by Bernie Otis, Featured Contributor
“A man was pushing a stroller holding a screaming and crying baby. The man is repeating over and over again, “ Okay Bernard calm down, come on Bernard don’t get all worked up, now Bernard we will be home soon please try not to be so agitated.”
A passer by asks the man “is there anything I can do to help you settle your baby Bernard down?”
The man replied “No, thank you and by the way the baby’s name is George, I am Bernard”.
Just for the record my name is Bernard and I have now grown up and am writing this Blog. And the reason this Blog is being written is because it the feelings and emotions of our Youngsters matters as does the emotional impact that sad happenings have on them and their sincere desire to help ease the pain of others.
Many times I have been asked why I think that Life and Death are subjects we should not speak about to our children and young families. As you will see from the two stories included below, the answer is because they our children are far more curious, sensitive and involved in those subjects then we think and have questions they want answered, but are afraid to ask.
Jennifer was a 9 year old girl when she and her brother visited her grandparents for Thanksgiving. Along the other guests was a well known Rabbi, whose wife was comatose in a rehab center.
Jennifer’s grandfather told the children the story of how the Rabbi’s wife. A lover of horses had fallen off of one was seriously injured. Following dinner the Rabbi left early to visit his wife, who passed away the next morning.
Before the children left to return to their home a long distance away the grandfather told them the tragic news.
Two weeks later the man called his host and asked if he was sitting down. He said no and the man said please sit down as I want to read something to you.
He then read a note that he had received from the granddaughter of his host in which she expressed her deep sadness over the death of the man’s wife, promised him her love and support and told him that he should gather strength from the fact that, as her Mom had told her, the man’s wife was now with “God”. In closing she said that should the man needed anything he should please call her and let her know.
Two grown men were balling their eyes out during that conversation.
The host then called the young girl’s mother to see if she knew about the note that her daughter had sent and she was completely, and of course pleasantly, surprised, although her daughter had told her about the man’s wife’s death.
Two weeks later the child wrote the following note to the man-as a follow up to his note of gratitude to her:
I was really excited to finally hear from you. It was especially happy to hear that writing your new book helped with some of your grief. I know I told you this before but anytime you want to write to get more grief away I’m always here.
Me and my mom talked about it a lot and my mom told me that dying is a happy thing because you are then reunited with God. I hope you are feeling better because I know from what you told me in your letter to me that you had gotten a lot of letters. Well I have to go. Hope to hear from you soon. My brother Ryan says to tell you “Hi” and is also very sorry about your loss.
Best wishes always.
These words of wisdom from the mind of my then 10 year old granddaughter Jennifer, now a grown woman with two young children, came unsolicited to my dear friend rabbi Edward Zerin, whose tragic story I tell about in my Book.
How could there be any greater example of the reason why such matters have such an effect on every person and why young and old alike need to openly share life’s happiness and sadness.
Then there is the exciting story of Matthew Leonard a 6th grader who, if he could would live in an airplane. One day, when he was in the 3rd grade Matthew told his mother that he felt that Veterans were being forgotten and then came up with the idea of starting “Operation : Respect and Honor”
It is a Holiday card drive in which students in schools, including Matthew and his Mother, who make and collect cards and bundle them up, with candy canes and deliver them to a veteran’s’ transitional living facility in Los Angeles.
They have enlisted the help of many organizations, including Rotary Clubs. So far over 4500 cards have been distributed to Vets without families and what is most important to know is the Matthew insists on delivering them personally.
These stories are just two examples of the kinds of things that demonstrate the passion and concern young people have for those who have needs and make a strong argument for the priority all of us have to help prepare our loved ones for the travel through life.
It is essential that we enable young people to see themselves as participants in one of the most exciting eras in history, and to have a sense of purpose in relationship to it.
– Nelson Rockefeller, The Harper Book of Quotations
Read my New Book: “How to Prepare for Old Age— Without Taking the Fun Out of Life” (Amazon and Barnes and Noble). If you like what you read please go to Amazon and Barnes and Noble and write review.