Day 31 - Frosty Hesson - Part 1 - Your Love is a Gift
To me, this post is a miracle. It would not have happened if I didn’t get the idea to do this 93-day project. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t walked by Frosty Hesson’s house with Antonia on our way back from the beach and listened to the voice in my head that said You have to interview that guy. It wouldn’t have happened if, when I got on a flight a week later, Virgin Airlines happened to have the movie Chasing Mavericks in its line-up, a film I’ve never seen available on a flight before. I watched the movie and was more certain than ever that I needed to talk to Frosty, even though I had no idea why. It wouldn’t have happened if, after the first time I interviewed him the voice said, You are not done talking to him, and I listened.
It’s hard listening to Big Mind when you are running your life on your schedule, by rote, by your watch. It’s easy to numb out and do what you do because it’s what you do, but that can lead us to lives of quiet desperation or mornings of road rage or afternoons of wishing we were anywhere but where we were at that moment. It can lead to long afternoons in stopped traffic, going nowhere, hoping they still have the shirt you wanted that was on sale at Target by the time you get there. Part of this 93-day project has been me learning to listen to me. The rewards have been exponential.
When I first saw Frosty outside of his house, I could sense the directedness of his energy. He is not a diffuse guy. Standing still, he’s like someone shot him out of a rocket. For this 93-day project, as I look at how to strengthen and heal my guts, I am also looking at how I can have more guts in my life, how I can be bigger, braver, wilder, more loving, more creative. Anyone who has the guts to surf the waves at Mavericks has things to teach me. However, Frosty isn’t just anyone. We talked for two hours this last time, and I listened and listened and listened. I cried four times. Frosty did, too.
We talked about loss and art and love. And, of course, surfing. I've divided the interview into sections so you can have it in bites over the next few days. Otherwise, the whole thing might come at you like a huge wave, and you might not be prepared.
Here’s Frosty talking about his wife, Brenda:
It’s so important to listen to what’s bigger than you are. Once, my friend Mike said, Let’s go on a surf trip and it’s paid for. It was a big deal for me, but I said, Mike, That’s incredible, but I have to tell you no. My plate has been so full, and to put any more on my plate would mean I was glutinous. I want to do this, but I can’t.
The weekend Mike was off on his trip, I came to the Point and surfed. I went home after, and Brenda had a stroke in front of me. If I had gone on that trip, I never would have been there. That, I would not have been able to survive. But because I had listened, I was there.
When it was happening, I told her, You’re having a stroke and we’re going to the hospital. She said, I feel fine. I said, That’s great. Kids, get in the van. We’re going to the hospital. I told Brenda, Even though you’re feeling great, you’re going to put your arm around me and I’m taking you to the van. I’d seen my father have a stroke, so I knew what was happening.
We were equidistance from a new hospital and Dominican, and I thought, Brand spanking new hospital in Watsonville or Dominican? I was still listening.
We went to Dominican, and it turned out I knew a ton of people who were in the emergency room. Brenda had had a brain aneurism that presented as a stroke. A world-renowned brain surgeon was there, the A+ guy. This was not always the case in Santa Cruz. The A+ people were in Monterey because of Carmel. Now it has changed. There truly are incredible medical staff in Santa Cruz, but it wasn’t like that then. So we were really lucky because she got the best care possible.
We took her in Sunday afternoon, and she died sometime between late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. They kept her alive until I showed up, and then the doctor told me that just in case I wanted to make the decision, her organs were all viable.
I had arrived at the hospital that morning after taking the kids to school. People flew in from a Denver hospital to take her heart to a man who had kids and a wife—he was an automobile mechanic—that afternoon. Brenda’s heart saved his life. Her eyes went to two different receptors. Her organs went to so many different people. One woman had lupus and so they took skin.
She helped so many people.
What a gift.
I can't wait to share more of what Frosty told me about his life and loves.
See you tomorrow.
(In case you have never heard of Mavericks, watch the film Chasing Mavericksto understand more about Frosty’s relationship with the surfer Jay Moriarty, and read Frosty’s memoir, Making Mavericks to better understand Frosty himself. For right now, you can check out a short video on Mavs here: