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It was a cool, sunny October day, no different than most. A soccer game was scheduled for that afternoon, and I was getting ready. Rummaging through my room searching for my shin guards, I was the first person in my house to hear the screaming outside. From the start I knew something was seriously wrong, and I rushed downstairs to locate my parents. My mother and sister were in the kitchen frozen, unsure what was happening, so I quickly ran out the front door to find my father. As I threw the door closed behind me I saw him running around the corner of the house, his hands still dirty from pulling weeds. I then looked across the lawn to see our neighbor Nancy running wildly toward us, pointing behind her and frantically yelling “Call 911! Call 911!” My mom was quickest to the phone, calling the police and then rushing next door to join my dad. I rushed around for the next few minutes, following orders and finding as many cement blocks and car jacks as I was able to. I didn’t learn what the accident had been until an hour later when my parents returned, exhausted and leaving the rest of the work for the fire department.
Nancy’s son-in-law had been on a tractor with her grandson on his lap. Attempting to remove a shrub he had attached the chain too high to the rear of the tractor, above the center of gravity. As he pressed the gas, the tractor had rotated around the rear axle and flipped over, pinning him beneath the steering column. My dad was the one to pull the son out – fortunately, he had fallen off his father’s lap. I learned that the man’s last words had been to pull his grandson free first, knowing that his injuries were too serious to recover from.
The little boy lived, and he and his mother moved out of town shortly after he was released from the hospital. Sadly, his dad did not live. I frequently think about them; a boy who will grow up without knowing his father, and a young father who died before he was able to enjoy even two years of his child’s life. There’s no reason why this happened, why this family had to be torn apart so early in its existence. When I’m being lazy or generally unambitious, my dad will sit down with me and bring them up. He’ll ask me “If Dan came down from heaven and asked you what you were doing with your life, what would you say? He was only five years older then you when he died. He wasn’t given a chance to complete his life, to complete everything he wanted. Even if you’re struggling or failing, are you challenging yourself? Are you trying to do something?”
I try and think about that man and his son as often as I can. People don’t realize just how fragile our lives are, and I remind myself that I should live life to its fullest. By no means live frantically, but live completely and enjoy the virtue of life while it’s still mine.
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