Category Archives: charles

Throwback #3: USAF Academy in Colorado

USAF Academy - Colorado

Welcome back to my new Travel series for Thursdays on A Compass Rose called ‘Travel Throwback’. This is where I dive into my old photo archives and share a photograph from my travels.  Fueled by the lovely snow photographs from friends I wanted to post up a wintery shot for the travel throwback.  This photograph was taken at the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.   Continue reading

Veterans Day & My Heroes

Today is Veterans Day, an official United States holiday which honors people who have served in armed service, also known as veterans. I have many veterans in my family including my husband and father who served in the USAF and my grandfather who fought in Italy and France in WWII with the US Army. While I do not live in the US and today is not a day off for my husband, I took a moment today to think about my father.  My dad was laid to rest at the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs in 2008. I was able to visit his grave site a year later but I do not know when I will have that opportunity again.  For me I do not have a specific place I call home.  Memories of my dad instead tied to the many places we lived and traveled together as a military family.  It is because of him and his service that I was born in England, that I have dual nationality, and how we are now able to live our expat life abroad in Europe.  While I wish my dad was alive today to enjoy this time of my life with my sons, I know he is looking down on us from Heaven.  I love you Daddy and you are never far from our hearts. 

While today is a US holiday I still would like to
thank you to all those who serve for your country.

*photo belongs to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | 

Advice from my Dad

Daddy’s little girl and TCK  |  RAF Upperheyford 1984
Day Three of Blogtember states, ‘Pass on some useful advice or information you learned and always remembered‘.  I remember recently sharing this advice from my dad with you all on Six Things You Should Know About Me. So for this post I decided to share a clip from my wedding video where I found it.  I also kept in the end of the conversation with our groomsman J as it really shows my dad’s happy personality.  He was always smiling and laughing and that is sometimes what I miss most of all.  

Advice from my Dad from Bonnie Rose on Vimeo.

Note: I will state that I did not write his advice word for word on my previous post, but from memory.  I acknowledge the difference in wording, though the meaning is the same. 

You can read about The Story of How He Died here. 
*Content belongs to Bonnie Rose of  A Compass Rose Blog

The Story of How He Died

Dec 27, 1953 – Aug 14, 2008
“Five years ago Faith Quick,
 hit my dad from behind in her pickup, 
and ran over him.
He died at the scene, 
in the arms of a bystander, 
while asking the bystander to call his wife.
Faith Quick received a sentence 
of five days in jail
and one year of probation 
to one count of misdemeanor DUI,
for being under the influence of marijuana 
while driving.
I do not know if 
14/08 means anything to her,
but to me 
its the day 
my dad 
was taken away.”

Faith Quick Tucson Arizona
Faith Quick
I still vividly remember getting that phone call  on August 14th, 2008.  My heart had broken earlier that day due to another unrelated matter and I had no idea that my world would then go on to be shattered into pieces. It was my husband’s cell phone that rang and he who took the call from my mother.  From my husband’s military way of taking the call I had no idea what she could have possibly been telling him on the phone.  My head was already whirling around other problems in my life.  When Ryan got off the phone and told me that there had been an accident and my father had been killed it was as if he was speaking a foreign language.  My dad? No. No, certainly not. My mind could not even begin to accept it.  I actually thought he had said his dad had died and had corrected him.  He told me again and it cracked through my defenses.  It all hit me at once and I broke out in a fit of tears speaking out loudly ‘no, no, no, no’ until my voice shook so much that my voice broke and I was full on crying in a way I had never experienced before.

I remember my sons laughing.  They were only three and and one years old at the time and not understanding the type of reaction coming from their mum.  Ryan had to explain to them that I had just received some very bad news, but how do you tell your sons their grandfather was killed?  I made two  phone calls once I could speak again.  Once to call my mum back who seemed way more in control of the situation than I was and one to my best friend  Tammy to let her know and tell her I would be going to the mainland immediately for the funeral preparations. Everything else is a blur.  I remember vaguely sitting on a plane wearing sunglasses and sobbing during most of the six hours of flight travel from Hawaii to Arizona.

There was a lot of silence during the drive from the Tucson airport to my parent’s house across town.  When we reached the gated community it all hit me and I started crying again and then again when I got inside and found my mum’s arms to run into. There was a lot more crying to happen during those first weeks from the three of us Nystrom women who had lost our father, our husband, our friend.  We would not be alone in our grief as their were many others who would be pained and in tears.  His friends, his church family, his coworkers, and all his students from the school where he taught after retiring from the USAF.  We never got a chance to say goodbye.  He was ripped from our lives so fast and so unfairly.  All it takes is a moment.  That moment happened five years ago today.

This is my story.
I tell it because you never know how much time you have with those you love.  My father served as an officer in the USAF since the age of seventeen, was the navigator and bombardier on the F-111 fighter jet during the first Gulf War, and stayed in the military for over thirty years.  As a military spouse my mum had prepared herself over the years for that official visit, if perchance something were to have happened to my dad.  Who would have thought that it would not be a man in a military uniform at her door, but a man in a police uniform and a matter that would have taken place on US soil that would have claimed his life?

