Thursday, September 18, 2008

A fragile life's lessons

Last Sunday's unprecedented wind storm, left hundreds of thousands in the Greater Cincinnati area bitching about Duke Energy, bemoaning their lost telephone service and complaining about closed schools. I, too, whined about the power outage and the loss of my washing machine availability and lack of fresh-brewed coffee. Forty seven hours with no lights was anything but a vacation with four children.

However, in comparison to the devastation the wind brought to two local families, the rest of us had nothing to complain about. A young couple was killed in an unimaginable accident while participating in a fundraising motorcycle ride. The father of one of the victims is Fairfield Fire Chief Don Bennett who I had the pleasure of working with in the past.

He is a man of the highest caliber. Someone who really cares about those around him, who holds his friends in the highest regard and would do anything to help anyone in need. He's a man unlike many others I've known. He's someone I'll always remember, despite the time that passes.

I cannot fathom the debilitating effect the loss of his daughter has had, and will continue to have on him. It sickens me to think of his pain, and the turmoil his inability to undo the tragedy will certainly take on him. Making the incident even more unbearable is that his only grandchild is now left parentless.

The only comfort I've been able to find in the whole mess is knowing that infant baby girl still has him. He's a man who will spend every day he has left imparting in her a sense of who her parents were. They'll have each other.

Their tragedy has left me wondering what would come of our four children if something were to happen to both of us. Sure, in the hypothetical, everyone says they'd love to have them; but really, we're not talking one or two kids here. The responsibility they require is scary (even for me sometimes). Four kids, the rest of their lives. That's a lot to ask of anyone.

While we've no plan for the "what-ifs" concerning our children. I have spent the last several days pondering what I'd want whoever might assume responsibility for them to teach them, from me. So here's my list so far, for whoever might need it.

  • Work hard. Regardless of the work you do, whether it glamorous or mundane, do it to the best of your ability. No slacking.

  • Girls ... don't buy cheap bras or sheets, neither will be comfortable. Save your pennies for the really good ones.

  • Trace ... when the day comes and you're 16 and packing a driver's license, don't drive like an idiot. Your friends might think it's cool to squeal tires, rev the engine and drive like a maniac. It's not. Just don't do it.

  • Get an education. In a life where so many things can be taken from you, this is something that can't. Don't pass up any opportunity you receive to further your education.

  • Be involved in your political process. Vote (and maybe even know a little about what you're voting). It takes five minutes once or twice a year. You can't possibly be too busy ... lazy maybe, busy ... no.

  • Don't judge a book by its cover. That lady with no makeup, messy hair and clothes you'd wear around the house might be one who would give you the very shirt off her back. The other lady with the manicured hands, fancy car and designer clothes might pretend not to notice you in a situation of need.

  • Sex ... for my girls. Someone please teach my girls about sex. And I don't just mean the mechanics of the physical act. I'm talking ovulation, intimacy, periods, birth control, sharing, conception, love, child rearing, nurturing and everything else pertaining to it. Teach it early, and teach it often.

  • Sex ... for my son. Someone please teach my son to keep it in his pants. Control, and the ability to maintain sense over impulse. I'm not asking for a 25 year old virgin here, just some consideration for what could come from an impulsive act. If he wants to do it tonight, think about if for two more and then act. Men seem to reap years of regret from an impulsive sexual decision. Just think about it for longer than two seconds before whipping it out.

  • Love. Love. Love. Love. Please teach them I love them more than they'll ever comprehend. Maybe, they'll begin to understand a bit when they have their own children.

  • Optimism. Instill in each of them that despite what troubles may come their way, there's always someone out there who has it worse. While you might be lamenting your completely dumped refrigerator from that wind storm, there are families who've lost much, much more.

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