Despite, and in part because, of all that 2016 threw at the Brooks family, the girls needed their annual Christmas shopping trip.
Laura Brooks, her sister Kathy Shipman, both of West Winfield, along with Laura’s daughter Chrissy of Mohawk and daughter-in-law Wendy Brooks of Ilion, headed out Dec. 12 to shop. “It was our thing,’’ Laura said, “with dinner and just enjoying time together.’’
Shortly after midnight, as Laura was driving everyone home, a car plowed into her Jeep; subsequent ruling was the driver had fallen asleep.
In seconds, everything changed. Laura, Kathy and Wendy suffered traumatic injuries four years later that still require care.
Christine Brooks, 42, died almost instantly upon impact. Along with her companion, she left two adult children, step-children and three grandchildren.
As 2020 comes to a close, it will be remembered as a year with numerous difficulties and sad events, some caused by the coronavirus pandemic, others impacted by Covid-19 regulations in place since mid-March.
While this is not the typical Christmas story we give to readers in our final issue of the year, the story of how Laura and Larry Brooks of West Winfield, longtime owners of Brooks Karate School, moved forward from the loss of a second daughter and horrific injuries to Laura and two relatives provides a lesson or two appropriate for this challenging year.
“Day by day, hour by hour sometimes,’’ Larry said, “you find a way to go on.’’
Even before Larry received the call from Laura at the scene of the accident, 2016 was not a great year for the family. “People say 2020 is hard,’’ Laura said, “but 2016 was really a bad year,’’ they both agree.
Laura, a nurse at Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, learned in May 2016 a diagnosis of bronchitis was actually blood clots that had developed in her lungs. A follow-up trip to Bassett’s Emergency Room, where Laura worked, came just a couple of hours before the clots could turn fatal.
She was given blood thinners and eventually returned to work in the fall. Right before Thanksgiving, a driver, during a snowstorm, plowed into the former site of Brooks Karate School in West Winfield.
Damage was done to both the exterior and interior of the building, and the unknown driver left the scene. Larry and Laura began the complicated task of working with the insurance company for repairs.
So when the girls set Dec. 12 as their shopping trip, Laura was ready for a day of fun. So was Chrissy, who had recently left the hospital after two weeks because of Chrohn’s disease complications.
“She was pretty tired,’’ Laura said, “but said, ‘Mom, I really need this.’’’ We agreed to cut things short if she got tired.’’
That their daughter would choose to go rather than stay home and rest did not surprise Laura and Larry. After God, they said, their lives revolve around family, which in 2016 included their son, daughter, and grandchildren and as of 2020, three great-grandchildren.
They attribute that family...