I tell this story because I would not wish this on anyone else.  Sadly my story is so similar to many stories out there. Stories of families broken up because their loved one was killed on their bicycle by someone driving a car, a truck, or a bus.  My dad is not the only one to have the local police department fail to do their job correctly.  Every year more die.

This is a story of a girl named Faith Quick, who lived in Tucson, Arizona.  Faith Quick had been charged twice by the police department.  The first a drunk and disorderly charge and the second for narcotics possession.  Faith Quick had been able to go through Diversion for both cases, something that should only ever happen once. Diversion provides many first-time offenders of specified categories of misdemeanors an opportunity to participate in relevant counseling rather than proceeding through the court system and establishing a criminal record.  To be fair, Faith Quick should have only gone through Diversion once and had had a criminal record with the narcotics charge.  On August 14th, 2008 Faith Quick was driving in a truck with her boyfriend while under the influence of drugs. Sadly like her name, Quick, she was too much in a hurry and driving too quick to observe what the other drivers around her were doing or notice the man with his bicycle.

This is a story of  a retired  USAF officer, a school teacher, a husband, a father, and grandfather.  A man who instead of renting a car while his was down for repairs, decided to be green for the environment and take a series of buses with his bicycle every day to and from work to the other side of town.  On this day he was headed to meet my mother and sister at a restaurant just across the street from where the incident took place.  He was so close to having met them, so close to having made it safely to them.  It is a wonder they did not see my father’s mangled bicycle as they headed home another way, due to the stopped traffic, wondering where my dad was and why he did not show up to the restaurant or answer his phone.

This is a story of why you should always be present and fully aware of your surroundings when operating a motor vehicle.  Why you should never get behind the wheel if you have any drugs in your system and for good measure let me add never ever touch your phone while driving.
Five years ago today on August 14, 2008, Charles Nystrom, my father and grandfather to my kids, was struck and killed. Cars in the two right lanes had stopped to let him cross. A third vehicle, driven by Faith Quick, changed lanes to the inside lane where she hit, ran him over, and dragged him a bit further. The local media reported that “the cyclist failed to yield…”, yet did not report that the driver, Faith Quick, was arrested and later charged with DUI for marijuana. They media did care to share the truth about a man in his fifties, and instead took advantage of the students he taught to show footage of children crying over the sudden loss of their teacher because it was better for their ratings.  I believe they later apologized to my mother after being confronted about their actions.

This is a story about how the driver, Faith Quick, later was sentenced to a mere 5 days in jail for accounts of being under the influence of drugs.  She was never charged for more or a higher charge because there had been no criminal record or paper trail to build a case on her prior charges and offenses.  The two cases of Diversion had seen to that.  Had someone done their job correctly before perhaps I would be writing this story differently.

This is a story about the Tucson Police Department and how history shows they side with the drivers not the cyclists.  Due to the massively faulty police work on the scene, the insurance company USAA would not side with my father’s case.  My mum went on to hire a bike lawyer and hired two professionals who highly knowledgeable in the laws of the road, cycling laws, car accidents, etc.  They both were able to determine that my father was in the clear for his actions that day and that there was no way my father could have yielded to someone behind him driving in a motor vehicle.

For such a great, kind, and giving man who served 30+ years as an officer USAF and a VFW from his time spent fighting in the Gulf War I still get very upset about how little the TPD did. Not to mention somewhere between the scene to the hospital his rings were stolen and never returned.

Faith Quick has still never been charged for my father’s death nor has she spoken any words to my family.  When her sentenced was carried out my mum was in the room.  Faith Quick had been upset that she would have to go to jail for five days and that her request to still go to work during those five days was denied.  No remorse for the bad choices made or the life that was taken, but was upset because she could not make money at work for five days.  Faith Quick now resides in Phoenix, Arizona.

My father was laid to rest at the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he started his career with the USAF with the class of 1975. A ghost bike was prepared and placed in the location of the scene where he died by my family as a reminder of his life that was lost and to all those who drive past to share the road.

This picture was taken in 2010, the last time I was able to visit with my dad at the USAF Academy.

Live Aloha. Remember Charles.

Please before you ever get behind the wheel make sure you are in the right state of mind to drive.  Never drive if you have drugs in your system, if you have been drinking, are sleepy, or have issues on your mind that would take away from your focus on the road.  You are sharing the road with many other lives. There is nothing so important that you have to be impatient, rush, speed, or check your phone.  All it takes is a moment.  Make good moments and good choices by being a safe driver.

