Monday, February 18, 2008

Take Time Out For the Important Things

A few days ago, an email group I participate in had a discussion about taking time for the important things. I sent a reply to the group to add some things which hit me reading their messages. Now that I think it over, it wouldn't make a bad blog posting, either. So here it is:

Two years ago this past December my fire fighter brother-in-law died on his way to a fire call. His death is somewhat of a mystery because he wasn't killed when the truck he was driving crashed, but rather, he died and then the truck went out of control and crashed.

His death was totally unexpected. We all know fire fighters assume a bit of risk each time they respond to a call. But to "just die" like this was way out there.

He and my wife's sister just had a baby (6 months old when this all happened) and planned to build a house together on the property they just bought. My wife's sister is rather a strong woman so she completed many of their plans in the past couple years since his passing. Still, we all miss him terribly.

The hard part was, he didn't have a will drawn up. You'd think an Army vet and a fire fighter would automatically think to have one done up. But, I guess being just a shade above 30 he still thought he had time. Because of the lack of will, his wife had to hire 2 attorneys to run his estate through probate: 1 for her and 1 for his daughter from his first marriage. In the end, everything worked out OK, but had he done up a will it would have gone much smoother and faster. Dragging through court with the potential of dealing with a greedy ex-spouse is not a good way to mourn someone's passing.

Lesson #1: Get a will done up. Even if you don't have anything it'll be better for those left behind.

This past Thursday my sister and her husband lost their 9-year-old son. The boy woke up that morning around 4:30 complaining his head and neck hurt. Sis stayed with him a bit and got him to go back to sleep. He woke up a couple more times, and she gave him a little Tylenol. When my brother-in-law got up for work, the boy was still feeling poorly. Sis took his temperature twice, and it was around 93 degrees.

So, Sis got her other son ready and off to school with one of the neighbors and she called in sick to work so she could take the boy to the doctor. The flu is going around pretty hard here, so she logically thought he had the flu. She went back in the living room and found him not breathing and foaming at the mouth.

She called 9-1-1 and started CPR. The paramedics arrived, took over care and transported him to the hospital. The doctors took over from there and tried to restart his heart, but they were unsuccessful and he passed. The preliminary results from the autopsy indicated he died from a hemorrhage in the brain, likely caused by an aneurysm.

You can imagine what nervous wrecks we've been for the past week. Planning a funeral for your child is something we just shouldn't have to do. It was especially hard because there was no life insurance for the boy. My brother-in-law left the Army just last year and is working as an apprentice electrician. Of course, this was completely unexpected for them. They have health insurance, but not life insurance. Thankfully, our family was able to kick in and get the arrangements paid up for them.

Lesson #2: Plan for the worst and be glad if it doesn't happen. Get life insurance on your kids. Find a plan that can be cashed in when they're ready for college and you'll have a great investment.

The boy's dad doesn't need to regret not spending time with him. He is totally devoted to both his sons and it would be harder to find a better dad. He's a big kid himself most of the time and his kids love being with him.

For the longest, I didn't have the luxury of time. During my first marriage I worked like a dog trying to keep us afloat financially. I worked all day and did freelance work in the evenings. I missed out on watching goofy cartoons with my boys, playing video games with them, going on vacations together.

Now that I'm not with them all the time, I try to make the time we spend together, well, together. I purposely leave my days with them open. I play Xbox games with them even though they usually destroy me (there are too many buttons on those controllers). We play board games, card games and watch crazy shows together. I also save up money so we can take trips together. My wife helps a lot, too, because she is good at stashing money away for things we want to do.

Lesson #3: My lesson learned from my brother-in-law's passing is to take time for people. People are more important than things. This was reinforced 100-fold with my nephew's untimely death. People are important and among them kids are the most important.

No comments:

Post a Comment