The father of my brother-in-law died a few days ago after a prolonged battle with illness. Yesterday we went to visitation and today we’ll be attending his funeral. Here’s the conversation that took place in the car yesterday as we were leaving the funeral home:
Lily: “I didn’t get to say goodbye to Karen!”
Me: “That’s okay, honey. You’ll get to see her tomorrow at the funeral.”
Lily: “What’s a funeral?”
Me: “Well, Dave’s dad died and his funeral is tomorrow. It’s a chance for everyone to say goodbye.”
Lily: “Dave’s dad died?”
Jack: “How did he die? Did snakes get him?”
I went to a funeral today for the husband of a girl I’ve known for almost 25 years. He died over the weekend when the truck he was driving ran into a snow plow. I’m told the impact of the crash knocked the rear axle off the plow and sheared nearly the entire roof off the truck. I’m also told his blood alcohol content was .28; more than three times the legal limit in the state of Indiana. In simple terms, he was very drunk.
He left behind his grieving wife, his five-year-old daughter, and an extended family that loved him very much.
I don’t have a lot of wiggle room to talk when it comes to things like this. Twelve years ago I sailed off a windy road into an abrupt meeting with a large tree. Luckily, God clearly had other things planned for me… the tree I hit was largely rotted out from the inside and broke off at about ground level, fell over and crushed the car. Had I not been alone, anyone else in the car would have been killed. As it was, I suffered minor injuries, a totaled car, skyrocketing insurance rates, and a bruised ego that has long borne the lessons I learned that day.
The point is that all of us should reach a point in our lives when we stop (or at least try to stop) doing really stupid things. As if the obvious argument of “right v. wrong” isn’t enough, when you have a family that depends on you, when you have children who need you, driving drunk should be unthinkable. The truth is, with one phone call, almost anyone you know would come pick you up and take you home. Anyone.
The saddest part of the day was watching this young widow struggle with her emotions. It was obvious there was an inner struggle taking place, a battle between lonliness and abandonment; between grieving loss and anger. You could just tell that she was trying hard not to be really pissed at him, but it’s a losing battle. How can you not be angry at someone for doing something so obviously wrong – so incredibly stupid – as literally taking his own life for granted and, in turn, taking for granted the impact of his actions on those who love him, need him, and miss him?
What do you call a woman that works as hard as a man?
A lazy bitch.
“Dad, what’s that?” Jack asked, pointing to the rubber bottle stopper.
“It’s a cork,” I replied. “A rubber cork.”
Lily looked over and said, “Can I rub it?”
I couldn’t let this go by without comment. A recent AP article highlighted two polar opposite bracelets to show the world how you voted. The highlight of this story is that when his daughter created her “Count Me Blue” bracelet to show her support for John Kerry, her Republican father felt it only fitting to create a little direct competition. He created the “Count Me Red” bracelet and had his son-in-law create his web site to sell them. Incidentally, the son created both sites.
Feel free to show your support for whomever you prefer, or ignore this silliness altogether:
Count Me Red
Count Me Blue
[Ed. note: AP Photo]