Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Children Are Better Than I Was

This photo goes with Katy's email below my drivel ...

I have come to the conclusion that my three children are better people at their tender age than I was at that time in my life.

For that, I am thankful.

Coming of age in the '70's meant by the time you were in your late teens, you had received an overdose of the confusing '60's zeitgeist with it's mix of good ideas (peace) and foolish naivete (drug culture, sex without consequences).

Let's face it, the 60's wasn't all about idealism ... alot of it was about nerve endings. Many things changed during, or due, to that time and one of those was the minimum drinking age.

In 1976, when my friends and I turned 18 during our senior year of high school, we were legal adults suddenly able to walk into a bar and order alcohol. Mostly, we weren't ready for that at 18 and stupid things happened.

Mostly, we survived, but we don't quite remember how.
(Kevin, Billy? Am I lying?)

I sure wish I had back every dollar I spent in the White Lion Pub or Scarlette O'Hara's back then ... well, ... most of them. It was a phase and one I worked through pretty quick, but not without cost.

I'm very happy that my kids have not learned things the hard way like their Dad. While, we'll take most of the credit for that, society is a lot more helpful now too. Kids today are bombarded with healthy messages about smoking, drinking, etc.

Yes, they get bombarded with negative messages too through some aspects of popular culture, but we protected them from that when they were in their formative years so that now it's like water on a duck's back.

I do take credit for that ... protecting them.

We're not puritanical (not by a long shot) in this house, but our babies have grown into these amazing young adults with good, practical heads on their shoulders who know how to make smart decisions.

As evidence, I submit this email sent out recently by my daughter Katy.

Friday night, my two best friends (Becky and Jaime) and I went out to eat together and went dancing. Before we left, Becky got a call from her friend from a church in Newberry, Alex, whom I had met only a handful of times before, wanted to come with us. He did and the four of us had a blast as usual. Saturday night, a birthday party was being thrown for a friend of Conner, Becky and I, so the 3 of us rode out there just to say hi and happy birthday real quick.

When we got there there was a cookout going on, music and some drinking, by mostly those that were legal...but still quite a few that were not. Coincidently Alex was there. Apparently one of his friends, Richard, heard about the party. We didn't plan on staying long until we ran into Alex. We talked to him for a good long while. Said bye to the birthday boy, bye to Alex and our other scattered friends and left.

Before we pulled out, Becky, mentioned to me that Alex had been drinking, so we stopped and she asked him if he wanted her to hang around and drive him home, it didn't matter how late. Alex insisted that he was fine, he was riding home with Richard. She kept pushing, but he kept saying no. So Becky went home and Conner and I went to see his family.

The next morning I got a phone call from a shaken Becky on the phone. All she could say was. "Alex is dead Katy. Alex is dead."
She finally calmed down enough to tell me what happened.
I couldn't believe the irony in it all. She got to see him one last time, by coincidence. Offered him a ride that would have saved his life, but he didn't take it. She started to blame herself and I told her to stop because, like my Dad says, LIFE IS CHOICES. WE CAN'T CONTROL THE FATE OF OTHERS, AS MUCH AS WE'D LIKE TO.

I told her she didn't make him drink. He made that choice.
He could have just had a coke like her.

She didn't make him drive. He made that choice.

She didn't make him not put on his seat belt. He made that choice.

Drinking and driving don't mix. Period.
I have copied a link to the Gainesville Sun Article that tells about the boy's accidents. Please keep the boy's families in your thoughts and prayers. Such a tragic and totally avoidable loss.

Please please please tell the ones you love how important it is not to drink and drive, and that if they are going to drink to designate a driver or just stay where they are. I'd rather be mad that someone was out drinking, but got home safe, then be crying at their funeral.

Thanks. Katy


Susan said...

Thanks for posting... This sobering news may help someone who reads it.

I remember feeling invulnerable at 18, and that does not mix well with drinking and/or driving.

threecollie said...

I am so sorry...sorry for the poor boy...for the hard lessons...for kids everywhere that have to lose the innocence of youth so abruptly and awfully. We are still awaiting word on what happened to one of our own 2008 graduates and a good friend of Alan's, whose car was seen two days ago, mangled almost beyond recognition, at an intersection just down the road. I assume he is at least still alive, because there has been nothing in the paper but...
Thank you for your ability to put into words such haunting and horrible things.

Laura said...

This is every parent's nightmare. I feel so bad for his family. :(

Thank you Katy, for sharing this with us. I'm going to show it to my girls. We have lost so many teenagers here in the bay area to that sort of thing.

If only they would learn to at least, at the very least, turn over their keys. :(

Freste said...

Well this wrecks my idealistic theory of Chronological Fortuosity. You are absolutely correct that there are some things we should control and some things we simply can't.
The shoulda/woulda/coulda thinking is painful but doesn't change a single thing.
Those were some good looking, strapping kids and I'm sure had personalities to match.
Sincere condolences to all family and friends.

"Point Of Know Return"

(Steve Walsh / Phil Ehart / Robby Steinhardt)

I heard the men saying something
The captains tell they pay you well
And they say they need sailing men to
Show the way, and leave today
Was it you that said, "How long, how long?"

They say the sea turns so dark that
You know it's time, you see the sign
They say the point demons guard is
An ocean grave, for all the brave,
Was it you that said, "How long, how long,
How long to the point of know return?"

