Then comes an explosion and fire in a fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas. As of this writing, there are reports of as many as 15 people killed and more than 160 others injured.
I have just returned from St. Simons Island, where all the talk there is about a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old accused of shooting and killing an 13-month-old baby in his stroller and wounding his mother on the streets of downtown Brunswick, in what officials call a robbery attempt gone horribly wrong.
I think about all of this as my family and I confront next Wednesday, which would have been the 25th birthday of our grandson, Zack Wansley, who passed away unexpectedly in September 2008. The last time I saw Zack, we hugged. That is the way I do business in my family. Hugs only. Shaking hands is for friends. Hugs are for family.
Maybe the bad people responsible for the bombings in Boston never got a hug. Maybe nobody ever told them they loved them or if they did, they didn’t show it. It is one thing to say it; it is another to mean it. And poor old ersatz Elvis. Did anyone ever think there might be a sequin or two missing upstairs? How did he get from harmlessly gyrating his pelvis to being suspected of sending letters to government officials with a substance potentially more deadly than cyanide? Obviously, somebody wasn’t there when they needed to be.
I wonder how many, if any, people went to work at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas, after some harsh words and if the survivors wish they had a chance to take their words back and start the conversation all over again? That, in retrospect, maybe what started the argument wasn’t worth it.
One of the two boys accused of shooting the toddler in Brunswick has a mother that has been locked up 54 times. His great-grandfather urged the court to let the boy out on bail, that he would look out for him. The prosecutor asked the old man if he even knew where his great-grandson lived. He admitted he didn’t. Brunswick isn’t that big of a town not to know that.
No parental support. No family support. No role models. No one pushing these kids to get their education and to become productive citizens. No love. Instead, it looks as though two young people are destined to become crime statistics and soon forgotten. And don’t plead poverty. You can be poor and love those around you, just as you can be rich and unloving.
I look at my 4-year-old great-grandson, Cameron Charles Yarbrough, who has done a lot to heal the hole in our hearts. I am as assured as I can be of anything in this world that he is loved and that he knows it. Not a rotten spoiled love but tough and tender love that applauds him when he does something good and corrects him when he doesn’t. And a young man who gets hugged every time he walks in the door.
Maybe some of the confused souls that have caused us so much pain became disaffected with society because we didn’t care enough to take an interest in them.
Maybe their peers made fun of them and bullied them when they were growing up and violence is their way of getting even.
Maybe their parents were too busy with their own problems and tucked their child away in a room with a computer, having no idea what was going on in the kid’s head because they never asked.
Maybe their child found a high in drugs.
Maybe all the violence coming out of a hypocritical Hollywood gives unstable minds their mental highs as well as their bad ideas.
I just don’t know.
I do know that my grandchildren are all adult age now and Cameron is getting prepared for pre-kindergarten with all the requisite tools for success. But I can’t say that there won’t be more heartbreak in my family. Or yours. Or in the world. Life is tenuous. Many things are out of our control. After all the bad things that have happened recently, we need to remember that fact and do a better job of caring for each other while we can.
And don’t forget the hugs. Hugs are good.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.