how proud he was of them, and he made sure that they would be taken care of after he was gone.  And, his Bronco family was there for him through it all.
On the year anniversary of his passing, I am praying for those closest to him.  His parents, his wife Kristina, and his girls.  Craig Dean Hampton, aka, "Ba-bone, bone, bone, bone!", may you rest in peace.  We all loved you dearly.

1 comment:

  1. Shan, this is a great post. I was thinking about Craig all day yesterday and your words perfectly summarize all of the emotions a year afterwards: sadness, smiles, respect and thankfulness for the stiles, broughton and madsen families who walked with bone on his journey till the very end. Thank you.