As I have mentioned several times already, David’s accident happened on a Wednesday night. He was hit at 8:36pm and had died by 8:38pm. For the next several Wednesday right at 8:36pm, we as a family we start a group text. It usually started out something like, “Two weeks at this moment our sweet boy was killed ”We would send love back and forth and then after a little while the text back and forth would just fade off. This went on for 4 or 5 Wednesdays. In the beginning it was nice to reconnect and to have family to share those moments with. Then on week number 8 Trish decided enough is enough. It was October 28th and she was not going to have any more of us turning every Wednesday into a depressing memorial for David. She was of course right.
The date was Wednesday October 28; I was at work and received a call from Trish. The owner of the company I work for has a really great Halloween party every year and this year it fell on the 31st. Trish said she was at the costume store down town and was going to get us some fun costumes for the party on Saturday. She said we were going to do something fun and it would help us get out of our Wednesday funk. She had found two costumes; she asked if I wanted to be Captain Jack Sparrow. Well I said, I am not sure I have the physique for Captain Jack, what other choices did I have. Now its important to know that she and I had talked about our costumes already, I thought I could go as Colonel Sanders and when I told her she asked, what she should go as. I said a piece of chicken. That went over about as well as you can imagine. She was picking out the options this time. My other option was Darth Vader. I thought about that, black cape, big mask, yep that was perfect. Black is slimming I told her. So Darth it was. She was going to be Princess Leia.
That night we unloaded the costumes and I started getting dressed in the front room. I have to admit it was a pretty cool costume and I loved it. That night (Wednesday) was the annual trunk or treat at Church. That’s where everyone comes to the church parking lot parks their car and opens their trunk, decorates it and then the kids get to walk through the entire parking lot trick or treating. I had recently gotten a gold hover board and thought it would be a really fun idea if I put the Darth Vader costume on and rode the hover board around the parking lot. Wouldn’t that look cool to see Darth floating across the parking lot? I though so!
After getting dressed I put the helmet on. I could not see anything. I told Trish there was something wrong with the helmet I could only see straight down or straight up but couldn’t see ahead. She laughed and said the helmet was fine there was something wrong with me. I figured I had better practice a bit before we went up to the Church. I asked her to record me coming out of the hallway into the kitchen. We I stopped right in front of her I would say something Darth Vaderish. So, I went down the hall and headed towards the kitchen. I could not see a thing except my feet. As I rounded the corner into the kitchen I saw the corner of the wall but it was to late. I hit that thing at full speed. I went flying. When I landed I heard something crack. I thought I had broken my shoulder. Hayley was standing in the Kitchen and yelled out “Dad are you alright”, I said, I think I broke my shoulder. I waited but no pain; maybe it was my ribs, but nothing. I lay there for a minute just to make sure. I got up and of course they were laughing. I had hurt my shoulder but nothing to terrible. Wouldn’t you know a few minutes later after trying to mess with my mask, knowing that I there was no way I could go to the trunk or treat like it was, that thing popped down into place and I could see perfectly. I just shook my head and laughed at myself. We went on to the trunk or treat and had a really great time. We decided to go the next night to a different Ward’s trunk or treat because we had so much fun.
On Thursday Trish was checking her phone and saw the recording she had made with me crashing into the wall. She sent it via text message to all my kids. I was at work and had no idea she was sending it to anyone. I started getting texts from the kids laughing and teasing me about my big crash. It was a pretty funny video. Our daughter Brooke got this bright idea she should put it on James her husbands YouTube channel and then on to Facebook. She did and for the next several hours I kept getting text that would read, “Dad, you have to check the video out, it’s got like a 1000 views”. Then 2000, 3000 and it kept going up and up. By the evening before we were going to the other trunk or treat, we had like 15,000 views. I was dumb founded that something like that would generate that many views. When we got back we had a message from our son in-law James. Several agents from Hollywood who wanted to sign us to a contract had contacted him. WHAT? Are you kidding me? We called him and he sent them over via email. They wanted us to sign a contract for a 70% -30% split. We get 70% of any proceeds they could generate. Trish and I couldn’t believe what was going on. I called a friend of mine who knows about his kind of thing. I asked him what he thought we should do. He said look you could wake up in the morning and it have 500,000 views and be sorry you didn’t sign. I learned later that you could actually get paid for this stuff. Shaking our head in disbelief we pondered on which one we should sign with. We felt good about one in particular and called the man up. He was very nice. He sent us the paper work over via email and we signed electronically and POW I had a Hollywood agent. We went to bed just laughing at the entire thing.
