Newport woman struggles to find a purpose after son's tragic death
A picture of Adams Pysz is surrounded by lit candles in his mother's Newport home. (MEGHAN PIERCE/Union Leader Correspondent)
NEWPORT - It was Christmas Eve and Lorraine Padova hadn't done a stitch of holiday shopping. Hadn't been in a store, had rarely left her Reed Farm Road home and hadn't slept soundly in a long time.
On Nov. 16, her 17-year-old son, Adam Pysz, was struck and killed by a pickup truck on Route 12 in Charlestown.
Her only other child, Tyler, died many years ago at the age of 8 due to complications from a medical condition he was born with.
So this season, as others searched for the perfect holiday greeting card sentiment, Padova has been searching for the right epitaph and image for her teen son's gravestone.
On Christmas Eve, as others were readying to exchange gifts and host holiday meals, Padova searched for meaning in the holiday, the holy day.
"Also it's a religious holiday. There's a reason for Christmas. It's Jesus' birthday," she said.
She holds tight to her belief in God and her Catholic faith, but can't understand what His plan is for her. She struggles with the meaning of her life and who she is.
At 48, she has lost her only children and is no longer able to have children.
"I don't have a purpose anymore. I'm not a mom anymore."
Since her son's death, she has been compelled to write, she said. "Something's been telling me to write."
She stared with this: "It's Black Friday and I feel a strong compulsion to write. You see it's been one week today that my son Adam Andrew Pysz was killed by a motor vehicle on the Charleston Flats in Charlestown, N.H. Another man was also severely injured and remains in the hospital, not knowing if his leg will be saved, and in his mind he's living the nightmare over and over."
Adam Pysz was in the road attempting to move a deer out of the northbound lane when he and another man were struck by a Ford Ranger pick-up truck driven by Benjamin Watkins, 24, of Springfield, Vt.
The other man moving the deer, David Cummings, 32, of Claremont, was injured.
In her writings, Padova describes her son's death.
Adam had been working for his stepfather's business, Big Mike's Cleaning and Maintenance, and was traveling with co-workers between work sites when the accident occurred.
"His crew was finishing up a job, and then jumped into the van, followed by the second crew in another van. They left their workplace and headed to the next job, the first van carrying my son. A deer jumped out in front of them, and the driver was unable to stop, and unfortunately hit the poor animal. My kind-hearted son and one of his co-workers jumped out to check on and remove the deer from the road. The second van came to a complete stop behind them with their four-way hazards on, waiting.
"Here we have lined in a row on a straight flat section of highway, in front, a dead deer, and two men dragging it to the side, then the first van followed by the second van with its four-ways on. Along comes some traffic, which manages to see the flashing lights and the vehicles ahead and slows down. But for some tragic, unfortunate reason, one vehicle did not stop. . It crashes into the van at the end, then went around and tries to avoid the other van by driving around on the right side of the road, it comes around front and slams right into my son and his co-worker, sending them flying several feet along the road. The impact was so hard that they both lost their shoes. The vehicle stops, and there my son was under the vehicle, lying there alone. The other worker, Dave, who was also hit, was a little ways away. He sees Adam and tries to get up and go to him, but he feels severe pain in his legs; he can't move. He literally crawls and drags himself to my son's side and takes his hand. Adam doesn't move. Dave tells him 'everything is going to be OK,' Adam turns his eyes toward Dave's voice and says, 'I hope so,' then slowly turns his eyes back staring up, he dies then, my son dies."
Padova recounts in her writing her visit to Adam at the hospital where he had been pronounced dead. Singing "You are My Sunshine" to him one last time and placing a blessed scapula in his hand "not to be removed, and it never was."
Padova has the support of her family, including her parents, her husband and Adam's stepfather, Michael Padova, and Adam's biological father, Andrew Pysz.
She holds on by knowing Adam is with her. She opens her home up to Adam's friends, ready to be a "second mom" for them if needed. She goes to church and prays. She stays in contact with a state trooper who has not yet closed the investigation into the crash. And she writes.
Looking forward, Padova said she would like to eventually compile her writing into a book, which could possibly help others grieving. Maybe that's her purpose now, and if she could help just one person, she would be grateful.
At her parents' suggestion on Christmas Eve, Padova was joined by family at her home to release 50 Chinese lanterns at midnight into the sky in memory of Adam.
Padova is not sure if it will help her. She still cries every day, but it is a way to honor Adam and celebrate Christmas with him in mind.
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Meghan Pierce may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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