Violet Crippen returned to work Wednesday, three weeks after her son was killed.
"My mind hasn't really been functioning too well, but I need to be occupied," she said. "At times, it just doesn't seem like it's real."
After work, Crippen went to the Modesto park where her son was stabbed to death. There she met with city parks employees about creating a permanent memorial a tree and a park bench in his name.
Tylor Crippen, 18, was the victim of an attempted robbery Jan. 29 after he and his girlfriend decided to end their evening together with a walk through Creekwood Park.
Police say Tylor was chased by the suspects and stabbed multiple times. Three teenagers have been charged with murder.
Violet Crippen and Tylor's father, Carlos Serrano, agreed on a redbud tree, which has bright pink blooms in the spring and will stand out from the pine tree next to where it will be planted.
Tylor lived at his father's house near the park. Violet Crippen, her youngest son and her husband live in Tracy, but she spoke to Tylor or texted him every day.
For the past six years, Tylor woke his father in the evening so Serrano could get ready to work his night shift as a truck driver. Tylor made his father coffee and a sandwich for lunch and told him he loved him before seeing him off to work.
Serrano left his bedroom door open a crack for Tylor to wake him.
"I still leave it open an inch, hoping and praying that when I wake up tonight that maybe his spirit will come back in just to say hello to me one last time," Serrano said.
Of all the agonizing emotions Tylor's parents have endured over the past three weeks, struggling with the abrupt and violent way he was taken from them is the most difficult. "Because I didn't get to say goodbye to him," Serrano said. "So now his worst fear came true; I am alone, without him."
Tylor called his mother the day before his death and asked if she could meet for lunch, but she was running behind at work, so they rescheduled for two days later a Wednesday.
"I set an alarm on my phone to text him to find out where to pick him up. He died on Tuesday," she said. "I was sitting in the homicide detective's office Wednesday when the alarm went off."
Tylor's parents said he always was generous and kind and those who were fortunate enough to know him benefited from his big heart.
As a child, he picked dandelions to give to his mother, teachers and even strangers. As a high school student at Johansen, he worked in the Peer Assisted Living program, helping students with disabilities. He was studying at Modesto Junior College to become a registered nurse.
In his death, Tylor's selflessness showed again when his parents learned he was a registered organ donor and was able to help others that way.
Beyond his death, Tylor's parents want his generosity to live on.
So apart from the memorial in the park, with the help of neighbors and new friends, they have created a scholarship fund for a Johansen High School senior.
The Tylor Crippen-Creekwood Park Foundation has been established to purchase the redbud tree, the park bench and plaque in Tylor's name and to sustain the annual scholarship fund.
Serrano said it will serve to help "remember Ty for who he was and not forget him. He was an exceptional child."
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at email@example.com or (209)578-2366. Follow her on Twitter, @ModestoBeeCrime.
An account has been set up with the Stanislaus Community Foundation in the name of Tylor Crippen-Creekwood Park Foundation. Donated funds will be used to plant a tree and install a park bench at Creekwood Park in memory of the young man. Any excess will be used to set up an annual scholarship at Johansen High School. There are three ways to donate:
BY CHECK Checks can be mailed to Stanislaus Community Foundation, in care of City of Modesto (PRND), P.O. Box 642, Modesto 95354. Be sure to make a note in the memo: "Tylor Crippen-Creekwood Park Foundation" so the funds are allocated correctly.
CREDIT CARD BY PHONE, (209) 576-1608 Call Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., or Fridays, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Be sure to mention the donation is to be allocated for Tylor Crippen.
ONLINE VIA PAYPAL Go to www.stanislauscf.org and click on the "Donate Now" button to go to the PayPal page. Select to "Create Own PayPal Account"; in the "Memo" section, enter "Tylor Crippen-Creekwood Park Foundation." The full donation will be deposited into the fund, minus the credit card transaction fee (about 3 percent).