The Dr. Seuss library crammed onto Kasey Roth’s bookshelf is collecting dust now. The clumsy little fingers that smudged the pages are gone.
“It seems so unfair. Why us?” Kasey’s dad, Tim, says. “I had croup as a child and it wasn’t any big thing.”
His burly hands cover his face, but can’t hide his sobs.
Tim and Tiffany Roth’s blond boy was healthy on June 28 and dead from croup by June 30. The Roths had no idea the common childhood ailment could kill, especially an otherwise hearty toddler.
So few children die from croup that it’s not a reportable disease. Medical journals says doctors prescribe treatment at home for at least 90 percent of the cases.
Three-year-old Kasey began coughing on a Sunday. Tiffany remembers hearing his first hacks as she gardened at their Coeur d’Alene home.
By Monday, Kasey’s cough sounded hollow and painful. That evening, the Roths took him to an urgent care doctor. The diagnosis: croup. He prescribed steam.
Tim and Tiffany stayed up with Kasey most of Monday night. On Tuesday, their family doctor predicted just one more bad night.
The cough and a fever tired Kasey. Still, he begged with a child’s desperation to ride his orange and silver mountain bike. His parents said no and let him fall asleep in front of the television.
Tim and Tiffany took turns through the night cuddling Kasey in the steamy shower so he could breathe. He awoke one last time at 5 a.m. Sometime in the next hour, Kasey’s heart gave out.
The rest of the week was a blur of hospitals. Doctors jump-started Kasey’s heart and kept his 40-pound body going with life support. But Kasey’s heart refused to work on its own. On Friday, the Roths kissed their only child goodbye.
“Going to bed and waking up are the hardest,” says Tim, a likeable auto shop foreman aching to understand why his son was snatched from him.
Barney posters still dominate Kasey’s room. His drawing of a rainbow hangs on an easel awaiting his finishing touches. Tiffany stripped the Power Ranger sheets from his bed. She couldn’t bear to see them.
“I’ve rearranged my furniture several times. I cleaned the carpet in his room and sat there and cried for an hour,” she says in a monotone. “I know I have to visit my mom sometime, but only two of us will get out of the car. I’m not ready for that.”
Friends have kept the Roths busy and raised some money to help with their $22,000 hospital bill. Tim and Tiffany, who are in their late 20s, feel their most peaceful when they talk about their tough toddler and the joy and laughs he brought them.
“When we bought him his bike, we had to chase him all over the store,” Tim says, catching Tiffany’s eye and smiling. “He turned around to see where we were and ran into the seed packet display. There were seeds everywhere.
“Even though we had him such a short time, we have good memories.”
Heart of Gold
I asked for good neighbors and Coeur d’Alene’s Marilyn Wachsmuth immediately thought of Anne McPherson, the assistant manager at the Exxon Jifi Stop on Appleway.
Marilyn’s son, Joe, bought gas at the Jifi Stop a week ago and left his wallet. He drove all the way home to Calgary before discovering the loss. When he called the station, Anne had found his wallet with $55 in it and put it in a safe place.
Joe’s dad tried to reward Anne when he picked up the wallet, but she would have none of it. “I didn’t do anything,” she says. Except restore the Wachsmuths’ faith in people.
Tell me about the silent heroes in your community and I’ll sing their praises. Turn them in to Cynthia Taggart, “Close to Home,” 608 Northwest Blvd., Suite 200, Coeur d’Alene, ID, 83814; fax to 765-7149; or call 765-7128.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: DONATIONS To help the Roths with their medical bills, send donations to the Kasey Roth Memorial Fund, Sutton’s Body Shop, 416 E. Fifth St., Post Falls, ID, 83854.