Your father, he said he needs you
Your mother, she says she loves you
Your brothers, they echo your words:
"How far to the point of know return?"
"Well, how long?"

Today I found a message floating
In the sea from you to me
It said that when you could see it
You cried with fear, the Point was near
Was it you that said, "How long, how long
To the Point of Know Return?"

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry that Katy has lost her friend. We will keep Katy and Alex's family in our prayers.

As much as we would like to, sometimes we can't prevent someone from making a poor choice. We just have to stand by with the families and give them our love and support.

We went through this not too long ago with a dear friend. Her son and mine grew up together. Matt wasn't driving under the influence, but drove way too fast, way too often. One night the rain, slippery streets and some trees won out and we lost our friend.

It breaks my heart to have lost Matt and I know that Katy will feel Alex's loss for a long, long time, just as we miss our friend.

Please give her our sincere condolences.

robin andrea said...

I'd rather be mad that someone was out drinking, but got home safe, then be crying at their funeral.
So much wisdom there.

My heart goes out to all the families and friends. A true tragedy and loss.

Miz S said...

Katy sounds amazing.

I graduated from high school the same year that you did, FC, and I often wonder how I survived my own adolescence. I took crazy chances and made horrible decisions, but somehow I made it through to the other side. Like you, I think my kids are way ahead of where I was at their age.

My heart goes out to Alex's family and friends. Yes, he made a stupid, bad decision. There but for the grace of God goes any one of us. Even our smart, sensible kids could screw up or be the victim of someone else's screwup.

And that's why I occasionally stop, breathe deeply, and say a prayer.

Sorry this comment is so long...

Sharon said...

Bless her, she's got a good head on her shoulders. There's a "Drive safely in remembrance of" sign right her in JCP for a young girl who ran off the road and hit a tree last year, she had been drinking and was killed right before graduation. It's so sad and so tragic...and SO preventable!

Dr. Know said...

Didn't drink at all until my mid-twenties, but lost several high school classmates who started in their early teens and expired in some truly gory one car accidents -- inexperienced teen drivers and alcohol are a very bad mix. Several other aquaintences had various mishaps throughout their 20s, although none perished. I lost touch with most of them because I thought they were all nuts -- the drugs, the alcohol, and the crazy women which resulted in their doing really stupid things.

Very sorry for your loss, and kudos on the rational daughters. Where were those kinds of girls when I was 25? All I met (meet?) were (are) the nut jobs.

kevin said...

You are not lying. Both my kids are of age and I am constantly "reminding" them about drinking and driving.

I have mixed feelings about the drinking age, I think it's crazy you can buy house but can't buy a beer. But this isn't the place for that arguement.

SwampAngel65 said...

Such a sad, scary and tragic thing. Sorry your daughter had to be so close to that tragedy...she's one smart girl. Seems she already knew the lesson. Too bad Alex didn't. My thoughts and prayers are with his family tonight.

Thanks for sharing.

Ol' Lurker said...

FC, you and Mrs. FC have raised the most amazing children. They reflect very, very well on you both. Well done.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks all for your input.
I just thought it was a powerful email and a true tale of missed opportunity.

billg8tr said...

I wrote a long post about our behavior in the 70's and then deleted it. Needless to say our children are getting more appropriate direction than we did. Not that it was any fault of our parents, that was the era we grew up in. My parents threw a keg party for my 18th birthday. We were so blessed to be survivors in St. Augustine at that time. I thank God every day that I made it to 50. You are so right when you say we don't know how we survived. I do think we have an obligation to teach our children to be better than we were. You seem to be having success. I am having mixed results, but having two adults and two pre-teens gives me the opportunity to keep trying. I am so sorry for your children's loss. We shall pray for Alex's family.

Thanks for sharing.


Anonymous said...

I've nothing to add, well, except this:

Our little one gets a constant barrage of real-time non-lectures from me, whenever the pager goes off.

She'll always ask, if she can't surmise it on her own, what the calls are about. Another drug O/D. Another single-vehicle wreck and, yes, they were drunk. Etc.

We talk about choices all the time. That's the thing. The little one's Mom has a great track record of making good choices. There's that example. Then there's mine. Not such a good track record, and LOTS of consequences that took years to live down. Some of my stupider actions from back in the day STILL bug me.

So, the little one gets it from all angles. It's scary raising kids these days.

Don't get me started about the kid that was smoking crack on the back of my little one's school bus.

I guess I had something to add after all.

That's a very appropriate photo for the post, Fc. Well done all around.

Sayre said...

My heart always clutches when I hear stories like that. Over the years my brothers and I have lost people to drinking and driving. My stepson does that and I am dreading the day we get the call and his daddy learns that his son is dead - possibly along with his granddaughter. My own son is growing up with much more adult parents than my stepson did. We realize the value of sobriety and have worked hard to instill it into our son. My husband is finally on that bandwagon too, after I told him I would take the boy and leave if he ever drove drunk with him again.

Some lessons just take time to sink in. Too bad Alex didn't get that time.

Condolences to your daughter and her friend... Losing people that way is so senseless.

Floridacracker said...

It really WAS the times. Remember the Lazy Sands drive through open mixed drinks service?
That seems insane now ...

Well said yourself, pal.

Welcome to Pure Florida!
It's usually cheerier here so please come back!
Thank you for your kind words.

Rurality said...

Sorry to hear the sad news about Katy's friend. But glad to see she has such a good head on her shoulders. Well all your kids seem to, really.