CALGARY – When Luleseged Bete left for work Tuesday morning, his son, Sami, was asleep.
With no way of knowing hours later his only child would fall to his death from a 28th floor balcony of his family’s Beltline apartment suite, he let him be.
But the big-hearted nine-year-old, true to his loving nature, ensured Luleseged got the chance to tell his boy he loved him one last time — with Sami, not long before the deadly tragedy unfolded, phoning to share the father-son exchange denied by morning slumber.
“I didn’t give him a kiss because he was sleeping,” his father said Wednesday.
“But he would always call every day and he called and said he loved me and I told him I loved him.”
Luleseged and wife, Whiwout (Chu Chu,) now hold onto the memory of Sami’s unparalleled loving spirit after losing him to an accident which will likely never be fully explained.
Returning home with his mom from shopping, Sami accidently dropped a key down the elevator shaft.
Chu Chu said Sami was reading a library book in his bedroom while she went to see if she could find it.
As she pushed the elevator button she called his name.
“There was no reply,” she said.
Describing her increasingly frantic, split-second search for Sami, she breaks down when recalling the moment she learned he had somehow plunged over the balcony railing, along with his book, to the parking lot below.
“I think he was looking for me when I called him,” she said.
Minutes later, Luleseged was home learning of Sami’s death.
With most of their family is in Ethiopia, the couple, who lived in refugee camps in Kenya before moving to Canada in 2004, are now surrounded by friends, many met in their long and arduous road to Canada.
Wednesday at a northeast home, some cried, helplessly watching Sami’s mother wail in agony while others sat silently pained as she rocked back and forth sobbing.
“He was a wonderful boy,” the distraught mother said.
“If someone cried, he cried with them.”
That, say many who knew Sami, was his essence — a caring child who thrived on loving and being loved.
He enjoyed soccer, swimming and was trying to master skateboarding but his father said he was, more than anything, a boy with a big heart, who said sorry even when he did nothing wrong and was filled with angst if he had disagreements with classmates.
The St. Monica school student also had a sense of justice beyond his years, broken-hearted when he saw stories of war and suffering on TV.
“He had a lot of love, an unusual love, he was a good kid with a good heart,” a proud Luleseged said.
The day Sami died, according to the Ethiopian calendar, was to be one of celebration.
“It was it was my birthday,” Luleseged said, recalling an overseas phone call to his mother when heartache replaced joy.
“I had to tell her my son is dead … I wish someone could tell me what happened.”
The deadly day which began with a missed kiss from a dad to a sleeping son ended with police allowing the parents to briefly see their child’s lifeless body.
“They let me see him,” Luleseged said, his face crinkling up as he let his tears flow.
“They let me see him to give him a last kiss.”