The last time Alix Fredrickson saw her son Hayden, she was backing down their driveway in Newberg, Oregon.
She remembers Hayden bending down so she could see him as the garage door was closing down, waving both his arms and his long hair fluffing around.
“I just stopped the car, and I opened the garage door again and just looked at him and just took him all in,” she said. “For some reason I just looked at him and I waved a couple more times and he waved at me and put the garage door down and that was it.”
Hayden, 16, was one of eight people killed Sunday when two planes collided over Lake Coeur d’Alene, including one carrying his father, Sean Fredrickson, and his two siblings, Quinn, 11, and Sofie, 15.
But when his mother “took him all in” that last time, she had a lot to take in.
Her son was always curious, she said, a trait that fueled his creativity and pushed him to excel in just about everything he did.
When he was just 2 years old, his mother recalled, he would assemble the most elaborate train tracks in his room, run his trains on them for hours and take those track pieces with him wherever he went.
He had always been creative, and his artwork hung in his room and in her office.
More recently, he had been interested in graphic design and photography and was finding ways to incorporate the two, with the dream of someday having his own brand, Alix Fredrickson said.
It had always been just the two of them since he was 2 years old, after Alix and Sean Fredrickson separated. Maybe, Alix Fredrickson thinks, that was why she gave him space to be who he wanted to be. And he always had so much love around him from both his father’s and mother’s family, and he knew that, she said.
“I just loved him as much as I could and supported him, made sure he knew that no matter what I was there for him and always would be,” she said. “So I don’t know. He was just the light of my life.”
Sean, Hayden’s father, always liked to get to the kids’ level and play with them, she said.
He traveled with Hayden to his last soccer match in San Jose, California, a few months ago, before pandemic closures took effect. They lived in different Oregon cities — Sean lived in Lake Oswego, and Hayden lived in Newberg — so they didn’t get to spend as much time together as they would’ve liked, she said.
“But he was happy to indulge Hayden in his dreams and things that he wanted to do,” Alix Fredrickson said.
Hayden and his siblings would always spend a week of their summer in Spokane with Sean’s parents. Hayden would spend the Fourth of July with Alix Fredrickson and her family on the Oregon coast, and those moments have become her favorite memories.
“We’d spend a few days down there,” she said. “When he was a little kid we’d play in the sand for hours.”
Hayden started playing soccer when he was 4 years old and he loved it, she said.
“The ball never left his feet,” she said.
While Alix Fredrickson would be doing chores, trying to make dinner or just walking around the kitchen, she recalled, Hayden would try to get the ball to go between her feet.
“People will say, ‘Oh, you’re a really good mom,’ and I think he made it easy,” she said. “I didn’t have to do a lot. I just loved him.”
He had been wanting to set up a weightlifting area in the home, but with COVID-19 closures, there just weren’t many available and they were expensive, so he had the idea to ask his grandfather to help him make a set out of wood.
“We went up and spent the day with my dad, and they created these weights that they could use,” she said. “They were so proud of themselves and excited. He was just a pretty amazing kid.”
His teammates organized a vigil Tuesday, and more than 100 students showed up and expressed how caring and respectful he was. Alix Fredrickson said she’s received so many loving messages about Hayden and how he had positively impacted the lives of other people that she hasn’t had a chance to go through them all.
“The outpouring of love is incredible,” she said. “He would have just been floored, you know. I don’t think he thought he made that big of an impact.”