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I like to walk daily. On my walks, I visit with neighbors, wave to other walkers/joggers, and pet animals. I notice things around me, and will often see day-to-day changes. One thing that caught my interest was a power pole. On the power pole was tacked a faded plasticized picture of a handsome young man. Lettered underneath the picture was the young man's name and the inscription " In Loving Memory, Feb 16, 1987 - October 31, 2006." At the base of the power pole were some flowers in a vase.
I continued walking.
From time to time things would change. The flowers died and were replaced.
Every day that I walked that route, I would look at the picture and the mementos at the power pole base. I thought to myself that this was a young man, not yet 19, who's life probably ended someplace close to this spot.
Fall arrived and sitting next to the flowers was a small beautifully carved pumpkin, with an unlit candle inside. A snickers bar sat next to the pumpkin.
Someone had to be stopping by, and placing things by the pole.
Christmas season, and the cut flowers were replaced with artificial flowers and a tiny plastic tree. A new picture replaced the old one.
I continued to ask people about the shrine at the base of the power pole, most people expressed ignorance. No so, my friend Lynn. Lynn is a former teacher and is actively involved with youth. She immediately knew about the shrine.
"He was a very handsome boy and he had a lot of potential," said Lynn. "He attended the alternative school."
"What happened to him?" I asked.
"He was partying with friends, and had too much to drink. He was traveling way too fast. His car became airborne and crashed.
"His parents must have loved him."
"Everyone loved him, "said Lynn. "He was brilliant. He had a future, and now he's dead."
I shook my head. "What a waste."
"He's not the only one on that road," interjected Lynn
Lynn replied. "I'm a member of MADD; Mothers against Drunk Driving. Many deaths, particularly those of young people could have been avoided. People do dumb things, and it's really dumb to drink and drive. Keep your eyes open. You'll notice that there are other shrines along that road. A lot of young and older people have died there. People with potential, people who could have helped others and made our world better. ůSuch a waste."
I like to walk daily, and in my walks I have noticed that there are (as Lynn pointed out to me) other shrines, and crosses. I think about these people and the lives that they have lived, and the lives that they could have lived.
At times I have felt compelled to buy flowers and leave them on a shrine. Somehow I know that it is a meaningless act. I feel helpless when I think about it.
Do you think there might be some way for us to call attention to these deaths, a way that might be able to help others? I do wonder.