Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dad - Are You Dead?-YIKES!!

One of the greatest worries of any child is the possible loss of one of his/her parents to death. Even with divorce, separation, or job relocation for one parent, both parents are still alive and the possibility to get together with both parents is always present.

However, when one parent dies, the possibility to get together is lost for the remainder of the child’s life on our planet. He/she will need to grow up from that point forward without one of his/her parents.

In my case, I used to consciously think about this possibility all of the time when I was a child. Fortunately, both of my parents remained alive until my father passed away when I was 30. But, I always knew that, if one of them had passed away when I was a child, my life would have radically and instantly changed.

I used to ask the following questions to myself:
1) Who would cook our dinners?
2) Who would take me to school?
3) Who would make my lunch?
4) Would I still be able to go to college?
5) Would we be able to stay in our home?
6) If we had to move, what about the friends that would be left behind?

Ah, yes, the worries of a child with regard to situations that one cannot control! But, the worries are legitimate, nonetheless.

Fast forwarding to my life as a parent, there was a time when the left front tire of my car kept running out of air. I had to stop each morning on the way to work and then again on the way home to put air in the tire. Sometimes, while driving, my car would swerve a little to the left and I’d have to work a little harder to keep the car on the road.

Obviously, there was a major problem with my tire, but with the obligations and hours at work, as well as the time that I wanted to spend with my children, there just wasn’t enough time to have the tire checked out … at least that’s how I justified it!

One day, while stopping for air for the tire, one of the mechanics came walking out to engage in a separate task. I asked him for some advice on the tire. I explained my twice-daily routine of injecting air in to the tire. After examining the tire, he told me that the tire was close to blowing up! When he learned that I log many miles on the expressway, he further explained that many people get killed with tires like this, as they explode en route, throwing the car into a violent swerve against other cars, into ditches, against railings, and under trucks!

Well, alrighty then, that little piece of news sent chills down my spine. After all, my three children did not need to explore life without their dad. While accidents can happen, the mere thought of having a preventable accident occur is unconscionable. So, I vowed at that moment that I would always take my car to a qualified mechanic at the slightest hint of an irregularity.

Later that evening in our family room, I told my wife of the “could easily get killed” story, because of the inattention to the tire. She expressed her horror, but she felt better when I told her that this would never happen again with our cars. She also vowed to tell me if there was a funny noise with her car, so that we could immediately get it addressed. We openly discussed that we wanted to ensure that both of us needed to stay alive as long as possible for our kids! I then made some more comments about the possibility of “getting killed” because of the tire.

Later that evening, I was awakened by my 8-year-old son at around 11:30 p.m. Since all of my kids sleep soundly, this awakening was an unusual occurrence. He called my name; I woke up and said hello; he then told me that he was just checking on me. He then went back to bed. At first, this didn’t make any sense. But then I wondered if he had heard of the tire story.

I thought about this situation for a moment and then I got up and went into his bedroom. I asked him if everything was O.K. He responded by asking if I had purchased a new tire. When I told him “yes”, he smiled and then covered up to go to sleep. I asked him how he knew about the tire. He told me that he had overheard the conversation between my wife and me (of course, he could have told us that he was spying around the corner!!) and that he was worried that I might die.

Oh, great! Because of my inattention to the tire, my son was now concerned that he might lose his dad. I reassured him that the tire was brand new, there are no other problems with the car, that I will always fix future car problems right away, and that he might have to put up me until I get to be 150 years old! We both laughed, hugged, and went back to sleep!

Lessons Learned Include:

a) Always take care of everything over which I have control, i.e., cars, health appointments, diet, exercise, etc., to lengthen the odds that I will remain alive for as along as possible for a variety of reasons, especially for my kids!!

b) Make sure that my kids are not “lurking” when my wife and I need to discuss serious “life” issues.

Yes, the innocence and laughter of children, however prone to lurking that they may be, are great reasons to stay alive forever!!

Paul W. Reeves

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