*Photographs of my father belong to my family and Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All rights reserved | 

Dear Daddy

Dear Daddy,
I miss you no less with each day that has passed since your visit with us in Hawaii.  It was July of 2007, just weeks after your second grandson, Maddox, was born.  We joked that you spent more time under the water scuba diving than you did out on land that summer.  When you were with us it was Aloha shirts with Air Force Shorts to compliment your summer tan and long hair.  For a man who spent 30 plus years in the USAF since the age of seventeen, it was a new version of you for me.  You fit in so perfectly to island life at our home in Hawaii.  You had planned your next trip to visit us a year later in August of 2008 and I was so looking forward to finally getting to know you better.  
I did not know that would be the last time I would see you alive.  I did have this realisation that you would not be around forever.  Since the military had been the cause of your absence from my life, I really wanted us to be closer. To have long conversations about life. To be able to call you up on the phone and not have a standard phone call with my military father where we just covered the highlights before you asked if I needed anything.  I know you loved me.  I just longed for the same long conversations you would have with my husband, the son you never had.  Now that you are gone I cherish the bond you created with my husband, to know you loved him so much. 
 I just tear up every time I think about all the conversations I wanted to have with you and all the hugs I will never again receive.  I needed you so much in the three years following your death and I do not like my mind to wander to how things could have been different had you been here for me.  Even now today in 2013 there are times I wish I could just call you up on the phone and hear your voice.  I lost you at twenty five years old and at thirty years old I feel like I need you as much as I did when I was six.  Every girl needs a strong and amazing father in her life and as an adult that has not changed.  I am in a very content happy place in my life right now and I still need you.  I can do a 180 of being excited about taking a trip somewhere in Europe to crying because you cannot be here to experience it with us.  
I try my best to fill the hole that has been left with you gone in my children’s life.  Your photos are every where in the house and you come up frequently in conversation with my children.  If I needed a better reminder my sons remind me so much of you in both appearance and personality.  What has surprised me most this year is how much Ryan reminds me of you too.  Its comforting to know that you are still among us in our hearts and spirits.  The way you can make me smile by just looking at your smiling or laughing with that huge heart of yours in photographs from the past.  You were just so full of life, adventure, love, and compassion for all.  
I loved you so much Daddy and I still do.  Though our time was cut short, thank you for being the best dad a girl could ask for in life.  I was so loved that all those times you were gone with the military are hard to remember and all the memories you made with us are hard to forget.  I love you.
Forever your princess,
Bonnie Rose 

Memorial Day

While today is Bank Holiday in England it is Memorial Day back in the United States.  While either day may mean days off from work, picnics, and bbqs, I take this time to remember those closest in my life who have risked much for the the many they will never meet.  Especially for the fallen heroes, those who never got the opportunity to return home to their loved ones and to the ones still Missing in Action. 

The F-111 in Lakenheath, England is the plane my dad used to fly.  He was a navigator and bombardier in the USAF. He retired as a Lt. Col after 30+ years of service that included fighting in the Gulf War.  
My fondest memories of Memorial day with my daddy is visiting the American Military Cemetery in Nettuno near Anzio.  I remember once we went there and got there when Clinton was in office and I was so excited to get to see the President in person.  I believe it was a special place for my dad because his father had fought here in Italy during WWII.  Basically that is three genrations of my family who have spent significant parts of their life in Italy and four generations of my family whom have lived in Europe. 

Although no longer with us, I remember him especially today.  He is the reason I was born abroad and was able to grow up on military bases overseas until the age of seventeen.  He was an influential person in my husband’s life and a big factor for why he chose to follow in his footsteps and join the USAF too.    I wish he could visit us and enjoy our life here in Europe with us but I know he is smiling down from Heaven.

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. 
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
– Gen. Patton

This is my time to remember my dad’s father, my dad, and my husband for their years of service and in the US Armed Forces.  I also say thank you to everyone else who has served their country and sacrificed  much.  It is a great honour, purpose, and duty and to you I write this post.  Thank you. 
Happy Memorial Day Everyone. 
*photographs found here are sourced and those not sourced belong to Bonnie Rose of Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All Rights Reserved | 

When My Daddy Returned from the Gulf War

Blog Every Day In May, Day 18.  Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.

I’m not sure if there are any photos of me in my school uniform from my days of primary school in Norfolk.
This photo however was taken near the same age with my father in one of those fun period dress up places. 
Most of my favourite memories are from years growing up in Europe and many of them include my dad now that he is really gone.  One of the best memories I have is when I was finishing up a day from school.  It was the afternoon and I had just completed a game of field hockey with the other girls and we were now changing to go home for the day.  A classmate ran into the room and exclaimed to me that my father was outside.  I remember shaking off the news with out a care because I knew my dad was not there.  He was a world away. He was in a desert.  He was not in England and certainly not at my school.  Grabbing my belongings I left the school building to be proven very wrong as my eyes met  my fathers.  I remember the way he looked. He looked so tall (from my short stature of being a young girl) and so tanned.  I do not remember my father every looking so dark. He was smiling and I dont remember if I dropped my bag or ran with it under my arm. But I ran all the way to be greeted by his arms in a hug.  To be honest my eyes are filled with tears as I write this because it was such a happy memory.  Times when I wish I had my father now I wish I could just close my eyes and open them again to see that same smiling face.  To be able to give him one more hug. To hear him say ‘I love you’. 
This is an excerpt from my post Living In England During the Gulf War


*photographs found here either belong to Bonnie Rose of Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All Rights Reserved |