I’m not in the mood today to try and be funny. And normally I don’t believe writers should use their podium to preach to people. In most cases I don’t have the qualifications or the credentials.
This column is in response to a plea from a long and loyal friend. I’ve written about Carole Levitz before. She’s the daughter of arguably the greatest magician who ever lived, The Great Cardini. As an amateur prestidigitator myself, I’ve always had a “magical” bond with Carole. Besides being a great auction clerk Carole is also a mother and grandmother, although today her brood is greatly diminished. One minute Carole’s daughter and granddaughter were alive and well and the next minute a drunk driver killed them both.
If you needed further proof that life isn’t fair, as often happens in such tragedies, the drunk wasn’t seriously injured. And hear this, it was his third or fourth drunk driving offense.
Writing a sympathy card to Carole was some of the hardest writing I’ve ever done. And I’m a writer! I got a lovely note back and Carole enclosed the memorium they handed out at the funeral. As I perused the cover with a dozen photos of Carole’s beautiful family celebrating life’s goodness, I felt my throat tighten and what felt like a tear in my eye. Nah, it couldn’t be, big boys don’t cry.
Inside the pamphlet were two photos of Raeleen and Raegan, next to each other in life, as they were in death. By the time I’d read the unfinished story of Raegan I was angry enough to kill the idiotic driver myself. Because of one of life’s lowest creatures never again will Raeleen call her mother, because there is no cell service in heaven. Carole will never get to see her beautiful granddaughter Raegan walk down the aisle in a wedding gown.
When I’d finished reading about Raegan, by all accounts a shooting star who was loved and respected by all who knew her, who had a pure and loving heart and was dedicated to improving our nation, there dropped on the pamphlet salty proof that big boys do indeed cry.
In a P.S. to Carole’s letter was one mother’s plea:
“Being a writer can you write anything about drunk driving and what this country can do to fix it?”
I owe it to Carole to at least give it a try.
Sadly, drunkeness is something I know a lot about. As the son of a mean, raging alcoholic I’ve seen first hand how booze can destroy a family. I’ve never bought into the idea that alcoholism is a disease. If so, it’s a disease you give yourself. I never wanted any part of alcohol and haven’t tasted a drop of it in over 25 years. So I’m no hypocrite on this matter.
In Raeleen’s and Raegan’s memory I appeal to the politician’s and the car manufacturers to act. If we can put a man on the moon or design an I-phone surely we can make a car that can detect when a person isn’t fit to drive. Beyond that, I would appeal to your good senses. Did you know that a single DUI can cost $30,000? That makes a $20 cab or Uber fare seem cheap by comparison.
One reason I couldn’t attend the funeral is because I stopped driving two years ago. That’s when I had a stroke that impaired my ability to think. (It now takes me three days to write a column that used to take three hours.) Is it inconvenient? Sure. But I couldn’t live with myself if I killed someone. And I’m not nearly as “inconvenienced” as Carole is these days.
If I can’t appeal to your good sense then let me shame you for the jackass you must be if you drink and drive. If you kill someone with your automobile you are a murderer no different than if you loaded a gun and pulled the trigger. The result is exactly the same whether the weapon is Jack Daniels, Budweiser, Smith and Wesson or a lovely Chardonnay. You do know what our government calls someone who uses a vehicle to kill people these days, don’t you? A terrorist.
Is that something you want on the resume of your life?
And I hope you love someone enough to take away their keys, before they take another’s life.
P.S. Feel free to pass this along. The life you save may be that of YOUR child or grandchild.