We woke up the next morning and we had 11,000,000 views. You have to be kidding. The agent called me and said, hang on to your hats this thing is going viral. That night my son Zach called and told me I was trending on Reddit. I had no idea what that even was. I quickly found out. He kept texting me, Dad your still trending #1 on Reddit, you have like millions of views. At one point I looked on Reddit and saw that I had 25,000 comments. I had to read some of them. Oh boy they were funny. People laughed, some called me a dufus, some got really offended that I had done this in a Darth Vader costume as I had desecrated something sacred. I sat and read them for 30 minutes and just laughed. I couldn’t believe there were over 25,000 people who would take the time to comment on my video. Amazing!
By Saturday night when we went to the Halloween Party I had 35,000,000 views. When we arrived at the party, we valet parked. As we got out I put on my costume and grabbed the hover board. The valet looked at me and said, “Hey, are you that guy from YouTube?” Ok, that’s when I knew I had arrived. I told him yes, and of course he wanted a picture with me. I had an agent, I had 35 million views and the valet recognized me. All I needed now was the paparazzi.
That night going home Trish and I were talking and laughing about the entire situation. I told her I wanted to set some goals right off the bat. I said, I wanted 100,000,000 views, I wanted to be on Jimmy Fallen and I wanted to be on Ellen. I didn’t want to be greedy but I wanted to earn at least enough to go on a nice cruise with Trish. I thought that would be fun and good goal.
Well, I got a lot more then that the next couple of weeks. I hit 100,000,000 views pretty quickly. The video was on Good Morning America, Inside Edition, Jimmy Kimmel and we made it to Ellen. It was carried on dozens of local channels all around the country. My niece and nephew in Texas got into a car on their way to school one morning and their friends were watching the video and said to them, you have to see this video; they looked at and said, we know it’s our Uncle in Las Vegas.
It ended up on Jimmy Kimmel three times and at the end of the year won the best video for 2015. We trended #1 in Thailand, Denmark and other countries. We currently have over 275,000,000 views. People we know from all over the world sent me text, emails and Facebook messages about it making the rounds in their country. I even had some people show up to my door and ask if I was the Darth Vader guy. When I told them that I was, they asked if they could get a picture with me on the hover board with them at the corner where I crashed. You cannot make this stuff up.
I always thought if people knew that under the mask were a 52-year-old Father of 6 children and Grandfather of 6 they would find it even funnier. I also thought if people knew why I was wearing that costume and what had gotten us to that point they would find it interesting as well. This had all started because David had died on a Wednesday and as a family we needed some help, something to turn the tide for us. We had no idea what was in store for us.
Well, we met almost all of the goals I set. I can report that at the end of May Trish and I are taking all of our kids, their spouses and our grandchildren on a cruise. Now that’s the best part of this entire experience.
We have thought about how this happened and we know that David had his hand in it somehow. He loved this kind of stuff and would have just loved all that was going on. Needless to say, Wednesday’s were no longer depressing in fact they became something to smile about. Of course we see this as a huge Tender Mercy to our family. We feel as if the Lord took us and pulled us right out of a potentially long term depressing moment and turned it into a memory we are not likely to duplicate anytime soon. When we all get on that boat as a family, you can be assured we know David will be with us, and we all be thanking the Lord for his on-going Tender Mercies to the Maples family. I can tell you for sure that I know that God is real, that he is our Father and that we are never alone. We are one of the luckiest families I know. What a life this has turned out to be.