Overnight I received word that a paper sent to a journal was accepted for publication. Someone had asked why that journal and I remember blurting out “I’m not going to live forever, and I believe this work should be a part of the body of knowledge.” A reasonable blurt I think, because really, we never know what life will give us next.

I’m thinking of how I might help when I get older. I won’t be wealthy, I’m pretty sure of that, so maybe I’ll be able to help my grandchildren in other ways, but at the baptism I was thinking, I”m aging fast and my grandchildren are smart (the smartest! as every grandparent might say) I’d like to show them how to fish moose bay and find the spot where the creek enters the lake, or the pikeweed gardens behind john’s island but I know thats pretty unlikely. I’d like to build plastic model things with them, boats, cars, aircraft, these were super in helping me understand how things work, and there’s a chance that when my grandchildren are old enough (about 8 or so) I’ll still be facile enough to build with them, if they’re interested, which is hard to say but i’ll hope for. I’d like to show them tools and help them to known that they can build things for themselves, again, if they’re interested, but that might be most appropriate in about 10 years, and again, what will I be able to do when I’m 76?

Life changes fast, the people we love aren’t with us forever. One moment can change what we thought our lives were or would be. In an instant. I’m pretty sure that 11 years ago today, Tyler didn’t wake up thinking “I’m going to save a life today” and I’m pretty sure my favorite youngest daughter didn’t wake up thinking “Today I’ll run back towards the shooter to help Tyler.” We just don’t think those things yet we do them. In an instant, life puts a situation in front of us that can show us who we really are, and sometimes that’s a person we didn’t think was inside us.

We had a baptism this past weekend, our second granddaughter who was sweet and talkative and seemed calmed by the whole ceremony. I was thinking that on that day she really knew just two faces, her mom and dad, and kind of knew some other faces, grandparents and aunts and uncles, but didn’t seem to balk or complain about all the other faces that held her, looked into her eyes, and made little baby phrases to her for a good part of her afternoon. Babies are like that, they trust us, and in giving us her trust, like our grand sons and granddaughters, they transform us.

Eleven years ago I was ready to seek vengeance against that attacked my daughter and Tyler, something I normally don’t pursue in life, but children transform you, and if my daughter chose Tyler that made him part of my life, and someone to defend. The detective listened to my anger, and gave me confidence that the law would exact a just punishment on those who killed Tyler. It still shakes me deeply to know that had the gun not jammed, my favorite youngest daughter would be gone too. Watching my daughter grieve and fight her way back from this trauma continues to be one of the harder things I do as a parent. Seeing her channel her life experiences towards protecting us all amazes me and fills me with pride each day. It has to be hard, and I know it could have turned out differently without the love and support her sister and husband gave without thinking about it. I am so grateful things are as they are today.

So if each day life can take from us, there must be a giving that life brings. Certainly children are a gift, like a sunrise, a promise of a future. But what else? An opportunity to save, to protect, to build, to teach, to help, to stand and listen when a friend has a setback, each little opportunity shows us who we are, who we could be if we keep our eyes open. At the baptism we had three sets of grandparents, all watching, but some you could see were on call, standing by for with a ready distraction for an inconsolable toddler, to head off the fall, to make a one handed grab of a youngsters plate teetering off a table, standing by because its what you do. Its not a role for everyone, keeping a suitcase packed in case you get the call, setting openings in your because you see that new parent needing a hand but it helps me to understand why I’m here. Maybe some of us are born helpers and some are born as helpees? Hard to say. But if you see an opportunity, help. It couldn’t hurt.

Be good to each other,
Help each other when you can
look after yourself
and remember Tyler Binsted today

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