When I was 11 years old my father took his own life. He overdosed on his depression medication and alcohol, he was just 34 years old. I remember the day and the event vividly as if it were just last week, it’s been almost 41 years now. My younger sister was 8 and my younger brother was only 16 months old. The details of the actual event aren’t as important as what came as a result.
My sister and brother and I were sent next door to stay with our neighbor while the authorities and my mother and other family members were in our home trying to figure things out. As you can imagine, my mother was a mess. I didn’t quite understand everything that was going on or where I fit in to all of this, however without even realizing it until I was much older, I developed a personal value that day. What I observed from a child’s eye, were people busy with their own lives, drop everything to come to the aid of my mom. Our neighbors, taking all three of us kids nurturing and calming during the initial chaos; family members from all over coming to help in their own ways. The church we belonged to came through with enough food and meals for I swear seemed like months. I learned from other’s examples that this is what we do when people are hurting or in trouble.
From then on I’ve done my best to pay it forward. Ironically…. Just a week ago today, I got a call from one of my family members telling me that my younger brother was at the hospital with his wife who earlier that morning overdosed on pills and alcohol. She was alone in the house with my 17 year old Nephew (their son) who had to call 911 and witness EMT’s revive her. She’s medically stable today but my brother and the family, although my brother will tell me “yeah, I’m ok” are going through hell right now. I will do whatever I can, and then some for him and his family….. Because that day almost 41 years ago people showed me what to do and it became my personal value.