Monday, November 12, 2007

THE LUCK GODS

Last week my wife called me to tell me about all the trouble she’s having with the various federal agencies she has to deal with to sign up for all the programs you’re entitled to after 20 years of service in the military. You know the deal, leave a message and we’ll call back, go to our website and send us an email…great ways of saying bugger off as nobody gets back to you.

After I did my husbandly duty and listened to her vent I began to think about our last 18 months of bad luck. It all began with a fender bender as my wife was driving home after picking up her custom made 10th Anniversary diamond band (only a few years late). Without thinking she looked up, saw the light was green and began to go…right into the rear bumper of the car that hadn’t noticed the green light in front of her. As it was clearly her fault and not wanting to involve the insurance company we paid for the repairs to both vehicles to the tune of $7000. Thinking hey this is the first accident in years so what, but no this just uncorked the evil Jeannie’s bottle. Shortly after getting the front end of our Durango repaired I had the first accident of my life on a snowy night sliding into a guard rail, 2 weeks later my wife spun out on the highway and did more damage, after repairing the Durango AGAIN to the tune of another $8000, I promptly slide into the back bumper of a mini van once again tearing up the bumper of the poor Durango for the final time as we still haven’t fixed it yet thinking the only way to stop the accidents is either sell our beloved truck or just stop fixing the front end. It’s embarrassing when the auto body shop sends you Christmas cards.

We’ve also had to go through our parents getting older, my wife’s mother getting skin cancer and my mother dieing in the summer, along with the normal troubles that go along with raising two teenage kids, having a career that keeps me away from home for to long, which leaves a wife trying to juggle too many things by herself.

I began to wonder what we’d done to cheese off the luck gods? Was it because we’d had a pretty good couple of years financially and had taken too many nice vacations? Bought too fancy of a ring for my wife, the new Mustang convertible for her birthday or the summerhouse on the lake that we just had to have? We both came from working class families, my wife’s father was in the military for 30 years, her mother worked as an assistant at a nursing home, while my mother raised me solo but managed to work her way up the chain within the federal government to become a regional manager before taking an early retirement package. My wife and I each spent 20 yrs in the military but after my service the private sector was booming and this has giving us our leg up, hopefully allowing our kids to start out a little higher on life’s ladder than we did but somehow recently it would seem that we’re facing more challenges with each day.

After thinking about all this for 15 minutes or so I decided that we in a rut, the luck gods had turned against us and we just had to grind it out and hope the tables turned for us soon.

The next morning as I often do, I began my day by reading the news on line. I went from site to site reading International news to Domestic news, this morning it was on the CNN site that a story caught my eye. The headline read “Soldier loses 3rd child” which just didn’t jive so I decided since I had time that I’d open it up and see what it was about.

The story was about a soldier who had been injured in Iraq towards the end of his 2nd tour of duty. The vehicle he was riding in had been hit with an IED and he like more and more soldiers these days had survived but had suffered a traumatic brain injury. Once stabilized, he was shipped back to the states for long-term treatment, which would last probably a lifetime. Unfortunately he was from a small town in Texas, which just didn’t have the medical facilities required so his wife and 3 children would have to travel to see him.

During a trip to see him his wife, tired and while driving the speed limit was driving too fast for the windy weather conditions at the time and probably more focused on the horror of what she was driving towards and still coming to grips with how suddenly and dramatically her life had changed went off the road or was blown off and flipped the family SUV. It rolled several times and left two of their children dead at the scene and the third child on life support.

Now the story’s headline made sense to me…the third child had been removed from life support once the remaining family members had gathered and had almost immediately died just a few short days after the accident.

As I read the story, which is one of the most tragic I’ve read in many years I began to realize how foolish I’d been the night before, for you see, my wife is healthy, my children are healthy, we have a good life…my wife’s mother is recovering nicely from her skin cancer and my mother had been sick and in pain for many years and is now finally without the pain that had plagued her for several years. Life’s daily struggles are just that, they are struggles, everybody has them and a few fender benders without any injuries is not bad luck at all, in fact it’s good luck as a truck can be fixed or replaced.

When you put your own situation into the proper perspective you’ll often find as I did when I read about another family’s pain, that you don’t have it as bad as you think and now I’m thanking the luck gods for all the good they’ve brought me over the past 18 months and over my life time of not having to endure the type of pain that this soldier, wife and so many others have had to do.

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