|LACI & CONNER
Today is Your Day of Celebration
|MY DAY AT THE DEDICATION OF THE PARK BENCH
FOR LACI AND CONNER
by Cindie C - Webhost
November 20, 2004
As I awoke this morning, the first thing to my mind was "It's Laci's Day".
We drove out of our driveway to head to the tiny town of Escalon, which
we have passed through many times before on the way to the mountains.
But today was different. Today I would see for the first time, the parent's
and family of Laci Denise Peterson. For today was the Annual Bike Run from
Modesto. Today there would be a dedication of a Victorian style park bench
in Laci's hometown park, to match the decor of Main Street.
This tiny town had opened it arms to the many who's hearts have been
touched by Laci and Conner's story. The town where Laci lived, when
her parent's, Sharon and Dennis were married, long before Modesto.
|When we drove into town, a fog blanketed the streets which
were already blocked off for the arrival of the motorcycles.
There was a Caboose in the park across the street from an antique store. On it was a large
picture of Laci posed in a flowered blue dress. A picture so familiar to us. A picture so
prominent at the Birthday Memorial Service for Laci and Conner on May 4, 2003.
The park bench was set back at the sidewalk with a bricked area to the
front that had a tree planted in it. There were yellow ribbons on the
bench and two small Christmas trees in pots on either side.
The first face I saw to the right of the tree, was "Uncle Harvey". I could never
forget his "burnt chicken" remark when he was on the stand at the trial.
I asked him if he was Laci's uncle Kemple and he laughed. "Yes, I'm Uncle Harvey".
He was joined by his wife, Gwen, who also got a kick out of the "Uncle Harvey" question.
I introduced myself and asked if he'd mind my taking a picture of him.
With his big smile, he answered, "Of course not". At the same time, another
gentleman with them turned and took a picture of me! We all laughed.
I knew at that moment, the warmth of this amazing family.
As I turned to my left, I saw him. Dennis Rocha, Laci's father.
A handsome man with his own signature dimples, wearing a
white cowboy hat and surrounded by well wishers.
I waited a bit before I approached him. He smiled. I introduced myself and we shook hands.
I thought how much better he looked than the tormented photos of past. Finally the
weight of the trial is off his shoulders. The time has come to remember the good times.
Then an announcement was made to the crowd, which had grown.
The time has come for the Bike Run entrants to arrive. They were
on there way, and this year there would be over 1700 riders!
Those waiting patiently on the street clapped.
Then we heard the roar of the hogs....and in a long procession they
drove down the street in what seemed a never ending stream.
Before we knew it, Sharon, Ron, Dennis, Amy, Brent and his wife
were at the park bench. Tears welled in Sharon's eyes as she
read a card handed to her. The emotions of the day vivid.
I have deep respect for this woman of great poise and grace, who's speech
to the world sent chills up our spines after Laci and Conner were found.
As I snapped photos, suddenly Ron Grantski was at my right shoulder
asking a young man to please take Ron's video camera and record the event.
He then rejoined Sharon's side for the dedication. We were told that she
rode in on the back of Shawn Rocha's bike from Modesto that morning.
The well wishers loved it.
The family then moved across the park to the stage for announcements and introductions
of those who planned this successful event. The number of riders had doubled from
last years run. And they were sure the next one would overshadow this one.
As I inched my way to the steps of the stage, I could see Amy, Brent, and his wife Rose,
sitting and standing on the edge of the stage, watching in awe, the thousands who
came from near and far for the dedication of Laci and Conner's spot in Escalon.
As Sharon and Ron began their decent down the back stairs of the stage, I spotted my
husband. We had lost each other a short time earlier. I headed in his direction and
we walked toward a parking lot filled with more motorcycles than I have ever seen.
At that moment, a familiar face was looking out from a helmet.
Brent and Rose Rocha were on a hog, grinning from ear to ear.
Uncle Harvey and Gwen were checking them out.
I wondered what they would be doing this Saturday, the day of the
dedication of a Park Bench for the Memory of their sister, niece, and
sister-in-law, had she not been taken away from them two years ago.
To my left was Amy Rocha. So much prettier than past pictures I've seen.
I was amazed at how tiny and petite she was. I was thinking to myself,
"Is this how Laci was?", as I swallowed hard.
I approached Amy and intoduced myself. I expressed my condolences.
Her complexion was beautiful as was her coloring. The dark hair and eyes.
The sister of Laci. The aunt of Conner. She lost so much that December day.
The crowd was disbursing and it was time for us to go. But this day would not be
complete if we didn't go up the country road to the resting place of Laci and Conner.
We drove to Burwood Cemetery, not knowing just where they were.
I wasn't ready for what I saw. Sharon and Ron having their quiet moment
with the daughter they loved, and grandson they would never know.
We paused, stopped our jeep, and let them have their time.
I was amazed as I looked across the tree lined lawn to a mound of flowers.
I don't know why it surprised me, for this was Laci & Conner.
Loved by so many all over America, all over the world.
As they drove away, we parked next to their site. A small sign that read
"Justice for Laci & Conner" was the first thing I noticed. But as I looked
closer, I saw stuffed animals, a variety of small floral arrangements,
a couple of whirly figures spinning in the wind and what looked like a
letter to Laci, but was now water stained. I turned to my husband and
said, "This is it. This is where Laci now holds her son forever."
I turned and walked toward our Jeep. I could see a couple of other
cars heading in this direction, It's their turn to visit. My time is done.
Until next time, Rest in Peace, Dear Laci and Conner, Rest In Peace.......
Love, Cindie C
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