I was 40 years old when Mom told me the sad news about my classmate, Robert. I relied on her because she read the town newspaper every day.
It was highly unusual for Mom to call me, although I called her every evening to catch up on our days. There was a catch in her voice that put me on edge.
Transformed instantly to the 1960's, I thought of my grade school days at St Patrick's. While my multi-cultural class was 30 in size, only a dozen or so remain clear in my memory today.
Twins, Robert and Roberta, originally from Jamaica, were the heart of our class. Most of the kids called him Tito. To me, he was Robert, the other half of Roberta. Different in personality as night and day, Robert was outgoing and Roberta, softer and reserved.
Yet, I easily befriended both. I felt comfortable, understood and enjoyed being around them. Today, I know that feeling to be
We hung out a lot over the years, as we tended to volunteer to help for school trips and special events. Tito was one of Miss Sammie's favorites, always a twinkle in her eye where he was concerned...
Those days were carefree. I know, in reality, that was far from the truth. Our parents worked hard to make our days feel carefree.
As Mom talked, the tears streamed steadily down my face. At the age of 40, Robert was dead. Mom could not protect me forever.
I have never strayed far from where I grew up. As such, after graduation, I ran into Robert a few times at the local sandwich shop. He was working on a road crew doing repairs on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
He was married with a couple kids. He was happy, always leaving me
feeling the same.
I imagined this family scenario. What I could not imagine was that same family without Robert... I could not imagine the hole left; the loss, the devastation.
Robert was a ray of joy. I am quite sure the road crew was steppin' lively and happily when he was part of the team. And he left a hole there as well...
Mom always taught me to allow plenty of time. As a nurse and a
teacher, it's a safe bet I am early for all appointments!
The benefits are incredible. I never feel stressed from rushing. I'm
able to enjoy some part of the ride, even if it's the music. And I
always get some paperwork accomplished, as I wait for class to begin.
In allowing plenty of time, I cannot help but see faces and observe
the behaviors of other drivers along the way. These drivers are men
and women. They span the age line. They are all colors and cultures.
I see young and frazzled Moms who are driving way too fast to pick up
I see impatient and angry looking men in suits, who may believe they
cannot afford to miss one more appointment.
I see teens, feeling their oats, so happy and carefree, hitting the
accelerator, as if alone on an open highway, when in the heart of a
It's these times I most think of Robert. I think about the driver who ended Robert's life, when he was working on that road crew in the prime of his life.
I wonder what the hurry was? I wonder if the driver was paying attention? I wonder if they were distracted?
I know the reason could not have possibly been worth the loss of life of a son, brother, husband, father, friend.
Did Robert see death coming? What were his final thoughts?
How are his co-workers years later? His beloved family?
While I am not aware of the particulars, the life lesson lingers. I remind any student who comes to my class late and frazzled, later, in a private way.
I find my thoughts returning to Robert, with Labor Day once again come and gone. Another school year started, an opportunity to foster hope, promise and happiness in our students.
The next time you feel rushed or impatient when driving please focus, slow down, think of Robert and drive safely. The lives of you and those you encounter on the road are beyond precious to someone else.
Congratulations to martie coetser
September 1st has launched the lively and beautiful new website of my
cyber-sister, Martie, hailing from South Africa.
I am including the link to her new site, which is named Martie's Foyer and encourage you to check her out, sign up to get notifications of her new postings. It is rare to find such a blend of meaningful exchange with family and friends, fiction, poetry, essay and the exciting introduction of Martie's course on Short Story
Check it out for yourself and see what I mean...
Thanks also to Martie for sharing this quote with me this week. It seemed a perfect way to say ... Until next time, be happy and peaceful,
"Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit."
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